January 2011 issue

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Demanding Spain

If anything, difficult market conditions in 2009 made Spanish educators more determined than ever to have a prosperous 2010. However, more support from the government and school associations is needed in the future, say providers. Nicola Hancox reports.

2010 has been a better year than 2009,” observes Bob Burger, Marketing Director at Malaca Instituto in Malaga. Opening up to new market opportunities and winning the LTM Star Spanish Language School award back in September helped to “persuade agents that are new to us of our reputation and above all of our stability and reliability in these times of crisis and insecurity”, he adds.

At K2 Internacional Spanish School in Cádiz, School Director Ángeles Castro notes that student numbers increased on 2009 figures and he explains that workshops and familiarisation trips proved to be particularly valuable. “Every year we participate in workshops and familiarisation trips that help us to open our business to new markets and also get new contacts and sign new agreements,” he comments. Agreements with several US universities in the New England area will also help boost US enrolments in 2011, he adds.

Despite the economic slump, several providers pointed to the fruitfulness of paying to attend agent-focused events in 2010. Belén Simavilla Roque from Inturjoven in Seville notes that regular attendance at international fairs enabled them to “reach an agreement with new agents” in the Brazilian market. “We expect a significant increase in student numbers [from this region] in 2011,” she says. Meanwhile, Carolina Penacho Pascual from Mester Language Academy in Salamanca notes that the school has been busy striking new collaborative deals with agents. Increased presence at trade fairs, student referrals and university drives also contributed to a four per cent increase in enrolments in 2010, she relates.

Spanish schools continue to attract a swathe of students from Germany, as evidenced in our most recent Status Survey on Spain (see nationality breakdown above). Direct, low-cost flights and “good promotion of our province in this country” helped maintain good German student numbers at K2, notes Castro. Meanwhile, following a few years of disappointing numbers, Burger notes that the Swedish student market came back “strongly” in 2010. “We have the impression that this is because in times of employment crisis the younger generation become more serious in their quest for career-oriented qualifications and are therefore prepared to pay a bit more for the quality which will eventually help them gain the type of job they are looking for,” he observes.

Conversely, non-EU countries such as the USA, China, Korea and Japan performed less well in 2010, due in part, says Paco Linares from Escuela Mediterraneo in Malaga, to visa constraints and students’ unwillingness to travel too great a distance. “US students prefer to go to South America and Asians to New Zealand and Australia, who also have less strict visa requirements,” he notes.

According to Castro, the Chinese are still experiencing difficulty acquiring a visa to study in Spain, a notion shared by Frederic Parrilla from Clic-IH in Seville. He estimates that almost 80 per cent of Chinese student visa applications are rejected. However, Burger relates that visa policy, particularly where Chinese students are concerned, appears to be changing for the better. “There are certain markets, such as China, where it is now becoming possible for persistent, bona fide, Chinese students to get visas,” he says.

Activity-led learning and plus programmes had a positive impact on the Spanish language teaching market in 2009 and schools have been busy revising their offerings for 2010. Simavilla Roque notes that they focused on language courses for adults and summer camps for juniors in 2010 but over the next 12 months will introduce Spanish plus Flamenco, Cooking, Culture and Business.

By playing around with academic programming, the Spanish language teaching market in Spain will continue to grow and diversify, as Burger affirms. “Programmes which offer more than just language are definitely useful in marketing and very much in demand from agents to help them attract attention to their website”.

Call for support

“With austerity cutbacks definitely in place in Spain it looks likely that there may be less joint marketing activities helped by the authorities,” laments Bob Burger, Marketing Director at Malaca Instituto in Malaga.

Indeed, with the market still recovering from the recession, support from industry bodies is what the sector is in most need of. Several canvassed providers bemoaned the fact that the Spanish government is yet to outline a comprehensive marketing strategy for the sector and this, they say, could impact on market recovery.

“There is less support by the government which can affect negatively the language travel market in Spain,” warns Carolina Penacho Pascual from Mester Language Academy in Salamanca. Luis Carrion, Director of Escuela de Idiomas Nerja concurs, adding, “I think at the moment government and associations are very short helping private schools with marketing efforts.”

With the government slow on the uptake, national and regional language school associations are busy gearing up for change. “The language school associations want to open up new markets,” attests Rita Fah from Instituto Andalusi de Español in Malaga. Burger, also based in Malaga, notes that members of regional language school association, Español en Andalucía (EEA), are “working very well together” and the association will be “continuing with as much joint marketing as it can” in 2011.

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International House
      World Organisation  
MEI Ireland  
Quality English  

Alphe Conferences  
IALC International  


Dr. Walter GmbH  

LTM Digital  
Student Marketing  

Malta Tourism

Twin Group  

Bond University  
English Australia  
Impact English
Language Studies
Pacific Gateway
      International College  
Perth Education
Shafston International
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University of New
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University of

Banff Education
College Platon  
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ILSC - International
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Harrow House
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International House
      World Organisation
INTO University
King's Colleges
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London School
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Millfield School 
Quality English 
Queen Ethelburga's
Sedbergh School  
St Giles Colleges  
Study Group  
Twin Group  
University of
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International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

MEI Ireland  

      Language School
Malta Tourism

Otago Polytechnic  

EAC Language
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Live Language  
University of
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      Spanish Courses  
Malaga Si  

EF Language
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ELS Language
UC Berkeley
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