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February 2007 issue

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Agency Survey
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Online forum for agencies

Aweb-based forum for agencies has been launched by an education agent based in Taipei, Taiwan. Agentschat.com was set up by New Zealander, Steve Sutherland, because he felt that he wanted to be able to communicate and share information and advice with other education agents around the world. He told Language Travel Magazine, “I also felt that education agents and educational institutions should have an easier way of coming together and communicating with each other in a central meeting point.”

As well as a private “agent only” area on the forum, which operates on a bulletin board system, the website has a private discussion area for agents and schools and a general message area, where any member (which can include students) can post messages. At the time of going to press, the site had close to 500 members, some of whom are more active than others.

Sutherland, who set up the site in December 2005, said, “Members come from all over the world. So far students tend to be from India and Pakistan and are looking for information on universities. The schools are mainly language schools from English speaking countries and the agents are from all over, with a European bias.”

Sutherland hopes that over time, Agentschat.com will become better known among industry members. “The problem [with forums] is that when visitors see an empty forum they don’t like to post as they feel that they won’t get a reply,” he said. “But once the ball is rolling and members see that useful information is being discussed and that they can use the forums as a resource, they are more likely to contribute.” He said he was “reasonably pleased” with results so far. The website includes a summary list of school members and commission payable to agents in the agents-only area.

Speak Out

This month, Timothy Blake, Managing Director of the London School of English, discusses the change in teaching methods and “progress” in classroom learning.

“In the last 30 years or so the emphasis in teaching has swung strongly towards communication. Modern teachers won’t let their students get hung up on trying to understand every word of what they read or hear, and certainly won’t want them to be worrying about getting every word right when they are speaking. Some more sophisticated users of the language might need to pay attention to the finer points, but for most people getting the message across is enough, and let’s not worry too much about the detail. So teachers won’t correct too much – we don’t want to inhibit the students – they won’t use much grammatical analysis, and as for rote learning – drills in the language lab and things like that – excuse me, which century do you think we are in?

Students from some markets – ironically many of the most dynamic ones – are often used to much more traditional methods. We may need to refrain them so that they can cope with our modern ways. That’s not always easy - but it’s worth it, isn’t it, for the great benefits these modern ways bring.

The funny thing is that when these modern teachers themselves learn languages they often seem to prefer a style of learning that was prevalent before they were even born. They are not satisfied with getting the gist of something – they want to understand it all; they want to study and master the rules of grammar and to practise saying things until they can get them right.

What do we really mean by ‘progress’ in language learning? Or in any sort of education, I suppose, although that wider discussion is beyond us here. The Netherlands used to be a non-market for English courses: Dutch kids left school with such good English that they didn’t need them. They still speak well, but everyone I have spoken to in the Netherlands agrees that standards have fallen, and almost all of them link that to modern teaching methods. Since we are now seeing Dutch students come to our courses I suppose I shouldn’t complain. But it makes you think.”

The views in this article do not represent the opinion of LTM. They may not even represent the views of the author but we hope they encourage debate.

IAE Global forms partnership in Mexico

IAE Global, a Korea-based agency group which recently expanded into India and Nepal (see Language Travel Magazine, August 2006, page 10), has now added central America to its ever-increasing network.

The company has signed a formal partnership agreement with Edu Lynks, which has five offices in Mexico and is overseen by Gerardo Carranza. As IAE Global Mexico, the company will focus on recruiting students for partner institutions of the global agency chain.

Mark Lucas of IAE Global said that the Mexican outbound market was growing, with an estimated 30,000 students in 2005, many of whom looked to higher education overseas, although there was “a buoyant language market and a growing vocational sector”. He added, “The formalisation of this agreement now means that IAE Global has 52 offices in Korea, China, India, Nepal and Mexico.”

Industry issues - agents speak out

Q. Aside from word-of-mouth recommendation, how do you attract new business to your agency?

Enrique Corrales, Kino Travel, Mexico

“Word of mouth recommendation is our first and main source of referral when getting new clients. Nevertheless, advertisements are a very effective method to recruit clients and very used. We always have three steps to do this, the first step is to publish our language programmes in a big advertisement in local newspapers, flyers, brochures, etc., where we offer general information about these programmes overseas. After that, the second step comes, when we advise with all information regarding clients’ future trip; it takes us about 30 minutes [per client] but the prospective client is well equipped with all kinds of information so that they can make up their mind. The last step is potential clients actually choosing our offer but they definitively rely on [the opinion of] past students we have referred to schools abroad [when deciding]. I think this way of using the word-of-mouth to attract new clients will be the very best in future years as it never will be replaced by the Internet or another way to attract new business.”

