Contents - February 2002

Special Report
Language plus activities (24-29)
Language students can actively benefit from a language-plus programme, as real learning progress is possible during extra-curricular activities which take place in the target language. However, as all activities, from flower arranging to windsurfing or snowboarding, increase the cost of a course, it is up to language travel agents to help grow the market and realise the intrinsic potential of situational language learning. Jane Vernon Smith reports.

Revel in Japan (40-42)
Japan is a mesmerising country for the first-time visitor, where history and tradition sit side by side with fast-paced development. Many language schools make a concerted effort to encourage students to get to know local Japanese – as well as local tourist sites – and to use their language in everyday situations. As well as getting to know the country, students can look forward to great skiing opportunities and delicious local cuisine, as Amy Baker reports.

Online for success (33)
Having a website will soon become as crucial as having a telephone within the language travel marketplace, because more and more potential clients are searching for information about language courses or further study abroad on the web. A website comes with its own problems, such as direct bookings or managing a new workload of queries, but as Amy Baker points out, there are real opportunities for expanding business.

Market Report
Spain expands (23)
Many Spanish language schools saw student numbers increase last year, thanks in part to their expanded marketing strategies. But as the USA has always been a strong source of student bookings for Spanish language providers, they are understandably subdued in their outlook for the year ahead. Some institutions are relying on agents to maintain their market share and keep their level of enrolments consistent, as Gillian Poole reports.


It is heartening to see that there is already optimism, in the mainstream travel industry at least, that bookings will bounce back in the second half of this year as consumer confidence in travel returns. Nevertheless, the World Tourism Organisation acknowledges that the industry is in crisis (page 8).

The global crisis in the travel market has been keenly felt in the language travel sector, with agents around the world reporting how the post-September 11 attitudes to travel have impacted on their business. In Japan, for example, agency chain ICS experienced a 40 per cent drop in demand for short-term bookings to the USA in October 2001 (page 12), while Brazilian association, Belta, tells of staff redundancies and salary cuts (pages 10-11).

In the aviation sector, there have been many casualties, not least the airlines Canada 3000 and Sabena, which both folded last year (pages 8-9). In contrast, low-cost airlines appear to be thriving in the current market climate, and the emphasis on value-for-money products may well be growing in the language travel sector, too. Our Agent Questionnaire candidate this month reports that his most successful business decision was to include a less expensive school in his range (pages 10-11).

Nevertheless, as our Special Report illustrates, there is a place for more expensive courses as long as their advantage over cheaper products is apparent. For example, language-plus-activity programmes are relatively expensive but they can help accelerate language acquisition. As long as clients are aware of the benefits, they are often willing to invest in them (pages 24-29).

Regardless of how effective the language programme is, an intrinsic aspect of a successful language travel experience is, of course, client contentment. It is vital, therefore, that agencies and schools work together to make sure that all elements of student welfare are consistently monitored (pages 30-31).

Cooperation between agencies and schools is also important in the sphere of Internet bookings, since many agencies and schools now have websites, which sometimes include a booking facility. To ensure systems work smoothly – and that agencies are rewarded if their website leads a student to book directly with a school – agents and schools should clarify working procedures (page 33).

Schools cannot ignore the fact that, even in this Internet age, agencies remain an important component in the recruitment process. Indeed, 76 per cent of the 229 students canvassed for our Feedback Australia survey said they used an agency to book their language course – 20 per cent of whom actually found their school through other means (pages 18-19). In addition, agents in Germany estimated that only nine per cent of clients had decided on their chosen language school prior to agency consultation, which again underlines the role that agents play in this market (pages 14-15).

This year looks likely to bring further initiatives from language schools and associations to work with agents. The UK association, ABLS, is planning to market the strategic difference of its membership to agents via mailshots and workshops (page 5), while Ialc schools embarked upon an initiative last year to introduce themselves to agents in the Baltic states, a strategy that will be repeated in China this year (page 11). As ever, it will be those businesses that work hand-in-hand with agents that will increase their chances of success.

It is heartening to see that there is already optimism, in the mainstream travel industry at least, that bookings will bounce back in the second half of this year as consumer confidence in travel returns. Nevertheless, the World Tourism Organisation acknowledges that the industry is in crisis (page 8).

Open Doors results revealed
Alphe workshop moves into Asia
ABLS marketing its difference
Efforts increase to woo Chinese students back
Chinese is big in Japan

Travel News
South Africa winning favour
Frankfurt next hub for Ryanair
Sabena folds,
Dat steps in
Hopes of a revival ahead
Malaysia drops Cairns
USA flight links weaken
Japan downturn takes hold
Aerolineas Argentinas back in business
Emirates plans on expansion

Agency News
Belta plans for future
Tieca reports successful
student fair
Ialc schools visit Baltic states
ICS Japan charts September 11 aftermath

Agency Survey
German advantage
The driving force behind growth in the German language travel market is the desire among the population to improve their employment prospects.

The results of this issue's Feedback survey of students studying in Australia reveal that over three quarters of respondents had booked their language course through an agent, while average class sizes remain fairly large.

Safe and sound
A successful language travel trip depends on a number of factors, from high quality teaching to a pleasant school environment. Issues that affect student welfare are at the centre of client satisfaction, as agents and schools are keen to underline. Gillian Poole reports.

Course Guide
Irish junior programmes
Measures such as daily transfer from host family to school are often incorporated into junior programmes, as schools aim to provide safe and rewarding programmes for under-16 year olds. Below is a listing of a range of providers in Ireland that offer junior courses.

"Don't bother looking at the view - I have already composed it."
Gustav Mahler, 1860-1911, Austrian composer and conductor

City focus
The Status survey gathers market data from language teaching institutions in a variety of countries and produces comparable world market statistics.  It is a joint venture from Language Travel Magazine and the Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto).

Malta 2000
The Status survey is a new venture by Language Travel Magazine, in collaboration with the Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto), which gathers specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world. For the first time, it is possible to compare world market statistics.