Situation in the Netherlands and World trends

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This chapter offers a general introduction about this thesis. First of all it presents the background information, i.e. the world trends and Mandarin course within Dutch market. Later a detailed description about Central British English was presented. The research objective of this report is to explore marketing opportunities and strategies for Central British English language training center. The research questions are designed to determine the market size, target customer and cost & revenue for executing the strategy. The research methods are based on questionnaire and interview.

1.1 Background information

1.1.1 World trends

The statistic of Chinese Hanban shows there are 109 countries, more than 3000 universities worldwide who offer Mandarin courses. Middle school and high school students in particular are getting more and more enthusiastic. It is estimated that more than 40 million of people are now learning Chinese all over the world.

According to the survey of the American language center, Mandarin is one of the four most difficult languages in the world, then why do so many people persevere? On one hand people are extremely interested in China--- the origin of ancient civilization, with its gorgeous culture which is attractive to millions of people. On the other hand, China is in a period of rapid growth, occupying a unique global position. it stands an outstanding position in the world. For many, learning Mandarin can provide more opportunities, and broaden their horizons. Clearly, China's development is the greatest motivation which encourages people to learn Chinese.

First let us have a look at the U.S. There were 200 primary schools offering Mandarin on 2005. Now there are 1,000 schools. Numbers of people studying Chinese increased from 20,000 to 100,000 during the five years. The statistics of American Modern Language Association express 330 middle schools offering Mandarin course in 2002, which increasing to 650 in 2006. The student numbers rose from 33,000 to 50,000 during the four years. There were 350 universities offering Mandarin courses in 2002, increasing to 600 in 2006. Student numbers increased from 24,000 to 35,000. And this is just a conservative amount; the real number is much higher

In Thailand, approximately 1000 schools have organized Mandarin courses, with about 300,000 people are learning Chinese. The same situation in the U.K, schools offering Mandarin have increased from 150 to 500 among 2000--2005, with students number reached 70,000. In Russian, the schools increased from 50 to 150 from 2004 to 2008, the students' numbers rose from 5,000 to 15,000. In Germany more than 200 public middle schools offer Mandarin courses with more than 10,000 students. In the period June 26th-July 1st 2009 more than 1,000 headmasters and education officers of Korean primary school & middle schools visited China. They have traveled 18 provinces to look for cooperation opportunities on Mandarin.

In accordance with the foreign countries requirements, Chinese Hanban (Hanban is the executive body of the Chinese Language Council International, a non-governmental and non-profit public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education.) supplied 2060 Chinese teachers to 109 countries, and 2740 volunteers to 74 countries. It offered training service to more than 61,000 foreign teachers in 80 countries. It also offered free teaching resources, like books, CDs, total 3150,000 items were distributed to the whole world. In addition China offers various scholarships to encourage Non-Chinese people to learn Mandarin. What's more Hanban cooperates with abroad universities worldwide, such as Leiden University in Holland, University of Shelffield in UK, San Francisco state university in American, etc.

1.1.2 Situation in the Netherlands

Recently, due to enhanced political, economic and culture communication between The Netherlands and China, Mandarin is in increasing demand in the Netherlands market. People are getting more and more interested in Mandarin. The number of learners is rising steadily.

According to the Netherlands statistic, total of 43 schools offer Chinese language in Holland, most schools take it as a "hobby class". As a pilot project, the education department of Holland has given special permission to Hilversum school to take Mandarin as an optional course on 2007. In February 2009, the Holland course design center took Mandarin into junior school teaching outline. According to this proposal, Mandarin will become one of the examination subjects of middle schools. As the first step, 8 Dutch public middle schools will have Mandarin course exam. The students can attend the exam voluntarily; and they would obtain an extra mark on certificate to prove their Mandarin level. After this proposal has been approved by the Education Department, Mandarin will enter into the Dutch education system officially. The education department also remits Eur1, 000,000 as budget for the Mandarin exam.

"Hanyu Bridge" is an international Mandarin competition organized by Chinese Hanban. It is a platform for the world youth to learn about China, to learn Chinese. It is a bridge between foreign youth and Chinese youth. The topic of this year's competition is "Happy Mandarin", organized among middle school students for the first time in Holland, which focuses on Chinese language and Chinese culture. The special feature is that students from Chinese schools and Dutch schools can perform on the same stage together. The winners can attend the semi finals and finals competition in Chongqing, China. Definitely, it provides a major stimulus for the students desire to learn Chinese.

