August 2013 issue

News Round Up
Inside the industry
Agency Survey
Secondary Focus 1
Secondary Focus 2
Tertiary Focus 1
Tertiary Focus 2
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Course Guide
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Market Analysis

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Canada gets serious

The English language teaching sector in Canada appealed to students with serious academic goals in 2012, and language school operators adapted provision accordingly. Meanwhile, the sector is still in limbo over changes to immigration legislation, as Nicola Hancox reports.

Canadian language schools’ marketing budget by region (overall %) Top nationalities in Canada by student weeks – according to schools, 2012
Asia 39%
Latin America 31%
W Europe 12%
C&E Europe 7%
Middle East 6%
North America 5%
Korean 15.1%
Japanese 14.5%
Brazilian 11.9%
Saudi 11.3%
Chinese 4.5%
Swiss 4.2%
Mexican 4.2%
Taiwanese 3.4%
French 3.1%
German 3.1%

Source: STM Status survey on Canada

Commission Student numbers by age range
25% is the average comission paid on a language course

Two of the institutions profiled paid 20 per cent commission on accommodation

8-11 1%
12-15 8%
16-18 20%
19-24 38%
25-30 21%
31-50 10%
50+ 2%

Means of recruiting students in Canada, 2012 Reasons for learning English
Agents 60.5%
Internet 17.5%
Local bookings 11%
Other means 11%
Current or future work 53%
Further studies in Canada 16%
Further studies in another English
speaking country 14%
University/college studies at home 10%
For pleasure only 7%

Student's region of origin How did students find out about their school
Asia 38%
Latin America 27%
Western Europe 20%
Middle East 8%
Central and Eastern Europe 4%
Africa 1%
No reply 2%
Agent 56%
Friend/relative 24%

Internet 17%
Advertised 3%

Total marketing spend by sector and by category in %
Agency costs 36%

Commission 28%
Agency brochures 5%
Incentives 3%

Travel costs 38%

Trips to agencies 11%
Agency visits to school 9%
Agent workshops 9%
Student exhibitions 7%
Entertainment 2%

Publicity costs 26%

Brochure, video etc 11%
Internet 11%
Agent mags 2%
Student mags etc 2%

Ask the students – view from the classroom

261 students from 34 different countries took part in our survey of language schools in Canada

The average age was 24 years
The average class size was 11 students
38 per cent of respondents were from Asia
27 per cent of respondents were from Latin America
68 per cent of respondents booked their course through an agency
17 per cent of respondents found their school through the Internet
97 per cent of respondents would recommend their school
61 per cent of respondents were staying in homestay accommodation
53 per cent of respondents were learning English for current or future work purposes
60 per cent of respondents found it very easy or quite easy to practise their English with local people
23 per cent of students had been on a previous study abroad trip
15 per cent of respondents thought that there were too many students who spoke the same language as them in the classroom

Number of participating organisations: 18
Total number of students at the organisations in 2012: 25,165
Total number of student weeks in 2012, estimated: 196,287
Participating schools: YMCA International Language School, IH Vancouver, EduTour Homestay Associates, Stewart College, Heartland International English School, East Coast School of Languages, Connect School of Languages, inlingua Victoria, ILSC Education Group, International Gateway Kelowna, Village English, Study Abroad Canada Language Institute, Vancouver English Centre, Canadian Way English School, Sol Schools International, MWS Student Camps, ABC ESL Canada, EC Montreal

7.8 weeks Overall average length of stay

23 hours Average language tuition per week

An attractive environment to live, learn and work, Canada ticks all the boxes in terms of what an international student may look for in a study abroad destination. However, at the end of last year, its ELT sector readied itself for regulatory change. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), a department of Canada’s federal government, proposed several alterations to its International Student Program (ISP) which would see provincial governments assume the role of regulators, ‘designating’ language schools within their province to issue study permits to those wishing to study on courses over six months.

By and large, these regulatory changes were met with support from schools, with many agreeing this formed part of a concerted drive to safeguard the Canadian ELT industry – weeding out dodgy operators and preventing disingenuous students from obtaining permits for study.

At the end of April, Nova Scotia became the first territory to ‘designate’ language schools. But the remaining eight provinces have been slow to follow suit and fear of the unknown could reflect badly on the industry, as Mara Muller at ILSC Education Group, which has centres in Vancouver, BC, Toronto, ON, and Montreal, QC, explains. “The regulatory changes proposed by the government are currently affecting the language travel market simply because students and agents are uncertain exactly how and when the changes might affect them.”

