Leading the way
Once upon a time, the Internet was spoken about by people who were technologically aware, and was a fuzzy concept for the rest of us. I remember my German house mate who I lived with in France enthusiastically telling me all about this amazing new concept of the Internet. I wasn’t sure if it was my nascent French skills or my limited understanding that meant I didn’t really get what he was talking about.
But as is always the case, the pioneers set trends and the rest of us follow. Now, we’d all be lost without the Internet and can’t imagine life without it. Likewise, in the future, I can imagine everyone will offer online booking facilities and multilingual websites but, right now, it is the more progressive companies that have adopted such positions.
“It’s the only way to go” says one UK agency about online booking function, whereas many other companies point out that this is something they are still working on (pages 62-64). I mention multilingual websites too, because I had an interesting chat with Rene de Jong of Internet Advantage at a recent industry workshop. His company focuses on improving search engine rankings and enhancing website efficiency as a marketing tool. He told me that at a seminar he gave at StudyWorld this year, he asked participants (language schools) to raise their hands if their website was translated into any other language. I was really surprised to hear that 90 per cent of those schools attending the seminar only had a native language version of their website. I am sure that in the future, as technology progresses and filters down to the mainstream, multilingual websites will also become de rigeur.
In the USA, key people within associations are really leading the way in terms of trying to change the operating environment for language schools in the country. A new short-term visa category is being proposed that would surely give US educators a major advantage in terms of attracting students looking for an easy immigration procedure. Some schools in the country may be unaware of the pioneering efforts to effect change, but they may soon be happily aware of them (page 33).
In terms of leading the quality march, our LTM Star Awards winners are all good examples of excellence and the winners of this year’s awards include Embassy CES, which was honoured for its new teaching technology and modern study centre in Brighton, UK (pages 50-58). All around, there are great examples of this industry’s continual improvement.