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June 2005 issue

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Alphe gets intensive in Asia

The Alphe workshops went to Asia earlier this year, for a three-in-a-row truly intensive workshop experience. The workshops, which took place in Seoul, Tokyo and Shanghai, were well received by agents and educators, with many attending all three events.

SoThere were 220 attendees present at the workshops in total, including a range of exhibitors, and Jane Gilham, Alphe Manager, commented, "All our delegates were pleased with the integrity of the agencies and educators [atteding]. Alphe Intensive gave educators an opportunity to maximise their marketing budget with minimal time out of the office."

Linda Chaffee of California State University, San Bernardino in the USA, said she was very pleased with her participation at Alphe Korea. "I had a great meeting with Kosa members that we hope will result in some joint initiatives," she said. Santiago Gasset Peinado of Aula sin Fronteras in Spain, who attended Alphe Japan, added, "There was a good effort to attract interested agents."

Noriko Okada of ICT agency in Japan also attended Alphe Japan. "It was good that we met some new schools that we didn't know about before," she commented. And in China, Liu Yali of Jinan Overseas Chinese Study Abroad Service Centre in Shandong, who attended the Shanghai workshop, said the event was useful to her. "I could find some fresh business opportunities through the workshop," she added.

Scott Wade, Director of Hothouse Media – organisers of the Alphe workshops – said, "We hosted some of the best agents and educators in three of the most dynamic cities in Asia. The participants gave me very positive feedback."


ExpoBelta draws the crowds again

Capitalising on its winning formula of last year, Belta in Brazil drew thousands of students to its fairs by combining a trade fair witha cultural highlights from various countries.

A Maori dance group, US jazz band and Australian fashion show were among the cultural performances.

Around 14,500 students attended the ExpoBelta shows, with close to 9,000 visitors at the two-day Sao Paulo event. The other fairs were in Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. Belta President, Tatiana Mendes, said that interest among Brazilians was high because of Brazil's economic stability. "There's also the need for young people to be ready for the work market," she said. "They are looking for international experiences to increase their knowledge."

Chris Klaassen from Avondale College in New Zealand said attending was very worthwhile, with many students interested in university study and in New Zealand.

During ExpoBelta, Belta and Embratur also agreed to support the Brazilian Interchange Bureau (BIB). BIB will promote study opportunities in Brazil, ranging from specialist soccer schools to volunteer programmes and university exchange.


Gwea show grows

This year's Work Experience Travel Market (WETM) attracted more participants than the inaugural event last year, according to organisers, the Global Work Experience Association (Gwea). This year, the event, in Prague, Czech Republic, welcomed 172 participants from 122 organisations representing 29 countries.

"The programme included two days of business appointments and two seminars featuring Richard Atkins, a US-based legal expert, and Steve Moore, [speaking about] the work exchange industry," related Nella Tonna at Gwea. "Besides a 28 per cent growth in participation, there was also a broadening of the types of organisation present. This included tax and insurance organisations as well as au pair programmes."

Anne Stewart of Living English in Ireland, said, "The WETM gave us the perfect opportunity of not only consolidating our business with partner-agents but also making new contacts. It was an enjoyable and well organised event."


Industry issues - agents speak out

Q. Has student demand for accommodation changed at your agency?

Hatim Taha, Golden Travels Co./Golden Horizons for Academies, Saudi Arabia

"Our students come from a totally different culture which makes some of them unstable in the first four weeks and most likely they give us and the school a hard time until they settle [in]. Definitely, most of them express this instability by changing the accommodation although they still keep complaining. Another factor also, students are used to having a type of luxurious life here and are not used to living in small rooms or in wooden houses. They might also have the feeling that the Western people scorn them as Muslims and Arabs considering the current global political situation. As many of these students speak a very low level of English and go there to improve their English language level, there might be a kind of misunderstanding and miscommunication. These factors result in many homestay changes. Definitely, when they adapt to their new environment (after four weeks), they settle down and seldom change accommodation. Most of our students prefer homestay accommodation but those who have previous experience and have been overseas a couple of times might choose residential and/or student houses, apartments and private accommodation. It is worth mentioning that all of the schools in the UK, Canada, Australia, NZ, Ireland, Spain, Italy, France and Switzerland are very cooperative and always understand these situations."

Jorge Taboada, Universities & Schools of America, Argentina

"The students' requirements, in terms of accommodation, are very stable. When the students have special needs, the institutions we work with are flexible enough to cover them. Teens and young students prefer on-campus accommodation. They like to socialise and enjoy themselves, and they don´t want to lose opportunities living off-campus. Host families are accepted when on campus or student residences are not available. But, if they have a good experience with the hosts, students return enamoured with this option and recommend it strongly. Frustrating experiences with host families are one in 20, mainly in big cities. When it happens, it is very important to have a quick response from the institution." 


Petra Wagner, Easy Sprachreisen, Germany

"Our experience shows us that students do have high demand for high quality accommodation. If there are complaints it's about the accommodation. Even though we tell the students that they have to expect typical housing for the country they expect a real home for the time that they are there. There are two groups of students: one group is looking for independent accommodation; the other group is looking for a well looked-after accommodation like a host family. Mostly people decide to go to a host family if they really want to improve their language skills in a short [space of] time. The other group, who prefers more independent accommodation [options], takes the language travel trip more as a holiday. More and more schools recognise the importance of high quality accommodation for students. They [have begun to] open their own residences to assure the standard they want to offer. We think it is good and important to offer, not only high quality courses, but high quality accommodation as well."



Agency of the month

In a series appearing each month in Language 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, the University of Illinois in Chicago, USA, nominates the agency Apply ESL.com, in the USA.

