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Sep, 01 2008

Crafting Expertise in Spoken English

“The English Language continues to be one of the world`s great growth industries, adding more than a thousand new words a year to its word store. Over the course of a millennium and a half, it has evolved from the crude tongue of a few isolated Germanic t

The aforementioned quote by Richard Lederer rightly conveys the importance of the English language as a medium of conveying thousands of thoughts by individuals and societies as a whole. In the growing IT industry and BPO culture the English language plays an important role in universal communication and also helps in providing the youth a high salaried career.

In the present scenario an individual should have a tight hold on his communication skills as this is what an employer looks for when fresh graduates apply for a job. English teaching is not new in our country; there was always a demand for learning English. But the present demand is from a new class of students in the age bracket of 20 to 35 years. These students are highly career oriented. The students coming from districts or small towns have high hopes from the city; but the lack of communication skills in English is considered to be an obstacle in the path of their success. Most students find it difficult to adjust to the English medium of education, as English was always looked upon as a second language in their schools. The feeling of competition makes them think seriously about learning the language more effectively and they feel the need to brush up their communication agility. But good communication skills are not enough. Soft skills and etiquettes also play a vital role in building up the personality of an individual. Simple things like the way one greets people, phone manners, asking for permission before taking a seat are noticed by the interviewer while taking an interview. Companies always look for good communicators.

Today`s business world is throbbing with endless opportunities with globalisation and the advent of BPOs and the IT and IT related industries. The pre requisite for all these new openings is English. At the same time employable resources in India have become greater in number today than ever before. Talent is galore and the only honing needed by a vast majority is English language skills. For national as well as international communication, spoken English is an urgent requirement and an essential skill set to possess in the emerging highly competitive global job market. “Fluency in the language along with soft skills is a combination that companies search for in a candidate when they conduct interviews. When students sign up for a course, the main focus stays on building their confidence while developing their language and soft skills,” said Russell Zaheer. Russell`s has realised the significance of this need and been in the field of imparting spoken English for over 20 years.


Mukul`s dream of starting an English language training school took shape in 1986 at Begumpet, Hyderabad. Today, Russell`s Institute of Spoken English (P) Ltd is a strong family with a staff of 310 on board. From 1986, the organisation has progressed dramatically from strength to strength to reach the present level of competency. These days, students from the Middle East, Far East and Africa also participate in these courses. The reason why Russell`s entered the Education and Training sector is because at that particular time, people thought that English was the birth right of convent educated students. The existing system of education then catered only to writing and reading skills in English. There was no scope for listening and thus none for spoken English to flourish. To bridge this gap, it was essential to start a Spoken English Institute to help those having such needs. So Russell`s Institute of Spoken English was started with a handful of students and it has since, grown by leaps and bounds. It is today an ISO certified company that is the forerunner in communication skills.


The courses at Russell`s are designed to cater to the unique needs of the learners. Russell`s offers courses in Spoken English and Soft Skills. The Institute offers a correct balance in emphasis between encouraging speech and understanding the language for those with limited spoken English skills. Training methods at Russell`s are pragmatic, highly focused and stimulating. The Institute has brought in remarkable changes to cater to the ever-changing market needs.

The different courses that are offered at Russell`s are:

Spoken English Special: This is for fundamental learners who have just been introduced to the language.
Spoken English I: This is for learners who have some knowledge of English but find it difficult to speak using the right grammatical structure.
Spoken English II: This is for learners who are able to speak the language but have minor flaws in their usage of the language in terms of limited vocabulary and expression.
Language skills for Professionals: This is for learners who are able to express themselves but lack effective business communication on the professional front.

The courses have been designed by Russell`s keeping in mind the need and the learning ability of the individual. A strong R & D Department, armed with a team of dedicated professionals, plans the teaching modules and continually brings in the needed alterations to suit the ever-changing demands of the market. This helps the organisation forge ahead of others in the same field. It has tailor made courses that suit individual needs. A 360o evaluation system ensures constant monitoring of the students` progress as well as that of the trainers and the process functioning.


Russell`s potential customers are from a cross section of society ranging from housewives to professionals. Graduates and professional students join the institute in order to increase their chances of securing jobs and also for upgrading to better ones. Professionals like lawyers, doctors, lecturers, teachers, media persons, managers and bankers are able to enhance their language skills and express themselves more effectively at the work place. Corporate clients with national or international operations look for higher profitability of their organisation. Housewives mostly join the institute to gain social acceptance. People who plan to move abroad for higher education join the institute so that they develop a good command on the language. These courses undoubtedly help the students in their job prospects. Russell`s regularly conducts job fairs to facilitate placements mainly in retail, banking, software, and BPO and Hotel sectors and it recently provided more than 100 students to Reliance Retail sector for its maiden venture in Hyderabad.

