March 2008 issue

Agency News
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South Africa fizzes

Limited visa problems and a wide recruitment reach are two reasons for South Africa’s continued ascendency. Amy Baker finds out more.

As was the case last year, language school representatives in South Africa are reporting another excellent year of business and there is a feeling of anticipation that the market will continue to develop and evolve in the future.

South Africa seems hot as a language travel destination – reports of 15 per cent growth, 30 per cent growth and “really successful” business are evidence of this. While European and African clients continue to be the mainstay of business at English language schools in the country, many businesses are turning their attentions to South America and Asia now, confident that the country’s attractions and relative value for money can win over new clients.

As Ann Piscopo, General Manager of Geos Cape Town, points out, “South Africa is still largely misunderstood in certain areas of the world, such as Thailand and Vietnam” so it is to agents in these countries that schools are turning. “It is essential to recruit agents who can educate locals about the idea of studying in Cape Town on a continual basis,” notes Piscopo.

Many schools in the country report that a high proportion of students are recruited via agencies and the majority of schools canvassed for this article attest to putting faith in agencies for expanding enrolments. “At the moment we rely on agents for the majority of our students and I would like to grow our agent database in countries where we have limited access at the moment,” reports Taise Sampson of Jeffreys Bay Language School in Jeffreys Bay.

Aaliya Bulbulia, Director of Studies at Cape Studies in Cape Town, adds, “Our business is 60 per cent dependent on agent referrals and yes, we do hope to build on this in the future.”

According to the latest Status Survey on South Africa, produced by Language Travel Magazine, Angolan students were the most significant nationality at schools across the country in 2006, followed by German and Swiss clients. In the previous Status Survey, Swiss and Angolan students shared the top spot.

Gavin Eyre of LAL Cape Town suggests a reason for the preponderance of Angolans in the country. “This is because of their locality towards South Africa, increased flights and the [low comparative] cost of courses. We at LAL have also introduced specialist [business] programmes, which has added to the popularity of Angolan companies sending their employees here,” he says.

Taking a closer look at the experience of individual schools, however, and it seems that patterns of enrolment can differ quite widely from school to school. Piscopo reports high numbers of Brazilians, Gabonese and Koreans. Wolfgang Graser from Good Hope Studies in Cape Town names Swiss, Brazilians and Germans as the most significant nationalities in 2007, while Trish Cooper at Wits Language School, based at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, says their largest nationality is Chinese. “We also have quite a number from the Democratic Republic of Congo and from Mozambique,” she says, “but I must emphasise that no particular nationality forms a majority.”

African enrolments are clearly on the up in South Africa and students from this continent do not travel elsewhere to study English in large numbers, meaning an assured market close to home. Manya Bredell at Cape Town School of English, comments, “We have seen more students from Africa, which is our common market.”

Few visa problems from any country are acknowledged by language schools, which is another positive for the market. Piscopo says, “The only problems we usually encounter are for visa extensions,” and Cooper mentions just two students from China and one group from Ethiopia as having had problems.

The future is certainly bright, and with the 2010 football World Cup being held in South Africa, a global focus on this destination will only help bookings. Bredell sums up South Africa’s enduring and growing appeal. “For Africans, it is closer in distance and culture,” she says. “For others, it is the weather, tourism and [low] costs.”

Getting out and about

One key attraction for students studying in South Africa is the country’s reputation for an exciting array of tourism activities, given South Africa’s native wildlife, weather and beaches. As a result, some schools report that their most popular courses involve adventure-led learning.

At Jeffreys Bay Language School, Taise Simpson relates that their most popular courses are Travel English and English Plus.
“Many professionals have limited holiday time in which to travel or take extra studies,” she says, adding, “Travel English is one way to encompass both these activities – travel around South Africa and study in one or two cities for a week or two.” She continues, “Our English Plus course allows students to study English while doing one of their favourite pastimes such as surfing or scuba diving.”

However, a number of other schools actually report that general and intensive courses are their most popular programmes, while students use their free time to discover South Africa. Wolf Graser of Good Hope Studies says, “Both [our standard and intensive] courses are cost-effective and still leave some time to experience Cape Town.”

Anne Piscopo of Geos Cape Town concurs. “General English [is most popular],” she says. “This course has everything students need to improve their level of English. Students are eager to learn, however, they do not want to spend the entire day in the school,” she relates.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.





International House
      World Organisation
MEI-Relsa Ireland 
NAIS – National
      Association of
      Independent Schools
Perth Education City
Quality English 
Bright World

Interglobal Ltd

Malta Tourism

Joy of English
Perth Education City

Bodwell College 
Centre Linguista
College Platon 
inlingua Vancouver
National School of
School District #8
      Kootenay Lake
iMandarin Chinese
      Training School

ILI International
      House – IH Cairo

Bell International
      (Malta, UK)
Bright World
      Summer School 
Camp Beaumont
      (Argentina, Australia,
      Canada, England,
      France, Germany,
      Greece, Hawaii,
      Ireland, Italy, Malta,
      New Zealand, Russia,
      Scotland, Spain,
      Sweden, USA)
English Studio
Heart of England
      Language School
International House
      World Organisation
Kaplan Aspect
      Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta,
      New Zealand,
      South Africa, UK,
LAL Language and
      (England, Malta,
      South Africa, USA)
      at Clifton College,
Malvern House
Our World English
Queen Ethelburga's
Rose of York
      Language School 
South Thames
St Giles Colleges
      (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,
Twin Group
      (Ireland, UK)
French in Normandy
Langues Sans
Silc – Séjours
      (France, Spain, UK)

Carl Duisberg
      (England, Germany)
International House
      Berlin – Prolog

Alpha College of
Atlantic Language
English in Dublin
Galway Cultural
ISI – International
      Study Institute Ireland
MEI-Relsa Ireland 
Swan Training


Kai Japanese
      Language School 

Clubclass Residential
      Language School
EC – English
      Language Centres
      (China, England,
      Malta, South Africa)
LAL Malta
Malta Tourism

EAC Language
      Centres and
      Activity Camps
      (England, Ireland,
      Scotland, Wales)  
Edinburgh Academy
University of Stirling

Cape Studies
EC Cape Town
      Cape Town
Good Hope Studies
Interlink School of
LAL South Africa 
Language Teaching
Shane Global
      Language Centres –
      Cape Town 
South African School
      of English

Esade Executive
      Language Centre
Idiomas ¡Sí!
International House
      San Sebastián –
International House
      Sevilla – Clic

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Ecuador,
      England, France,   
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, Malta, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Scotland, Spain,
      (Australia, Canada,  
      England, France,
      Germany, Italy,
      Japan, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Spain, Switzerland,

ALCC – American
      Language &
University of
      California Riverside 
University of
      California San Diego
University of
      Nebraska at Lincoln
Wilbraham & Monson
Zoni Language
      Centers Canada
      (Canada, USA)


Bell International
      (Malta, UK)
South Thames
University of

University of

Monterey Institute of
      International Studies
NAIS – National
      Association of
      Independent Schools
St. Timothy's School
Valley Forge Military