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Contents - May 2010

Special report
Maintaining the gold standard
In an industry that attracts billions of dollars annually, it is rather surprising that in many countries the language teaching industry has been left without any compulsory regulations or quality checks. Increasingly, quality assurance measures and accrediting schemes for language schools have been gaining momentum with many governments now linking them to visa issuance. But will this bring quality standards down? Gillian Evans reports.

Regional Focus
Andalucía’s exotic air
Andalucía in southern Spain offers a very laid-back atmosphere in which students cannot help but relax and slowly immerse themselves in their environment. The lovely weather and outdoor life aids this tranquility and conviviality, which in turn aids Spanish language acquisition, as Jane Vernon Smith discovers.

Policing borders

It has always been the aim of governments to encourage the free flow of genuine students to their country to undertake courses of study and work part-time, while at the same time preventing those who wish to abuse the system from gaining entry. Yet the means to succesfully achieve this aim is currently under question in a few countries worldwide.

Our Special Report feature (page 30) focuses on accreditation procedures for the langauge teaching industry and points out that the current trend seems to be for governments to link visa issuance with accreditation. In the UK, this policy has made language schools the gatekeepers to the country and required them to police illegal immigration among students. But is this a fair or indeed effective way to go about things? Few people would question the need for tighter accreditation strategies and view this process as a way of raising the reputation of the industry worldwide. But to charge schools with evaluating the intentions of every student who walks through their doors surely seems an overly simplistic way of policing a country’s borders.

By requiring language schools that enrol student visa holders to verify every student’s educational background and financial status before issuing them with a confirmation of acceptance (see page 7), it seems to me that the UK government has found a way to shirk its own responsibilities regarding immigration and point the finger of blame at education providers when it is found that students have entered the country on a student visa and then disappeared. Illegal immigration has always taken place throughout the world and it seems obvious that if an in-country visa officer is unable to detect the true motivations of a visa applicant intending to remain and work illegally in a country, it is unlikely that a language school will be able to succeed where they have failed.

The link between accreditation and visa issuance in language teaching destinations is likely to become more widespread in the future – our accreditation feature points out that the USA could also be going down this route soon – so I think it is important that accreditation is used as one part of a visa issuance policy and schools aren’t penalised when they experience occasional student no-shows, as long as they have followed all reasonable procedures to prevent this from happening. A way to prevent illegal immigration in the future is surely more likely to be found by the government working together with language schools rather than at odds with them.

Policing borders

Australia acts on Esos review
Canadian rule change affects Mexico
LTM celebrates 20 years
UK introduces ‘highly trusted sponsor’ list for schools
Geos NZ gets new owner
Shane Global Cape Town closes down

Agency News
French agency AMSL has debts
All smiles at Alphe Asia
Two study abroad agents are published

Agency Survey
Turkey uncertain
Business was not as buoyant for Turkish agencies this year, with average business growth at an all-time low. Meanwhile, students were more likely to be choosing language programmes than other overseas study packages this year.

Recent analysis of the German language teaching market showed a strong Western European bias where source region was concerned. Meanwhile, learning a language for work purposes was a prime motivator for students.

Personal learning
Personalised learning – where students are taught on their own or with one other person – are a popular choice for the serious language learner in UK language schools, even in times of economic recession.

Course Guide
High school prep in the USA
High school preparatory courses are a relatively niche sector in the US language market. Only a handful of US providers offer a specifically honed programme aimed at preparing foreign nationals for a US high school curriculum. While some have built it into their term-time academic structure others offer it as a summer option.

Canada 2009

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