Contents - May 2003

Special Report
Language school evolution
From the one-teacher home tuition centre to the multinational chain schools, the language teaching industry encompasses providers of all types. Following a frenzy of acquisitions in the 1990s, the pace of growth has slowed among the language school chains as they undergo a period of consolidation. But what of the smaller players? Is there room for all in the marketplace? Gillian Evans finds out.

Work placements
There are a number of companies that work directly with language travel agencies, as well as with language schools and universities, to offer work experience placements to students. For agents, this could be another business avenue, says Amy Baker.

City Focus
Perth's pleasures
Perth is slowly gaining the reputation it deserves in the language travel world as a lively city with plenty to do for students. Gillian Evans reports.


The language travel market is highly susceptible to global conditions, as we all know. Economic or political troubles in a country soon impact on enrolment levels at study abroad agencies. In this issue, Venezuelan agents testify that they are currently suffering from a 'wobble' in the market, as the devaluation of their currency and political upheaval has severly reduced the number of students interested in study abroad.

Nevertheless, it is a temporary situation. What perhaps keeps agents going in times of trouble is the knowledge that the market usually rebounds when the economic outlook improves. Individual agencies can suffer from a long-term decline, of course, but the interest in self-improvement through the learning of a language remains imperative to many people in the 21st century.

Sometimes, problems themselves spur students into studying abroad, and this has often been noted by agents in countries around the world. Even now in Venezuela, explains one agent, some people are still interested in studying abroad as a means of leaving Venezuela for a better life elsewhere.

In Mexico, good economic conditions have buoyed the market and agencies in the country report an average increase in business last year of close to 15 per cent. Career goals remain an important motivator among students, and Canada is the overall preferred destination, according to our survey. Our Status survey of Canada, which polled many schools in the country, backs up this trend. Mexican students represented the third largest student nationality in Canada in 2002.

External factors also affect language schools too. For example, a global situation such as the crisis in Iraq has a knock-on effect at language schools around the world. Schools that are heavily reliant on few student markets can also find themselves hurting if these markets run into economic problems. This situation was underlined by the Asian economic crisis in 1998/99, when several schools were forced to close when Asian business dried up.

To remain a strong business that can bounce back, agencies and schools need to remain focused on the consumer and, in the case of schools, focused on student diversity. When looking at the survivors of today, it is clear that those schools that remain successful and long-standing are those that value agent relations and a high quality product for students, regardless of the size of the school itself.

Even in difficult times, there are opportunities for agents through the addition to their product mix of value-for-money schools and new destinations. Agents speak highly of Perth in Western Australia as a great all-round destination offering low fees, high quality education and a wonderful study environment. It could be a good addition to many agencies' portfolios. Schools in the north or midlands in England are also keen to highlight their advantages for students, including easier integration into the local lifestyle.

Work experience organisers also offer agencies a real opportunity to expand business. Many agents testify that work experience is rapidly growing in demand, and paid work experience can be popular in markets where language travel trips are simply deemed too expensive by many. In this issue, we report on the opportunities available for agencies to work directly with work experience organisers.

The language travel market is highly susceptible to global conditions, as we all know. Economic or political troubles in a country soon impact on enrolment levels at study abroad agencies.

Sevis tracking system is in action
Students protest in Spain following ELT schools collapse
Over 80 members for GWEA
Visa issuance under scrutiny
Australia's latest weapon: new book project

Travel News
More low-cost services
Lufthansa continues cutbacks
Landing charges increased in London

Agency News
Venezuela in deep crisis
Dear Language Travel Magazine
Alto launching dialogue session for members

Agency Survey
Mexico's strength
A strong economy and growing demand for language skills in the job market have propelled demand for language travel programmes in Mexico.

Spain feedback
International students in Spain were very happy with the standard of their language courses and the majority were studying Spanish for work purposes.

Market Report
Italy stable

Italy remains a popular destination for short-term recreational language courses, but visa regulations are hampering growth of the long-term study market, as Gillian Evans reports.

Course Guide
German in Austria and Switzerland

Learning German in Austria or Switzerland is an interesting choice for students wanting to further their language skills while exploring different areas of Europe. Many language schools offer extra-curricular excursions or options for cultural studies so that students can get the most out of their stay in these countries.

CEA update

Teresa O'Donnell, Executive Director of the Commission on English Language Programme Accreditation, answers our questions about the development of the only accreditation scheme in the USA specifically aimed at English language programmes.

Status: Canada 2002
The Status survey is a venture by Language Travel Magazine, in collaboration with the Association of Language Travel Organisations (Alto), which gathers specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world.