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Contents - February 2004


Special Report
Learning early
Young learners are the staple student market for many language schools, arriving in masses during the summer months, expecting stimulating tuition and an excellent range of after-class activities. Gillian Evans looks at what makes a succesful language programme for juniors and examines some of the recent trends in the marketplace. These include the development of programmes catering for the whole family, as the overall age of children learning languages decreases.


Direction
Prestige products
Specialist language courses tend to appeal to niche markets only, but schools keen to expand their programmes and diversify their student base offer them. Aimed at those with a high level of language competence, these courses focus on professional sectors. Jane Vernon Smith reports.



City Focus
Paris playground
Paris is a popular city choice for students wanting to learn French, due to the variety of attractions it offers and its reputation as a cultural mecca. Bethan Norris finds out some of the city's most appealing attributes for students, including the many festivals held throughout the year.



Opinion

Choice abounds
Student choice about what and where to study is so much more varied now than it was 20 or 30 years ago and this is because of the ongoing development of the study abroad market. As more customers enter the marketplace, education providers start up in new locations or launch new programmes to better suit the potential needs of the client base, thus creating greater choice.

And as choice becomes greater, customers expect to use their choice in more empowering ways. They like to know what all the available options are and enjoy selecting a language school or programme that they believe is most appealing for them. Agents testify to this, although they note that clients still like to consult with an agency and ask their professional opinion before actually booking a course.

As the market matures, clients may take a language course more regularly too, and they get to know first-hand about different types of programme and school. One school representative in the north of England says, 'Having had to compete against the (popular) south of England, we find now that students and agents are looking for different destinations'.

Reasons for more students wanting to study abroad encompass economic issues, political factors and social trends. Another factor that can have a significant effect on the marketplace is government legislation on language learning and attempts to introduce language learning into the national curriculum at a younger age.

As more governments around the world see the benefits of a linguistically competent workforce, language study has been introduced at seven or eight years old. This trend has meant a higher number of junior clients wanting to study overseas and gain advantage in their school studies. As a result, this sector has evolved, with parent and child study combinations being introduced, for example.

In English-speaking countries, there is a real danger that the populations will get left behind, as the rest of the world becomes more adept at multilingual skills and standards lower in English-speaking countries. Plans to allow 14-year-olds to stop studying languages in the UK have alarmed professionals and a study indicates that French and German may lose many British students in the future.

Meanwhile, in the USA, a taskforce has produced a report that lambasts the international experience of the average US student. Noting that the USA needs business people who speak a range of languages such as Swahili, Arabic and Farsi, the report adds that study abroad would help encourage a global understanding among all citizens. It calls for strategies to be put in place to ensure half of all students study abroad by 2040.

Despite this prognosis however, there are signs that there is a groundswell of opinion in the USA about the benefits of studying abroad. In our Agency Survey, US repsondents were confident that bookings would increase this year, given the improvement in the US economy to date, and they reported that a number of clients were studying purely for pleasure.

And the Open Doors report that has been released indicates that more US students are studying abroad than ever before, which is encouraging news, unlike the inbound data that indicates a real slowdown in numbers for English language schools. With so many options available for the potential language student, the only question they need to answer is why they want to study abroad.


Opinion
Choice abounds
Student choice about what and where to study is so much more varied now than it was 20 or 30 years ago and this is because of the ongoing development of the study abroad market. As more customers enter the marketplace, education providers start up in new locations or launch new programmes to better suit the potential needs of the client base, thus creating greater choice.

News
Open Doors: students in decline
Schools with flair win awards
US citizens must study abroad
China issues approved list of schools
NZ providers hit with higher tax requirement
UK students to shun French and German

Travel News
Terrorism fears disrupt flights
Low-cost Wizz Air takes off in Hungary
Berlin is latest base for EasyJet

Agency News
Baselt welcomes agents from Mexico
Agent in Japan writes book about study abroad
Silc develops online English

Agency Survey
USA interest
Our survey paints a picture of American students interested in studying abroad for their college studies or for their own pleasure, with activity-led learning being a popular course choice. With an improving US economy, agencies hope that more clients may see the appeal in an international learning experience.

Feedback
New Zealand feedback
Although the number of Chinese students who took part in this issue's Feedback survey was much lower than last year, Asians still make up a huge proportion of English language students in New Zealand.

Market Report
South Africa steps up
While many study destinations suffered a drop in bookings last year, due to the war in Iraq and the Sars epidemic, schools in South Africa generally reported growth in numbers across their student markets. A widening product base looks set to encourage future increases, as Amy Baker reports.


Course Guide
Business in the UK

Profile
Switzerland
Switzerland's distinctive landscape - 60 per cent of the country is covered by mountains - is what makes this country unique, creating a wide range of different climates and the possibility for various outdoor activities.

Status
Status: Malta 2002
The Status survey is a venture by Language Travel Magazine, which gathers specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world.