The transition from teacher to language school owner is a common one. Learn first-hand from those that have gone that route. When did they decide to make the transition and why? What challenges did they face in transitioning from the classroom to business owner and manager?


Raquel Castro Rodríguez has been teaching English for over 11 years and opened a language school in 2017 that now operates from two campuses, in Ciudad Quesada and in San Ramón, Costa Rica. She holds a TESOL teacher certification from The School for International Training; a bachelor’s degree in English Language Teaching from Universidad Católica de Costa Rica; and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Adult Teaching from Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencias y Tecnología. Her school has 130 active students enrolled in both virtual and in-person learning, focused on teaching English to young children and teens from ages two to 15.

Deborah Meli is a certified Global Business and General English teacher, and founder of Marander, a private English lessons school in Switzerland. A former manager in retail trade, coaching her team in the English language, she made teaching her profession in 2012 after taking the Cambridge teaching qualifications course, Teaching Knowledge Test, and obtaining a TEFL/TESOL certificate. In March 2020, Deborah became a Bridge Business English grad. Apart from teaching, Deborah works as a freelance translator, language trip organizer, scuba diver and event planner.

Josefina Castillo is the founder and CEO of Argot Soluciones Lingüísticas, a unique institute that focuses on the linguistic needs of adults and teaches English for Specific Purposes. She’s a university teacher of English and German as foreign languages, and has worked with children, teenagers, and adults. She was awarded the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship, through which she worked with Bridge Education Group on a number of projects, particularly in Latin America. Josefina is finishing her Master’s in Language and Cognition, with a distinction in Bilingualism.

Karin Heuert Galvão is the Founder and CEO of i-Study Interactive Learning, a language school and training center based in São Paulo, Brazil, and has been working in ELT for 22 years. She holds the CPE and CELTA certificates, a degree in Languages, a background in Law, as well as a PgD in Distance Learning and Educational Technology. Currently, she is working on her second PgD, this time in People Management: Careers, Leadership, and Coaching. In addition, Karin holds certificates as Life & Executive Coach by the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC), International Association of Coaching (IAC), the Professional Coaching Alliance (PCA), the Association for Coaching, and Sociedade Latino Americana de Coaching (SLAC). She also works closely with the International Leadership Programs as a Corporate Trainer and Behavior Analyst.Karin is currently working with European and American multinational corporations developing their language strategies for their Latin America branches and assessing candidates for relocating purposes.

This panel is hosted by Jean-Marc.

Bridge Education Group (“Bridge”) is led by Founder and CEO Jean-Marc Alberola, an experienced leader with over 30 years of experience in international education. Jean-Marc’s experience includes 10 years overseas in Brazil, Chile and Argentina building Linguatec, a chain of seven language centers catering to the corporate training market. Most recently he led the creation of BridgePathways a division of Bridge focused on international student recruitment and the establishment of six ESL centers on U.S. University campuses. Jean-Marc has served as a board member of IALC (International Association of Language Centers) and is a frequent speaker and thought leader in international education. Jean-Marc has a deep understanding of the international language training industry, and a successful track record building and growing companies. Jean-Marc holds a BA in Economics from the University of Vermont.