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Contents - June 2002


Special Report
Pulling the strings
Language schools worldwide are continually faced with the problem of ensuring a steady flow of students year-round. Appealing to niche markets is one way schools have adapted to ensure student numbers during off-peak times, while introducing discounts and increased promotion in a wide range of student markets are other methods. Schools also find that by working with agents, the highs and lows of business can be levelled out. Gillian Evans reports.


Destination
Australia's east coast
The east coast of Australia is a favourite destination for students and holiday makers alike. Idyllic beaches, vibrant cities and a friendly party atmosphere mean that students quickly feel at home there. Language schools are keen to encourage their students to make the most of the outdoor lifestyle and activities that are abundant along this coastline, and many lay on diving tours and visits to local attractions. Amy Baker investigates.



Direction
Middle East doubts
The Middle East travel market has been experiencing difficulties in recent years due to an economic slowdown as well as the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, and the events of September 11 have only served to enhance this. However, schools and agents report that despite difficulties with obtaining visas in some countries, as well as safety worries, many students are continuing to travel overseas for language courses. Gillian Evans reports.



Opinion

The Fifa World Cup taking place this summer in Korea and Japan is a reminder of the importance of international exchange, as the coordination and organisation of such a global event would not be possible if a common language were not shared.

It is also testimony to the advantages of second language acquisition, as we hear that local volunteers, who are fluent in one of the 18 languages used by the countries in the competition, are making their mobile phone numbers available for tourists arriving in Korea and Japan who cannot speak the local language.

Speaking a second language yields evident advantages and cultural insight for language learners. Many students see second language acquisition as a passport to further education in another country or better prospects in their career at home, as language students studying in the UK testify (pages 14-15). In some countries, such as Hungary, it is common for citizens to learn two or three languages, as language proficiency becomes more and more commonplace (page 8).

As it becomes more usual to have language skills, so the demand for languages which are less typical - such as Japanese, Hebrew or Swedish - increases, because students become more confident about adding to their language portfolio. In this issue, we include a list of language programmes that play a smaller, yet significant part in the market (page 29).

The realisation of the importance of language learning among school policy makers is a slow progression, although in non-English speaking countries, government policy over the years has evolved to foster better foreign language ability among its inhabitants. This is certainly the case in Germany, where all eight-year-olds are to be taught a foreign language by 2006 (page 4).

Even in the Middle East, interest in language learning, often seen as a pathway for academic study overseas, is rising slowly, despite the recent events in the region and the war in Afghanistan. The political situation has meant that the USA is no longer as popular a study destination, but overseas school representatives working in the region believe that the market's potential overall remains strong (page 17).

As some schools point out, the stability of a country's economy can influence its potential as a student provider country. While the growing economies of central European countries point to booming demand for language study overseas from this region (page 8), agents in France report only modest growth in their market last year, which is linked in part to the slow economic growth in the country (pages 10-11).

And in Italy, language teaching centres generally reported slow growth during 2001, as they witnessed the effects of September 11 in the USA on the US outbound student market, which is an important market for the country (page 27).

This underlines the need for schools to market to a wide range of countries - not only to ensure satisfied clients who learn in a truly international learning environment, but to guarantee a regular supply of students as economies fluctuate around the world. Such marketing techniques are also useful in ironing out the peaks and troughs of the market and ensuring a more constant stream of student traffic (pages 20-24).


Opinion
The Fifa World Cup taking place this summer in Korea and Japan is a reminder of the importance of international exchange, as the coordination and organisation of such a global event would not be possible if a common language were not shared.

News
New visa rules for Canada
Bad schools under investigation in Ireland
Revival of New York language schools' association
One-stop website for Australian education
Bell closes two UK schools
German teachers refresh language knowledge

Travel News
Price hikes looming?
Commission axed in USA
Finnair plans Asian
strategy

Agency News
Central Europe's firm growth
Alto in 'new phase of development'

Agency Survey
France slows down
Growth in France's language travel market slowed down in 2001, although most agents remain positive about the market's future potential.

Feedback
UK Feedback
The English language students taking part in our UK Feedback survey represented 39 different countries, and many of them had serious study goals in mind.

Market Report
Italy's view
The September 11 events in the USA last year caused US student numbers to all but dry up for Italy, although the launch of the euro this year has brought with it new interest for Italian language tuition from other European Union member states. Gillian Evans reports.

Course Guide
Speciality languages
As language learning gains importance in many countries, demand from clients for tuition in a range of languages is increasing, aside from the favourites such as English or Spanish. Here, we list a selection of in-country programmes offering tuition in languages such as Japanese, Russian, Portuguese and Swedish.

Profile
Switzerland
Switzerland, or the Swiss Confederation to give the country its official name, is made up of 26 cantons and is the smallest federal state in the world.

Status
Status: Spain 2001
The Status survey is a new venture by Language Travel Magazine, in collaboration with the Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto), which gathers specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world. For the first time, it is possible to compare world market statistics.