April 2011 issue

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English for professionals

With English the lingua franca for business people in many different industry sectors, the business for providing specialist English courses is growing. Bethan Norris reports.

There are a wide variety of English courses available for those wanting to learn the specialist language of their business field, with English for law, tourism, finance, the military and aviation just some of the courses on offer. Many language schools in the UK offer such specialisations as part of their suite of business courses or otherwise enable their students to choose a particular subject as part of their one-to-one language teaching provision.

Ian Harrington, Managing Director at Berlitz Manchester, says that 10 per cent of their business comes from English for professionals courses, including English for law, English for aviation and English for the military. He believes that such courses have become more popular in recent years as “clients are becoming more focused on courses tailored to their specific needs”.

The recent economic slowdown has generated mixed results for this particular sector of language teaching as the high price attached to such specialist courses makes them less popular at a time when companies and individuals are trying to make cut backs. However, Robin Garforth, Director of Sales and Marketing at St Giles International in London, says that he noticed the opposite effect last year, with growth in this area exceeding expectations. “2010 has been a strong one and without doubt this is a reflection of a good quality product, with careful price structuring, providing the skills and training that companies need to keep ahead in a more competitive commercial environment,” he adds. “It reinforces the fact that as the commercial environment becomes more competitive, developing these key skills becomes more and more important.”

Emily Shaw from Anglo-Continental in Bournemouth says that students are increasingly seeing the benefits of a more focused English language course and numbers have gone up in recent years. “Potential clients are more aware that it can be more beneficial to follow a course which involves development of language useful for the context within which they work, rather than general English.”

Garforth also notes that the trend has been towards shorter, more intensive courses with a clear focus on skills training as business people seek to get the most out of their study abroad trip in the shortest time. He has also noticed a broadening of training areas delivered over the last year. “From military English designed for senior land forces officers from the Middle East, to air traffic controllers in France to veterinary sciences from the Baltics – we’ve seen it all this year!”

Isobel Clarke from Wimbledon School of English in London says that they have recently introduced International Financial English with Cambridge ICFE preparation and are hoping that it takes off. “Our English for professionals courses have really become more popular in recent years [and] we believe this to be because generally students are more aware of their goals and what they hope to achieve. They tend to be more focused and interested in current affairs.”

In terms of the nationalities attracted to professional English courses, schools in the UK report differing student markets for this sector. Clarke says, “We have a wide variety of nationalities participating in these courses. Currently we have students from Argentina, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Russia.” Indeed interest in business specific courses seems to span all geographic regions.

Garforth says, “Top nationalities are still primarily from Western Europe, Switzerland in particular, and this is a region that, while not having the strongest growth, has benefited considerably from a strong exchange rate with [the pound] sterling. The largest increases last year were from the Middle East – UAE and KSA in particular – largely due to group tenders.”

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Nido Student Living  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  

Education New Zealand  
English Australia  
Feltom Malta  
Perth Education City  
Quality English  

Alphe Conferences  
LTM Star Awards  

Trinity College London  

Language Room (The)  

Malta Tourism Authority  
Office de Tourisme Montpellier  

Academies Australasia  
Impact English College  
Inforum Education Institute  
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Carrick Institute of Education  
Centre for Macquarie English (The)"   
English Australia  
English Language & Foundation Studies Centre  
Language Studies International  
Melbourne Language Centre  
Pacific Gateway International College  
Perth Education City  
Shafston International College  
Southbank Institute of TAFE  
Think: Education Group  
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Global Village  
Ottawa International Student Programmes (OISP)  

Language Explorer (The)"   

English Language Centre Brighton & Hove  
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International House London  
Kaplan International Colleges  
Language Studies International  
Liverpool International Language Academy  
London School of Business & Finance  
Malvern House College London  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
St Giles International  
Study Group  
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International House Berlin - Prolog  

IH Dublin  

Clubclass Residential Language School  
Feltom Malta  
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Otago Polytechnic  
Education New Zealand  

EAC Language Centres and Activity Camps  

Escuela La Ola  
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EF Language Colleges Ltd  

EC English Language Centre  
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