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Contents - March 2004


Special Report
Performance under pressure
Junior and teenage clients in particular like to enrol on summer vacation programmes that offer language tuition in a fun environment with packaged activities. Ensuring consistent quality and a 'fun' environment is hard work for schools, of course, especially when resources are stretched and student numbers are at peak level. Amy Baker finds out how language schools around the world ensure that their quality remains intact and their programmes are innovative in this competitive field.


Direction
Real opportunity
Current market predictions suggest that language travel will be a growth area in the next few years, but as technology improves and becomes more commonplace, learning online can still be a valuable niche product that agencies can add to their range. Gillian Evans reports.



Destination
America discovered
The inland states of the USA are not well known for their language learning opportunties, although schools in this area point out that this is part of their appeal. Students venturing into the USA's vast interior will find stunning scenery, friendly locals and few other foreign students.



Opinion

Long-term view
Southwest Airlines was one of the original low-cost, ticketless airlines and since it was launched in the USA 30 years ago, many similar low-cost models have sprung up around the world.

In Europe, EasyJet and Ryanair are considered to be two of the trailblazers that have paved the way for a range of airlines that are now dipping their toes into the low-cost waters of the aviation marketplace. The latest companies to launch no-frills services include Air Malta and a UK travel company.

The USA has now almost been left behind in the development of low-cost air travel options. Western Europe offers a plethora of routes between many countries and Eastern Europe has started to follow the lead, as we have reported in previous issues of Language Travel Magazine. In Asia too, Thailand and Malaysia have their own low-cost airline services and China is considering allowing budget carriers to set up domestic services.

In a recent 'barometer' survey on the state of the industry, undertaken by members of the Federation of International Youth Travel Operators (Fiyto) and the International Student Travel Confederation (ISTC), low-cost air travel was predicted to be the product for which there will be the highest demand in the next five years. This was ahead of personal development, hostels, language programmes and work & study programmes.

For agents, this all bodes well. As international travel becomes more competitive and affordable, the concept of studying a language overseas will become more viable and attractive, and students who may have considered studying in-country may increasingly prefer to learn a language in a country in which it is spoken. Given that language programmes and work & study programmes are both expected to show strong demand patterns in the next five years, this seems increasingly likely.

In turn, this trend will allow language schools to prosper as classrooms become increasingly mixed. International students in Australia vouch for the attraction of a mixed student class group, as fewer Chinese and more Eastern Europeans currently make up classes, according to our Feedback survey.

In New Zealand, schools have learnt the hard way that over-reliance on one market or world region can lead to problems, if not in terms of student satisfaction then in terms of revenue. As the Chinese market dried up last year, many schools found themselves on the rack as their planning and budgeting was based on forecasts of strong numbers from this one market.

This is not the first time that schools relying on Asian source countries have taken a tumble. In late 1997, the Asian economic crisis sparked similar problems for many schools around the world. However, as some experienced providers in New Zealand point out, when some markets suddenly open up - given opportunity, access and immigration legislation - there will always be 'get-rich-quick' operators keen to cash in on new business opportunities without considering the integrity or the longevity of their reputation.

There remain immigration obstacles to students having access to study anywhere. One agent in France underlines that it is increasingly difficult to send clients to the USA for short-term summer vacation courses. But as the language travel industry evolves, and assuming that governments' legislation might swing in a direction that is beneficial to this industry, schools will have to remember that their reputation - and by default that of their agents - rests on their ability to take a long-term view of business.


Opinion
Long-term view
Southwest Airlines was one of the original low-cost, ticketless airlines and since it was launched in the USA 30 years ago, many similar low-cost models have sprung up around the world.

News
Beta mobilises UK tourism sector
Scotland wooing foreign students
Students pick Canada for safety
Auckland counts foreign students' contribution
Language study features in industry trends survey
Bloomsbury International opens in London

Travel News
Asian airlines back in black
More budget airlines for 2004
Debate over sky marshals continues

Agency News
Ialc holds Eastern Europe roadshow
Visa agents advocated in China
British Council rethinks placement strategy

Agency Survey
Thailand's promise
Thailand's language travel market is characterised by students who are academically oriented and who use their language education to help them fulfill their long-term study goals. As the Thai economy strengthens, agencies predict that more students will consider studying overseas.

Feedback
Australia feedback
Australian language schools are attracting more students from outside Asia and our Feedback survey this year shows that students are appreciating the student mix in their classrooms as a result.

Market Report
NZ's hard times

There is no doubt that 2003 was a difficult year for operators in New Zealand, but the language teaching industry and the government believe they are on track to consolidate student numbers this year and learn from last year's problems. Amy Baker finds out more.

Course Guide
Business German
For those wanting to study on a business German language course, there are numerous options available throughout Austria and Germany. Many offer a complete executive package, with targeted accommodation, activities and a choice of sector-specific language tuition available.

Q&A
MEI~Relsa links up
The Irish association representing the interests of English language schools, MEI~Relsa, has been consolidating its links with government over the past year and planning more marketing activities for its members. Gillian Nother, Manager of the association, answers our questions.

Status
Status: global comparison 2002
In our global comparison article, we provide a breakdown of results from our Status surveys over the past year. In this article, it is possible to compare the nationality breakdown for international students across the major language teaching markets in the world.