Pham Phuong Luyen, Khai Sang International (KSI), Vietnam

“Vietnam is a peculiar place. Peculiar in that students from Vietnam are not treated equally to their peers in other countries due to a visa differentiation policy by many [embassies of] destination countries. So a visa success rate is one of my ways of attracting new business. Very few students from Vietnam are issued a US student visa every year compared with the number of applications but some among these, I am proud to say, were referred by KSI. I study each student’s application documents and give them proper advice. Secondly I am always honest for the sake of my students. Lastly I follow their every step until they successfully present themselves [for a visa]. ‘When they (students) eat the fruit, they remember who planted the tree’, as a Vietnamese saying goes.”

Martin Elbeshausen, Kultur Life, Germany

“Word-of-mouth recommendation is certainly the most important [consideration] for the recruitment of new agency customers. Apart from that, we regularly attend youth exchange fairs throughout Germany. In our effort to recruit older students (18 years plus) we try to attract them to our website by promoting it on sites like Google. We also promote our 18 plus and gap year programmes through job centres and career counsellors. Still, making a name for ourselves in a new field of business is quite challenging without a big marketing budget!”

Agency of the month

In a series appearing each month in Language Travel Magazine, we ask a different language teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or agent partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.

This month, Linguaviva in Italy nominates STB in Brazil this month. Giorgia Bicelli, Head of International Relations at the schools, explains this second of two nominations:

“We would like to nominate STB Brazil. They are a great, reliable partner in Brazil. We have been cooperating for quite a few years and they have constantly increased the numbers of students sent to our schools. STB is a huge organisation in Brazil and still are able to maintain a friendly and professional relationship with its clients and partners. They are quick in sending in any additional information regarding their students’ booking and have a well organised and efficient booking system.

STB also has very nice staff with a personal approach to the schools they work with. We appreciate the quality of the services delivered to their students because we note how all the operations runs smoothly before the arrival of the student to their departure. It shows that their clients are well taken care of right from the beginning. Clients are satisfied because they know what to expect, what they have booked and what the schools offer. We are glad to work together with STB a good, reliable and efficient partner in Brazil.”

On the move

Geoff White is the new Director of Go Abroad Programs in Brisbane, QLD, Australia. The company specialises in inbound student groups and individuals wanting language study programmes with activities such as surfing. “We offer programmes in popular Australian locations using high school, college and university locations,” said Mr White, who was previously worked for Study Group.

It was with considerable regret that American College Dublin in Ireland learnt of Paul Mullins’ retirement from the industry. Director of English Language and Marketing at the school since its foundation in 1993, Mr Mullins has travelled all around the world recruiting international students for the school, particularly from emerging markets. Mr Mullins earned the respect and affection of agents who were constantly surprised by the depth of his knowledge of so many countries all over the world.

Magda Szajbe has left her position as Vice Managing Director of JDJ Bachalski in Poland, and has joined ESKK Ltd to build a separate branch of the company, dealing with language education abroad. ESKK was established in 1991, and used to work as an agency in the past, so for some schools the news might be a good opportunity to renew the cooperation. “The company operates in nine countries, so it’s a real challenge for me to start working for an international organisation,” said Ms Szajbe.

Pina Foti has been appointed President of the Italian Association of Language Consultants and Agents (Ialca), taking over from Paolo Barilari who had held the chair for six years. Ms Foti has been working in the field of language consultancy for 22 years and runs International Language School (ILS) in Rome.

Global Language Institute (GLI) in St Paul, MN, in the USA is pleased to announce that Laura Latulippe is the new Director of International Marketing. Many will know Ms Latulippe from her 20 years spent as Director of Celcis at Western Michigan University. At GLI, Ms. Latulippe is responsible for working with agents to promote GLI’s programmes in St Paul/Minneapolis and Florida as well as to develop new partnerships.


Associazione Scuole di Italiano come Lingua Seconda (Asils) in Italy is campaigning for improved visa issuance and a list of accredited schools. Matteo Savini, National Secretary of the association, answers our questions.

