Languages Canada becomes a reality
A unified voice for the Canadian language training industry has been born: Languages Canada launched earlier this year as the association joining members of the Canada Language Council (CLC) and Canadian Association of Private Language Schools (Capls) together in one collaborative body.
With unprecedented support from the government and a strong quality platform achieved by a re-accreditation process for many members, so that all meet the original CLC standards, the association is making plans to enhance its presence both nationally and internationally and to increase Canada’s market share as a destination for English and French programmes.
Valerie Richmond, Past President of Capls, told Language Travel Magazine, “[Languages Canada] aims to work effectively with other associations and be recognised on the international stage we are able to assure agents and students that our members represent excellent programmes.”
Richmond explained that because the government could not give funding or political support to one group over another, it encouraged both associations to work together as one and played a key role in the successful formation of the association.
Importantly, from now on, only institutions that are members of Languages Canada will have access to the study fairs organised around the world by Canadian embassies. And the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (Cicic), an information and referral office for Canada’s education institutions, only lists Languages Canada member schools in relation to English and French training in the country.
Jean-Phillippe Tachdjian from Department for Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Dfait) education division said a brand for quality education in Canada was also being developed, and although there was no scheduled date for the launch, various brand concepts had already been tested with international students. Again, only members of Languages Canada will be able to display this brand. Tachdjian’s department is also working on an information website for professionals working in the industry, who will be able to access country-specific facts ahead of marketing trips overseas, such as visa refusal rates, consulate or embassy contacts and recommended hotels.
“Two languages, one voice” was the theme of the inaugural conference in March, attended by around 100 delegates from private schools, colleges and universities active in the Canadian language training market. An AGM was held during the conference, which saw Calum MacKechnie of York University English Language Institute in Toronto, ONT, elected as the first President of the new association. Languages Canada will also appoint a Director General in due course.
“We have at least 140 members and more members are ready and waiting there are already applications in the queue,” said Richmond. She added that increasing the French programme membership within Languages Canada was a goal for the association, as well as building prestige. “There was concern in the past that [national] standards adopted would mean quality was being diluted those fears have definitely been allayed.”
New members for Ialc, including Chinese
International school association, Ialc, which limits its membership to schools with five centres or fewer, has announced six new members to join its ranks.
Mandarin House, with branches in Beijing and Shanghai, is one of the schools to have recently joined the association. Jan Capper, Executive Director of Ialc, commented, “We are particularly pleased to welcome Mandarin House. This is a dynamic, quality-focused organisation in a country whose language and culture are increasingly important to a whole range of language travel clients.”
The other five new Ialc members are spread throughout the world and include National School of Languages in Ottawa, Canada; Colchester English Study Centre in Colchester, UK; Margate Language Centre in Margate, UK; French in Normandy in Rouen, France; and Ecela Peru in Lima, Peru sister school of member Ecela in Argentina and Chile.
BC holds summit on workplace English in Middle East
The British Council organised a summit on effective English training in the workplace in Bahrain recently, to highlight strategies to improve professional English training in the Middle East.
Anne Wiseman, British Council Regional English Manager, reported, “There is a common view that [English] education in the region is failing students by not preparing them properly for the world of work.” Two days of networking, workshops and expert presentations left delegates committed to future action, she said. “We recognised that we were ideally placed to meet this regional need,” she added citing Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College in London, UK, as one of their expert contacts. The college recently launched the government’s Esol for Work programme.
Delegates from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries attended the summmit, namely the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. “The English for the Workplace symposium comes at a very important time, since many of the GCC countries are moving into a vast era of economic and technological revolution,” said UAE delegate, Dr Thani Al-Mehairi, Professional Development Manager at Abu Dhabi Education Council.
Samah Al Sheikh, Training Manager from Nawas Telecom, Oman, gave an example of a flaw in professional English training currently available. “We find when we recruit people that they can speak English but their use of communication tools such as email is weak,” she explained.
Keynote Speaker, David Graddol, said a unilateral understanding of business English was needed to be able to move forward. “Often employers and learners don’t know what they want so it’s left up to education and teachers to fill that gap. We need to address issues around the future direction of ESP.”
Russians reject UK’s biometric rule
New UK requirements for biometric data to accompany visa applications look likely to severely hamper the study market from Russia to the UK this summer, with some agents already warning of a decline in students as a result of the new rule.
Tatiana Grigorieva, Director of the language education department at International Education Centre, told Language Travel Magazine that since November last year, students have had to attend the British Embassy in person, with new biometric requirements ushered in in February and an online-only application rule introduced in March.
To be able to give biometric data, students have to travel to either Moscow, St Petersburg or Ekaterinburg to have their fingerprints scanned and get a digital photograph of themselves taken. Since March, only individual online visa applications have been accepted, with successful applicants then able to book an appointment to attend their local visa centre.
“The new rules are causing us a lot of problems,” said Grigorieva. “I was at the Embassy visa centre and it seems that the Embassy does not want to help us send groups to the UK.” She pointed out that it was virtually impossible for a group leader to organise a group from outside the city to all attend for biometric testing at the same time, notwithstanding the removal of paper-based applications on a group’s behalf. “Four of our regional sub-agents have already said they will not be sending their clients to England and they asked me to offer Malta or Ireland instead,” she said.
At Hartford Partners, Leonid Natapov said it was too early to see how the rule would affect his business, but he suggested, “Our estimate is that these new rules will strongly affect those students from the regions reducing their number by more than 50 per cent.” He added that around 40 per cent of his clients come from outside of the three main cities, which means an overall 20 per cent decline in students for the UK. “Instead, they will probably choose Ireland, Canada or Switzerland the countries with distant visa processing procedures,” he noted.
At the London School of English in the UK, Hauke Tallon said an impact on business was inevitable. “With just three biometric centres for the whole country, we can be sure that some potential clients are concluding that it’s not worth the hassle of flying across Russia to get their biometric [profiling] done,” he said.
And at Academia Education Worldwide, General Director and Partner, Mila Morozova, commented, “Canada is now the most popular education destination [at our agency].”
• Trade body, UKInbound, reports travel from China and India is similarly affected.
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