Contents - December 2004

Special Report
Shaping up in 2004
The year 2004 was a slightly more comfortable year than 2003, as many language schools and agencies reported improving business. However, the year still brought its own challenges, as regulation, visa issues and discounting tactics became issues for all working in the industry to consider. Amy Baker looks back over the year and summarises key trends and developments, and also asks a selection of agencies and schools to provide their own individual experiences of the year.

Market Report
Malta holds firm
Industry statistics show that the number of international language students going to study in Malta dropped in 2003. However, results for 2004 look more promising with many schools experiencing increased enrolments from a wider range of nationalities this year.

Slices of life in France
Language schools in France offer an array of experiences for the language traveller, whether situated in famous rural wine regions or within large cosmopolitan towns and cities such as Paris and Cannes. Amy Baker takes a journey to discover just some of the delights the country has to offer.


Back on the boil
Last year, when we reviewed business during 2003, our title for the article was 'weathering the storm'. Indeed, for many, 2003 was about riding out a difficult operating environment, with Sars and the war in Iraq both major factors that dampened business.

This year, business does seem to be looking up again. Many agencies and language schools suggest that bookings have been good in 2004; business is back on the boil. However, the operating environment is altogether different now, and schools in Canada, for example, point out that they are nowhere near the enrolment levels of 2001. In New Zealand, as Stuart Boag of Education New Zealand puts it, the new realities of the market have sorted out the 'players from the stayers'.

Visa security has taken on a new precedence since September 11, 2001, which has certainly affected the USA and many of its competitor countries too, albeit to a lesser extent. In the UK, regulation of language schools has been introduced, with plans to move towards compulsory accreditation of language schools within five years. While this could be an advantage for UK operators, the main motivation for this has been to enhance the security of the student visa system as a means of entering the country.

Alongside the tightening of entry procedures - fingerprinting of all visitors to the USA is now in effect (page 6) - the profile of the typical language travel customer has continued to evolve, with practical work experience as well as a language learning experience now increasingly in demand. Diversification of products has been a feature of recent business, according to a survey of members of the Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto) (page 10).

And as well as keeping on their toes in terms of products offered, agencies and schools have had to consider their response to discounting tactics by other agencies in some situations. Price discounting was an issue that raised its head this year (pages 20-24). According to one school association source, it is not only agencies that have been offering above-average discounts. Following the closure of a Toronto-based school, a spokesperson at the Canadian Association of Private Language Schools (Capls) warns that agencies should be wary of language schools offering excessive discounts on courses (page 7).

Malta was one country that reported improving business this year, on the whole. A reason for this is that schools in Malta have been taking their recruitment drive further afield (page 17).

Competition among schools for language students remains high, but there is a sense of anticipation about 2005. Interest in language learning is not on the wane – in Korea, we report on a new venture, known as English Village, which attempts to create the experience of being in an English speaking environment for schoolchildren (page 6). The challenge for schools is to exploit this interest in the right markets, using the right avenues.

Continued learning is also expected to grow in demand next year; an academic pathway from language learning to university study. One necessary qualification to help students on this route is a certificate of language proficiency. We provide a guide to Toefl and Ielts exam courses in the USA in this issue, for readers interested in building up their portfolio in this area (page 29).

Whatever the challenges and issues of the coming year, Language Travel Magazine will be here to keep you informed and aware of market trends, with an exciting new look from January.

Back on the boil
Last year, when we reviewed business during 2003, our title for the article was 'weathering the storm'. Indeed, for many, 2003 was about riding out a difficult operating environment, with Sars and the war in Iraq both major factors that dampened business.

Madrid plays host to WYSTC
FBI gains access to Sevis files
Big merger in Australia
ILC in Toronto closes
English Village opens in Korea

Travel News
Fingerprinting for all visitors to USA
Air links in Asia improved
Georgia opens up

Agency News
New agency association for Venezuela
's whirlwind fam trip
Alto charts trends among members
Alphe winners announced

Agency Survey
Spain grows
After a rather sluggish year in 2003, the Spanish language travel market has regained momentum in 2004, according to the agents who took part in our Agency Survey on Spain this year.

Canada feedback
This year
's Feedback survey of students attending English language schools in Canada showed an increase in agent usage as well as a greater diversity of student nationalities in the classrooms.

Course Guide
Exam prep in the USA
Language students wanting to enter the higher education system in an English speaking country are required to submit either Toefl or Ielts scores.

City Focus
Barcelona's beat
Many students return again and again to Barcelona after their first visit, according to language schools in the city, and with so much to see and do in the city it is no suprise to learn that it takes more than one visit to experience everything. Gillian Evans charts some of the city's biggest attractions.

The county of Devon, in the southwest of the UK, is an outdoor enthusiast
's paradise encompassing the wild and beautiful Dartmoor National Park as well as numerous fishing villages, surfing beaches and places of historical interest.

Status: New Zealand 2003
The Status survey is a venture by Language Travel Magazine that aims to gather specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world. Through our initiative, it is now possible to compare world market statistics.