April 2010 issue

Agency News
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Direction I
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Answer English agency changes hands

UK-based online language travel agency, Answer English, has been sold to French entrepreneur, Alexander Akoka. Former owner, James Herbertson, has accepted the job of Sales Director for three schools in the UK and Ireland that are rebranding as a boutique group.

Alexander Akoka follows in the footsteps of his father Roger Akoka who owns the French language agency Vela in Paris. He told Language Travel Magazine that he was born and raised in the language travel industry and has big plans for the company, including opening a new office in Buenos Aires in March. “The visa process and procedures for studying overseas are getting harder and harder,” he said. “We want to continue in the same spirit as James and offer the best customer service ever. A lot of our potential clients are in South America and they will be able to visit the office or phone for telephone advice which will be available 24 hours.”

Akoka, who has previously studied in China, Japan and the USA, added that he was also planning to launch a new range of products in March specifically for the junior market under the brand name Kiwi Languages. “We will have a link to these products from the Answer English website,” he said. “They will be programmes for juniors in the UK, the USA, Canada and Australia. Eventually we plan to make Kiwi Languages a separate entity that is owned by Answer English.”

Herbertson told Language Travel Magazine that he sold the agency, which he set up four years previously, because he wanted to “follow new challenges in the language industry”. He added, “There have been many highs and happy memories. From the humble beginnings of an Internet start-up in my bedroom in West London and being up with my mother till three in the morning making welcome packs, to the positive feedback of happy students and being nominated for the LTM Star New Agency award.” The group of boutique schools that he will be working for are Tandem members: Language in London, Totnes School of English and Annalivia in Dublin.

Languages & Travel in France expands

Languages & Travel agency in France has opened three new offices and launched a separate company, called Study Experience, offering advice on higher education overseas to French students.

Pascal Carré, Manager of Languages & Travel, said that the new developments were the result of a business plan written in 2008. “I decided to set up a new company called Study Experience to separate our activities of higher education abroad from the other programmes we offer. The name Study Experience better refers to studying abroad, which Languages & Travel did not. Study Experience shares the office with Languages & Travel in Paris.”

The new offices are located in Marseille, Lille and Paris, with Marseille being opened at the beginning of last year and Lille and Paris more recently.

Carré added that for the moment, Study Experience advises students about higher education options in Australia, Canada, the UK and New Zealand. “For Australia and New Zealand, all universities are partners; for Canada [we have] around 20 institutions we work with and for the UK, [we have] 10 institutions to begin with,” he said. “But we can enrol students in any institution of their choice... [We] will add the USA and probably one or two other countries by 2011 following demand.”

Agency of the month

In a series appearing each month in Language Travel Magazine, we ask a different language teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or agent partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.

This month, Vancouver English Centre (VEC) in Canada nominates Tour Idiomas in Venezuela. Ken Gardner, President of VEC, explains this decision.

 “I’d like to nominate Tour Idiomas in Venezuela. The staff all work very hard to ensure that their clients receive the best possible service. They continually travel to attend workshops, meet educators, and learn about new educational opportunities for their students. When choosing which schools they want to work with, they are more concerned about the quality of the school’s services than they are about the commission rate. They give each and every one of their students personal attention. For example, the owners of the agency personally review each visa application before it is submitted. Although government regulations complicate life a little for Venezuelan students, the Tour Idiomas team advises students knowledgeably and helps them every step of the way. At VEC, we have well over 3,000 students go through our doors each year. With this sort of volume, we appreciate agents who counsel students honestly and correctly, handle the paperwork efficiently, and provide thorough pre-departure orientation. Tour Idiomas excels in all of these areas.”

Industry issues - agents speak out

Q.If the UK bans part-time work rights for non-EU students, how would this affect your business?

 Viera Cimrova, Program Manager, Career International, Slovak Republic
“I would say that we are really open to all new information. It really depends if we are talking about the present time or future. If we plan to come up with a new programme we would prefer small targeted workshops but sometimes we may want to just see about what is going on [and] what’s new on the market. At that time we would prefer a large ‘one-stop-shop’ with lots of different schools from many sectors of the industry.”

 Uli Kulz, CEO, International Education Consultants, Japan
“Going to agent workshops where various schools are in attendance are great except that sometimes there are just too many schools to choose from. We at International Education Consultants prefer to focus on a few high schools, language schools and universities in each country in order to provide a superior service to our clients. So attending large ‘one-stop-shop’ agent workshops can have their benefits as we can meet schools from all three sectors for example. Attending agent workshops that are country-based makes more sense as they are country specific, thus making the workshop more productive.” 

