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Cost to create a language program

 Language Learning Forum : Language Programs, Books & Tapes Post Reply
Kugel
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 Message 1 of 8
17 February 2010 at 7:35pm | IP Logged 
Anyone know what the cost is to create programs like Assimil, Pimsleur(3 levels), Linguaphone, and Michel Thomas?

Having experience with all of these programs, I noticed that the program itself, while being pretty ingenious in
content, doesn't seem like it would cost a lot of money. Having professional actors to do the recordings(A MT
course wouldn't bother) with a professional sound booth would be the biggest expense.

Anyone ever look into this?   
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rafal
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 Message 2 of 8
17 February 2010 at 7:45pm | IP Logged 
Creating a language program seems to be the easy and "cheap" part. Marketing and making people buy it might be the problem.
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Sprachprofi
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 Message 3 of 8
17 February 2010 at 7:56pm | IP Logged 
It does take more time than you would think to properly plan out a lesson, and there is
a very limited number of people who can do so. For example, to come up with a good
lesson dialog of about 200 words that covers a certain topic, does not introduce too
much new vocabulary, does not involve grammar that hasn't been taught yet and tries to
revise as many of the already-taught vocabulary items as possible, takes about one
hour. Then you have to come up with the translation, explanations, exercises and
whatever else you want to provide, and go to the studio to record. You can estimate
that you'll record about twice as long as the final product (30 minute recording for a
15 minute lesson), and for that you have to pay professional voice actors (60-80 € per
hour per person), the studio and the studio technician (30-180 € per hour). Then comes
the audio editing, which from my experience takes about 3-4 times as long as the final
product (60 minute editing for a 15 minute lesson), assuming it's plain voice and you
don't need fancy sound effects or the like. Finally, publishing and getting the product
out in the stores, a very big part of the cost from what I've heard.

So in the case of Pimsleur, my estimate is that it takes a minimum of eight man hours
to produce one Pimsleur lesson with a bare-bones crew (two voice actors, one
technician, ...), not counting the publishing and what follows nor the initial
preparation of curriculum and finding of suitable people nor the hierarchy of managers
and editors. Assuming a small professional
wage of 60 € / hour, that would be 480 € for one lesson. Of course Pimsleur is
standardizing a lot of things across languages to cut costs and to make it easier to
give the lesson-developing work to just anybody, but I don't think they can spend
significantly less than that.

Edited by Sprachprofi on 17 February 2010 at 8:03pm

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Tropi
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 Message 4 of 8
17 February 2010 at 8:19pm | IP Logged 
I think you can't really generalize there. Sprachprofi's calculation seems to be quite realistic.

But when you want to develop your own language programs, you also have to know how you teach things. The most successfull courses have special techniques. Like Pimsleur where you should learn just by hearing, or Assimil with the passive/active parts.

If you dont have any knowledge in stuff on how to teach it will take much more time that in Sprachprofi's calculations.
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Cainntear
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 Message 5 of 8
17 February 2010 at 9:32pm | IP Logged 
Not to mention the fact that a good course is the result of years of research, experimentation and experience.

Michel Thomas made his courses very cheaply: as I understand it, the two students on each recording were given expenses only -- the real payment for their participation was the face-to-face coaching with one of the world's most expensive language teachers.

The course was recorded over a single weekend with no retakes, and cuts only for breaks, and very little editing work was needed afterwards (only volume correction etc). Thomas didn't plan the lesson specifically in advance, he just did it off-the-cuff.

Making the recording was therefore very cheap, but only possible because the guy had been teaching so long.

It's not just a matter of throw enough money at it and you get a course....
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DaraghM
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 Message 6 of 8
19 February 2010 at 1:00pm | IP Logged 
Cainntear wrote:
Not to mention the fact that a good course is the result of years of research, experimentation and experience.


Cainntear hits the nail on the head. To create a brand new course would require an Alpha version, which is tested and reviewed, followed by a Beta version where further errors are eliminated. Finally, after been carefully reviewed for mistakes, oversights or ambiguities, version 1 of the course could be released. That said, I'm not sure how many language courses are put through the full product development lifecycle.

If I could create a course now, it would be an all audio grammar course with numerous sentence examples from films, papers and literature. An additional book would have the entire L2 written. The course would be tiered to the CEFR levels.

Edited by DaraghM on 19 February 2010 at 1:06pm

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Cainntear
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 Message 7 of 8
19 February 2010 at 9:26pm | IP Logged 
DaraghM wrote:
The course would be tiered to the CEFR levels.

<shudder>

There's nothing like a poorly thought out set of vague and unhelpful bureaucratic guidelines when you want to ruin a perfectly good language course....
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Kugel
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 Message 8 of 8
27 February 2010 at 8:06pm | IP Logged 
I thought that the content of the language program would be fairly inexpensive if the developer/language
community had considerable experience in language learning. I'm certainly not among the experienced
language learners, but there are a lot of them on the web who seemingly spend ever hour of their free time
studying languages.


Take a look at this project for example: A
Lithuanian course


It's a course that's still in development, but I would say that if it had audio and assimil like content after each
lesson, then it would rival the language programs by the big players like TY and Pimsleur. I personally had to
stop at lesson 10 because I couldn't get passed the idea of not knowing how to pronounce what I was learning.
It's hard to remember words and grammar if the pronunciation isn't figured out.


By the way, I've noticed that this website has considerable more options than the Wikibooks(is this right? Is it
wikiuniversity?). Perhaps moving the "Create our own Assimil" project could be moved there?


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