February 2011 issue

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40+ courses in the UK

As middle age increasingly means more leisure time to travel overseas, the market for English language programmes dedicated to the older learner is growing. Language schools in the UK relate some of their experiences in dealing with this sector of the market.

Innovation is crucial in what we do and coming up with solutions for a changing marketplace is essential to the language school industry,” says Tim Barker at Languages In Group in London, when describing the development of their over-40s language courses in 2008. “Regular holidays have had differentiated age limits for a long time, with the 18-to-30 holidays or more mature holidays increasingly popular – but the language school industry only tends to differentiate age on the basis of adult versus junior.”

Language courses targeting the older age market are not new but more and more schools in the UK are looking to cater for this growing market. Barker says that they are developing multi-destination trips for their older students. “Last year we ran the Best of Both Worlds course for 40+ students with one week in London followed by one week in Totnes, Devon,” he explains. “This is designed to give the students the complete English experience and with flights to Dublin, our third destination, we want to extend this to the full English and Irish experience.”

For most schools developing programmes for the over-40s, it is often the arranged activities and opportunities to meet similar-aged people from other parts of the world that have proved attractive to students. Emma McEwen from EC Brighton says, “Not only do our students love learning a new language, but, most importantly [they like] the opportunity to meet likeminded students from all over the world. The excursion to London and cream tea in Rottingdean are real favourites.”

Themed courses for older age students are also very much part of catering for this age group, as Rebecca Willis from Eastbourne School of English explains. “We have launched 50+ Christmas for those students who want to experience the traditions of Christmas in England,” she says. “We also intend to expand our selection of tailor-made closed group courses with specialist themes such as Parks and Gardens, Murder Mystery or Royal Britain.”

At Berlitz Manchester, older students can undertake a specially targeted English plus golf programme where students learn English in the morning and play golf with a local player in the afternoon. Thanyavee Virochan from the school comments, “Based at the exclusive Worley Marriott Golf & Country Club, and set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, delegates have access to the full range of facilities available at a leading UK country club, including an 18-hole championship golf course.”

For many studying on a language course aimed at the older student, a relaxed atmosphere is essential, whether in the classroom or on excursions, and the teaching methods may also need to be adapted to meet demand. Richard Day from English in Chester says, “The majority are not keen on studying with young adult learners as they have different needs and feel that they cannot keep pace with younger students. Some years ago our older students often expected a teacher-centred, grammar-based course. Now they are happy with more modern teaching methods but still prefer a relaxed pace and a lot of conversation practice.”

For Spinnaker College in Portsmouth, 40+ courses are a very new introduction and involve student visits to London, Paris and Oxford. Rebecca Cullen-Moreno at the schools says, “We decided to launch our 40+ course three months ago. We have had the occasional older student – one 60-year-old lady liked it so much here that she came back two months later. The first course [was] in January and so far the interest from agents has been positive.”

While schools report that courses for older students do not represent a large sector of the market, repeat bookings are often higher than for other courses and the sector can be a lucrative one. “Agents like to have a number of destinations in the UK to offer as there is a lot of repeat business in the 50+ market,” says Day in Chester, who adds, “Although our 50+ courses are popular with our students this does not mean that the 50+ market overall is growing rapidly. The nationality base is slowly widening but it is still very much a niche market.”

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English Australia  
NEAS Australia  
Quality English  

Alphe Conferences  
IALC International  

Dr. Walter GmbH  

Student Marketing  

Malta Tourism

Impact English
Bond University  
Carrick Institute of Education  
English Australia  
Language Studies International  
NEAS Australia  
Pacific Gateway International College  
International College  
University Of
Newcastle nbsp; 
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University of

International College  
International Language
Schools of Canada  

Plato Educational
Services Ltd  
The Language

City of London
Education Group - HO  
House London  
Kaplan International Colleges  
London School of Business & Finance  
Malvern House College London  
Quality English  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
Sedbergh School  
St Giles Colleges  
Study Group  
University of Essex - International Academy  

AGISEFE - Université de Savoie  
Alliance Française Paris Ile de France  

F+U Academy  
Goethe Institut  
inlingua Berlin  
International House Berlin - Prolog  

Eden College  

Clubclass Residential Language School  
EC English Language Centre  
Malta Tourism Authority  

Cape Town School of English  
EC Cape Town  
EF International School  
English Language School of Cape Town  
Eurocentres Cape Town  
inlingua Language Training Centre Cape Town  
Jeffreys Bay Language School  
Good Hope Studies  
International House Cape Town  
Interlink School of Languages  
Kurus English CC  
LAL Cape Town  
Language Teaching Centre   
South African School of Language  

Malaga Si  

EF Language Colleges Ltd  

Global Immersions Inc  
Global Language Institute  
Ross School (The)  
University of California Riverside  
University of California San Diego  
University of Nebraska at Lincoln  
Zoni Language Centers  

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