 Jevgenia Kalashnikova, JT Agentuur, Estonia
“As we are a small agency from a small country, we can not afford to concentrate on the one group of services or goods. So we try to offer our students as many programmes as possible. That’s why we prefer to attend big events, offering a huge variety of programmes, like ICEF in Berlin.”

 Hansraj Kanhye, Director, Can Consulting, Mauritius
“I like the current system of ‘one-stop-shop’ because it provides the opportunity to meet stakeholders from all sectors at the same event. Or else, we might have to travel to two or more events to achieve the same results – and this is not always easy! Secondly, as there are more stakeholders present, there is a greater scope for social interaction and networking during the two days. The ideal situation would be to get an equal number of participants from the different segments (language providers/ colleges/universities) so that agents get a better choice.”

 Olga Khovavko, International Education Consultant, StudyIN Consultancy Centre, Russia
“At the moment I prefer smaller targeted events where it is easy to define whether or not the region/sector is of any interest to our agency in general and if the event is worth attending. Besides, smaller more focused events give a better insight into regional/sectoral issues. At larger events it now often happens that there are only three-to-four educators which you really need, plus a couple of agencies which you would like to work with and have some points for discussion with. However the greater part is of no particular interest as the idea is not to expand the list of partners formally but to find those who offer something outstanding (and not simply standard/intensive English courses) which is a really rare thing. But when we had just started, ‘one-stop-shops’ were a really good way to generate business if you wanted to diversify your contacts in a short space of time.”

On the move

 ICEF is pleased to announce the appointment of Ian Cann as Business Development Manager for the US market. Mr McCann has previously worked for IPC Media in London. Most recently, he has been involved in education event sales and operations for BMI Media, based in Salvador, Brazil. Mr McCann will focus on developing new and existing business relationships in the USA.

 Ardmore Language Schools is pleased to announce the appointment of Lucy Greaves as Director of Market Development. Ms Greaves brings a wealth of marketing and industry experience and is well known by many agents around the world. “Ardmore has a great reputation for its quality, friendliness and ethos, I am therefore delighted to be joining the team!” she said.

  Charles Harrison (top) has retired as Chief Executive of The English Language Centre, Brighton & Hove. Mr Harrison joined ELC in 1973 and became Chief Executive in 1987. In addition to his role at ELC, he was Chairman of Arels from 2002 to 2004 and played a major role in the formation of EnglishUK. Phil Hopkins (middle) and Peter Tamkin (bottom), formerly Directors of Studies, have been appointed Principal and Academic Director respectively and take over the management of the school.

 Alex fenech, Sales and Marketing Director for Clubclass Language Schools – Malta and London, has just been elected as the new President of Maltese language school association, Feltom. Mr Fenech has been at Clubclass since its inception and also worked in the hospitality industry for several years. During his term as President, he plans to further consolidate the Feltom Accreditation Scheme, which sets minimum standards for all member schools and offers clients quality assurance guarantees.

 Gareth Collier joined Taunton School as the International Marketing and Summer School Director in September 2009. Having taught in the UK and internationally in Tanzania and Kenya he brings a strong understanding of the education world to the post. Previously he was responsible for marketing schools in East Africa and a Management Training Company in South Wales. He now markets internationally for all educational courses at Taunton School, including the A level, IB, GCSE programmes and senior summer school courses at Taunton School International.

Sector summary

Mobile learning given a boost in the UK

Students are being given the chance to download language and educational course content onto their iPods after a language travel agency and college in the UK have launched separate mobile learning packages.

UK-based language travel agency Cactus has launched a range of Spanish language learning podcasts to complement its traditional language learning programmes. The company’s Spanish learning podcasts, ‘Language Minis’, have been available through iTunes and the Independent newspaper’s website since December last year and so far downloads have reached 1.5 million copies.

Richard Bradford, Managing Director of Cactus, said, “The phenomenal popularity of the podcasts confirms just how many people want to get to grips with another language. At Cactus we believe that the best way to learn a language is through a blended approach, so we’re delighted to be adding podcasts to our extensive range of language learning options, offering language learners even more flexibility.”

Meanwhile, Kingston College in the UK has distributed 500 iPods to its students in order to encourage them to download educational podcasts relating to their course of study. The new scheme was launched at the end of last year after the college gained funding from MoLeNET, a UK government-funded initiative.

Students at the college had to pay a UK£25 (US$39) deposit in return for the iPod, on which they can listen to or watch podcasts and vodcasts in over a dozen curriculum areas, including education, hairdressing and Esol.

E-Learning Support Co-ordinator at Kingston College, Nicky Read, said, “A pre-requisite of getting the funding was agreeing to conduct extensive research into whether the use of mobile technology helped learners to learn and what was required from the college in order to make this kind of innovation possible.”

From next year, students will be able to download podcasts from the college’s iTunes U site after the college signed a contract with Apple. The iTunes U site is an academic subsite of the iTunes music website.

