World of choice
Having just booked a holiday in the west of Ireland, I find myself reflecting on the fact that tastes change, and diversity of choice is always a good thing. In my teenage years, the idea of rural beauty and coastal walks would have got me complaining, and asking my parents if we could go somewhere with at least some hope of dancing, under-age drinking and the other activities typical to youth. Now, a decade and a half later, I can';t wait to get away from it all and see in the evenings in a pub over an Irish jig (if I';m lucky) and a pint of Guiness or two.
Diversity of choice is a great feature of the study abroad industry. And of the many options, what is anathema to some I think of the location of Sprachcaffe in Brighton, UK, opposite the beach and with a disco downstairs is heaven to others. Rural Galicia in Spain really does present a wonderful alternative to learning Spanish in Spain for those who don';t want a hi-energy experience, for example (pages 76-78).
Our industry is awash with choices for the consumer, so much so that agencies remain imperative for navigating through the options. Where to study, what to study, which exams to take? In this issue we provide an insight into Italian courses teamed with tuition in the arts (page 63) and German language courses linked with special interests, even clubbing! (page 61). We also dissect the latest developments among the most popular language proficiency exams (pages 40-44).
With all the choice presented to consumers, the idea of an emerging favourite is tantalising, a "winner" in terms of popular demand. And for the first time, Language Travel Magazine is launching its own awards this year, which honours those language schools, and those agencies, which are judged to be outstanding by their peers. Rather than the end-consumer voting for their preferred institution after all, language students often have little to compare their school to we have experienced and professional agencies choosing their preferred partner in different language markets; those schools that earn great feedback from clients, and we similarly have experienced educators rewarding best practice at agencies in various regional markets.
On pages 30-36 is a preview of those companies that have received the most votes from their industry peers the official shortlist for 2006 of companies whose service and integrity deserve an LTM Star Award. Of this list, the winners will be announced on 27 August in London, UK. I do hope that you can join me there.