There isn’t much to cheer about for the former customers of Global Language Centre, a language school in Jakarta which has suddenly shut its doors. An incredible 3900 students of this defunct business are now out of pocket, stunned by the news that not only has the school closed forever, but its former managers have gone into hiding. In the least serious cases, these people have lost a couple of months’ tuition fees, but in the worst cases they may have lost up to Rp 10 million, any incredible $850.
Yet we have started to see that there may be a partial silver lining to this whole tawdry affair. While the losses of GLC’s trusting customers are unlikely ever to be recouped, at least one of the worst business ideas we have heard of has come to an end. Like Rumah Bahasa, its sister in deception, Global Language Centre offered a ludicrous system where students would study 10 languages simultaneously. At GLC Bekasi Hypermall, for example, students were offered a smorgasbord of international languages: English, Korean, Mandarin, Italian, Dutch and so on. When people questioned the likelihood of mastering multiple difficult languages in a short period of time, they were glibly reassured that GLC’s talented multi-linguists would help them achieve this. However, we would like to stress how ridiculous this whole ‘system’ was from the start. In our opinion, there is only one place this ”10 Language System” belongs, and that is in the trash can of bad business ideas.
Allow us to explain why we consider this idea so foolish. Basically, it takes a clever person at least a couple of years to develop a fair degree of fluency in a language. Studies have shown that for someone to obtain true proficiency in English, we can expect them to do at least 700 hours of study. That’s a massive commitment of time and energy and is not to be undertaken lightly. Yet GLC offered false marketing promises that a few brief hours in the room with a Spaniard or Korean would be enough to have you conversing fluently in their native languages. They were either completely ignorant or willfully deceptive about the language acquisition process. Either way, students were being led astray. We should be grateful that the ”10 Languages at Once” madness has been thrown into the trash can of bad business ideas. Long may it stay there.