February 2010 issue

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Direction I
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German push

German language schools experienced minimal growth in 2009 and are realistic about the future challenges that lie ahead. Gillian Evans reports.

German language schools are well aware of the difficult long-term future they face. With English and, more recently, Spanish dominating language learning, and other languages such as Portuguese and Mandarin becoming more important, languages such as German are finding it hard to retain their popularity.

“The international political importance of the German language is decreasing, especially in Asia,“ laments Rainer Epbinder at the Goethe-Institute in Munich. Uwe Stränger at International House Berlin-Prolog also forecasts intense competition among language schools in Germany in the mid-term, although for the time being, he is upbeat about the outlook given a relatively stable year-on-year result for 2009.

In general, language schools report a consistent market. 2009 for many schools was a flat year, with student numbers remaining more or less the same as the previous year, although Berlin received a welcome boost in interest during November. “We experienced a huge increase in visitors from abroad around the 20th anniversary of the re-unification of Germany,“ confirms Stränger, who adds that in the short-term, he believes “Germany as a destination gets more and more attractive and especially Berlin as its capital”.

Friedländer-Schule in Berlin was one of the better performers in 2009, notching up a 10 per cent rise in student numbers as it benefited from another school ceasing to offer courses for migrants. According to Ulrich Schmidt at the school, they also profited from an increase in demand for courses for German language teachers, as well as German courses for deaf students.

Almir Krupic at did deutsch-institut which has schools in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich, meanwhile, notes a trend towards more intensive programmes, as does Stränger. “Exam preparation courses are getting more and more attractive,” he says. “But also special programmes like business language or our newly launched German for the hospitality industry receive very positive reactions.” Melanie Mohi at BWS Germanlingua, which has schools in Berlin and Munich, suggests that the trend towards vocational and intensive programmes is a sign of the times. “In times of economic crisis, people still tend to invest in their career and their education,” she says.

At the Goethe-Institut, Epbinder says they noticed a particular increase in demand for junior courses, while Krupic notes a change in accommodation demand. “A shift from host families to residences, youth hotel and apartment accommodation was significant,” he says.

On the whole, German language schools still rely heavily on Western European students for their clientele and there has been no great shake-up in terms of the main student nationalities in recent years. Krupic reports that their main nationalites are European, predominantly from Italy, Switzerland, Russia and Spain, but that they also welcome a significant number of Brazilians and Mexicans. However, he says, there was “no big difference to 2008” in terms of the nationality make-up at the school. One positive, however, is a noted rise in interest among some Asian nationalities (see box).

The global economic downturn had only a minimal impact on the German language teaching market last year. “We [noticed] a change in the period of enrolments: bookings arrived later than in recent years,” observes Stränger. “A lot of students seemed to wait with their travels until they – or their ‘sponsors’ – were assured about the relatively small impact they were suffering from the [economic] downturn personally.”

Mohi agrees, saying that even though the economic situation was challenging for people, they “continue to spend money for education and travel”.

Like in many other countries, visa issuance has hampered growth from certain destinations. Schmidt reports that potential students from the Ukraine and Belarus find it difficult to obtain visa entrance into Germany, while those from Russia have a slightly better experience, although Schmidt goes as far as to claim, “The German immigration offices do not like foreigners from outside of the EU.”
Mohi reports, “It has become even more difficult for students from Tunisia or Turkey to get a visa to enter Germany for studying purposes. It seems that this year, visa policies have become stricter.”

It is with some trepidation that schools forecast market development in the near future. Stränger says, “I don’t expect big changes for 2010. The global financial situation will need at least another year [to consolidate] and as a result I don’t think that there will be a bigger increase than two-to-three per cent in student numbers.”

Marketing priorities

Acknowledging the crucial role marketing plays both now and in the future, many German language schools have been finetuning their strategies. Sabine Ick at the Privat Handelsschule in Fulda says, “Our main student recruitment method definitely is working with agents and attending workshops. We are also part of the recently-launched co-operative website of inlingua schools worldwide.”
Through its marketing campaign, inlingua is targeting Eastern Europe – which Ick says is still one of their biggest markets – as well as branching out into new markets such as Turkey and China, “since there is a big demand for the German language in these countries“.
did deutsch-institut, meanwhile, is turning its attentions to North America and Asia. did’s Almir Krupic notes, “We feel always a growing demand from [these regions] and that the interest in Germany and the language plus studies is growing.” Like Ick, Krupic observes that along with agents, their website is an important marketing channel and its role is growing. “More and more agents and students demand informative and up-to-date websites, which was not the case a few years ago,” he says.
However, as Krupic highlights, “With the positive aspects of Internet marketing come along the negative ones as well.“ He explains, “Low-cost schools with [poorly] qualified teachers and inappropriate premises market themselves over the Internet.“

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  
Feltom Malta  
International House
      World Organisation  
MEI Ireland  
Quality English  

Alphe Conferences  
International House
      World Organisation  
British Boarding
      Schools Workshops  


LTM Digital  
Your World on

Office de Tourisme

Twin Group  
English Bay College

Ability Education  
English Australia  

Access International
      English Language
Canadian &
      International Student
English Bay College
Global Village  
Public Schools of the
      Canadian Rockies  
IH Tremblant /
      Explorencia Centre  
ILSC - International
      Language Schools
      of Canada  
Public Schools of
      the Canadian Rockies
Red Leaf Student
      Program and Tours  
Richmond School
      District #38  
Rocky Mountain
      School District  
Saint Mary's
      Kootenay School
Stewart College
       of Languages  
Vancouver English

IH Cairo  

      Language Schools  
Beet Language
Cambridge Academy
      Of English  
      Education Group  
Churchill House  
Devon School Of
Discovery Summer  
Eastbourne School
      Of English  
Eckersley Oxford  
English Language
      Centre Brighton &
English Studio  
Excel English  
Frances King School
      of English  
Hove College
ILS English  
International House
      World Organisation
Kaplan Aspect  
Kings Colleges  
Lake School of
Lewis School of
LAL Language and
(The) Language
Living Learning
(The) London School
      of English  
Malvern House
      College London  
Millfield English
      Language Holiday
Professionals UK  
Quality English  
Queen Ethelburgas
St Giles Colleges  
Study Group  
Twin Group  
University of Essex -  
Wimbledon School
      of English  

Accent Francais  
Alliance Française
      Paris Ile de France  
Office de Tourisme

BWS Germanlingua
F+U Academy of
inlingua Berlin  
International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

ATC Language and
Language College
Cork English
MEI Ireland  
The Linguaviva

Alpha School of
Clubclass Residential
      Language School  
Easy School of
Feltom Malta  
Global Village
      English Centre  
Inlingua Malta  
ETI Malta  

Rotorua English
      Language Academy
Worldwide School
      of English  

EAC Language
      Centres and Activity

EC Cape Town  
Eurocentres Cape
      Town- One World
      Language school  
Good Hope Studies  
inlingua Language
      Training Centre
      Cape Town  
Interlink School of
International House
      Cape Town  
Kurus English CC  
LAL Cape Town  
Language Teaching
Shane Global
      Language Centres -
      Cape Town  

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  

Boston School of
      Modern Languages
Inlingua Language
IH New York  
NYC Language
University of
      California Riverside  
Zoni Language

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