published Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Chattanooga School of Language seeks to spread cultural savvy

  • photo
    Chattanooga School of Language instructor Marea Lupin, left, teaches Spanish to Phil Mendenhall at Cadence Coffee in downtown Chattanooga on Monday. The school has been teaching classes in cafes and other spots, but is moving to a their own space in St. Elmo soon, teaching Spanish, French, German, Italian and Mandarin Chinese to adults and children.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

• Name: The Chattanooga School of Language

• Location: 3908 Tennessee Ave.

• Contact information: Call 423-802-2040, email or visit

• Age: Just under a year

• Products/services: Language lessons in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Mandarin. Private classes are available for $30 an hour, semi-private sessions for two or three students are $20 an hour per person and group sessions run $10 each per hour.

• Class makeup: The school has four language experts who teach. So far, about 50 students of all ages have enrolled in classes. Courses meet on two schedules, either twice a week for six weeks or once a week for 10 weeks.

• Target market: Locals looking to learn about a new culture, travelers preparing for a vacation abroad and parents wanting their children to have a strong language foundation. Owner Laurie Stevens plans to expand youth class options, teaching at schools after they let out. “At an early age, they’re like sponges,” she said. “It’s way easier to learn a language.”

• Company goals: Stevens hopes to grow not just her school, but culture sharing across Chattanooga. The school’s classes teach language in part through film and cooking. One day, Stevens hopes her school will be part of a group dedicated to sharing international cultures.

• Lesson learned: Do your homework. Before starting the business, Stevens took a business planning class at CreateHere which helped her get the school started on the right foot.

— Compiled by Carey O’Neil. If you have an idea for a small business feature, contact reporter Carey O’Neil at or 423-757-6525. Follow him at

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