Meeting with provincial governments to ensure its members are automatically included on the ‘designated’ list of recognised institutions, national language school association Languages Canada (LC) has been omnipresent throughout. “Those of us who are involved with LC in various lobbying efforts are confident that any changes will validate the importance of the third party accreditation system for members,” affirms John Taplin at GV Calgary, AB. He confirms that the association has had positive meetings with the government of Alberta in relation to ‘designation’ powers. “We are confident that LC members will be covered.”

While international students attending a designated educational institution would be eligible to work part-time off-campus without having to apply for a separate work permit, there has been talk that language schools are to be excluded from offering language co-op programmes, a popular study & work option. “LC has been working hard to establish strict policies and procedures that LC schools must follow if they want to offer work and study/language co-op programs,” relates Sheila Nunn at East Coast School of Languages in Nova Scotia. “This will result in LC schools having to be accredited for that specific programme, in addition to the regular accreditation process, and this is all scheduled to take place in the next few weeks,” she adds. There is hope government will re-consider its proposal.

ISP regulations aside, the ELT sector has been ticking along nicely over the last 12 months, with those canvassed for this article reporting stable or increased international student enrolments. “At GV Calgary we saw an increase of approximately three per cent,” says Taplin. “Our traditional markets were solid and we saw some more students enrolling from Brazil and Taiwan,” he adds. Interestingly, Taplin singles out language co-op programmes as a contributing factor here.

He adds that Mexican numbers have been increasing gradually, encouraging given that federal government imposed that Mexican visitors and students studying on courses for less than six months would require a visa a few years ago (they did not need one previously). Cutting this red tape entirely would, says Taplin, “help enormously” and see a return to form for this particular market.

Analysing the statistics, the top four sender countries for English language schools in Canada have not altered since our 2011 survey (see STM August 2012, page 57). Korean (15 per cent), Brazilian (12 per cent), Saudi (11 per cent) and Japanese (14 per cent) top the current list. However, Taplin warns that South Korea is not a market schools should take for granted. Political tensions in neighbouring North Korea could affect inbound and possibly even outbound travel for South Korea.

ESL Wilderness Ranch, BC, experienced phenomenal growth in student numbers in the past year (around 200 per cent), says the school’s Nils Mugler. The addition of new courses – a 50+ programme and the Extended Immersion Programme (a work and study course which includes work experience in many areas of the ranch) – has brought the school to the attention of both students and agencies. “We get the most enquiries from Germany (40 per cent) and Switzerland (30 per cent),” he says, adding that European students are more drawn to rural Canada than Asian nationalities.

In addition, Mugler’s observation regarding agent usage lends further credence to the fact that this ELT market has a strong and fruitful relationship with education agents. According to our survey, 60.5 per cent of students were recruited via this means in 2012, compared with 77 per cent in 2011.

Echoing Taplin at GV Calgary, Gary Gervais, President of Heartland International English School in Winnipeg, MB, says the number of Mexican students studying at the school significantly increased in 2012. However, despite business being stable, competition on the ELT scene in the local area had a stranglehold effect on business growth. To offset this, the school has refocussed its marketing efforts on key markets. “We have also increased our participation and spending in social media,” he adds.

“Overall, our student numbers have remained static over the past year,” says Susan Hawkins at Study Abroad Canada Language Institute in Charlottetown, PE. She observes that there has been a shift towards long-term study among international students, with academic programmes topping the list of requests. As a consequence, the school has been developing its suite of academic courses (which include junior/senior high school preparation and university preparation courses) to take advantage of this new wave. “Focussing more on academic programmes has resulted in more inbound registrations. We have also increased the number of postsecondary pathways (agreements with universities and colleges) offering a greater variety of choice for potential students,” says Hawkins.

ILSC has also been working hard to grow academically-focussed programmes and university pathway provision. “Our Canadian schools have recently become open Ielts test centres to accommodate demand from our academically-focussed students. The market for academic programmes is quite strong and this has definitely been a growth area for us,” enthuses Muller.

Meanwhile, at Heartland, Gervais notes that they have added more test preparation courses to their programming, attracting immigrants within the local community who need test scores for academic or immigration purposes, he says. Similarly, GV Calgary has rejoiced in the growth of its Ielts test prep programmes. Renewing the lease on its prime downtown location and tweaks to the school’s interior, including new flooring and extra Wi-Fi capacity, have also been received well by students, says Taplin.

Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director of Languages Canada, gives a brief update on current ISP regulations and a summary of 2012 business:

“The question is not what has happened in Canada in the last year, but what has not happened. On the marketing and international relations front, we have increased our presence, not only at agent workshops and student fairs, but also with trade missions to Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, and the USA. Our fam tours to British Columbia and Ontario were also very successful.

