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Estimating market size

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Research background: CyberLingua, a start-up technology company, has created a software program for teaching foreign languages and English as a Second Language (ESL) to both adults and children.

The marketing manager has identified specific markets for the product, namely academic, military/government, and corporate, and the company is in the process of looking for major funding to move into each of the identified markets.

Research is needed to look only at the potential military/government market to determine the following:

(1) Who are the key players in providing foreign language and ESL training to military and government employees? and

(2) What is the potential size of this market segment? Additionally, CyberLingua has requested that any information supporting the assertion that there is a continual or increased need for this type of training in the military/government market be included in the report.

Research budget: CyberLungua is still basically in start-up mode, and the budget for research of any kind is limited.

However, the marketing manager understands how crucial this information is to the success of the business plan and subsequently for obtaining the funding that CyberLingua needs.

She is not looking for an exhaustive list of current suppliers, nor is she looking for exact numbers, which would be difficult to quantify anyway.

At this point she is looking only for key players in the industry and some general numbers.

The plan is to commission more in-depth research as things move ahead. The marketing manager hires an independent researcher and approves a project fee based upon six to ten hours of labor at $75 per hour, with any database fees built into that project fee.

Research strategy employed: Given that the budget is small and the scope of the project fairly general, the researcher decides to use freely available Internet sources as the first step to determine who serves the markets mentioned and to obtain a general context for the remainder of the search.

Another reason for starting with free Internet sources is that for this particular market segment, government/military, it seems likely that much of the information needed will be publicly available, or that public sources will at least provide a good, authoritative basis for additional research.

The research starts with a variety of general Internet searches using various combinations of the following keywords and phrases: language learning; language training; foreign language learning; foreign language training; government; military; ESL; and English as a second language.

Later on, having reviewed the sources found, the researcher added the term national security to the search.

Research results: The initial results of a general Internet search on the Google ( and Yahoo ( search engines using various permutations of the above terms provides information on the following five key providers of both English and foreign language training to the government and military market:

1. One of the first language training providers listed in the search results is the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California. (

The Web site describes the institute as “the primary foreign language training institution within the Department of Defense (DoD) providing foreign language services to DoD, government agencies and foreign governments.”

2. Another language training resource in the results from both searches is the Defense Language Institute English Language Center at Lackland AFB, Texas (

The Web site describes the center as the “Department of Defense (DoD) agency responsible for the management and operation of the Defense English Program (DELP) to train international military and civilian personnel to speak and teach English.”

3. The Foreign Service Institute in Washington, D.C., also found within these searches (, has a main page describing the FSI as “providing training to enrollees from the State Department and more than 40 other government agencies and the military service branches.”

4. Another resource is the Diplomatic Language Services (DLS) in Arlington, Virginia (

The site explains that the DLS provides language training to “US Government personnel as well as corporate and private individuals in over 85 languages and dialects.”

It also indicates “DLS has provided nearly 1,000,000 hours of language instruction in these 85 languages in the past 15 years.”

5. Finally, the initial Internet search identifies the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC) (

Although the NFLC does not actually provide language training like those previously listed, its Web site does identify it as operating as a “think tank” that focuses on “language policy and U.S. needs for competencies in languages.”

The site includes a link to a helpful document, “National Briefing on Language & National Security,” from January 16, 2002 (

This transcript not only mentions many of the key players already identified above, but also provides support for CyberLingua’s contention about the ongoing and growing need for this type of training.

The Internet search continues and the researcher determines that, although this is not an exhaustive search of all entities providing language training to the military/government market, the above sources do provide a picture of the key players along with some general numbers of people served.

Further review within the Web sites of these suppliers provides more detailed information on the ways language courses are taught, by whom, and how.

This information is also highlighted so that the marketing manager can refer to it later.
After reviewing the sources, the researcher decides to add the term national security to subsequent searches.

As a result, transcripts and press releases are found identifying the growing need for language training in many branches of the government.

The following two NFLC sources provide additional support for CyberLingua’s assertion that there is a growing demand for this type of training:

1. NFLC Testimony for Congressional Hearing, September 29, 2000 (

2. “War on Terrorism: House Committee says, ‘Language Is Single Greatest Limitation’ in Intelligence,” October 10, 2001 (

There are no database costs associated with this search, and the time spent so far is within the budgeted amount.

The additional time to organize and write the final report still keeps the project within budget but takes almost the maximum number of hours allotted.

The report, referred to as the “deliverable,” provides an introduction to the search strategy and presents the key findings, with lists of the key providers of language training in this sector.

For each of the providers, a Web site address and contact information are provided, followed by a bulleted list highlighting data such as specific languages taught and the makeup of the student population, including the number of people served.

Summary of solution: According to the information collected from the Web sites of the main language training providers as well as from the transcripts and stories subsequently found, the researcher has determined that a handful of key sources provide either foreign language or ESL training to government departments.

The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center provides training to all four military services: army, air force, navy, and marines.

Its Web site also says that three thousand enlisted and officer personnel receive language training each year. It breaks down the enrollment into the four services and provides much additional general information useful to the client.

The Defense Language Institute English Language Center Web site says that every year, the center provides language training to as many as five thousand military personnel.

The Foreign Language Institute Web site says it serves more than thirty thousand enrollees a year and provides more than five hundred courses in sixty foreign languages.

The Web sites of these institutions, along with the others noted above, provide a good picture of the key government-centered players and the potential market size. The sites also provide details on how the training is offered, which is a nice information bonus for this project.

As to the question of ongoing or growing demand, a number of findings in the transcripts and the press releases are very useful to the client.

These note that demand for language training for national security purposes has increased since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; indeed, the NFLC press release says that “Language is the single greatest limitation in intelligence.”

U.S. troops are continually deployed abroad, and language proficiency is crucial to their ongoing integration.

More domestically located agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the FBI also provide language training to their staffs.

The final report suggests further in-depth review of the Web sites of the language providers to obtain even more detailed support for inclusion in CyberLinga’s business plan.

User tips
•,As you are identifying search terms, be sure to try synonyms or alternative phrases. For example, you might try both ESL and English as a Second Language.

• When your budget is limited and you are looking for government information, start with free Internet sources. There is a wealth of authoritative government sources.


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