February 2009 issue

Agency News
Agency Survey
Market Report
Special Report
Course Guide
City Focus

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Added incentive

Language plus courses provide an added incentive to study, and enable students to polish two skills rather than one, or try their hand at a new exciting activity. Parents are also increasingly seeing the value in their children being inspired to learn a language through a sporting or cultural pursuit. Amy Baker reports.

Language plus sports are good for Korean students,” recounts Mayet Oh from UhakN in Korea, adding, “It is worth promoting.” This is certainly the view of a number of operators in the international education industry, who see a sizable chunk of their revenue earned through such programmes, teaming language acquisition with a sport, hobby or cultural interest.

One example of such an operator is Anglophiles Academic in the UK, which, says Managing Director, Jean-Philippe Morris, sees 70 per cent of its summer business accounted for by “themed stays”. He adds, “We have focused ourselves in creating a unique product range that not only answers the linguistic advancement element but also answers the holiday element that the student market for 11-to-17 year olds wants.” English and football at the David Beckham Academy and English and safari at Woburn Safari Park are two of the programmes offered, as well as basketball and tennis academies located at Funcoast World.

Morris observes that buyers are setting the tone for market evolution. “The reason our product range has changed in the past eight years is that teenagers have become more and more sophisticated and have influence with their parents as to the location and kind of language holiday they are sent on,” he notes. “This is why at Anglophiles we have created a range of very specific “themed” language programmes. We answer both the requirements of the parents who pay and the child and the child’s interests and passion.”

At other companies active in this sector, the focus is also highly targeted. Sarah Barham, Administrative Director at Southern Lakes English College in Queenstown, New Zealand, details that their language plus courses include English plus skiing/snowboarding; English plus flying; English plus golf and English plus hobby class.

She explains this latter option. “We link students up with local clubs or arrange private tutors so that they can continue with their hobby or start a new one. The most popular hobbies are singing, flower arranging, cookery, drama, dancing, movies, embroidery and quilting. What is particularly good about joining the clubs is that students get the opportunity to get to know the locals, experience New Zealand culture first-hand and practise the English that they are learning in real situations.”

The other programmes available take advantage of Queenstown’s situation and enable students to tap into local expertise in popular sporting pursuits. In fact, students can become a ski/snowboard instructor or even try and gain a pilot qualification during a language plus programme, taking advantage of their targeted English training too to gain a certification in a different domain.

Barham also points to ever-more discerning requirements by potential clients. The opportunity to become an instructor is rising in appeal, she says, and the school maintains a commitment to high quality delivery in the “plus” part of the programme. “Queenstown is still quite a small town and we know the tutors either personally or by personal recommendation. We check the qualifications of instructors and get feedback from the students about what they learnt and how they enjoyed it,” she reports.

While Morris describes a strictly teenage clientele, Barham sees older clients as very much part of the student demographic on these language plus courses. “The golf and hobby courses have proved to be more popular with older Asian students, particularly Japanese,” she says. “We believe that with an increasingly healthy retired population, the numbers of older students choosing to travel abroad and study will rise.”

In fact, language plus programmes seem to appeal across the board, depending on what is offered, with some courses attractive to juniors, others to young adults and/or seniors. In Italy, Rossella Bianchi from Centro Machiavelli in Florence, says students enrolling on their language plus courses – who account for 45 per cent of all bookings – are most likely to be between 20 and 30 and from Asia or Latin America.

Centro Machiavelli’s language plus courses have a creative or vocational appeal, with courses such as jewellery design or music and singing offering an alluring extra to Italian language lessons. “As a rule, [the clients’] goal is to return to their own country and start their own business or in some way utilise what they learned here,” relates Bianchi. Like other providers, she points to particular growing demand out of Japan (and in her case, Korea too).

“We have seen a marked demand from Asian students, primarily Japanese and Korean, who want to study the language [and] achieve specific goals: to master the skills and techniques of the arts and crafts for which Italy is famous,” she details, “from mosaic to fresco, from handmade shoes to the restoration of works of art, to the jewellery crafting tradition and not least the gastronomic art and the culture of wine and oil.”

Other schools that point to a big demand from Japan include Southern Lakes English College in New Zealand (particularly an older clientele for the hobby and golf courses, says Barham), Coromandel Outdoor Language Centre, also in New Zealand, and Study Group in the USA, which runs a range of language plus programmes that vary according to the individual school. “Some of the more popular choices are English plus dance with the Broadway Dance Center in New York offering everything from hip-hop to ballet; English plus surfing in sunny San Diego and LA, and English plus golf in Fort Lauderdale,” says Lucy Greaves at Study Group.

She explains, “The demand for these programmes comes from a variety of markets but Japan has definitely been the biggest driver for this as our parter agents feel it is essential to offer students new and exciting options to enhance their experience.”  

