||Unosel unveils stronger quality label
Unosel, the association of French language schools and French study abroad advisors, has taken steps to create a stronger, more quality-focused brand.
The organisation’s newly updated mission statement stipulates the guarantees provided by the association’s quality label and outlines new obligations applied in each of its four professional areas: language tours for young people, language courses for adults, educational tours, and holiday camps.
Existing membership criteria, namely checks on professional quality, ensuring members’ brochures and websites comply with association regulations and inspections of members’ head offices has become more stringent and will be reviewed once every three years, as was the case previously. Members must also now focus on the ethical relationship between themselves, the client and the supplier. Sylviane Halphen, Déléguée Générale of Unosel, explained, “By increasing its quality demands for its members, Unosel is responding to European standards and to market requirements which themselves have become very demanding. Unosel is thus consolidating its brand in Europe: a brand that inspires confidence and expertise.”
Founded in 1978, the organisation has over 70 members and represents study abroad advisors, language tour organisers, and language schools. In 2010, members represented 55,000 individual language stays abroad, 360,000 school and educational group tour passengers in France and 18,000 language students studying French in France.
Productive workshop month for ICEF
March was a busy workshop month for conference organiser, ICEF, with two agent shows taking place in quick succession. ICEF Japan saw educators from 15 countries around the world meet with 55 Japanese agencies.
Overall, participants were extremely satisfied with the event, said the organiser, with 96 per cent rating it either excellent or good. Educator Rose Broadley from Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK commended the event for reviving existing relationships and helping to forge new ones. Incredibly the event finished just two days before the devastating earthquake and tsunami that rocked the country and the organiser was pleased to report that no delegates were injured in the crisis.
The ICEF Moscow workshop was bigger than ever, with an 18 per cent increase in educator participants and a 15 per cent growth overall. A total of 124 global educational institutions descended on the Russian capital to meet with 167 agencies from Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. Again, the event received positive feedback with 96 per cent of the delegation rating it either excellent or good.
Kathie Kwilinski, a first-time participant from South Seattle Community College in the USA, noted that, “the agents were very well prepared and with a clear focus,” while Irina Novikova from Russian agency, International Training Centre InTC, observed that the seminars on the first day of the workshop were “extremely useful”.
Advisor of the month
In a series appearing each month in Study 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, English Language Center (ELC) in the USA nominates Language School Worldwide in Spain. Ellyn Levine, at the school explains, this decision.
“Language School Worldwide works exceptionally hard to make the students’ language travel experience the best it can be. Despite the fast-paced and sometimes stressful nature of the language travel industry, Language School Worldwide staff always prove to be incredibly dependable, hardworking and kind. Here at the English Language Center, staff believe that Language School Worldwide does a phenomenal job working with their students, and, as a result, make our jobs a whole lot easier.
ELC has been working with the agency since 2006 and has built a strong, successful and long-lasting relationship. During our five year partnership we have received hundreds of students from them and we are grateful for the relationships fostered with the Language School Worldwide staff. Both the owners and administrative staff are a delight to work with, and we know that when we receive a student from Language School Worldwide we are in for a treat.”
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Have you introduced any new sectors to your business portfolio?
Eric Wijmenga, Intercambio, Mexico
“Intercambio has worked in the Mexican and Latin American market since 1996 and promotes English language programmes and UK HE postgraduate masters and research programmes with postgraduate programmes accounting for about 80 per cent of our business. There has been a slow but steady increase in interest in both English language and postgraduate programmes but the one area that had shown little to no movement at all has been that of undergraduate study. However, this picture is changing very rapidly. Since 2010 the growth in enquiries for undergraduate study has made HE providers in the UK take notice. Providers of foundation courses should take particular notice as most UK HE institutions require Mexican students to complete a foundation degree before they can gain access onto a UK Bachelor’s degree.”
Annette Willi,Lingua Net Sprachaufenthalte, Switzerland
“We have been asked by an existing, professional company in Germany to build up the Swiss market for student exchange (public and private high school programmes), mainly in the USA but also in Argentina, Australia, China, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa etc. This new high school sector gives us a more complete business portfolio. With our experience sending students to language schools we already work with language schools in all these countries it is quite easy to advise students and their families who want to go abroad for a year. The interview, which lasts for approximately two hours, is an important part of the job. There is still a small number of Swiss students we send abroad for a high school year programme but the trend shows that there is student demand! We are convinced to have more clients in the second year.”
