Corinne Olatunji talks to Workingmums.co.uk about how she became a Jolie Ronde licensee.
Corinne Olatunji had taken redundancy from her job working in regeneration in the public sector and was spending someone quality time with her three children.
But time was running out and she needed to find a job. She had been looking around and was interested in doing a job which used her language skills and was flexible.
Her previous job was part-time three days a week, but the days she worked were long and there was no flexibility around school holidays. Her children are aged 12, 8 and 6. On top of that she had a half hour commute, which could be quite stressful in the morning traffic.
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Just in time, a newsletter arrived from Workingmums.co.uk and she noticed an advert for La Jolie Ronde Languages for Children, a well-known franchise business which teaches French and Spanish to nursery and primary aged children and which is this year celebrating its 30th birthday.
Corinne is fluent in Spanish and French, having come from a French-speaking African country and did her degree in Spanish and Third World Development.
She had not used her languages in her previous job and her friends kept telling her that she should. "People said I could be a teacher," she said, but her answer was always that she didn’t have the training and could not afford to go back to university.
She eventually built up the courage to contact La Jolie Ronde and was surprised by the amount of support and training they offer. She was very keen to go ahead, but gave herself a two-week ‘cooling off’ period to think it through.
"I decided to have a go," she says, "because I thought I would regret it if I didn’t and someone else set up teaching Jolie Ronde in Beckenham."
A telephone interview with the La Jolie Ronde took place and Corinne was asked to speak in both French and Spanish as well as English. Her references were inspected and finally a CRB check was taken out.
Corinne was delighted to hear she had passed La Jolie Ronde’s requirements to become a licensee and the next stage was to buy a licence to teach La Jolie Ronde’s programme. The cost for this was £500 which she was able to pay in instalments. There was also had a refundable £150 bond for class material. "It was so exciting when it was delivered," she says. "The amount of stuff they sent was amazing and put me at peace. I rarely need to buy anything else and base around 70% of my classes on the material, including flashcards and songs, and download a lot from the internet."
She says she was given a lot of support from Jolie Ronde HQ with marketing, including a set of pro-forma letters to send to schools and nurseries which she just had to tweak, and she was able to learn the ropes at her own pace, observing classes being taken by other Jolie Ronde licensees until she felt confident to take her own. She was also given help in finding out what price to charge for classes by looking at charges for similar activities in her local area and took part in weekly calls to check on her progress.
She was put in touch with a regional adviser and has attended yearly conferences when Jolie Ronde licensees meet up.
Corinne did her own advertising, taking her kids down the high street and asking if she can put flyers in relevant shops. She was inundated with calls. She then had to build up her confidence over the first year and spread the word about what she was offering through parents whose children attended her first classes.
Foot in the door
She says the hardest part of the last two years has been getting her foot in the door of local schools and nurseries. "Sometimes they can be apprehensive if they don’t know you, so you have to be persistent," she says.
She uses parents to help spread the word. One parent said their child couldn’t attend the Saturday classes she runs at open centres such as the David Lloyd Tennis Club so she suggested they ask if she could do a class at their child’s school.
Corinne says becoming a licensee has given her the perfect work life balance and, although she doesn’t earn as much as she did before, her earnings are "satisfactory" given that she doesn’t have to pay childcare or have the ‘headache’ of it any more. "The kids love having me at home and they take part in some classes. They also love that they do not have to get up at 6am during the holidays to go to the childminder," says Corinne.