Diane Highland, Director of the Tutorium in Intensive English at the university, explains:

"Apply ESL has been a very important and trusted collaborator with the Tutorium in Intensive English at the University of Illinois in Chicago for a number of years. Initially, the partnership was an opportunity for our programme to broaden our presence on the web. In less than a year, Apply ESL offered us the opportunity to provide translations of our website into a number of languages and this, in turn, helped us to see an immediate increase in the number of prospective students contacting us for registration materials.

The following year, ApplyESL approached us to join their alumni programme which we quickly added to our university website. Throughout our short friendship, I have been very pleased with the positive and very helpful attention all of the folks at ApplyESL provide us. All of our students – current, past and prospective – enjoy the features of the alumni programme, and the translated sites ApplyESL provides for us are accurate, helpful and fruitful! We hope to continue this happy partnership for many years to come."


On the move

In the UK, David Anthonisz has made the move from his previous position as Global Marketing Director at Shane Global Language Centres to one of London's newest schools, Bloomsbury International. In his position as Director of Sales and Marketing, Mr Anthonisz is looking to build on the early successes Bloomsbury has seen. "We have a truly first-class facility in the heart of London," he said.

After 15 years, Canan Sulac has left Ekdil agency in Turkey to start up her own independently operated agency, ABC Education. She told Language Travel Magazine, "I am looking forward to developing my own business and I plan to continue to offer a first-class educational programme according to student needs."

Richard Rossner has announced he will leave his position as Chief Executive of the Bell Educational Trust at the end of 2005. Mr Rossner has worked for Bell in various roles since January 1984, when he was appointed Director of Studies at Bell Cambridge. Mr Rossner expects to continue professional activities in the field of language education on a freelance basis both in the UK and abroad.

Anna Donaghy (left), Marketing Officer of the National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research (NCELTR) at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, has left the position to go to nearby Manly where she is taking up the position of Regional Recruitment Manager, International at the International College of Tourism and Hotel Management (ICTHM). Ms Catherine Charlton (right), NCELTR Operations Manager, who has been part of the marketing team at Macquarie University for some time, will be taking over Ms Donaghy's previous duties.

Gillian Nother has resigned from her position as Manager of MEI~Relsa in Ireland. She remains committed to further developing and promoting Ireland as a choice destination in which to study and to visit, and will continue to work for MEI~Relsa and the English language schools in Ireland on a consultancy basis. Ms Nother has extended her services and support to the broader international education and tourism sectors in Ireland.


Q&A

Feltom in Malta has plans to distinguish its members from other language schools by introducing new and improved quality standards. John Dimech, President of the association, answers our questions.

Full name: Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations of Malta
Year established: 1989
Number of members: 17
Type of members: Full member schools operate year round; associate members operate for up to eight months a year.
Association's main role: establish and maintain codes of conduct and national standards; promote Malta as an English language-learning destination of quality and repute.
Government recognition: yes
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: no
Agent workshops/fam trips: yes
Contact details: Claire Caruana, Executive Secretary, FeltomFoundation for International Studies, Old University BuildingsSt. Paul Street, Valletta VLT 07, MaltaE-mail: exsecretary@feltom.com 

How are your plans for an accreditation scheme progressing, and when do you expect it to come into effect?

The accreditation scheme was approved in principle at the last AGM and the executive board has the mandate to present it again to the members and to include further recommendations at the Extraordinary General Meeting, for approval of the EGM and to be implemented thereafter on a voluntary basis. The scheme would eventually become mandatory for all members by 1 February 2008.

How has Feltom decided on guidelines for quality standards and what are the defining attributes of the accreditation scheme?

The scheme will be directed to review quality standards in line with market developments, and provide an ongoing objective mechanism to ensure their maintenance. The members have opted at the last AGM that the scheme be managed by an Accreditation Council, [which will be] independent of the executive board, save the President, and of any licensed English language teaching organisation having commercial contacts in Malta.

Why is the scheme being introduced?

The accreditation scheme demands equal quality standards for both new and existing member organisations and would involve more detailed site visits and scrutiny for new membership as well as periodic site visits for existing members. All of this is above the national minimum standards and Feltom's aim is to distinguish between the Feltom member schools and the non-members through this scheme.

Feltom has also updated its academic and student welfare codes of conduct. Can you explain briefly why?

As these codes of conduct were written over a decade ago, the Executive Board deemed it fit to work simultaneously and update the academic code of conduct and the student welfare code of conduct in line with the accreditation scheme.


Grapevine

The Alphe Intensive Asia workshops provided many social and business opportunities as well as cultural insights over a week-long period. Highlights included sampling a Korean barbecue, karaoke in Japan and visiting the Bund in China - Shanghai's strip of hotels, nightclubs and shopping streets. Pictured here at the Alphe Korea workshop in Seoul are (right), from left to right: Janet McCann from Doncaster College in the UK; Jatinder Kaur from the College of Accountancy & Management Studies in Middlesex, UK; Eva Perez from American College Dublin in Ireland; Jacqueline Sinclair, Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre in Vancouver, Canada; and Jessica Randall of Plymouth College of Further Education, also in the UK.

Taking a break during the Alphe Japan workshop in Tokyo, is (above left), from left to right: Masaki Tani from Study Group; Ryuki Hayashi, Secretary General of Jaos and Tatsu Hoshino from ALC International in Japan.

Members of the Hothouse Media team were keen to familiarise themselves with Korean culture during the recent Alphe workshop in Seoul – part of the Alphe Intensive Asia series. Seen here, from left to right; Jane Gilham, Alphe Manager, and Sonia Patino, Alphe Executive, in traditional Korean dress at the Kyong Bok Palace.

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