Ana Karina García Ramentol, G.R. Academic Exchange Programs, Venezuela
“We are a Venezuelan organisation dedicated to promoting study abroad, our experience comes from more than 10 years that we have helped students to find the programme that best suits their needs. We have partners in the USA, UK, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, Japan, China, Italy and many other countries. When we first started, the mainstay of our business was the high school exchange student programme, but since 2005, more than 80 per cent of our clients have been interested in language programmes. Since 2010, the demand for university programmes has grown, therefore we have been assessing students for A-level programmes, foundation programmes as well as undergraduate and graduate programmes. The countries of interest have always been the UK, the USA and Canada but there is a new trend about Ireland.”
Marcos Gubernatte, Younger Intercâmbio Cultural, Brazil
“Younger has been working in the language sector in Brazil for four years. During these years, we felt that we should invest much more in the tertiary sector, such as colleges and vocational education courses. Considering the high level of students requesting commercial cookery, tourism, IT, hairdresser programmes etc, we have introduced these programmes to our students; as an extension to the English courses especially in countries where the visa allows students to work. In the end, students could postpone their visas overseas, combining a specific course with working purposes. The average student age for these course enquiries is between 23 and 35 years old. Also, almost 30 per cent of students flying to Australia and Canada have requested these kinds of courses (English and vocational courses).”
On the move
Newly appointed to London-based Harrow College as the Higher Education and International Manager is Afshan Baksh. “Already working with partners in China, South East Asia, East Africa and America we are now looking to expand our international provision,” said Baksh.
St Giles International is delighted to announce the appointment of Jackie Pilkington as Centre Director for its operation in Vancouver, Canada, as well as to the new role of Director North American Junior Camps. Ms Pilkington has been involved in centre management and the development of quality junior course operations worldwide, and brings with her over 15 years’ experience.
Torsten Pankok and Tanja Kuntz have been appointed joint Managing Directors of Travelplus Group, with its two brands Carpe Diem Sprachreisen and TravelWorks. Mr Pankok had previously held the position of Head of Sales and Product Manager for the Language Course Programme while Ms Kuntz headed up the departments of Marketing, HR and TravelWorks France.
ICEF is pleased to announce the appointment of Sarah Mines as Business Development Manager for the Canadian market. Earlier in her career, Ms Mines held positions at CEC Network as Director of Marketing and Client Services, Western Canada and most recently at the BC Council for International Education as Events and Marketing Manager.
Steve Clift has been appointed to the newly created position of Development Director of the Education Division of TUI Travel PLC. As a senior member of the Group Corporate Finance department, Mr Clift previously worked for two years as an M&A professional within TUI Travel PLC, having previously worked for Virgin.
Languagelab.com collaborate with Pearson
Languagelab.com, an online education company specialising in virtual learning environments, and Pearson Education have entered into an innovative collaboration to transform one of Pearson’s textbook series into an interactive, social, online 3D experience.
The new product, Market Leader Live, will transform the way in which people learn, with students experiencing actual business scenarios in the 3D world via Languagelab.com’s online learning portal, English City. Students will practise and learn with qualified teachers and fellow language learners in a business-focussed environment.
Stephen Nicholl, Editorial Director of Business English at Pearson said, “We were impressed by Languagelab’s ability to move the Market Leader case studies into an entirely new learning space, which we believe will offer students a level of interaction not seen before in Business English learning.”
Languagelab.com also recently secured US$1 million worth of funding from investors. The three-way investment by Avonmore Developments, Huda Associates and entrepreneur, Stephen Bullock, will enable Languagelab to enter the rapidly expanding markets of Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Erasmus graduates likely to work overseas
A recent study by UK university peers, Matthias Parey and Fabian Waldinger, has found that students studying overseas are more likely to work abroad following graduation.
Examining the impact of Erasmus, the university student exchange programme introduced by the European Union in 1987, the authors from the University of Essex and the University of Warwick respectively found that graduates who had participated in the overseas programme were 15 per cent more likely to start a career overseas.
Evidence suggests that student mobility is important as it increases labour market skills and increases the flow of highly skilled workers to a particular country.
