Born and raised in New York City, Tarik Ammour arrived in São Paulo in 2011 and soon began teaching at English schools in São Paulo. With a little classroom experience, Tarik saw firsthand which approaches and materials worked best with business professionals.
Seeing that there was a large presence of business professionals in the main commercial areas of the city, Tarik wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to offer more classes in these areas. Between classes he would walk up and down the streets, approaching business professionals and offering them free trial classes, and this is how Tarik formed his early base of private students.
Driven by his street approaches and word of mouth in companies, his student base began to grow. Tarik became immersed in his student’s work routines and began customizing classes and developing his own methodology, testing new materials and activities tailored to the needs of business professionals. The new materials and approaches pushed students to develop their comprehension, vocabulary and debate skills in English.
Demand for classes was increasing and Tarik was only one teacher, so he saw an opportunity to start his own team of teachers and he launched Outside the Box – OTB English. OTB introduced a fresh, outside-the-box approach to business English based on the methodology and materials that Tarik had developed. It wasn’t long before the student base was growing and Tarik was hiring more (American) teachers to join his team.
Seizing on the opportunity to take business professional’s English to a new level that traditional schools weren’t able to, Tarik and Nick Gemmell (one of OTB’s first teachers) teamed up to develop OTB’s Business Skills Material. The Business Skills Material introduced authentic vocabulary to help students to communicate objectively in the most crucial and common business tasks they encountered.
From here on out, the Business Skills Material and weekly video discussions became the base of the OTB course. Simulating real-life business situations students found themselves in, video discussions, and the in-class customization resulted in OTB adding dozens of students and a group of coaches to teach them.
OTB started offering in-company presentation workshops in response to their student’s biggest challenge: speaking and presenting in front of large audiences in English.
Coinciding with the never-ending task of improving its courses, OTB made upgrades to the workshop based on feedback and observations from its first sessions. Tweaking the content and schedule, OTB developed a new five-step approach to presenting and launched the Five Star Presentation Workshop.
In 2019 the shock brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the general chaos of urban life, led to OTB making a bigger push towards online classes. Within a few months more than 50% of students had migrated to online classes.
OTB migrated completely to online classes, utilizing new teaching tools to fortify student’s in-class experience.
High satisfaction levels based on surveys conducted with students showed that they enjoyed the online classes and reinforced the fact that online classes were here to stay. OTB also started offering Five Star Presentation Workshops online. Prior to 2021 they had only been offered in-person in São Paulo.
OTB launched Good to Great Speaker, a course that focused solely on business communication, with a new study plan, and exercises. The course took advantage of online resources, such as periodic video-recorded assessments, online quizzes and reinforcement homework exercises.