December 2012 issue

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Italy makes waves

Learning the Italian language in Italy continued to be a popular option for students in 2012, with new student markets and diverse course offerings ensuring a steady stream of new clients at language schools. Bethan Norris finds out more.

New Zealand’s marketing budget by region (overall %) Student feedback respondents by world region of origin
W Europe 36%
North America 19%
C&E Europe 17%
Asia 12%
Latin America 10%
Australasia 5%
Middle East 1%
W Europe 64%
CE Europe 16%
Latin America 6%
Asia 4%
North America 4%
Australasia 1%
Africa 1%
No reply 4%

Top nationalites in Italy by student weeks – according to schools, 2011 To practise Italian with native speakers is ....
American 9.8%
Brazilian 7.8%
German 6.5%
British 6.4%
Japanese 6.3%
Russian 6.1%
Swiss 4.5%
Korean 4.4%
Turkish 3.2%
Israeli 3.2%

Source: STM Italy school survey

Very easy 58%
Quite easy 31%
Quite hard 11%

Commission Student numbers by age range
23% is the average commission paid on a language course

None of the institutions profiled paid commission on accommodation

8-11: 1.3%
12-15: 0.3%
16-18: 9.3%
19-24: 40.6%
25-30: 23%
30-50: 16%
50+: 9.5%

Means of recruiting students in Italy, 2011 (schools) How did you find your programme? (students)
Agents 46%
Internet 32%
Local bookings 12%
Other means 10%
I found it on the internet 43%
It was recommended by an agent 26%

It was recommended by a friend/relative 23%
I saw it advertised 8%

In my class there are...
...just the right amount of students and mix of nationalities 72%
...too many students who speak my language 13%
...too many students from one other country 2.5%
...too many students 2.5%

Total marketing spend by sector and by category in %
Agency costs 30%
Commission 26.5%
Incentives 0.5%
Agency brochures 3%

Travel costs 20%
Agent workshops 10%
Student exhibitions 4%
Agency visits to school 1%
Entertainment 1%

Trips to agencies 4%
Publicity costs 50%
Agent mags etc. 1%
Student mags etc. 2%
Brochure, video etc 20%
Internet 27%

Student reasons for school selection included:
“I have already been to France and Switzerland with the same organisation”
“It appeared to be well staffed and organised”
“Because of its location by the beach”
“It has an excellent social programme”

Italy student feedback at a glance
Total number of students: (female 51, male 29, unknown 1) 81
Average age in years: 32.7
Average number of students in class: 6
Participating schools: Academia Italiana, Salerno; Centro Giacomo Puccini, Viareggio; Eurocentres, Florence; Federia II – Scuola di Lingua e Cultura Italiana, Catania; Lingua IT, Verona; International House, Milan; Linguadue, Milan; Omnilingua, San Remo; Orbit Lingua, Orbetello; Piccola Universita Italiana, Tropea; SASL, Sorrento; Scuola Leonardo da Vinci, Viareggio; Scuola Palazzo Malvisi, Bagno di Romagna and Ravenna; Studio Italia, Rome.

The number of our students has increased in the past year by 30 per cent,” says Fabiola Tiberi, Marketing Manager at Accademia Italiana in Salerno. “Now the [economic] situation has improved, people have begun again to travel once more to our beautiful country.”

The global economic situation has created a difficult working environment for Italian language schools in the last few years but many are now reporting that business is definitely picking up. “[Student numbers] have considerably increased – about 15 per cent,” says Lorenzo Capanni at Accademia del Gigio Florence. “Especially those students who applied for very intensive one-week art courses, both in our studio or outdoors in the squares and gardens of Florence, and even at the seaside or in the Tuscan countryside.” He continues, “We have students from all over the world, but mainly from Brazil, Australia and Russia. I guess because these nationalities are less affected by the current economic recession.”

Brazil and Russia in particular seem to have boosted overall student numbers in Italy this year with many schools pointing to these new markets as particular growth areas. Giovanni Poggi at Centro Puccini in Viareggio says, “Italy and the Italian language are now very popular in Russia. In these days it’s very easy to get a visa from Russia and it helped a lot [this year].”

In Brazil too the market for studying a language overseas is on the up and Italy is proving a popular destination for those wanting to learn Italian for business or academic reasons, as well as pleasure. Fabio Boccio from Studioitalia in Rome points out, “One of the major reasons why people decide to study the language is the Italian lifestyle and culture. Learning Italian remains attractive and somewhat necessary, especially to those with academic ambitions in arts, architecture and fashion. The other important reason, especially for citizens of countries with fast growing economies such as Russia, Turkey and Brazil, is a desire to develop a professional knowledge of Italian.”

Language schools in Italy are well aware that students coming to the country to learn the language are also looking for a slice of culture to take home with them. Marta Avesani from Centro Studi Idea Verona says that they have refreshed their courses recently in order to cater to demand and have seen student numbers increase at the school as a result. Avesani explains that they have consolidated lesson times into the morning, leaving the afternoons free for more activities. “In this way we have several afternoons free to organise our students extra activities – rafting on the Adige river, biking through the country, cooking classes etc – workshops for practising the language, making new friends and discovering something new about Italy.”