Accommodation initiative in France
n conjunction with six language schools, the Montpellier Tourist Office has organised a preliminary meeting with 180 host families from across the region to discuss a host family charter.
In a mutual directive that aims to make the most out of a student’s stay in the Montpellier region, member schools LSF, Accent Français, IMLS, ARAM, Institut Européen de Français and ILP, joined forces to raise awareness of host family provision and outline the duties of families and schools. Andrew Kinselle of LSF said, “Organisers Montpellier Tourist Office stressed the pioneering nature of this meeting and thanked the participating language schools for pooling their resources to improve further the quality of welcome in Montpellier.”
School secures test centre status
Centre of English Studies (CES) in Dublin, Ireland, has become the first private English language school in the city to be made an official test centre for the Ielts English examination.
Jonathan Quinn, CES Marketing Director, observed that students can sit the exam onsite as well as enrol on a preparatory exam course. He added, “CES is delighted to announce that it is the first private English language school in Ireland to have been made an official Ielts test centre. CES will also have the first Ielts test centre in Dublin’s city centre. The test centre will be an open centre, so any candidate can register for an exam. We have hired a dedicated Ielts administrator so we are confident that [we] will deliver Ielts tests to the highest standards.”
Can music aid language learning?
Drawing parallels between music, memory and language, language teaching teachnology company, Earworms MBT based in the UK have introduced their musical brain trainer to native French speakers.
The English version of the product, which uses music to accelerate the language learning experience, has already proven successful in the UK. Andrew Lodge, Cofounder of Earworms, noted, “Although repetition is necessary in language learning the addition of music stimulates the brain, keeping it in the alpha state of consciousness aware but relaxed, which is ideal for learning.” He added, “It also makes it fun. Most people like music, but don’t like learning vocabulary and grammar. Weaving this into music means you are just listening to a song.”
This effective tool enables students to learn almost anywhere via mp3 player in the car, doing sport or on a plane the new French range of learning tools are available in English, Chinese, Italian, Spanish and German, with more said to be in the pipeline.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of two pinnacles of the language travel industry.
Chairman of Estudio Sampere in Spain, Juan Manuel Sampere, sadly passed away on March 4. Son of Ialc founder, Alberto Sampere, Juan Manuel continued in his father’s footsteps, further developing the Estudio Sampere brand and serving as Ialc president from 1995-1999.
Pia Greevy, Managing Director of ATC Language & Travel in Ireland, sadly passed away on April 5. Originally from Rome, Pia worked tirelessly to boost the inbound student market in Ireland, particularly the tertiary sector, and was described as a “friend of the Irish universities” by peers. She leaves behind sons Ugo and Edward.
Both had been battling long illnesses and will be greatly missed by industry friends, colleagues and associates.
Groupement FLE has been busy establishing a new name, a new website and a new committee. Frédérique di Tullio answers our questions.
Full name: Groupement FLE
Year established: 2008
Number of members: 30
Type of members: French language schools
Association’s main role: Maintaining quality standards, pooling of resources, joint promotional efforts
Government recognition: Member of the steering committee for the ministerial label of Fle schools
Code of practice: Professional deontological code and internal regulations
Complaints procedure: yes
Agent workshops/fam trips:
Contact person: Frédérique di Tullio
What has your association been up to in the last 12 months?
The Groupement FLE continued to establish and confirm its identity while pursuing the development of its strategy, following on from 2009, which was a year dedicated principally to the reorganisation of the association. The last 12 months were rich in events and activities: participation in both national events and international trade fairs (Alphe UK, Studyworld and ICEF Berlin). Diverse and varied projects to improve and build upon external communications, fine-tuning our website, working on the idea of quality as a dynamic concept, regular meetings between the Committee of Directors and the CIEP in the context of the ministerial label, Professionals’ Day, roundtables with the objective of creating a new platform for expression: “FLE centres conference”. All of these activities have the common goal of promoting the reputation of the Groupement FLE both nationally and internationally, to establish ourselves as a point of reference for professionals, and to share with our members the tools and resources which will allow them to make the most of their added value in terms of quality and service.
How have you been working with the government to promote accreditation and quality standards?