Students in Canberra housed in shipping containers

Students at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, are being housed in converted shipping containers and hotels after an increase in enrolments in the last few years has put pressure on existing student accommodation places.

Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor Elizabeth Deane, has appealed to local residents to offer spare rooms in private or shared houses to meet the demand for student accommodation. The university is currently in the process of extending one hall of residence and completing a 422-bed student accommodation block which is due to be finished by next year.

The university has already completed a 94-bed residence, built from shipping containers, which offers single-room accommodation to students. In total, an extra 1,100 beds have been built at the university since 2007 to keep up with demand from newly enroling students.

UK legislation threatens shared student housing

New legislation introduced by the UK government in January could see fewer properties available for students wanting to live in private shared accommodation.

Under the new rules, landlords wanting to rent out their properties to three or more unrelated people living together will have to apply for planning permission from their local council. The extra costs and time involved in applying for planning permission could see landlords being put off renting their houses to students, who often live in shared multiple occupancy housing as a way of saving money.

David Salusbury, Chairman of the National Landlords Association in the UK, said of the new rules, “What we have before us is draconian and is quite simply using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. In addition we can expect local authority planning departments to be swamped under increasing workloads owing to these new measures. This entire package will not contribute to the vibrant rental market the government says it wants.”

Rosetta Stone introduces new advanced language levels

Technology-based language learning provider, Rosetta Stone, has introduced two new higher levels for its language learning packages in French, Italian, German and Spanish. The higher language learning levels have previously been released in English and Latin American Spanish in response to demand for more advanced content in the language learning packages.

Sylke Riester, Managing Director, Europe, at Rosetta Stone, said, “We are delighted to be releasing levels four and five in French, Italian, German and Spanish. This really says a lot about the success learners are having with the interactive language learning solutions form Rosetta Stone and is further proof to learners that we continue to work to help them achieve their goals.”


Isabelle Pace Warrington, Executive Officer at Maltese language school association Feltom, answers our questions about the group’s recent activities.

Full name: Languages Canada\Langues Canada
Year established: March 2008
Number of members: ~ 144 accredited programmes as at December 31, 2009
Type of members: Public, private, French, English, and seasonal language institutions
Association’s main role: To promote quality, accredited English and French language training in Canada, both nationally and internationally.
Membership criteria: Accreditation under Languages Canada Accreditation Scheme
Government recognition: Yes
Code of practice: Yes
Complaints procedure: YesAgent workshops/fam trips: May 2010
Contact details: Executive Director,
Gonzalo Peralta
E: gperalta@languagescanada.ca.
General enquiries, Linda Auzins
E: info@languagescanada.ca

What has your association been up to in the last 12 months?
How was Malta’s first agent workshop received?
Over the last 12 months Feltom continued to focus on quality assurance – all Feltom member schools have now successfully completed the accreditation process and are fully accredited. In addition our drive to attract new members brought the first signs of success with two new members joining the federation. Our greatest achievement in 2009 was a very successful industry workshop which was the highlight of Feltom’s 20th anniversary celebrations. The event was held in September and included a three-day familiarisation trip for agents, as well as keynote speeches from David Immanuel, CEO of Language Studies International; Sue Blundell, Executive Director of English Australia; and Masuru Yamada, President of Felca. The workshop was immensely well received by both agents and schools who requested that it becomes an annual event. Every single respondent to our questionnaires said they would attend similar events in the future.

What main challenges are your members currently facing when it comes to recruiting new students?
One of the greatest challenges facing Malta’s ELT industry at present is the current economic situation and the strength of the euro when compared to other major currencies. In addition our members are still facing challenges when trying to recruit students from newer markets requiring visas.

What advocacy activities has Feltom been involved in on behalf of members?
Feltom has continued to lobby government to ensure more efficient visa issuing procedures for students from all markets. In addition we have lobbied government to provide resources for more effective regulation of the entire ELT industry in Malta. Feltom has worked closely with the Malta Tourism Authority to co-ordinate joint marketing initiatives which will consolidate Malta’s traditional markets whilst also exploring and tapping into new and emerging markets. Feltom has also lobbied to ensure that the English language learning sector in Malta is given the due recognition it deserves.

What marketing activities are you planning for the near future?
In 2010 we are looking to hold another Malta workshop whereby agents will have the opportunity to experience what Malta has to offer prospective language students.

Travel Update

• AirAsia has acquired a 30 per cent stake in VietJet Air and plans to launch a low cost airline based in Vietnam called VietJet AirAsia. VietJet AirAsia will operate both domestic and international flights and the carrier will be Air Asia’s fourth country base, along with Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. A VietJet Air spokesperson said, “The joint venture is a well-balanced combination of the management system, technical expertise, long-term experience in the airline industry, crew and international brand of AirAsia and the financial strength as well as Vietnamese market insights of VietJet Air.”

Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines recorded the world’s strongest business growth last year. Middle Eastern Airlines ended 2009 with growth of 19.2 per cent compared with the previous year. Their gains came at the expense of carriers such as British Airways, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, which are being forced to cede market share between Asia and Europe to the Middle Eastern airlines due to competitive prices, according to a report by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Brian Pearce, Chief Economist at IATA, said, “The average fare fell further in the Middle East than it has in the industry as a whole.”

• UK-based low cost carrier Ryanair has announced two new routes from Bristol airport to Poland and Lithuania. Flights to Bydgoscz in Poland and Kaunas in Lithuania will start from May this year.

China Airlines launched the first non-stop flights to Taipei from London in March this year. The new service will operate three times a week and prices start at UK£585 (US$920) in the low season.

Air New Zealand is converting a quarter of its long-haul economy seats into skycouches where two people will be able to lie flat. The new seats will consist of three specially designed economy seat and passengers will be able to lie flat by raising the leg rests to fill the space between rows of seats. Passengers will have to pay for a standard fare plus half the price of the third seat. The CEO of Air Asia X has also announced that the carrier is to introduce premium lie flat seats, which will make it the first low-cost carrier to offer such a service.

Qatar Airways has announced the launch of four new routes from the Middle Eastern country to Europe and Asia, which will start between March and June this year. The airline will offer flights to Copenhagen, Ankara, Tokyo and Barcelona and plans to launch a further six routes in the near future. Qatar Airways, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker, said, “The next few months will prove to be yet another exciting period of growth with such diverse business and leisure destinations being added to Qatar Airways’ growing network.”

• Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific has announced plans to fly to Moscow and is currently finalising the flight details with the regulatory authorities. Cathay Pacific Chief Executive, Tony Tyler, said, “Moscow has been on our radar screen for some time now. This planned addition to our network underlines Cathay Pacific’s commitment to develop new markets and our ongoing work to strengthen Hong Kong as one of the world’s leading international aviation hubs.”

• Travel within the Asia Pacific region has overtaken North America as the world’s largest aviation market. Asia-Pacific travellers numbered 647 million in 2009, compared with the 638 million travellers who travelled within North America. By 2013 an additional 217 million travellers are expected to fly within the Asia Pacific region.

Air Canada is to increase seat numbers this year after cutting capacity by 4.4 per cent last year. The airline plans to increase capacity by between four and six per cent, particularly on international routes. CEO Calin Rovinescu said, “We remain focused on building our international network while maintaining our commitment to the Canadian domestic market.”


Please see the digital issue of Language Travel Magazine for the Grapevine section

Contact any advertiser in this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





      Accommodation &

English Australia  
Feltom Malta  
International House
      World Organisation  

Alphe Conferences  
British Boarding
      School's Workshop  
International House
      World Organisation  

Pearson Education  

Dr. Walter GmbH  
Student Guard

LTM Star Awards  

Malta Tourism
Office de Tourisme

Bond University  
Carrick Institute
      of Education  
English Australia  
La Trobe University  
Language Studies
Pacific Gateway
      International College
      International College
Global Village
University of
University of
      Western Australia  
University of
      Western Sydney

CERAN Lingua
      (Belgium, England,
      France, Spain)

Global Village  
      (Australia, Canada,
ILSC - International
      Language Schools
      of Canada  
National School
      of Languages  

     Language Training

      Education Group  
Camp Beaumont  
International House
      World Organisation  
Kaplan Aspect  
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
King's Colleges
      (Prime Education)  
LAL Language
      and Leisure  
      (Canada, Cyprus,
      Ireland, England,
      South Africa,
      Spain, Switzerland,
Queen Ethelburga's
Spinnaker College  
St Giles Colleges  
      (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group  
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy,New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,
Thames Valley
      Summer Schools  
Twin Group 
      (Ireland, UK)
University of
      Essex -
University of
Wimbledon School
      of English  

Accent Francais  
      Université de
Alliance Française
      Paris Ile de France
Home Language
Office de Tourisme

International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

Q Language Ltd  

      Language School  
EC English
      Language Centre  
      (England, Malta,
      South Africa, USA)
Feltom Malta  
Malta Tourism

Dominion English

EAC Language
      Centres and
      Activity Camps.  
      (England, Ireland,
      Scotland, Wales)

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Costa Rica,
      Ecuador, England,
      France, Germany,
      Italy, Malta, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Spain, Switzerland,

Columbia University
ELS Language
IH New York  
Julian Krinsky
      Camps & Programs
      International, LCI  
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)

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