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A message from WSE Founder, Luigi Peccenini

About Wall Street Institute, a lot of information has been published and is available online. However, very few know the "adventure" of its beginnings, of which I will write here, on the occasion of our 40th anniversary.

In February 1968 I founded Computex, a computer training company, and successfully developed 18 branches all over Italy in four years.

On the 6th of June, 1972, I sold my shares and, twelve days later, on June 18th, 1972, I invited five of my Computex branch managers for a meeting in Milan, to explain my idea for a new project. The meeting took place at a coffee bar, because I had not yet rented an office.

The idea was to apply the same Learning Method I had created in Computex to the teaching of a foreign language, and three months later, in September 13th, 1972, I set up the company, Wall Street Institute s.r.l., in Milano, with the opening of the first Wall Street Institute school of English one month later.

At the beginning, in the language lab we used a self-study English course that we bought from an American publisher, together with Student's Manuals created by us.

Eight years later, in 1980, I decided to create our own didactic material for the language lab, much more suitable for our teaching method. It was a very ambitious plan, which needed a considerable investment and a great team of specialists.

To this purpose, I hired:

  • Luciano Biondo, an expert in Programmed Instruction, who designed the learning structure of the entire course
  • David Gibbon, for the grammar (he wrote the new student's manuals)
  • Simon Buckland, for the learning content to be distributed all along the story (a soap opera) that he himself created
  • Sandro Zandonella, an electronics expert, to produce a testing device, that we invented
  • Peter Edwards, for the drawings illustrating the soap opera
  • Alwyn Bailey, the project manager of the London team (we opened an office in Golden Square just for the development of the project)

On the marketing side, in addition to myself, there were two experienced Wall Street operators: Dario De Santi, responsible for opening new schools all over Italy, and Renzo Zaccagni, who was managing the schools in the Bologna region.

We had very little experience either of creating academic materials or of publishing, and not much finance available. But we had two factors that later on revealed themselves to be essential for the success of the project: (i) enthusiasm, and (ii) a strong faith.

In addition, every single member of the team showed along the way that they were the right person in the right role. Over a period of nine months, we tested the first three levels (nine units) of the course with fifteen real students whom we paid to attend three lessons of two hours each per week. We made many changes as a result, and then we started production, which took over three years. We decided to name the new method "EOL – English On-Line". (At that time a very innovative and exciting name.)

During that period we shared a unique and unforgettable experience of working together with total dedication, passion and love for what we were doing. Every month we spent a weekend with the entire team in the countryside, in an old house rented on Lake Stresa (near Milan), and in Folgaria, a charming mountain village – working and also ski-ing. In both places, we had a very special chef cooking wonderful meals for us: Renzo Zaccagni, who inherited his skills from his father, the owner of a famous restaurant in Rimini.

On this 40th anniversary of Wall Street Institute I wanted to remember those days with a deep feeling of having lived them like a "magic adventure", with a special mention to all members of that great team. Thanks to them, we created the most innovative and effective English learning method available in the world, which has already trained over two million students in 27 countries, and will continue to train several millions more for many years to come.

Right now we are living in a very critical period for the world economy. The international crisis is affecting above all young people, who are worried about their future, which is full of uncertainty.

The acquisition of Wall Street Institute by Pearson, the world's largest educational publishing company, is not only a recognition of the excellence of the work accomplished over the past 40 years, but also ensures the long-term stability of the company. It gives confidence to all employees and students in the future, so that they can continue to work or to study in harmony and with full trust in the company.

"Happy Birthday" Wall Street Institute!

Luigi Tiziano Peccenini, Founder and Honorary President of Wall Street Institute International & Wall Street English China
www.pecce.com

 

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