The Groupement FLE is an active member of the steering committee for the French ministerial labelling of schools (Label Qualité FLE). Our association occupies the function of official contact/interface for the ministerial forums, principally due to the fact that, for many years, Groupement FLE has been strongly involved in the development of quality standards within the profession of teaching French as a foreign language, and represents an important number of member schools. Since December 2010, a number of meetings have been programmed with the aim of gathering feedback and suggestions from our members and fellow professionals so as to improve the system of ministerial labelling of centres.
What marketing activities do you have planned?
2011 has been planned and organised as a year of communication and promotion for Groupement FLE. We will be increasingly present in the national and international press outlets specialising and operating in and around our activity. Groupement FLE will participate in even more trade fairs this year agents can see and meet with us in London at the Alphe UK and Studyworld workshops, in addition to Berlin where we will be participating in November.
• United Continental, the parent of United Airlines, is positioning itself to expand services into Japan. With Delta Airlines suspending services to Haneda Airport following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. United has asked the US Transportation Department to be considered for the route in the event of non-resumption by Delta, confident that passenger numbers will swiftly recover. United already runs services to Tokyo’s Narita Airport, but was initially unsuccessful in its application for slots at Haneda, which is closer to the capital city. Delta has responded that they are not intending to abandon the route and that current suspension is within US rules. Meanwhile, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has set up a special air travel website following the disaster and announced that services by British Airways, Singapore Airlines, KLM, Air France, Air Asia X, and Alitalia have resumed regular operations.
• Brazilian carrier TAM has announced plans to increase the frequency of flights to London, Frankfurt and New York. In May, the airline’s Rio to Frankfurt route became daily, while a fifth weekly flight to New York was also added. A sixth has been scheduled for August. Services from Rio to London will double to six a week from the beginning of August, supporting the daily service that the carrier already runs from São Paolo to London. Brazil is to play host to the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Chief Executive Officer of TAM, Libano Barosso said, “With the new frequencies we are reaffirming our passion for Rio and recognising the city’s importance as a gateway to and from the country for business or leisure travellers.”
• A recent survey of Virgin Airways check-in staff has revealed some of the bizarre items that passengers have attempted to check in. A giant wheel of cheese, a car engine and a pet tarantula numbered among the more unusual luggage items. A love-struck couple attempted to transport bags of sand and seawater as a reminder of their romantic holiday, while one lady even tried to carry her bathtub through New York’s JFK airport.
• China Southern Airlines has announced daily flights from Guangzhou to Auckland. Having recently opened the route with three services per week, the carrier will soon expand to a daily service, more than doubling seating capacity. New Zealand Associate Tourism Minister, Jonathon Coleman, welcomed the move and said, “China is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing visitor markets. An estimated 123,000 people visited last year up nearly 17 per cent, with those visitors contributing around NZ$365 million (US$285 million) a year to the New Zealand economy. Tourism New Zealand has been working with China Southern to promote the new route and the benefits of visiting New Zealand for leisure and business purposes.”
• Most Americans believe air travel is better today than it was in 2001, a new survey has shown. According to the poll by online travel company, Orbitz, 71 per cent of respondents said the travel experience had improved over the past decade. Overall, 61 per cent of people said that online price comparison is the best thing about travel in 2011. “There is a time and money factor,” said Marita Hudson-Thomas, Orbitz’s Director of Public Relations. “It’s fast and it’s easy now with online bargain hunting, and people can make sure they are getting the absolute best deal.” The worst thing about travel was said to be additional airline charges, such as checked baggage fees and paying for meals. The questionnaire also showed that 76 per cent of people with a smart phone had never used it for booking travel arrangements.
• British Airways, the UK’s national carrier, is remaining tight lipped over plans for an airline rebrand. A spokesman for the airline confirmed that, “We are currently working on the re-launch of the BA brand, first internally with our staff then later in the year as an advertising campaign.” The revamp will be the first dedicated campaign the airline has had in two years.
• Heathrow Airport in the UK is investigating the possibility of installing underground heating following last winter’s inclement weather. It is hoped by harnessing geothermal technology, runways and aircraft stands will be prevented from freezing during cold spells. The airport is being pressured by the UK government to avoid a repeat of the disruption caused last year.
Please see the digital issue of Language Travel Magazine for the Grapevine section