We have increased collaboration with educational agency associations, notably Ialca and Belta, and hope to extend this type of collaboration in the future. Our support to members in their marketing and promotion efforts has taken us into new arenas internationally. We are working with Brazilian government to create frameworks through which our members can provide their services and products, and we recently signed a partnership agreement with Forum Heracles, a global organisation supporting research and collaboration worldwide for French programmes.

In 2012, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced sweeping reforms to the International Student Program, which regulates visa policy for international students in Canada. While it’s too early to announce success, Languages Canada has had a quiet but very effective impact on policy reform, and we expect the final regulations to be favourable to our members. This particular initiative has galvanized members and, like most challenges faced head on, has helped our sector and association grow and mature. One evident result is the historic passing of legislation in Nova Scotia governing language education in that province, a step that will raise the bar in protecting students.

Our continued efforts within the Canadian Consortium of International Education Marketing (CCIEM) were successful in securing financial support from the federal government to support a pan-Canadian promotional initiative. We also continue our strong partnership with ICEF, with whom we have begun delivering a series of symposiums on working with educational agencies.”

Thank you to the following schools who participated in our student survey: ILSC, ESL Wilderness Ranch, Heartland International English School, Maple Leaf Academy, Tamwood International College, LSI, East Coast School of Languages, Study Abroad Canada Language Institute, Geos, London Language Institute, Cornerstone Academic College, GV Calgary, inlingua Victoria, King George International Business College

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






Generation Estates  

CAPS-I (The Canadian Association of Public Schools – International)  
Quality English  

CERAN Lingua International  

FAAP - Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado  
IH Sao Paulo  

Abbotsford School District Business Company  
Algoma University  
Avon Maitland District School Board  
Bow Valley College   
Calgary Board of Education  
Camosun College  
CAPS-I (The Canadian Association of Public Schools – International)  
Centennial College of Appplied Arts and Technology  
College of New Caledonia  
COMOX valley - School District 71  
Eastern Townships School Board  
Edmonton Public Schools  
English Montreal School Board  
Georgian College  
Grande Prairie Public School District  
Greater Victoria School District #61  
Halton Catholic District School Board  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
Langley School District #35  
Louis Riel School Division  
Niagara Academy of Sports  
Nova Scotia International Student Program  
Peace Wapiti School Division  
Pembina Trails School Division  
Pickering College  
Qualicum School District #69  
St James - Assiniboia School Division  
Study Manitoba School Divisions  
Surrey School District  
Waterloo Catholic District SB  
West Vancouver School District #45  

Churchill House/English Home Tuition Scheme  
GSM (Greenwich School of Management)  
Kaplan International Colleges  
London School of Business & Finance  
Quality English  
Queen's College  
St Giles International  
University Campus Suffolk  

Alphe Conferences  
SR Events  

Cambridge Esol  

English For Asia  

ISI Dublin  

Comitato Linguistico  
IH Palermo  
Italian in Tuscany  

Akamonkai Japanese Language School  

International House Sevilla CLIC  

EF International Language Centers  

Malta Tourism Authority  

Besant Hill School  
ELS Language Centers  
Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart  
Fork Union Military Academy  
Glenholme School  
IH Pacific (Vancouver, Whistler, San Diego)  
Meritas LLC  
Montverde Academy  
Rutgers Preparatory School  
Zoni Language Centers  

Boa Lingua  
ESL Ecole Suisse de Langues  
Idealist Education Consultancy  
Insight Lingua  
World Study Head Office  

English Australia  

ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
Sol Schools International  

British Study Centres  
Cambridge Education Group  
Churchill House/English Home Tuition Scheme  
International House World Organisation  
InTuition Languages  
St Giles International  
Twin Group  
University Campus Suffolk  

Accent Francais  
France Langue  
French in Normandy  

BWS Germanlingua  
F+U Academy of Languages  
GLS Sprachenzentrum  

ISI Dublin  

Dr. Walter GmbH  
Guard. Me  
International Student Insurance.com  

Accademia Italiana  
Scuola Leonardo Da Vinci  

Genki Japanese and Culture School  
Kai Japanese Language School  

Academic Colleges Group  
Languages International  
New Zealand Language Centres - Auckland  

CIAL - Centro de Linguas  

Cape Studies  

International House Sevilla CLIC  
Escuela de Idiomas Nerja  
Malaca Instituto - Club Hispanico SL  

Rennert International  
TLA The Language Academy  

Tellus Group  

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