1.1.3 CBE presentation

CBE - Centre for British English

Meent 106 (Minervahuis 1)

3011 JR Rotterdam

Tel: 010 - 282 78 20

The Centre for British English(herein after CBE) is a private school which offers group courses, intensive courses or in-company courses for English and Dutch. In addition to teaching, the CBE also offers solutions for any problems relating to the English or Dutch language. At this moment, CBE would like to catch the world trend to take Mandarin into consideration.

The Centre for British English was founded by Roger Liddle in the closing years of the last century. Roger has been an English teacher for more than 35 years, working first with the British Council in the Middle East (Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt) for ten years and subsequently, after arriving in the Netherlands, with the British School in The Hague. However, being resident in Rotterdam, he soon realized that there was a serious need for quality English teaching there. Following his instincts, he parted company with the British School and the CBE opened its doors to the public in January 1997.

Starting with only 1 teacher and 11 students in the first semester, Roger had a vision for 'his' school. He sought to create an environment run for the benefit of the students and the teachers, where the focus would be on the quality of the product rather than on the yearly balance-sheet-teachers running a business, not businessmen running a school. The CBE's success would be due to the reputation for quality of its product, not to any marketing skills. CBE's reputation and its name spread quickly and it has now become the school in Rotterdam for both English and Dutch for foreigners and a prominent fixture on the Rotterdam scene.

The school now runs at maximum capacity, providing language courses to an average of 240 students and 8 teachers per semester on its own premises, plus an extensive portfolio of in-company courses for the academic, the commercial and the public sectors.

The English & Dutch courses are justifiably popular. CBE aims to improve all the four skill areas of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, but the main focus of all courses is to get you speaking English & Dutch, not just studying it. At CBE you won't be put behind a computer and left to your own devices - the classes are fully interactive and designed to help students speak with confidence. Class numbers are small - maximum 12 people - and students come from all over the world so you'll be sitting with fellow students of all nationalities, all eager to learn the language, so progress is usually fast. Each course level consists of 10 lessons of two hours each. In some levels, you can choose to come once a week for 10 weeks or twice a week for 5 weeks.

The CBE is now on the brink of a period of dynamic expansion. Roger, though still very much a presence in the CBE, is handing over the running of the school to Emma Gill. Emma has been a teacher with CBE for several years, and has the enthusiasm, the dynamism and the energy to take the CBE to its next level.

1.2 Research objective

The goal of this research is to explore marketing opportunities and strategies which would enable the CBE to penetrate the Netherlands market by offering courses in the Chinese language; to try and ensure CBE break-even in the first two years, and obtain 100 students with annual revenue of Eur30, 000 in the third year.

Why have we chosen to start a Mandarin course in the Netherlands? The reasons are as follows: Mandarin is becoming more and more popular worldwide; there are more than 100 countries and 3000 universities offering Chinese language courses. On one hand, people are extremely interested in the origin of an ancient civilization; China, with its rich culture, attracts millions of people. On the other hand, the Chinese economy is growing rapidly; it is in an outstanding position nowadays. People want to know China, people want to know Chinese.

1.3 Problem definition

As described in 1.1 background information, Mandarin is getting more and more popular, then how about the market size in Holland? Should CBE catch the opportunity to follow the trend? If yes what's the market strategy and who are the target customer. How much money to invest and how long to get break even? All these questions will be analyzed through the fishbone diagram.

See attach diagram 1.3 as fishbone diagram

1.4 Research questions

In order to achieve the above objective, we have to do some research. The following five questions have been designed to do this:

What is the market size?

Who are our target customers?

What kind of market strategy should be developed?

What is the finance budget needed to execute this strategy?

How long will it take to reach break-even point in this market?

1.5 Research methods

The approach method is mainly focused on primary research; it includes questionnaires and interviews. We did 150 questionnaires with local residents of different ages and occupations, and 7 face to face interviews with language training centers. Not only from the customer's perspective but also from market player's perspective to see their opinion about Mandarin course. Based on the data collected, we would use service marketing mix 7Ps and Boston Matrix to analyze, then design an applicable & feasible marketing strategy for CBE.

See attached 1.5 as the time table.

Chapter review

In this first chapter, we offer an overview of the thesis. A great deal of background information related to Mandarin course was presented. The thesis research objective has been stated, as have the problem definition and research questions. The next chapter will deal with the literature review of this thesis. It will analyze current theory knowledge and extensive reflections through CBE case.