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Alberto Sarno, President, Sprachcaffe

Alberto Sarno, President of Sprachcaffe Languages Plus, talks to The PIE about his acquisition of the GEOS school chain in North America, growth in Asia, visa policy and further expansion plans.

The PIE: What prompted you to decide to buy GEOS North America?
AS: The Geos network in North America was the natural extension for our portfolio of 21 destinations in Europe, Asia and Africa. First of all, the schools have been run very successfully in the past. Secondly, they are located in the most exciting cities in the USA and Canada, and thirdly, GEOS is a very well known brand in many parts of the world and has got a different mix of students: such as Asians, Latin Americans and Middle Eastern while we are historically a more European-oriented organisation – the mix will be very exciting from the cultural and economical point of view!

What we found at the GEOS schools was full classrooms and enthusiastic staff!

The PIE: What are your plans for the chain?

AS: What we found at the GEOS schools was actually not bad at all and very promising right from the start: full classrooms and enthusiastic staff! So our intention is to keep GEOS as much as possible the same, we will also continue with the same brand, followed by a “languages PLUS” which is the raison d’être of our company. The brand, however, has with Sprachcaffe many more opportunities: first of all we immediately added our schools in London, Brighton, Exmouth and Malta to the portfolio – later on we may decide to also sell our centres in France, Spain, Central America, Italy, Germany, Morocco and China under the GEOS brand.

The last months have been very intense for the re-structuring: we have been exchanging staff, introducing colleagues from North America to our head office in Frankfurt and sending Sprachcaffe staff to be trained in the GEOS schools.

After the “harmonisation” of the different products it will be all about reorganizing the commercial structures. We decided that depending on whether our partner agents have traditionally worked with the GEOS sales offices in Montréal or with Sprachcaffe in Frankfurt or with our marketing offices around the world – they can simply continue processing the same way for all their future students.

We may decide to sell our centres in France, Spain, Central America, Italy, Germany, Morocco and China under the GEOS brand

Thus we intend to keep providing the agent-friendly service that both companies have been known for in the past.The integration of GEOS into Sprachcaffe has been challenging, but it’s been carried out very smoothly and is already well-advanced.

The PIE: Given your unique perspective, which destinations are becoming more popular?

AS: Difficult to say; I feel that Asia is becoming more and more popular, Sprachcaffe Beijing has seen a nice increase every year and we’re even thinking of opening new schools in the area – also Singapore might be a good destination for teaching Chinese and English at the same place!

Our schools in Mexico and in Cuba are doing well: enrollments in Spanish courses have strongly increased in the past 10 years and Latin America offers fantastic destinations for us to build our portfolio.

In general, people are increasingly interested in learning new languages. As evidence, many speak English on quite a professional level and have started with a second or even third language like Spanish or German. Thus we are really excited about expanding our portfolio of destinations: with 31 schools and seven languages, students will have more choices than ever. Humans are like lizards, they will go where it is sunny – meaning peaceful, safe, fun, friendly!

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2 Responses to Alberto Sarno, President, Sprachcaffe

  1. “What we found at the GEOS schools was actually not bad at all and very promising right from the start: full classrooms and enthusiastic staff!”

    * Ha, ha! So you expected things to be all bad at GEOS (like it is!). You are admitting the GEOS reputation was/ is not good.

    * “Full classes” and “enthusiastic staff”??? Boy or boy, did you ever get hoodwinked. Everybody in the know about GEOS was talking about inflated student enrollment/ class sizes and huge teacher turnover. GEOS is infamous for both in the industry. So much for proper due diligence.

    Go to and search for “Uri Carnat” and/ or “GEOS” and see what you find. Trust me, it is VERY eye opening…


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