Why You Should Be Selling to the ELL Market
When developing new EdTech tools and apps, it’s important to consider who your market is. Many EdTech companies make the mistake of focusing only on the general K-12 students. Instead, you should be targeting a specific population to maximize your impact. The ELL (English Language Learner) market is one of the best places to sell new EdTech products.
The ELL market is growing fast. In the 2014-2015 school year, ELL students made up 9.4 percent of public school students. That number is up from 9.1 percent in the 2004-2005 school year and is expected to continue to climb. There are far more ELL students in lower grades, with a full 16.7 percent of Kindergarten students in the US speaking English as a second language.
That makes ELL students a huge potential market for EdTech entrepreneurs. In addition to the big numbers, the ELL market also has a lot of need for effective new products. As their ELL populations grow, school districts are looking for ways to better serve these students.
It’s hard to find good tools for ELL students. There are several problems with many of the typical EdTech apps and tools teachers try with their ELL population. For one, they often rely simply on translation. While translation can be a helpful tool, it can easily become a crutch for students that prevents them from learning English.
EdTech tools that provide translation services also tend to be limited to just a few languages or even to Spanish only. While over 75 percent of ELL students in the United States are Spanish speakers, that leaves nearly a quarter who speak another language. Translating only into Spanish leaves out other students who likely already feel isolated.
Tools designed to teach basic English can also be difficult to use, as they can also present problems. These tools tend to be geared towards younger students. Older ELL students need to learn English while also developing a more advanced academic vocabulary. There is a huge need in the market for tools that teach ELL students English while supporting them in other disciplines. Otherwise, students end up with gaps in their vocabulary that can hinder them later on.
Given the large ELL population and the rate at which its growing, it’s no surprise that there’s a huge demand for products for ELL students. The lack of quality tools available make the ELL market the perfect niche for EdTech businesses.
What do you think EdTech entrepreneurs should do to sell to the ELL market? What does the ELL market need from EdTech? Tell us what you think!