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Contents - January 2003


Special Report
New generation
The traditional formula of language tuition and activities remains the industry standard for junior courses, although newer courses are emerging that offer dual courses for child and parent, or involve academic learning for entry into higher education systems. Both agencies and schools that cater for the junior market need to pay close attention to quality and security, as Gillian Evans reports. The reward for successful operators is the liklihood of many repeat bookings.


Direction
Using contracts
With regulation of the industry becoming more and more important, it is somewhat surprising that many language centres and agents do not sign a formal contract to stipulate the provisions of their working relationship. However, as Gillian Evans discovers, there are some inherent problems associated with using contracts - specifically the problem in enforcing them. However, many parties like to use them, at least to ascertain what is expected of both agent and school.



City Focus
Lure of London
Undoubtedly one of the pre-eminent cities in the world, and a favourite city among Europeans, London attracts thousands of language travel students from all over the world each year. They come to London to experience its unique lifestyle, to savour its architecture, to see its royal heritage and access its shopping and cultural opportunities. Gillian Evans speaks to schools in the capital and finds out how they help students make the most of London.



Opinion

Central to success
Language travel agents and consultants are, altogether, a fascinating bunch of people, most of whom have had a study abroad experience of their own, and many of whom have some sort of link to a bicultural or bilingual background. Many in the industry use second or third languages during the course of their work, and they recognise the benefits that hard work and perserverance can bring through language learning.

In this issue, we learn about the benefits of studying in the inland states in the USA (pages 38-42). For many students, this will involve considerable efforts on their part, to immerse themselves in a small-town culture where they may be the only person from their country in the neighbourhood. One agent, in our new Agents Speak Out feature, says, 'We usually say that after Christmas [three months of study], students will like their location and make very good progress' (page 8).

Because many agents have such an intimate knowledge of the industry, they understand the importance of good working relationships with schools to ensure a high quality service for their clients. Indeed, some agents report that such relationships are based on mutual trust and confidence, instead of a contract (page 19).

Many of the long-standing relationships in the industry are founded and maintained through meeting at industry events and workshops. The recent Alphe Asia workshop in Phuket, Thailand, was welcomed by agents and educators, in part because it offered its typical friendly and relaxed environment in which to do business and meet old acquaintances. However, one agent from China commented 'all the schools were new to me so I found a lot of new partners' (page 5).

A lot of Chinese agents are fairly new to the industry, because the study abroad market has only taken off in the last few years. Judging from our Agency Survey this issue, these businesses are growing and dynamic, starting new relationships with schools each year as they seek to satisfy client demand (pages 12-13).

China lacks a national agency association, because of the immaturity of the industry, but in time, it is likely that a national association will be formed, to further the industry's collective knowledge and enhance its quality reputation.

Efforts to enhance global collaboration of national associations have been on the agenda for some time now, through Felca's activities. And the Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto) serves as an association for agencies and educators to work together. We report on its recent AGM (page 9).

British association, Baselt, in the UK, is arranging a whole raft of inbound fam trips for agents to allow its members to explore ways of working with agencies in new or emerging markets (page 37). And Spanish language teaching schools in Spain partially attribute increases in student numbers in 2002 to maintaining sound relations with agents abroad (page 33).

Agents remain the lynchpin of the business, and schools that regard agents as central to their success will reap the rewards. Junior language programmes represent one sector in which schools are happy to work with agents. When dealing with delicate issues of homesickness, bad behaviour or first trips abroad, schools agree that agents are best placed to help and advise students - and they may be able to draw on first-hand experience (pages 24-30).


Opinion
Language travel agents and consultants are, altogether, a fascinating bunch of people, most of whom have had a study abroad experience of their own, and many of whom have some sort of link to a bicultural or bilingual background.

News
Language schools split from EdNZ
WYSTC brings industry together
Alphe Asia charms clients
Sevis reprieve
for US schools
New schools' association for South Africa
Student spending up in Australia

Travel News
Major losses for
US carriers
Hong Kong and USA strike air deal
Insurance blow for Europe's airlines
Pata report reveals regional growth

Agency News
BC steps up
agent support
New moves at Alto AGM

Agency Survey
Chinese promise
Students' long-term academic and career goals shape China's demand for language learning overseas, with many of the main English language teaching destinations popular with students. Demand is likely to continue to rise, while destinations closer to home are also competing for market share.

Feedback
Australia feedback
Agents play an important role in the recruitment of students to Australia, as shown in this issue's Feedback survey of students studying English at language schools throughout the country.

Market Report
Spain's mixed results
A shaky start at the beginning of 2002 gave way to a more positive outlook for many language schools in Spain, while increased marketing in a wider range of countries looks set to shore up the Spanish market in the face of worldwide political instability. Bethan Norris reports.

Course Guide
UK high school prep

Students wanting to study in a high school in the UK usually benefit greatly from a preparation course that covers areas such as academic reading and writing, project work and subject-specific studies as well as focusing on general language skills. Courses can last from a few weeks to a year, depending on the needs of the individual student.

Q&A
Baselt's bold plans

The British Association of State English Language Teaching (Baselt) in the UK has bold plans to work with agents over the next few years. The association's Marketing and Communications Manager, Julie Hutchinson, answers our questions about Baselt's ongoing evolution.

Status
Status: global comparison 3
In our third global comparison of data obtained from our ongoing Status survey project, we provide an analysis of typical prices, hours of study and length of stay in each country.