May 2008 issue

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Italy’s revamp

Western European countries provided Italian language schools with a substantial amount of business in 2007. However, many schools are still keen to attract students from farther afield. Nicola Hancox reports.

Italian schools are pleased to report a steady increase in their international student numbers, with many attributing the upward trend to renewed marketing strategies, course developments and customer loyalty.

According to our latest Feedback survey on Italy (see LTM February 2008, pages 16-17), 52 per cent of students found out about their language programme in Italy using the Internet in 2007 and Olga Stinga from Sorrento Lingue in Sorrento, says that their online marketing efforts have certainly helped student numbers grow. “The number of students has increased thanks to our marketing strategies and to increasing our Internet campaigns,” she says, explaining that they have introduced a pay-per-click campaign – a form of advertising on the Internet, whereby a company simply pays for the amount of clicks their ad receives.

Other technological advances like “blogging” also seem to have caught on and Lorenzo Capanni from Accademia del Giglio in Florence relates that their own school blog had a definite impact on student numbers last year. “Our blog performed very well for recruiting students,” he says. “Many of our applicants declared they found our school through over 600 articles, videos and language exercises edited by our teachers on our blog.”

Simone Rainer from Piccola Università Italiana in Tropea, points out the down side of Internet marketing. “A very big negative impact, which has made it difficult [for us to] grow, are search engines,” she says. “The most used one is google and if your website is not optimized and has a low ranking you fail to reach students. Here, ranking counts but not the professionalism of your school.”

Meanwhile, visa restrictions continue to affect some nationalities. Lisa Bartolomei from Scuola Leonardo da Vinci in Florence says, “We have a strong collaboration with some agencies in Japan but we still have great problems for visa issuance with countries like China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, the Philippines and so on.”

Eduitalia, a non-profit association committed to increasing the presence of foreign students in Italy, is one organisation trying to overcome this issue. Norman Peetz from Instituto Europass in Florence says, “We are collaborating with Eduitalia, an organisation which provides the application of visas by the Italian embassies in [certain] countries and accelerates visa procedures.” Belonging to a pro-active association such as Eduitalia certainly has benefits and both Stinga and Capanni (who recently became a member) have high hopes for the future. “We do hope that this new association will work effectively for the general interest of all of its members and that they will manage to discuss with the Italian government about a solution for the student visa problems,” relates Capanni.

In terms of student enrolments, Western Europeans performed particularly well in 2007 and Rainer notes that a majority of their students hailed from Germany, Switzerland or Austria. Peetz reports similar trends and states that their best performing nationalities were Spanish (representing 29 per cent of the overall student body) and German (representing 20 per cent). However, he stresses that although Asian countries like Japan, China and India underperformed in terms of numbers, demand among Asian students was still high.

Capanni adds that their school is beginning to harness the outgoing US student market and puts this down to strengthening school partnerships. “We are having several American students throughout the year,” he says. “I guess because most of them notice that our institute has been cooperating with some American colleges, such as Bard College.”

Long-term, Italian schools see no impending student shortage and many predict that business will continue to grow, particularly if visa obstacles can be overcome. Rainer notes optimistically, “Language travel forms young people and it has become a necessity on every CV to know different languages.”

Course developments

In a bid to open up new student markets, course development is a must and Lorenzo Capanni from Accademia del Giglio in Florence notes that they have concentrated their efforts on online Italian private lessons with some pleasing results. “We have experienced good results with the online courses among Northern European and Australasian students, mostly with an advanced level of Italian.” he notes.

Meanwhile, according to Norman Peetz from Instituto Europass in Florence, throwing new activities into the mix also brings something new to the language forum and the school now offers cultural add-ons such as Italian with culture, cooking, photography and jewellery making, not to mention more unusual courses such as Italian and babysitting and Italian and wellness.

Peetz also relates that they have started to target other age groups – namely the over-50s – with a programme specifically designed for couples, single travellers and anyone looking for a full immersion in the Italian language.

Perhaps more interestingly, however, schools are beginning to look into the whole internship sector and Capanni hopes to see interest in language plus work placements increase over the next few years. “I hope there will be an increase of students who learn Italian for academic or professional purposes since it seems that more and more students show interest in taking part of their studies or their apprenticeship in Italy.”

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.





Britannia Student
Sara's New York
      Homestay LLC  
Educational Housing

International House
      World Organisation  
Languages Canada  
Perth Education
Quality English Ltd.  

Alphe Conferences  
LTM Star Awards  


Bright World

Your World on

Business Telecom
GSM International  

Malta Tourism

Sun Pacific College  

Cultura Wien  

Centre Linguista
College Platon  
Stewart College of
University of

Mandarin House  

Bell International
      (Malta, UK) 
CES Swandean
      School of English
      (Ireland, UK) 
      Language Home
(Argentina, Australia,
      Canada, England,
      France, Germany,
      Greece, Hawaii,
      Ireland, Italy, Malta,
      New Zealand,
      Spain, Sweden,
International House
      World Organisation  
Kaplan Aspect 
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
LAL Language and
      (England, Malta,
      South Africa, USA)
Malvern House
      College London  
Queen Ethelburga's
Shane Global
      Language Centres  
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)

Home Language
SILC - Séjours
      (France, Spain, UK) 

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

ISI Language
Kai Japanese
      Language School  

      Language School  
LAL Malta  
Malta Tourism


Cape Studies  

Idiomas Sí!  
International House
      Sevilla - CLIC  
Malaca Instituto -
      Club Hispanico SL  

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd 
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Ecuador,
      England, France,
      0Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, Malta, New
      Zealand, Russia,
      Scotland, Spain,
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Italy,
      Japan, New Zealand,
      Russia, Spain,
      Switzerland, USA)

ALCC - American
ELS Educational
      (Canada, China,
      Egypt, Indonesia,
      Japan, Korea,
      Kuwait, Malaysia,
      Oman, Panama,
      Qatar, Saudi Arabia,
      UAE, USA)
Global Immersions
Kaplan Aspect 
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
Zoni Language
      (Canada, USA)