Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Are you seeing a trend towards more active language learning?
Jim Pondolfino, French-American Exchange, USA
"It is true that today language courses alone are not enough to interest our clients. Cultural activities and excursions must now be a regular part of all our programmes. Our older adult students are usually females looking for a short-term programme that includes cooking classes, wine tastings, visits to neighbouring villages and access to a health club. Our students of university age are primarily interested in meeting other students and going on excursions over the weekends. Sporting activities are more popular among the youths in our junior programmes, who like to stay active throughout the day, in addition to the weekend excursions. Another trend we have noticed over the years is that the average programme length is more likely to be two-to-four weeks compared to the longer stays of previous years."
Guido Bellotti, GB Studies, Italy
"In the past two years, GB Studies has seen an increased number of enquiries from parents wanting to share a short vacation time with their child/children. Very often it is a single parent looking for quality time spent abroad with a child they don't see very often, or a single parent wanting to improve their English and not knowing how to deal with their offspring. As an agency devoted to following customers' needs, we made an effort to provide courses and accommodation that would suit all these new needs, with great difficulties though and very little reward. There are very few centres/schools that can cater for both adults and juniors and can offer a self-catering type of accommodation, which is a must for Italians. There will be a huge compensation in terms of bookings for the language schools that are able to offer such a package."
Peter Rupp, Biku Languages, Switzerland
"As a consultancy specialising in intensive and executive language training we do not see a trend towards more active language learning. Our clientele, who very often have clearly defined language training needs on the one hand and very little time at their disposal on the other, prefer to focus clearly on the language training side. Consequently they mostly book intensive language programmes (general English, executive small group courses, combination courses, one-to-one training). Only recently we had a client who booked an executive combination course with two afternoons of golf per week and, after the first day of his course, asked the school to change the two afternoons of golf to further one-to-one lessons in English."
Nailya Suzhenova, M&K Language School, Kazakhstan
"Active language learning is mainly popular among children and teenagers whose parents are keen to combine the learning process with active sports and fun. For example, most boys' favourite sport is football and this explains the increasing number of language schools offering football with professional coaching. Water sports such as diving, surfing and swimming, are popular with students who choose Malta as their destination. Switzerland attracts more and more students who wish to try alpine sports. Given that a language is acquired more effectively if the learners enjoy the learning process, it is likely that there will be a trend towards more active language learning."
Agency of the month
In a series appearing each month in Language Travel Magazine, we ask a different language teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or agent partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.
This month, Linguaviva in Italy nominates Sprakpunkten in Sweden. Giorgia Bicelli, Head of International Relations at the schools, explains this first of two nominations:
"We are glad to nominate Sprakpunkten in Uppsala, Sweden, as agency of the month. We have been cooperating with Sprakpunkten for 20 years now. Concerning Italian language courses, it is amazing to note that all the staff dealing with Italy at Sprakpunkten are friendly, speak the language of the country where they are sending students and have first-hand experience of the country itself. This enables Sprakpunkten to offer a personal and effective approach to the services delivered to their clients.
Sprakpunkten are very good in the counselling they give their students, they care for them and are always in contact with our schools to make sure that the students are doing well and, in the case that there are personal problems, the school is informed immediately. We appreciate their work not only in terms of their cooperation with us, but the quality of the services provided to their clients and to us, their partners. In a business relationship, efficiency, fairness and friendliness are the terms by which we can define our working relationship."
On the move
Kathryn McNicoll is the new Principal at the College of International Education (CIE) Oxford in Oxford, UK. Previously in the position of Academic Manager at the school, Ms Nicholl's aims in her new role are to build up the long-term student market for the school and work more closely with agent partners. She has been in the industry for many years, teaching English as a foreign language for 15 years.
Petyr Smith has joined Wimbledon School of English in London, UK, as the new Marketing Assistant. He is responsible for networking with agents for the school and organising and delivering a vibrant social programme that caters for the diverse needs of international students. He is also involved in advertising to over 55 countries through international websites and publications. He said, "This is the perfect job for anyone who wants to expand their understanding of international markets and marketing".