Full name: Associazione Scuole di Italiano come Lingua Seconda (Asils)
Year established:
Number of members: 31
Type of members: private Italian language schools
Association’s main role: maintain quality standards among members
Membership criteria: quality checklist
Government recognition: none
Code of practice: not specified

Complaints procedure: not specified
Agent workshops/fam trips: no
Contact details:
Asils, c/o Via Fiume 17,
Rome, Italy.
Tel: +39 0412410720
Fax: +39 0415285628
Email: info@asils.it
Web: www.asils.it

What has Asils been up to in the last year?
Trying to obtain new rules for student visa procedures and trying to create a list of accredited schools at the educational ministry. Many schools in Italy work at the limit of legality, so we think the industry needs definite (clear) rules to operate by. At the moment anybody can call themselves a ‘school’ and anybody can operate in the industry, maybe using illegal workers and rooms that don’t meet safety regulations, selling really low price courses. Creating a register of accredited schools, of which Asils should be – with a clear and recognised inspection criterion – in charge, will give all agencies and all clients an immediate standard by which to recognise the reliability of a school.

What visa problems are Asils members experiencing and are you working with the government to resolve them?
Yes, we are desperately trying to convince the government to recognise a type of visa to study Italian in Italy. It seems they could hardly care less... We don’t have a student visa for Italian language study. It only exists for university courses. So to get a visa to study in any school in the private school sector is a concession, not a right. In recent years it has become normal that visas have been granted from Japan, often from the USA and from Canada. It’s almost impossible to come to Italy from China, Russia and India and it is extremely difficult from central and south America. Consulates and embassies discourage potential clients, refuse applications and don’t think studying Italian could be a good reason to come to Italy, from countries with an immigration risk. The damage our industry suffers is huge.

What are your predictions for the year ahead?
Stable, little increase in numbers, a little decrease in average length of stay. Europe is growing as a market, Japan is doing not so well, the USA may have the best performance in 2007.

What activities has Asils got planned for 2007?
We aim to regulate the sector and give it reliability and quality standards.


The Icef Berlin workshop mixed serious business opportunities with social gatherings during the annual event in November last year. The traditional dinner reception and dance, held in the hotel, saw another international throng on the dancefloor, with some good moves on display. Evidence below:

The industry has another new member, Flaminia Sarno, born to Alberto Sarno and Esther Dohmen on September 22 2006; a possible Sprachcaffe employee of the future. The cutie has already made her industry debut at the Icef workshop in Berlin.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





Asociación Gallega
      de Escuelas
      de Español - Agaes
English Australia
Perth Education City

Alphe Conferences
Icef - Work and
      Travel Forum

Malta Tourism

English Australia
Perth Education City

Algonquin and
      Lakeshore Catholic
      District School Board
Bodwell College
      Services - CISS
Cowichan Valley
      District #79
Delta School District
Maple Ridge / Pitt
      Meadows School
      District #42
Richmond School
      District #38
Stewart College of
Vancouver English
Vanwest College

Mandarin House

Quito S.I. Spanish
      Institute - Centro
      Asociado Cervantes

Anglolang Academy
      of English

Bell International
      (Malta, UK)
English Studio
Harrow House
LAL Language and
      (England, Malta,
      South Africa, USA)
Malvern House
Queen Ethelburga’s
St Christopher School
St Giles Colleges
       (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa,
      Spain, USA)
Worksop College

Alliance Française
SILC - Séjours
       (England, France,

Prolog - International
      House Berlin


inlingua Malta
Malta Tourism

Self - Escola
      de Línguas

Cape Studies -
      Pacific Gateway
      Study Group
Garden Route
      Language Centre
Good Hope Studies

Asociación Gallega
      de Escuelas
      de Español - Agaes
Esade - Executive
Pamplona Learning
      Spanish Institute

EF Language
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Ecuador,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, Malta,
      New Zealand, Russia,
      Scotland, Spain,

ALCC - American
Boston School of
       Modern Languages
California State
      San Marcos
Kaplan Educational
Monterey Institute
      of International
University of
      California Riverside
University of
      California San Diego
University of
      Santa Cruz
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)


Archer Education
Global Lifestyles
IH Vancouver

Tellus Group
Training Partnership
Twin Group

Icef - Work and
      Travel Forum

International House
      Sevilla - CLIC

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