March 2009 issue

Agency News
Agency Survey
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Course Guide 1
Course Guide 2
Regional Focus

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High season

Summer is on the horizon and as thousands of students prepare to travel abroad, educators are readying themselves for the high season. With clients demanding up-to-date programming, top-notch facilities and quality accommodation, language providers certainly have their work cut out for them. Nicola Hancox anticipates trends for the summer season.

Parents are more and more aware of the benefits of sending their children abroad to meet new people, experience new places and learn another language,” observes Andrew Kinselle from Langues Sans Frontieres in France. By enrolling on a summer course, clients can acquire new language skills, familiarise themselves with a particular country or culture and socialise with fellow students in a largely activity-based environment.

Industry backbone
With this winning formula used globally – language tuition plus fun activities equals happy students – summer school operators continue to attract hearty student numbers. One need only look at the types of activities schools offer – skiing, trekking, surfing, go-karting, salsa dancing and horseriding (to name but a few) – to see why there is such mass appeal.

So how important to the industry is summer vacation learning? “More than ever!” relates Michele Wegmann from LAL Fort Lauderdale in the USA, a notion that is shared by other providers around the world. “Summer vacation courses are vital to our industry and underpin the year-round activity of most private EFL schools,” affirms Tony Evans from Clifton College Services Ltd (CCSL) in the UK. And despite the recent doom and gloom in the global economy, operators report that demand for summer programmes shows no signs of abating. “As far as I’m concerned, demand is increasing,” notes Evans.

Michael Lisonbee from Eurocentres in Canada agrees and says he expects numbers to remain strong in 2009. Prompted for reasons, Lisonbee asserts that parents deem education to be a fundamental part of a child’s development and will therefore continue to invest in their future. “This aspect of the industry is growing as the demand for language training becomes ever more important to youth in their quest to secure gainful employment,” he muses.

The summer season is equally important to the agents who feed these schools with students. “There’s still an important demand for these types of programmes,” notes Krister Weidenheim from ESL in Switzerland, but he admits that the current climate is making everyone a little nervous. “The leisure part of studying abroad might get a decrease and the leisure component is an important one in vacation programmes,” he notes, adding, “Education is a privileged industry in a crisis time.”

Ringing the changes
Providers report that clients certainly keep them on their toes where course provision is concerned and expectations surrounding accommodation, activities and academic programming are exceptionally high. Educators must continuously revise and update their offerings, and indeed their facilities, if they are to retain good numbers and more importantly a reputation for quality.

Camp Beaumont in the UK has been in operation for over 30 years and Susan Evans from The Kingswood Group – the outfit behind several summer school operations including Camp Beaumont – relates that revising course content is a prerequisite for running a successful business. “Each year we are continuously refining our programme and ensuring that it meets the needs of our international guests,” she affirms.

Modifications aren’t just limited to course content or social programming either, she notes, underlining that in 2008 they sought to address students’ dietary requirements. “It was brought to our attention that if we had Halal meals available this would make our Muslim guests feel more at home,” says Evans. Similarly, le goûter (a four o’clock light snack common in France) has also been made part of daily routine and is something French students appreciate, she notes.

The fact that several providers have had to uproot and move to bigger premises in the last 12 months is a clear demonstration of the historical demand for these types of programmes. Lisonbee notes that their offerings have evolved tremendously over the past 15 years. From a basic English plus activities course, which then led to a more adventure-oriented programme, the school now works in collaboration with the University of British Colombia in Vancouver and students benefit from campus amenities, such as an aquatic centre, numerous libraries, sports fields, shops, restaurants, banks, gymnasiums, and computer labs.

Wegmann at LAL reports a similar story and says that their new residential summer centre at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida enables them to offer students “an even greater learning experience”.

Indeed, running a summer school operation on the campus of a prestigious university must certainly stimulate interest and Wegmann explains that their Young Learner Programme, which caters for teenagers between 14 and 19, combines general English with activities that the university campus provides. These include volleyball, basketball, tennis and new to 2009, a soccer camp. Students can combine language tuition with personal, one-on-one and team-based soccer training twice a week.

Many of the activities offered to summer vacation clients are sports-oriented but Ute Nanninga from IP International Projects – which runs schools in the UK, France, Germany and Spain – ventures that some students may prefer something a little more cultural. “As art and culture gain in importance, we offer cultural workshops geared to young people’s requirements,” she says. However, students at the school also have the added luxury of designing their own social agenda. Each day the team presents a list of options available to students which may include sightseeing walks, various campus sports, beach activities, quizzes or arts & crafts, while evening activities include discos and open stage nights.

A question of nationality
A healthy mix of nationalities is always a bonus for language providers and Evans at Camp Beaumont has seen some positive growth in the South American market of late, while Kinselle in France has seen a surge of students coming from Eastern European countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic. However, he is quick to point out that this sort of variation is commonplace at their school. “We always have a minimum of 10 different nationalities and this can rise to as many as 20 different nationalities some weeks,” he enthuses.

At Clifton College, Evans relates that the Eastern European market has really opened up over the past year but he reasons that this could be down to new products. “[We have introduced] new programmes which appeal more to the individual student markets as opposed to those which are traditionally group oriented.”

However, he has noticed a slight decline in the number of Western Europeans signing up for summer courses. “[Western European] students are learning English at school from an earlier age and therefore have less of a need to attend an English language course during their summer holidays, unless it is specific to them,” he claims. As such, schools should be prepared to offer additional incentives that will help maintain student numbers and Evans suggests having add-ons such as an Academic Preparation courses could be the answer. “This is definitely the current trend and I can see it becoming a permanent feature of summer vacation courses now and in the future.”

Mike Trewern from Embassy Summer Schools, which organises summer programmes in 25 different locations in the UK and USA, says that some students intend to go on to further studies after completing their summer course. “The majority of students in the summer schools are teenagers and a summer course can lead, for some, to higher education or university pathway programmes that we also offer,” he says, adding that they have seen a strengthening demand from Eastern Europe, South America and China recently.

According to Lisonbee, a number of different factors can affect changes in nationality trends. “Summer vacation programmes are often directly reflected in the ever-changing world markets, with currency being a strong influence,” he notes. Indeed, tuition fees, not to mention travel costs, can have a real bearing on student destination choice and, given the current economic climate, countries with a weaker currency may start to appear more attractive to students. In Canada, Jodi Hosking of The Learning Traveller, an agency specialising in language immersion programmes for teens and 50+, observes that their top destinations of France and Spain may see some attrition. “We are anticipating that families may want to send their children closer to home to avoid the cost of international air travel and the impact of currency exchange,” she says. “With this in mind, we expect to see an increase in bookings for French programmes in Montreal and Quebec City, Canada and Costa Rica and we’ve added some new programmes to address this.”

Hosking also forecasts a possible reduction in programme length from an average of three weeks recorded last year, but is confident numbers will remain steady, despite new booking patterns. At ELS in the USA, Lee Moyer is also buoyant about the outlook. “We believe the need [for English] for the younger generation is as great,” he says. And Lisonbee notes, “We expect that there will be some changes or adjustments in [nationality] trends but still expect the demand to remain strong for this type of programming.”

Is the future bright?
So what does the future hold for summer vacation courses? “In times of crisis, like now, we hope that parents will put their children first and continue to pay to send them on courses,” relates Kinselle, echoing Lisonbee’s earlier thoughts on the importance of language learning.

Despite economic pressure, providers remain largely upbeat about what future summer seasons may throw up and as long as providers remain open to new ideas, peaks and flows within the industry will be seen as merely challenging.

Safety considerations

As many summer vacation clients are travelling abroad for the first time, there are heightened expectations from parents about safety while their children are overseas. Jodi Hosking from The Learning Traveller in the USA notes that for junior clients, location can be an essential consideration.

“For students under 16, it is crucial that the programme location is within 90 minutes of a major international airport,” she explains. “North Americans are very reluctant to send their under-16 teens on journeys that may involve a transfer at an international airport.”

Michael Lisonbee from Eurocentres in Canada notes that responsibility starts as soon as students step off the plane. “From the moment students arrive at the airport, we ensure that their time is memorable, rewarding and safe,” he says.

Having quality staff speaks volumes about how an organisation is run and Hosking relates that a bad choice of staff can ruin an otherwise well organised progamme. Ute Nanninga from IP International Projects says that their campus staff are well prepared – each team member is required to participate on a staff training course prior to the beginning of the season. “Only after they have taken part in a special training programme are they allowed to work in an IP language club,” she notes, adding that all staff are bilingual and have first-hand experience of living abroad.

“Our activity programme and supervision is unique. The carefully selected members of our team are international, speaking at least two languages and with experience abroad,” she states.

Accommodation is another important consideration for parents. An advantage of living on campus (as is the case with many programmes) is that students are supervised 24 hours a day and will rarely need to leave the school. “It eliminates the need for daily travel to and from the location of the programme,” relates Lisonbee. However, he points out that, “homestay tends to be more popular and usually this is a price issue as it is less expensive than residence. Many parents prefer to have their children in a homestay environment.”

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.





Sara's New York Homestay LLC  

Feltom Malta  
International House World Organisation 
Languages Canada / Langues Canada 
Quality English 


Your World on Monday

Malta Tourism Authority

Alphe Conferences  
International House World Organisation  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
Quality English  

Ecela - Latin Immersion  

Ceran Lingua International (Belgium, France, Spain, UK)

Idiomas To Go  

Applied Linguistics Centre Ltd.  
Camber College  
Camosun College  
College de Jonquiere / AQEF  
College Platon  
English School of Canada  
Eurocentres, Vancouver  
Global Village 
(Australia, Canada,
iTTTi Vancouver  
Language Studies Canada  
MacEwan English Language Institute  
Mount Royal College  
National School of  Languages  
Richmond School District #38  
Saint Mary's University  
University of Regina  
University of Toronto  
University of Victoria  
Vancouver English Centre  

Tandem Santiago  

Alltere Education Group  
IH Xi'an  
iMandarin Language Training Institute  
Mandarin House  

Spanish World Institute  

Yanapuma Spanish School  

IH Cairo  

Ardmore Language Schools  
Bell International (Malta, UK)
Bloomsbury International  
Camp Beaumont  
Concorde International Language Home Tuition  
(Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hawaii, Ireland, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, USA)
Dudley College of Technology  
English Studio  
International House World Organisation  
Kaplan Aspect  
(Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malta, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, USA)
LAL Language and Leisure  
(Canada, Cyprus, Ireland, England, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, USA)
Malvern House College London  
Millfield School  
Regent's College  
St Giles Colleges (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group  
(Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, USA)
Twin Group  (Ireland, UK)
University of Manchester  
Wimbledon School of English  

Alliance Française Paris Ile de France  

International House Berlin - Prolog  

Dilit - International House  
John Cabot University  

Kai Japanese Language School  
Tamagawa International Language School  

Clubclass Residential Language School  
EC English Language Centre (England, Malta, South Africa, USA)
Iels - Institute of English Language Studies  
inlingua Malta  

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

EC Cape Town  
Eurocentres Cape Town  
Good Hope Studies  
inlingua Language Training Centre Cape Town  
Interlink School of Languages  
International House Cape Town  
LAL Cape Town  
Shane Global Language Centres - Cape Town  

Esade - Executive Language Centre  
Malaga ¡Si!  
International House San Sebastian - Lacunza  
Malaca Instituto - Club Hispanico SL  

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

ELS Language Centers  
Global Immersions Inc  
inlingua DC  
Johnson & Wales University  
Rennert Bilingual  
University of California Riverside  
University of California San Diego  
University of South Florida  
Zoni Language Centers  (Canada, USA)

CELA (Centro de Lingüistica Aplicada)  



London Metropolitan University  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
University of Essex - International Academy  
Writtle College  

Study Group  

University of Glasgow  

St. Timothy's School