The Wall Street Institute is a massive global group of schools. It was founded in Italy in 1972 by Luigi Tiziano Peccenini and now operates over 400 schools in 27 countries around the world. WSI are currently owned by Pearson.
They report teaching of 1.5 million students throughout their history and in 2010 posted gross sales of 375 million USD. They have a strong presence in teaching Business English.
Lessons are taught in English only and feature small classes, native teachers, fun activities and multimedia activities. The curriculum is aligned with the CEFR.
WSI set up in China in 2001 and since then has created 63 centers in 9 cities teaching some 250,000 students. Notably they target the upper end of the business market and courses cost more than usual English courses in the country.
The schools are run as franchises. These means that although the basics are the same, there can be great variations between schools in terms of pay and conditions. Franchises must put forward about 1 million USD in order to start a school and have the franchise for that region for 10 years following this. Schools will typically pay Pearson $175,000 USD to set up and then 7% on sales. There is also a cost of materials running at about 5% of sales.
Amongst teachers there is some criticism of WSI when it comes to the pay which is typically fairly low compared with other schools. They ask teachers to work long hours and there is often a high turnover of teachers within the schools.