CultureWorks President and Founder Tina Bax returns to China and likes what she sees. Part 2.
Tina Bax has recently returned from a working trip to China, teaming up with Amberson High School of Toronto. No stranger to China, Tina’s first journey there in 2019 will mark her 20th anniversary. Today, Tina gives us an update on some of the various programs.
QUESTION: What was your overall goal on this occasion and did you meet your goals?
TINA: “I think we far exceeded our goal and I came home so excited. I wanted to come home because I love where I live and I like my own bed and I miss people here, but if I had stayed another week, I just feel we could have capitalized on even more opportunities. So the goal that we had set was to make these meetings work with every school that we went. And every school that we went, we talked about some of the challenges in the market but they—all of them—also said this program is great. ‘It’s great, there is nothing like it in the market and we can see it’s good for students, the price is right,’ so they were all very excited about it.”
QUESTION: What ESL program are you talking about in this case?
TINA: “What I am talking about in this case is the high school Pathway Program, where we have taken the English as a second language component and mapped it on to the curriculum that they are already completing in high school. We’ve taken out all the duplication and then put in a few extra hours with the students, so by the time they complete Grade 12 in Toronto, they have already completed their languages requirements as well, so that they that don’t have that need for the extra year or even four months of language study. We also went to talk about some summer programs. ”
QUESTION: What was your biggest takeaway?
TINA: “The biggest takeaway for me was – recently we have launched the Gateway Program – and what we had always envisioned was that we would teach the 50-per -cent synchronous and then the students would have the asynchronous.
I think what the schools and teachers are asking for is they are all being expected to meet a higher standard of English, they don’t know really what to teach. They are all asking me what textbooks do you use, just really curious about what they could be teaching and how they could make it better.
“So I think there is a big market there to tweak our product really and have their teachers deliver the 50 per cent synchronous. We can support their teachers. We can do the marking so that we are still assuring the quality and then the kids still do the asynchronous. So I think the biggest takeaway for me – besides the fact that Amberson was a good choice for us as a partner – is that there is a massive market for Gateway there. It just needs to look a little bit different.”
QUESTION: Was there anything you worked on that would benefit Brescia University College?
TINA: “I was not officially representing Brescia, but there were great takeaways for the Preliminary Year Program. It hasn’t been attracting students like we wanted it to be and now I understand why. The message is not clear and we have not been clear enough on who the student is that we want to be attracting. We thought it was a different student than it actually is. So we need to clarify our message. There is also an opportunity for us to amp that product offering up a little bit if we can. I met with (Brescia Vice President) Marianne Simm about that yesterday and we are meeting about that again today.
“So we are going to play with that a little bit. We are going to change that and I think we are probably going to hire somebody on the ground in China again to give us that support that we need there to support this ESL program.”
QUESTION: Finally, was your trip worthwhile?
TINA: “Definitely, we are looking at going back in June. I just think there are more of these opportunities that we can explore. We would talk to the Amberson folks on the ground there. They are going to continue to vet more schools, set up more meetings and we would do more of the same. I think the trip was fantastic. We want to go back. And there is a lot of opportunity there for us.”
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