Some schools have also been working hard to target courses to particular sections of the student market which appear to be growing. Boccio says, “We have created special courses for two very popular age groups – under 20 during the summer and over 50. We also began to offer courses in a six-month package especially for beginners that want to study at Italian universities as they need to achieve the B2 level.”

One school in particular has developed the innovative new concept of a travelling classroom in Italy since 2012, where students are offered one to two weeks of total language immersion while travelling around different locations in Italy. Rosanna Fiorenza from Travelling Languages says, “Our students mainly come from Ireland – where we are based – and the UK, being the two markets closest to us. However, we have other students coming especially from European countries like Germany, Scandinavia and Russia. It is rare to receive an enrolment from a non-European country – given the cost of the flight and the visa requirements to reach Italy.”

Despite the positive picture being painted by language schools in Italy, there is still, it seems, one difficulty that hasn’t improved in the last few years, that of visas. Giulia Lavoratori from Comitato Linguistico in Perugia speaks for many other schools when she says, “Unfortunately, our experience with visas during these months has had a very negative impact, especially in some countries where a visa issued for study in private schools seems really impossible – some Asian countries for example. This is despite the school offering full support to the students in attainment of consular documentation.”

Getting Italian language schools recognised by the Italian government is a key goal of the two national language school associations in Italy (see boxes). In the meantime, schools are continuing to rely on student markets where applying for a visa is more likely to result in a positive outcome. Overall however, the future in Italy seems bright and the use of up-to-date marketing activities looks set to increase the country’s profile. “It is very likely that the use of social networks – over 7,000 friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Foursquare – helped us to expand our market,” says Capanni.

Matteo Savini from Italian language school association, Asils, discusses the business outlook for 2012 among members, as well as the activities of the association in the last year.

“Apparently 2012 will be a positive year for the Italian language market. Beside the problems with some traditional strong student markets such as the USA, Japan and the UK, we have experienced growth from other markets such as Brazil, Russia and Turkey.

The visa situation is getting better for students wanting to come to Italy to learn Italian. This is because of the better cooperation offered by the Ministero degli Afari Esteri in Rome. However, despite this situation improving, in a potentially huge student market for Italian language schools – China – there are still ongoing problems and students can hardly ever obtain a visa to come to Italy to study in our schools. Asils is strongly working on this side to be accredited as the one and only association of Italian language schools with the Italian authorities.

A lot of Asils’ work in the past few months has been absorbed by the effort of coping with the recent reform of the labour market in Italy. The reforms have deeply affected the rules considered in our national contract (Asils-Unione Generale del Lavoro). This contract is now used in most schools throughout Italy.”

Fabio Boccio of Italian language school association, Italian in Italy, talks about some of the association’s recent activities and goals for the future.

“Italian in Italy is working on the recognition of Italian language schools by the Italian Ministry of Education. Up until today, private language schools in Italy, due to the lack of recognition by the Ministry, have been excluded from many opportunities that have instead been offered to public Italian schools. We believe this is damaging considering the large yearly incomes of Italian language schools that can bring countless advantages to our national economy.

The current priorities for Italian in Italy are to secure a high standard of quality service for foreign students coming to study the Italian language and culture through language certification policies which are affirmed by Italian trainers/teachers professional competence.

Italian in Italy is taking part in different European educational programmes like Grundtvig, Leonardo, Erasmus and Comenius, to build up its network of educational partners in Europe in order to improve cooperation and foreign language teaching standards. In 2011 Italian in Italy started a Grundtvig Learning Partnership as a coordinating organisation from a project approved by the Italian National Agency with the title “Getting Strategic through Social Media”, together with partners from Belgium, the UK, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands.

As in the past years, Italian in Italy, has promoted trainer and teacher ‘in-service’ trainings for Italian language teachers. In 2011 we set up a new project which aims to help teachers and trainers who experience some difficulties in their daily professional life. The project was approved in July 2012. The title of the project is ‘Coach Coach go!’. Finally, in November 2011 Italian in Italy was awarded the Threlford Memorial Cup by the Institute of Linguists of London for fostering the study of languages.”

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

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.






English Australia  
English Australia  
Bow Valley College  
iMandarin Language Training Institute  
English in Chester  
International House World Organisation  
INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
London School of Business & Finance  
Mayfair School of English  
University of Essex - International Academy  
Wimbledon School of English  
IALC International  
Cambridge Esol  
TOEFL Educational Testing Service  
A Door To Italy  
Stresa Italian Language School  
Zoni Language Centers
Akamonkai Japanese Language School  
Kai Japanese Language School  
Sendagaya Japanese Institute  
Yokohama International Education Academy  
Malta Tourism Authority  
Otago Polytechnic  
Pay to Study/FELCA  
Xul Comunicación Social  
EF International Language Centers  
Malta Tourism Authority  
Besant Hill School  
ELS Language Centers  
FLS International  
Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart  
Glenholme School  
Global Language Institute  
Riverside Military Academy  
Ross School (The)  
Zoni Language Centers  

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