Japan is one of the most established outbound markets for study abroad, as is Switzerland, and Maurice Kirby, Managing Director of Coromandel Outdoor Language Centre, also points to Swiss as a likely nationality on his English plus surfing course, while other options at the school include English plus horse riding, golf or cooking, as well as the fascinating-sounding English for bone carving.

“Bone carving has usually been taken up by students who are already here, who have experienced it as a regular afternoon activity, and who wish to develop it further,” says Kirby, who explains that it is a popular traditional Maori art form. He taps into a possible market for language plus courses that other schools also attest to: the regular student who decides to add on, once they are in country.

Juan Carlos Delgado from the Solexico School in Mexico says, “We have the feeling that there is lots of interest in the programmes, but after requesting information, many [students] decide to register strictly for the Spanish courses and add on the additional activities upon arrival. They may prefer to see how much time they will have available for the extra activities or may prefer to verify credibility and costs directly with the providers.”

Delgado admits that “we do not receive as many bookings for our language plus courses as we would hope” but nevertheless, is buoyant about the outlook for this sector, which he estimates accounts for 17 per cent of total bookings. “In spite of the economic crisis, we expect growth in this area,” he says. “Students are using not only their vacation time but also spending their savings; it makes sense that that they would want to get as much out of their trip as possible.”

In fellow Latin American destination, Ecuador, Andy Kirby of Fundacion Yanapuma in Quito is also optimistic about this sector growing. “It will continue to grow as Spanish students seek ways to add value to their experience,” he forecasts.

Back at Study Group, which also offers a range of language plus programmes for juniors in the UK at its MW Summer Schools (such as English plus football, dance, sailing etc), Greaves is also confident about business growth in the future. “Recently, we have had to extend the number of schools in which we offer specialist [junior] courses due to an increased demand,” she details. “This is a growing market for juniors. Parents are becoming more sophisticated in their choices and want something different. I suspect it is also easier to persuade your child to study English when you combine it with one of their favourite pastimes!” 

Intensive language plus

For those students really looking to tailor their language learning experience to personal tastes and pursuits, there is the option of one-to-one language plus courses, offered by a few select companies. One such example is Regent Home Tuition, part of the Regent Language Training group in the UK.

Hilary Mehew, Sales Manager at Regent Home Tuition, explains, “The English Plus is offered as additional specialised activities for clients who would like to add something more to their home tuition programme [at extra cost]. These extra activities are arranged and accompanied by the course teacher.” Opportunities for tailored programming include Classical Music, Bird Watching, Aromatherapy, British Festivals, Theatre, Literature, Cookery, Fashion, Rock Music, Afternoon Tea, Architecture, Pet Care and Interior Design! “If we receive any other special requests, we see what we can do!” adds Mehew.

Maurice Kirby at Coromandel Outdoor Language Centre in New Zealand also offers many of his language plus courses as one-to-one private classes in the afternoons with private teachers. “The one-to-one English Plus programmes are typically taken up by ‘office ladies’ from Japan, who have only one week’s holiday,” he says.

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.





English Australia  
Perth Education


Your World on

Malta Tourism
Office de

English Australia  

Bond University
Curtin University
La Trobe University
Language Studies
Pacific Gateway
      University of
University of
Wollongong College

Berlitz Canada  
Bodwell College  
Camber College  
English Bay
Global Village 
      (Australia, Canada,
Richmond School
      District #38  
Vancouver English

      Language Training

Ardmore Language
      (UK, USA)  
Bell International
      (Malta, UK)
Camp Beaumont  
      (Australia, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, South America,
      Spain, UK, USA)
Kaplan Aspect  
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
LAL Language
      and Leisure  
      (Canada, Cyprus,
      Ireland, England,
      South Africa, Spain,
      Switzerland, USA)
Malvern House
      College London  
Northumbria School
       of English  
      (Ireland, Italy,
      UK, USA)
Queen Ethelburga's
RLI Language
St Giles Colleges  
      (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group  
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa,
      Spain, USA)
Twin Group  
      (Ireland, UK)
University of
      Essex - International
Wimbledon School
      of English  

      Université de
Alliance Française
      Paris Ile de France  
French in
Langues Sans
Universite d'Avignon
      et des Pays du

Carl Duisberg
      Medien GmbH  
      (England, Germany)
F+U Academy  
       (Germany, Spain)
International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

Centre of English

Kai Japanese
      Language School  

      Language School  
EC English
      Language Centre  
      (England, Malta,
      South Africa, USA)
inlingua Malta  

EAC Language
      Centres and Activity
      (England, Ireland,
      Scotland, Wales)

Cape Studies  
EC Cape Town  
      Cape Town  
Good Hope
inlingua Language
      Training Centre
      Cape Town  
Interlink School
      of Languages  
International House
      Cape Town  
LAL Cape Town  
      Teaching Centre  
Shane Global
      Language Centres -
      Cape Town  
South African
      School of English 

¡Idiomas Si!  
International House
      Sevilla - Clic  

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

Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)