Learning a language has obvious benefits for a student - enhanced opportunities at work and, moreover, the ability to interact and socialise in other cultures and countries. The cultural integration aspect of learning a language seems to be gaining momentum across the board, as students and agents push for realistic language practice as an element of any language course.
Work experience is a unique opportunity for international students to acquire professional skills and language practice while getting to know at first-hand the culture and customs of another country. With such obvious advantages on offer, it is no surprise that many students are keen to embark on a course that offers them both a linguistic and professional experience (pages 20-24).
The possibility of working for money, while not part of a structured course, is also tempting for many students - especially those who cannot afford to work without financial gain. Working in another country is, after all, an opportunity to interact with locals and try out language skills as well as earning money. Agents in Poland point out that Australia, where students are able to work part-time during their studies, is rising in popularity as a study destination (pages 10-11).
In Ireland, schools also report that the change in regulations, to allow all students to work part-time during their studies, has benefited enrolment levels (page 27). The explosion of the Chinese market has also impacted on numbers at Irish schools, with students from China swelling the ranks. Any rapid growth from one market, however, has to be carefully controlled by schools. As our Feedback survey of students in New Zealand reveals, students are not content to study in classes where there are too many other students of their own nationality (pages 14-15).
Generally, students want an integrated experience, with opportunities to get to know other international students and locals. In Malta, some schools make sure students interact with local people by asking them to conduct interviews as part of their language programme (pages 32-33). In Spain, our Agent Questionnaire candidate points out, 'we have always committed ourselves to offering courses that are not only a way of learning a language but supportive of personal development at all levels' (page 8).
Agents need to bear in mind the value of courses that actively encourage students to use their newfound language skills, when advising about study abroad options. In Korea, in an example of the trend towards cultural assimilation, demand for mainstream education overseas is the latest trend, with the government reporting high numbers of 13-to-15 year olds travelling abroad to live and study (page 4).
In Russia, schools report that demand for Russian language tuition is increasing, and they also underline the need to teach students about Russian culture, as well as the Russian language, to ensure that students understand the social context of the language (page 17). While Russia is seeing a slow rise in demand, English-speaking countries continue to witness a boom in demand from China at the moment, with its entry into the World Trade Organisation and the upcoming Olympic Games fuelling interest in English, and consequently, English language tests (page 4). In today's era of internationalism, agents are well placed to prosper and succeed in helping students become citizens of the world.