Breaking new ground
Learning a language or undertaking a period of study overseas is no longer the preserve of the intrepid few and instead is becoming almost expected of today’s students in many countries around the world. With the number of overseas options and opportunities increasing, many employers see an international experience of some kind as an essential part of any potential employee’s CV.
This is a far cry from the typical students dealt with by many of the early entrepreneurs featured in our Special Report this month (page 22), many of whom were themselves pioneers in travelling overseas to learn a language and experience a different culture thirty or forty years ago. It is this spirit of adventure and enthusiasm for expanding cultural awareness exhibited both by the students themselves as well as the first business owners that has underpinned the language travel industry since its early days. Our feature finds that many of those instrumental in setting up language schools in the 50s and 60s were driven by a passion for their business that has resulted in a lifelong commitment to the industry and has often been passed on to family members.
The growth and enduring popularity of learning a language overseas has surely exceded all the expectations of these early pioneers and its continuing popularity can be seen by the growth of teacher training courses offered by language schools thoughout the world (page 28). It is interesting to note that the worldwide demand for English teachers is encouraging those whose native language is not English, but who already have fluent English skills, to undertake qualifications to teach the language at home and abroad.
However, people today have more than just the option of learning a language or studying in mainstream education overseas, as, more recently, increasing options for gaining work experience in a company overseas have also encouraged an interest in internationl experiences. Our feature on typical clients for work placement providers (page 44) show that these types of programmes are attracting a new type of client who might not necessarily have gone abroad to study at a language school or mainstream education institution.
Innovation and a willingness to embrace change will surely ensure that our industry goes from strength to strength. The commitment and enthusiasm shown by many, both young and old, in the industry today ensures that the original pioneering spirit remains.