Meeting the natives
As well as improving or perfecting their language skills overseas, language students always have another goal in mind when they embark on a language travel trip to assimilate into the foreign environment and get to know the local way of life, people and culture.
Of course, these two aims go hand in hand and the better a student becomes at a language, the easier it is for them to interact with locals and integrate into the lifestyle. Similarly, the more they mix with locals, the faster their language acquisition becomes.
Language students want to be able to interact with locals and not just their classmates. Language teaching institutions that enable their clients to do this are bound to win out, as positive student feedback will translate into word-of-mouth recommendation from the students and guaranteed promotion from agencies.
One way of ensuring students meet local people is by organising activity classes that native speakers can also take part in. A number of the Irish providers in our Course Guide offering English plus courses do just that (page 31). Another way to achieve this is to ensure that students live in and around native students on campus or in residences.
According to our report on the evolution of accommodation, this is occuring more and more, as language schools realise they can sell the lifestyle associated with residential living. Study Group for one now offers rooms in a new residential accommodation block in London which is also used by the University of Greenwich (page 24). Other language schools are equally keen to promote their on-campus links, in Spain (page 25) and in the US study hotspot of California (pages 36-38).
As well as living alongside native young people, those language students on an academic preparation course can study alongside them too, if they choose to undertake their programme at a tertiary institution. While private language providers also have distinct study advantages, studying in appropriate academic surroundings to prepare for university life is definitely a good selling point (pages 18-19).
Specialised executive programmes also enable their clients to visit local companies, although their students may in fact be working in a local business already (page 37). This capacity to introduce students to local people and assure long-term students the possibility to integrate will become vital to schools' ongoing good relationships with agencies in the future.