Education and Training Awards 2020

Jun20383 Best Foreign Language School 2020 - Eastern Europe Learning languages is not just a matter of understanding how to use translations in a formal sense, talking words and ensuring that they are used accurately and appropriately. Equally important is the need for the languages used to reflect the culture that has built up around a language. The team at Language Link Russia & Kazakhstan has grown significantly over the years, but this has remained key to the heart of the company. We profile the firm to find out more. For over twenty-five years, the team at Language link has been intrinsic to the understanding of other countries and cultures within Russia. What was set up as a school dedicated to teaching students English now boasts a variety of different European languages such as Spanish, French, German, Italian and Russian, not to mention a range of practical skills such as corporate training, teacher training, international exams and education abroad. The team’s major success is no surprise to those who have been involved with the firm, with students valuing the high-quality educational standards that Language Link follows. It is a fully Authorised Platinum Assessment Centre for Cambridge Assessment English, invigilating and assessing roughly 10,000 young learner, teen and adult exams. While the teaching of English is the heart of the business, growth has always been a major driving force and Language Link has been able to successfully franchise from its good name. This entrepreneurial attitude is best shown by the firm’s expansion into Kazakhstan, where Language Link is achieving incredible success. When the company first began, the aim was simply to bring English and the British culture to Russia and the Community of Independent States. Rob Jensky, Founder, set four cornerstones that has never wavered throughout the last twenty-five years, namely “respect the company, polite cooperation, a good day’s work, and no excuses”. This approach really sets the team apart. While growth has always been important to the success of Language Link, there is a clear distinction between that and profiteering. Many in the industry have a focus on what money can be gained from the public, but students at Language link see staff as truly caring and nurturing. They know that the team have their best interests at heart. Language Link has been made into a triumph by its commitment to students, and this is best shown by the four points of contact who they see. Students at Language Link engage with the professionalism of the teachers, the caring and helpfulness of the school administrator, the cleanliness and comfort of the classroom facilities and the learning resources used. These four points have their own points of contact who require a great deal of work to ensure that everything is completed to the highest possible level. Like all companies, Language Link is tightly interconnected, but the success that students see is due in no small part to the efforts of a great team of people all of whom are committed to the success of the company. Because of this, it is paramount that no one involved is ignored and any problems are dealt with swiftly. To ensure that everyone on the ground level is working well, Mr Jensky still teaches alongside his management responsibilities. For him, it is key that he leads by example and embody everything that he wishes the school to be. The school is not just set apart from a commitment to exceptional teaching, but by how it sees its teachers. From the beginning, teachers have not just been educators, but ambassadors whose job it was to impart both their native language and their regional culture. From the four parts of the UK, English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish, students have been able to dig a little more deeply into the culture. To accomplish that, teachers of English from the UK were recruited especially. As the brand has grown, so has the mission. Not just committed to the success of its students, Language Link is committed to the success of its staff. Teachers are drawn to the firm from all corners of the world, including Britain, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Russia itself, as well as numerous French, Spanish, Italian and German speaking countries. It’s simply a good place to be. The Russian market is not an easy one within which to work, with students facing inflation and wage stagnation resulting in less discretionary spending for extra-curricular education. For Language Link, taxation is onerous especially if you legally hire your foreign language teachers which has been a major differentiator for the company. There can be no little mistakes and the slightest error can result in similarly draconian fines for the firm. A familiarity with the bureaucratic needs of the Russian government meant that the COVID-19 pandemic, and associated lockdown, represented an entirely different, but perfectly manageable set of problems. The talented team were able to quickly mobilize a crisis management team supported by its IT Department which quickly and seamlessly brought all company operations online allowing staff to work safely from home. The innovations that were developed in very short order saved the complex network of schools from major revenue losses, as classes could still continue. The company’s Purchasing Department that quickly procured laptop computers for those in need, and last but not least the Academic Department procured an enterprise-level Zoom account package, that provided teachers with the best educational platform to continue their teaching online, supported by the online instruction of over 400 teachers in the creative use of Zoom for educational purposes. Like many businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Language Link and its various franchisees to think outside the box, and whether or not a twenty-five-year-old business model is the best way of operating in the long term. It is still clear that ‘face-to-face’ teaching is the ideal method of delivery, but there are other ways that can offer a different sort of benefit. Those looking for ways of self-improvement may find the provision of an online ‘interface-to-interface’ programme incredibly beneficial, able to be used whenever and wherever a client would like. These are questions that must be asked of the team moving forward, and the answers will only become clear as the dust begins to settle from this global crisis. The success of Language Link is not just shown by its growth, but by the many students who have come through its doors and left satisfied. It is shown by the teachers who want to work there, drawn from all corners of the globe. It is shown by the way in which, despite its size, it was able to quickly adapt to meet the needs of staff and students in an unprecedented crisis. Language Link started as a place where language and culture could interact. It has grown into something quite formidable, that sets it apart from the norm. Company: Language Link Russia & Kazakhstan Name: Robert Jensky Web Address: