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Tuesday 16 April 2019
by Jackie Emson

Meet the Member - Janet Whitfield and Lesley Poulaud from Cheshire Language Academy

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  • Name of Business : Cheshire Language Academy   
  • Who are you? : We are a small, independent language school situated in Warrington town centre within Warrington Business Centre.  We specialise in English as a Second Language but also offer language courses in other languages too such as German, Spanish and French.  
  • What sets you apart from the competition? Because we have no external funding from government we can offer a bespoke service to our learners if required.  We offer a range of courses to suit the individual's needs from beginner to proficiency level.  We offer Cambridge exam courses as well as general English and also can provide one to one tuition for business clients travelling from abroad.  We are a specialist school which offers flexible learning and have a range of expert tutors with a wide breadth of experience and knowledge.  
  • How did the business come about? : My colleague Janet Whitfield, and myself, Lesley Poulaud, were joint course leaders for ESOL at Warrington Collegiate for more than 5 years and we had known each other as tutors working in the same team for many years before that.  I have been teaching ESOL and EFL both abroad and in the UK for over 30 years.  As we were both passionate about English language teaching and yet frustrated by the bureaucracy, we decided to take redundancy and start our own school in May 2012.
  • What are your main target markets?  :  Our main target market is non-native English speakers who wish to improve/learn English for a variety of reasons.  Maybe it is for work purposes, helping their children at school, leisure purposes, education etc.  The main core of our learners are those who work here in the UK and wish to better their English language skills.  We also have a number of business people who are working here temporarily and wish to improve English and/or take a Cambridge exam.   
  • How long has your business been in existence? : The business opened in May 2012 with our first students enrolling in August 2012. 
  • How many staff do you employ?  We have 3 full time staff (including Janet and myself) and 3 part time staff.   
  • What job or achievement makes you most proud? : We are always proud of our students when they successfully complete and pass their exams, but I think we are most proud of our refugee students, some of whom we have been teaching since 2017.  This is part of the relocation and resettlement scheme for people from extremely hazardous countries such as Syria.  The students have some harrowing and shocking stories to tell and yet they have made remarkable achievements in learning English.  They are an inspiration. 
  • Where do you see your business being in five years?  Our future is a little unpredictable until we have a firm idea of what is going to happen after Brexit and indeed what kind of Brexit we have.  As most of our students are from the EU this could be a major factor in our enrolments. However, there are always people who want to learn English and maybe we can branch into other areas such as teaching English to business people in their place of work.  We have lots of ideas!   
  • Why Warrington?   Although I am not from Warrington, I have lived here for more than 20 years and have worked here for a significant period too. Whilst working at the college, we noticed our numbers of students rising significantly after some eastern European countries such as Poland, became members of the EU.  Warrington is an ideal place for businesses such as warehousing and this has attracted large numbers of EU migrant workers.  It is also a strategically excellent place for both Liverpool and Manchester airports and is on a major motorway network.   
  • Tell us one thing about the business which may surprise us?   We have over 25 different nationalities of students studying here.
  • Tell us one interesting thing about you that people might not know? I enjoy horse riding and did this as a hobby for many years.  I also enjoy skiing – although I am not very good at it! 
  • Brexit – good, bad, opportunity?  Bad. Short-sighted as eventually we will be one global nation.   
  • Fantasy dinner party – which 6 people dead or alive would you invite?  Jane Austen (obviously), Shakespeare, George Michael, Will Smith, Noel Fitzpatrick and JK Rowling.