17 Okt 2016
A 100% guarantee that you can learn a new language fast and with confidence?

Years ago, I found in a bookstore an old textbook with the title “Lernen Sie Spanish schnell und sicher.”


As a Spanish teacher still struggling with the nuances of the German language, my immediate thought was that, perhaps, German speakers were so obsessed with certainty that they needed explicit assurance that it was “safe” to learn Spanish! Seconds later, I realized that the book title simply suggested the possibility of learning the language quickly and with confidence.

As we seek to follow safe paths through a life that is becoming increasingly uncertain and complicated, we want to believe advertising claims telling us buying a certain product or service will fully satisfy our expectations – something that amounts to a virtual 100% guarantee.


At our language institute, we do not claim to offer our clients a 100% guarantee for our language courses –we simply strive to surpass our client´s initial expectations. J Still, this unconditional quest for guarantees can go to extremes. For instance, we once had a beginner in English who reached a remarkable level of language competence in only four months with us. She returned to us in panic, explaining she just realized that she still needed to learn more to be able to speak fluently with the CEO who had just come to visit their local branch in Vienna. To get her out of her predicament, she proposed that we give her a retroactive guarantee in the form of additional free lessons until she reached the language level she expected. To our surprise, she was unwilling to ask her local supervisor to get the company to book the additional lessons needed – perhaps, to save face. In the end, we offered her some additional private lessons at a discount.


Sometimes, we simply have completely false expectations. For example, once we had a young student who came to us, exited to learn French. I asked her what was her main motivation in taking the course and she said that she wanted to philosophize and have an intellectual conversation in the language. I replied that this was a commendable goal to have at a higher level of proficiency and we started the course without me putting more thought into our initial discussion. To my surprise, after a few lessons she simply quit coming to her course anymore. I asked her what had happened, and she expressed her disappointment by repeating to me that her aim had been to philosophize in French — from the beginning onwards. At that moment, I had serious doubts whether she could philosophize in her own language!

We also demand guarantees from the fear that we will end up worst off than before. Given our fear of speaking the new language, we want to have assurances that our attempts will not end up in embarrassment and frustration with the consequent loss of time and money.


As a service provider, a language institute has indeed got a bigger marketing challenge. We don´t have a car we can show and give our students to test-drive before purchase. As I have mentioned before, attending first, trial lessons are no real gauge of the quality of the lessons that we actually receive later.. All we can do before you book courses is gain your trust by offering you personalized attention, an individual learning environment, specialized course programs, ample referrals, testimonials, an informative web site, active social media presence and, of course, a refund guarantee provided that you have been an active participant.

Speak to us. Give us the opportunity to show you how we can satisfy and even surpass your language learning expectations.

What do you look for before booking a new language course?


About the author: Carlos Aleson is the director of i-diom, an institute specialized in language and communications training in Austria.