January 2008 issue

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Spain pensive

Spanish language schools are largely relying on the European market to fill their classrooms, although some schools are looking further afield and positioning their programmes for a wider audience. Bethan Norris finds out more.

Trends in the Spanish language teaching market are mostly positive for 2007, with schools reporting growing or steady enrolments and new schools performing well. Stephen Jenkins from OISE in Madrid says that student numbers at the school increased by 10 per cent in the past year. “This is partly because of increasing interest in Spanish and partly because OISE Madrid is now more firmly established in the market,” he says.

David Urion from Castelar Centro de Estudios Hispánicos in Murcia says that the school only opened in September 2006 yet enrolments have been booming. “Student numbers have increased month on month and we continue to grow rapidly as people become aware of us, locally, nationally and [internationally],” he says.

With increased competition reported from other language schools, many in Spain are turning to niche courses in order to stay competitive. Juan Carlos Martinez from Instituto Mediterráneo Sol in Granada says that they have started offering more language plus activity courses. He adds that the most positive impact on student enrolments is the fact that “Spanish language [teaching] has been introduced into secondary schools” in some student markets.

If demand for Spanish language programmes on the rise, it would seem that language schools in Spain are in a good position to develop their student markets and increase their outreach into new regions. Yet, some schools report difficulties in building student numbers from areas outside Europe and North America. Jenkins puts this down to visa issues for nationalities outside the European Union. “It would help if the Spanish authorities were more open to visa applications from Asian and Middle Eastern countries,” he says. “French is our main nationality. We would like to see more British students. I think the UK is the fastest growing and as yet unexploited market.”

Our latest Status Survey on Spain supports the view that schools are becoming increasingly reliant on their Western European student markets with 75 per cent of students coming from this region in 2006, compared with 50 per cent the year before (see LTM, June 2007, page 40). Mirko Schwarzer from Inhispania in Madrid says that their most important student nationalities are “European students – French, Italian, German, British and Dutch”, although he adds that the Asian markets do have potential for growth in the future. “[Next year we expect] an increase in student numbers, especially from Asia,” he says. “[There is a] growing interest there for studying Spanish.”

Juan Manuel Sampere from Estudio Sampere in Madrid says that one of their best performing student markets last year was an Asian country – Korea – asserting the potential of this world region for Spanish language providers. The UK, Russia and Korea were the top three markets at his school last year, while France, Switzerland and Germany performed the worst but, overall, numbers stayed very similar to the previous year, relates Sampere.

At OISE in Madrid, Jenkins says that they are specifically targeting some distinct sectors of the market. “We are running specific courses for A/AS level students aimed at the UK market and Abitur courses aimed at young German students,” he says. However, Sampere points out that introducing new courses can sometimes be something of a lottery. “Courses for students aged over 50 at Sampere El Puerto were successful but not in Alicante,” he says.

Predictions for future growth remain cautious. Sampere says, “I don’t expect big changes. I expect a similar year for 2008.” Urion, meanwhile, is hoping that their marketing efforts – targeting Norwegian and Swedish agents based in Murcia – will ensure healthy enrolment figures this year. Promotional efforts on the part of individual schools can pay dividends (see box left), although concerted action by the Spanish government and national advertising campaigns are also important. Schwarzer says of the outlook for the future, “We hope visa granting will get easier and Spain will keep on promoting itself.“

Marketing overseas

As language schools in Spain have to deal with increased competition from other providers, more are turning their attentions to improving marketing efforts. Attending study abroad fairs, advertising and using agents are all valuable marketing tools and efforts in these areas appear to have been stepped up.

David Urion from Castelar Centro de Estudios Hispánicos in Murcia says that the school has recently employed a person solely devoted to its marketing and publicity campaign. He adds that international enrolments have been boosted by “networking with Norwegian and Swedish agents here in Murcia to actually market the school in their native countries”. The school is also in the process of translating its advertising literature into Spanish, English, Norwegian, German and Swedish and will “expand this to other languages at a later date,” Urion adds.

Juan Carlos Martinez from Instituto Mediterráneo Sol in Granada says that their own and group marketing campaigns have been responsible for boosting student enrolments. “We have done more promotions and publicity,” he says. “We have also worked closely with Fedele, which has contributed to our development. And we have [also updated our home page.”

Juan Manuel Sampere from Estudio Sampere, however, is less confident as to the effectiveness of group marketing activities in Spain. “I have not seen any improvement in the number of students due to joint marketing efforts by language school associations in Spain,” he comments.

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.





Ialc International  
Perth Education City
Quality English 

Bright World

Your World on Monday

Malta Tourism

Ibero Spanish School  

Ability Education 
English Language
Perth Education City 
Sydney English
Tafe NSW English
      Language Centres 
Universal English
      (Global Village

CERAN Lingua
      (Belgium, France,
      Ireland, Japan,
      Netherlands, Spain,

Bodwell College
Canadian &
      Student Services
      (Canada, Ireland)  
College Platon     
Maple Ridge / Pitt
      Meadows School
      District #42 
Nacel Canada
National School of
Richmond School
      District #38
School District #8
      Kootenay Lake
Stewart College of

Ardmore Language
      Schools (UK, US)
Bell International 
      (Malta, UK)
Bright World Summer
Camp Beaumont
English Studio
Heart of England
      Language School
Ialc International
Kaplan Aspect
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South Africa,
      UK, US)
LAL Language and
      Leisure (England,
      Malta, South Africa,
Liverpool International
      Language Academy
Malvern House College
Mountlands Language
Prime Education
Rose of York Language
St Giles Colleges
      (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group
      (Australia, Canada,
      France, Germany,
      Ireland, Italy, New
      Zealand, South Africa,
      Spain, UK, USA)
Twin Group
      (Ireland, UK)

Alliance Française
Ecole L'Etoile
Institut de Touraine
Langues Sans
Silc - Séjours
      (France, Spain, UK)

Carl Duisberg Centren
      (Germany, UK)
International House
      Berlin - Prolog

Centre of English
      Studies (Ireland, UK)
English Language
Galway Cultural
ISI- International Study
      Institute Ireland
Swan Training Institute
University College


Kai Japanese
      Language School

EC Language Schools
      (Malta, South Africa,
      UK, USA)
Malta Tourism

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

Carmen Cuevas
Idiomas ¡Sí!
International House
      Sevilla - Clic
Malaca Instituto -
      Club Hispánico SL

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Ecuador,
      France, Germany,
      Ireland, Italy, Malta,
      New Zealand, Russia,
      Spain, UK, USA)
      (Australia, Canada,
      France, Germany,
      Italy, Japan, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Spain, Switzerland,
      UK, USA)

Academia Language
ALCC - American
      Language &
      Communication Center 
Kaplan Aspect
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South Africa,
      UK, USA)
Seattle Language
Target International
      Student Center
University of California
      San Diego
Zoni Language Centers
      (Canada, USA)