next big thing investors

Are Latin-American language schools the next big thing for smart investors and entrepreneurs?

Published on: 22/02/2018 By
Last Modified on: 18/11/2019

In a world that sometimes feels like it’s falling apart, it has never been more important to break down barriers and connect. And this need to seek out the things that unite us could represent a major opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs.


One of the most powerful ways of unlocking new potential, for businesses and individuals alike, is to acquire languages that help you compete more effectively in a connected world.

Two of the most commonly spoken languages, and the top ones for business, are English and Spanish.

But if you are from Latin America and Spanish is already your native tongue, the obvious way to improve your opportunities is to learn English, not least because it is the language spoken by your most powerful neighbour to the North.

Being able to do business with the world’s largest economy and most powerful cultural force is probably a good enough excuse for most Latin Americans to want to learn English. But English also remains the common language of much of the rest of the world.

Whether you’re an African villager, a Chinese businessman, an Arab sheik or a European politician, the language you are most likely to revert to for international communication is still English.

According to Jim McGowan, Managing Director of Wall Street English (WSE), the world’s leading English language school business franchise operator, “English remains the dominant world language and the trend shows no sign of slowing down.

“In fact, quite the opposite is true. Right now, around one in four of the world’s population is learning English and more than 80% of multinationals use English as their primary language.”

In a recent IPSOS poll of multinational companies across 13 countries, including Mexico, Brazil, and Chile, 87% of senior human resource managers considered English as one of the key skills when assessing potential employees.

And yet, Latin America consistently performs below the world average in English proficiency. What this means is “this is a great time for language schools,” said McGowan.


Language learning is a market that is already set to grow to $50 billion a year by 2020.

With English set to remain the default language for international transactions for the foreseeable future, investors and entrepreneurs are waking up to the benefits of investing in language training businesses.

Lex Baker, Wall Street English’s Franchise Management and Development Director, said:“There is a huge opportunity in Latin America for English language learning, but it really needs to be a part of a strategic solution.

“Latin America as a region currently performs below the world average in the English First Proficiency Index, especially amongst young people. Latin America’s 18 to 20 year-olds are almost 4% behind the world average in language learning.”

Part of the problem is that the quality of English teaching in Latin America is not great, largely due to poor professional development for teachers.

Hence, while much English learning can be done in schools, increasingly private language learning centres are going to have to fill skills gaps in the context of wider, coordinated government strategies.

As a result, Baker said: “We believe there is a huge opportunity to develop language center franchise networks in the region, especially in countries like Mexico, where the government is working hard to encourage English language learning skills.”

Business partners working with Wall Street English would be a part of an established international brand with a track record that stretches back for more than 40 years, he said.

Investors and entrepreneurs would typically see annual profit margins of around 30-35% on an English language business, he said, which generally results in a two-year return on the original investment.

Besides the high return, language training businesses benefit from an established, low-risk business model. Wall Street English, for example, gives its in-country partners a ‘business in a box’ with simple operating procedures and no need for prior educational experience.

“Our products have been proven in the real world and we’ve continually evolved our processes to keep ahead of the latest thinking in the industry,” Baker commented.

The recipe works well, he noted. “We’re growing fast,” he said. “This year alone, we helped investors and entrepreneurs open 22 new centers in eight countries around the world. The opportunity is there for anyone with an eye for a smart investment.”


Interested in English language learning business opportunities in Latin America? Contact Lex Baker at or complete this form:

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Lex Baker

Author of this post

Lex Baker is the development director at Wall Street English.