When Jessica Bonnard developed an effective and fun method to teach languages to adults, she created a model offering a rewarding and flexible career path for franchisees
It was after years of frustration that Jessica Bonnard had her lightbulb moment. The linguist had been working for local colleges, teaching adults French for barely more than the minimum wage. She would be offered a job, only to hear that her course had been cancelled when too few students signed up. And when they did come, they often didn’t stay. The stuffy, grammar-heavy material felt too much like school.
But Jessica, from Newcastle-under- Lyme, had an idea. She explains: “What I’m really passionate about is giving people the confidence to actually speak the language – to use it in real life.”
Making learning fun
So, in 2007, she created the Language for Fun method. This unique teaching style draws on the principles of psychology to put students at ease, so they can learn in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
“You need to get things wrong to learn a language,” the mum-of-one adds. “And you can’t just get them wrong discreetly in your exercise book. You have to do it in front of other people because that’s how language works. But adults absolutely hate getting things wrong. This is the main reason people stop learning languages.”
Jessica decided that in her lessons, no one would ever be made to feel bad. Learners would not have to speak in front of the class, obsess over boring grammar or hand in compulsory homework. Instead, they would focus on chatting and making friends in their new language.
“Language is such a joyful thing to be used for new experiences and adventures,” says Jessica. “If a student is struggling, you can help by reminding them of the joy of learning a language – so do something fun.”
Business in a box
Her motto of ‘communication, not perfection’ became an instant hit. As more and more learners signed up, Jessica invested her earnings into helping the company grow.
With the help of her first franchisees, she branched out from French into Spanish materials in 2009 and Italian in 2015. Language for Fun has since blossomed into a network of more than 100 teachers in England and Scotland.
Franchisees pay a £600 start-up fee for a ‘business in a box’, including training, lesson plans, marketing materials and a range of bespoke software. They keep all the profits from their lessons, minus 20 per cent royalties. Over 1,500 learners attend their small, friendly group classes each week – either in person or online.
Jessica says: “We’re not in the business of short-term profit, but of making a lasting contribution to our local community. We’re building a sustainable income doing what we love most.”
Not all franchisees have a background in teaching. Thanks to a comprehensive training programme, linguists from all walks of life can start their own classes within weeks – on a timetable that suits their lifestyle.
At a glance
Number of franchised outlets:
Location of units:
England and Wales
Minimum required capital: