I love statistics. Yes, that’s right. I love them (I also love excel spreadsheets). And this month my head is full of statistics (and spreadsheets) as we chart the rise and fall of the eight main English language teaching destinations in the world. I must say, there are a few surprises in our annual report (which our avid readers may have noticed has moved from its regular November slot) that looks at 2010 business trends. After several years of rapid growth the USA applied the brakes and posted an overall decline in student numbers and student weeks (see page 24). However, I recently spoke with a US language school association who were pleased to report phenomenal growth this year. Reasons for growth included China’s burgeoning middle class, the influx of Saudi students travelling to the US as part of the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme and the US dollar depreciating. It will be interesting to chart this market’s return to form in 12 months time.
Meanwhile, another ELT destination faced a challenge far greater than any economic phenomena. Not one but two devastating earthquakes struck New Zealand in quick succession. And while analysis of last year’s market indicates that the impact of the September 2010 quake appeared to be minimal, we will have to wait until next year to garner what long-term impact the second quake in February 2011 has had. Early forecasts do not look good, however. Christchurch was at the very epicentre of it all, a city considered a hub of New Zealand’s English language teaching industry (a large number of schools are located there), but the ripple affect will have been felt across the entire country. Pertinent too, then, that in this same issue we bring news of how one Christchurch-based school has, after undergoing several months of repair, reopened (see page 8). It is truly encouraging to see the city, and indeed the country, returning to some semblance of normality.
Japan too is having to repair the damage made to both its infrastructure (I was personally in awe at how quickly the Japanese authorities sprang into action and repaired a main highway just six days after the earthquake and resultant tsunami obliterated parts of the country) and its reputation. The press coverage by the world’s media in the aftermath of the disaster was branded as scaremongering by the Japanese government who, to their credit, went straight into damage limitation mode and now appear to be doing everything in their power to encourage students to return (see pages 36-37).