Simon Himbury became Principal of the School of English Studies (SES) Folkestone in the UK in June. "In 2007 we celebrate 50 years of innovative and inspirational English language teaching at SES and it is my ambition to lead the school and our experienced and dedicated staff well into the next 50 years," he said. Mr Himbury has extensive experience in the language teaching industry in Japan and previously worked as Principal of two language schools in Kent.
Almir Krupic is the new Junior Sales Manager at did deutsch-institut headquarters in Germany. Working with the Managing Director, he will be involved in the promotion of new courses and programmes as well as the development of relationships with agents worldwide and especially in southern Europe. Mr Krupic is extremly happy to be working for did deutsch-institut, which has just been awarded the distinction of LTM Star German Language School 2006.
Nadia Ramseier was recently appointed Sales and Recruitment Officer in the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, ONT, Canada. She is in charge of promoting non-credit ESL programmes internationally and brings five years of experience to the role. Ms Ramseier previously worked for Georgian College in Barrie, ONT. She is thrilled to be part of the Carleton University team and to be on the road again, promoting Canadian education.
English Australia (EA) is continuing to educate the industry about the benefits of quality accreditation. The association's Executive Director, Sue Blundell, answers our questions.
Full name: English Australia Year established: early 1980s
Number of members: 105
Type of members: Public and private colleges teaching English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (Elicos)
Association's main role: To assist members to deliver high quality programmes, to promote high ethical standards, and to promote, strengthen and represent the interests of members
Membership criteria: Full Neas accreditation, public liability insurance, site visits and reports from three referees, agreement to abide by EA's constitution and by-laws
Government recognition: Yes
Code of practice: Yes
Complaints procedure: Yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: Yes
Contact details: English Australia, PO Box 1437, Darlinghurst NSW 1300, Australia
Tel: +61 2 9264 4700 Fax: +61 2 9264 4313 Email:
What changes are expected in the updated Education Services for Overseas Students (Esos) Act and when will the changes be announced?
Australia has led the world for many years in quality assurance and consumer protection in international education. The Esos Act has been reviewed in a context of continuous improvement, with the changes aiming to provide greater clarity and consistency for students across different sectors and different jurisdictions. Most of the changes will not require a change in practice but will provide more objective benchmarks to allow greater vigilance in monitoring the activities of providers. Students can feel even more confident that their needs are being taken care of.
What has EA been up to in the last year?
It has been a busy year, particularly in the area of government liaison. In addition to the Esos evaluation, English language skills are in the spotlight at the moment with the government proposing a number of changes to migration and citizenship policies that focus on language skills (see Language Travel Magazine, December 2005, page 6).
How did your workshop go and what are the plans for next year?
The workshop continues to build on its success each year and Melbourne 2006 was fantastic. One of the features most commented on is the fact that the workshop is held in a different city each year, giving agents the opportunity to explore different destination options in Australia. Adelaide in April 2007 is proving a popular destination and we anticipate growing demand on the part of agents to experience what Australia has to offer.
What other plans and aspirations does EA have for 2007?
We will be pro-active in helping our member colleges maximise the opportunities that arise from the government policy changes referred to above. Our key aim will be to promote the importance of study with an accredited, quality provider; educating all stakeholders students, agents, governments, media etc that English language training has intrinsic value and is not just a hurdle to be jumped as quickly and cheaply as possible.
At the WYSTC event in Melbourne, Australia, Tourism Australia ensured that the organised social events had an unmistakeable Antipodean feel, with giant Aussie men striding around one reception (see below) as well as a themed beach party for the final night (see right). The warm weather in Australia provided a perfect setting for al fresco dining on the riverbank. Far left: a collection of international delegates, from left to right: Natalia Piedrahita and Di Pilling, both Australian Internships, Australia; Robynne Walsh, Phoenix Academy, Australia; Wolfgang Graser, Good Hope Studies, South Africa; Darren Conway, Languages International, New Zealand; Lisa Smith, English Australia; Jan Capper, Ialc; Kate Swanston, Langports English Language College, Australia.
Snapped while networking at Alphe Russia, left: Julia Ilina from International Job Student Organisation, Russia, and (right) Oksana Golovina from Evmar Agentuur, Estonia. Below: Andrei Arsentiev from Intellectual, Russia and Ekaterina Rekedeva from the Russian Association of International Education Agencies.