Contents - March 2008

Special Report
The heat is on
Activities, accommodation, security, academic achievement – all of these issues are important to students when considering where to spend their language vacation abroad. Amy Baker finds out how educators are keeping up with demand in the mainstay of the market – the summer vacation sector.

English plus watersports
Malta is well equipped to offer more than just general English courses. Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean, its pleasant climate and beautiful beaches make it the ideal place for international students to undertake an English plus watersports course.

The Basque Country experience
Stunning scenery, historical cities, unspoilt beaches and a delicious range of food and wine point to the Basque Country becoming one of the up-and-coming language travel destinations of the future. Gillian Evans reports.


Real life learning

As in many other service industries, the happy customer is the end goal of language travel (and successful language acquisition of course) and therefore constantly improving programmes, adding new courses, such as English and watersports in Malta (page 45), or improving school facilities is a typical activity in the industry. Of course, this is necessary and advisable, but at what point does the client realise that they too have to take responsibility for learning a language? At what point can they stop blaming the lack of study facilities, the bad food or the boring social activities for thwarting their progress?

It was while editing our article on Online learning that this thought crossed my mind. “Students who have the self-discipline required to study online” do well with this particular teaching technology, apparently. As a result, some language schools now offer online learning to their students as an add-on (pages 22-23).

This comment got me thinking about self-discipline. The summer vacation market – populated by teenagers for the large part – seems to accept as a rule that interactivity and innovation means a greater chance of classroom success. As a result, staging a fashion show or interviewing locals are examples of dynamic programming employed at language schools (pages 32-40). While we all need encouragement to excel, there has to be a balance between providing an enthusiastic backdrop for learning and students making an effort themselves. To keep up with the competition, language schools have to provide excellent facilities, teachers and welfare provision. But in some cases, could students be accused of being too passive towards education, expecting a school to impress them and make them learn?

A recent report in a German consumer magazine provided interesting reading and made good suggestions about where various Spanish language schools that were roadtested could improve: desks in a bedroom, fresher food, lessons that seemed to be more spontaneous, more information about how language level assessment worked (page 8). But despite shortcomings of the schools, all the “mystery shoppers” that took part in the consumer survey agreed that language travel was the best way to learn a language, mainly because it blended study with relaxation and allowed an opportunity to practise a language in real life. And that’s where the self-motivation has to come into play.

Real life learning

Deportation rule for students relaxed in UK
Open Doors: big increase in Saudi students
Problems at private college in Australia
NSTS in Malta offers scholarships to MEPs
Bogus college in UK uncovered
Russia tells BC to close offices
Kaplan Aspect buys out PLI in Canada
French government accreditation soon to be widespread

Agency News
Latest Alphes “valuable”
German survey assesses agencies

Agency Survey
Saudi’s diversity
Despite well documented demand for the USA among Saudi students, many have sought alternative language destinations such as the UK and New Zealand according to our Agency Survey. Meanwhile, higher education appears to be big business.

Students taking part in this year’s Feedback survey on Australia were largely satisfied with their experience, and the country’s language schools are starting to welcome students from Central and Eastern Europe for the first time.

Online opportunities
Sometimes regarded by our industry as a rival sector, online language study remains under-developed, but is currently growing strongly. It is also being successfully incorporated into “blended learning” programmes, and in other ways enhancing language programmes offered by schools and agencies. Jane Vernon Smith finds out more.

Course Guide
High school year in the UK
Secondary schooling in the UK has always been a popular choice for international students, especially for those wanting to go on to higher education in the UK. With many schools running a separate international study centre, overseas students can opt to take extra language tuition if needed as well as preparation courses to help them integrate into academic life.

Global comparison
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 for 2006.