Progressive Franchising Plans

After 20 years of steady involvement with communication skills, keeping up with and mastering the new market trends, Russell`s reached the numero uno position in Andhra Pradesh. Having acquired ISO Certification in 2005, their processes have become more organised and there is uniformity in the functioning of all the main branches. Their success story at Nizamabad where their pilot project started motivated them to open more and more centres in India. At present there are 26 centres in India of which two are franchisees and the plan is to open 100 more franchises in the next six months. They are planning their expansion not only in small cities but are also targeting the metros as more and more people from small towns are migrating to bigger cities for better job opportunities. Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Indore, Chandigarh, Kolkota, Trivandrum, Pune, Nasik, Ahmedabad, Surat, Dehradun, Mumbai, Vizag and Guntur are some of the cities that have been targeted for further expansion.


According to a recent study, over 10 crore people in India need to hone their language skills in English to avail suitable job opportunities. The need of the hour is for a leading brand to impart quality English communication in every city. Identifying the huge growth prospects, Russell`s invites franchisees to be a part of it. The franchisee needs to have a strong academic background, be financially sound and fully conversant with the system and adhere to the modules designed by Russell`s. The constant interaction with Russell`s Corporate Office for necessary inputs is also required by the franchisee. The total initial investment to set up a Russell`s franchisee is Rs 4,00,000 + service tax on licensing fee. The franchisee should look for a suitable site where he/she would like to start the centre.


The main aim of Russell`s is to build a healthy and successful business relation with their franchisees. They have set a criteria with the help of which this can be achieved. The franchisee needs to take care of the interiors and infrastructure at his expense, including: a Russell`s sign board and a room for teaching staff. In turn Russell`s would provide guidelines for standardization of infrastructure, which include: colour, shape and dimensions of the sign board and selection of furniture and equipment for the classrooms, counselling area and other areas. If necessary, Russell`s would connect the Franchisee to its infrastructure contractors.

As far as monetary terms are concerned the franchisee has to pay a licensing fee based on the number of centres and the city he is operating in. He also has to procure in-house printed stationery e.g., brochures, daily report sheets, attendance registers, lesson plan book and so on, at a marginal cost, for his centre. Study material for students would be purchased (at actual cost) by the franchisee, from Russell`s. 20 per cent of the monthly turnover of the business should be remitted to Russell`s account after books of accounts are checked and verified. Rental agreement should be strictly adhered to i.e. the sole purpose of renting the site would be for operating Russell`s Spoken English Institute.

For marketing Russell`s will carry out large scale marketing activities for the purpose of brand building and maintenance purpose, which includes activities such as television advertising and corporate sponsorships and for this the franchisee need not contribute or share in the costs but they are expected to do a certain level of local marketing. The Franchisee and Russell`s would together create an effective marketing plan, which would be executed by the franchisee with his own funds. Any material required for the campaign would be obtained from the company directly, at a cost.


The uniformity of operations at the franchisee centres is ensured by Russell`s by assisting the franchisees in recruiting, training and monitoring the trainers as well as the counsellors. There are specific training programmes for the trainers as well as the counsellors. Regular guidance from the Branch heads at every step of the way enables the trainers to learn continuously while on the job. Training on business orientation, training on counselling and faculty training, supports franchisees. Ongoing training is provided through mail, phone and personal visits. Franchisee staff is also invited to attend regular training workshops at the Russell`s Corporate Office and complete training modules inclusive of all annexure are provided to the franchisee after initial training programs. . It becomes easy for the franchisees to maintain uniformity as all the procedures are planned, implemented, audited and analysed periodically. The Franchisee Management team periodically visits the franchisees to ensure quality delivery of the courseware. Russell`s actively guides and assists its franchisee in carrying out the day-to-day operations of the centre. It also helps the franchisee to foresee operational issues and work to ensure that the highest quality standards are maintained.

The world is becoming linguistically smaller in this age of globalisation and English takes the lion`s share in international trade communications. It has been estimated that out of the roughly 6 billion people alive today about 350 million speak English. It is the language of computer technology and speaking English has become a necessity in every field of life. This shows that there is great scope for the development of the English language training industry in India. The market size of the English language training industry in India is 1500 crore. And Russell`s plans to target at least 60 per cent of this market share in the coming years. Analysing the present scenario of the market, working with Russell`s Institute of Spoken English Pvt Ltd would be a great opportunity.

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