February 2007 issue

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French industry rallies under visa threat

The French as a foreign language market is under threat from new government intentions to prevent foreign students who wish to study the French language for more than three months from gaining a visa to enter the country, unless the studies are a prelude to further tertiary study in the country.

Sylviane Halphen, Secretary General of Unosel, which has educators and agencies in the country as members, told Language Travel Magazine that, coupled with the establishment in various countries of visa-issuing CEFs (Centre pour les Études en France), comes a new government policy to restrict long-term incoming students to university-oriented candidates. Therefore, if a student’s intention is only to study French and they want to stay for more than three months, they would find it difficult to receive a student visa.

Patrick De Bouter, Director of the Collège International de Cannes, writing on the Fle.fr website, commented, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs no longer considers learning French to be a stand-alone project,” and added that visa refusals were already being noted in Colombia, China, South Africa and Korea. “Soon this will be the case in North America, which will lead to the closure of many [Français comme Langue Étrangère] FLE schools,” he said.

In response, the industry has rallied together and is planning to create one super-association representing as many industry voices as possible to liaise with government and defend the sector’s interests. At the time of going to press, many officials from the relevant French ministries of Culture and Communication, Foreign Affairs and Education were reported to have offered their support for the industry’s campaign.

Halphen said that, along with the new controversial visa process, another new project has also been announced; to usher in national accreditation of French language schools. The move has been met with resistance from the French language teaching industry.

“Unosel is the only federation to have followed the French norm guidelines since 1999, and since October 2005 to have followed the European norm,” said Halphen, pointing out that the norm took more than two years to be created by industry professionals (see Language Travel Magazine, November 2005, page 6). “Why create a new quality label, overseen by government departments which did not take part in the European standardisation project?” she said, questioning why members should spend time and money retreading familiar ground.

The new association, which will most likely represent current members of L’Office, Unosel, Fle.fr and the Alliance Française network, will also campaign for members to adopt the current European norm model as a quality standard.

Icef Berlin breaks all records

The annual Icef Workshop in Berlin surprised even the most hardened of delegates this year by surpassing all expectations of the size of the event. An entire new pavilion was added to the workshop set-up in November, as over 1,400 delegates descended on Berlin for the biggest event in the industry’s calendar – by quite some way.
“We had a 23 per cent rise in participation on 2005, with 984 organisations represented,” commented Markus Badde, Director of Icef. Delegates seemed happy with the organisation of the event, despite its growth in size. Martin Pfister of Pro Linguis in Switzerland commented, “It’s bigger but it’s also better organised. The catering has been really great, especially for the size of the event, and I like the hotel.”

The three days and two nights of organised events took place within the Intercontinental Hotel, including a buffet-style dinner and dance for all delegates. Frederic Magnin, from ESL Sejours Linguistiques in Switzerland, was a first-time visitor to the event. He was impressed with the social activities and added, “It’s well organised, and as a result, you don’t feel that there are so many people.”

Aslihan Yildrim from AIEC & Quest in Turkey observed that the main room was very loud, because there were so many

people in the same place. Graham Simpson from Oxford English Centre in the UK said, “I feel the quality of agents this year is very good. I’ve only had one no-show and I’ve heard the same from several other people. Some agents are complaining that it’s too big but for schools, I don’t think that’s the case.”

One new development this year was the introduction of the Icef School Owners’ Forum, which was well received by some of the attendees. Badde explained, “Recognising that school owners have different preoccupations than employees or teachers, the forum seeks to address all those issues that are specific to school owners or part-owners.” Sixty-five delegates attended the first meeting, which was a joint-initiative from Icef and Mervyn Martin of St Andrew’s/Select English in Cambridge, UK.

“Participants agreed to set up a bulletin board, to arrange a seminar on buying and selling schools at a future Icef workshop, and the initiative will be taken further in Moscow in March,” said Badde.

AAIEP looks to compulsory accreditation

The American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP) has bold plans to usher in a national framework for the compulsory accreditation of English language schools in the USA by 2009 – the same target date set by the UK Home Office for the accreditation of language schools in the UK (see Language Travel Magazine, October 2006, page 6).

Ann Frentzen, Vice-President of Advocacy at AAIEP, told Language Travel Magazine that the association was working with federal departments and had senatorial support for the move. “We will be requesting that the regulations allow for a reasonable transition period for unaccredited programmes to become accredited,” she said.  Frentzen explained that AAIEP is pushing for compulsory legislation because “we think it’s important both in terms of national security and in terms of American competiveness”. She pointed out that such a move would have the same beneficial effects that the UK has its sights on – ensuring language schools adhere to immigration regulations such as carefully monitoring attendance and ensuring student compliance with terms of their visas. 

AAIEP has already changed its constitution to make accreditation a requirement of membership; a move that becomes mandatory by September 2008. The association is working with the consortium of University and College Intensive English Programs (UCIEP) to achieve its wider global aim.

Accreditation bodies that are recognised by AAIEP are either regional agencies working for the US Department of Education (accrediting almost all universities and colleges); the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (Accet); or the Commission on English Language Programme Accreditation (CEA).

Zoni moves into Vancouver

Zoni language Centers in the USA has purchased a school in Vancouver to expand its reach within North America.

Following the acquisition of Pacific-Global Language Centre, the newest school in Zoni’s group (other schools are in New York, New Jersey and Miami), has been rebranded as Zoni Pacific-Global Language Centre and marks the company’s first steps into Canada.

“Students have contacted us and requested that Zoni open more campuses to create more options for students,” commented Zoilo Nieto, President of Zoni. “In response to these requests and in keeping with Zoni’s vision of becoming a national and international school, I am very proud and pleased to announce [this news].”

He said the merge would mean a cross-fertilisation of knowledge and resoures across centres to ensure best quality.

Ialca to develop safety packs for clients

The Italian Association of Language Consultants and Agents (Ialca) has embarked upon a project to prepare information packs for Italian clients of agency members studying overseas to ensure they stay out of danger.

The initiative has been developed after three seperate violent incidents occurred in the UK in 2006 in Exeter and Cambridge, involving students in conflict with local youths. Colin Furness at Ialca told Language Travel Magazine that it was working with UK police authorities and community workers in the production of the information packs.

“This is a pro-active projet aimed at reducing violence through increased cultural awareness and crime avoidance strategies,” he said.

UK restricts migrant funding for ELT

Faced with an enormous rise in the number of migrant workers coming to the UK, particularly from the newest European Union (EU) member states, the UK’s Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has ruled there will be no “automatic fee remission” for migrant’s English language lessons and only those on benefits or unemployed will receive funding.

The news may mean more business for private English language colleges, according to a report in the Guardian Weekly. Two-thirds of one focus group of 30 Poles said that they would either stop their studies or go to private language schools due to more flexible programming.

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