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October 2006 issue

Contents
News
Travel News
Agency News
Agency Survey
Feedback
Direction
Special Report
Market Report
Course Guide
Spotlight
Destination
Regional Focus
Status

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First agency becomes norm-certified

SprachReiseZentrale (SRZ) in Switzerland has become the first language travel agency to undergo and finalise the process of becoming certified by the European quality standard, commonly known as the norm.

A working group of the Comité Européen de Nationalisation (CEN) finalised the details and expectations of the quality standard last year (see Language Travel Magazine, November 2005, page 6). Assessment, to ensure that the standards are reached, comprises an onsite appraisal by an inspector approved by the German Institute for Standardisation (DIN), which chairs the CEN, as well as a thorough inspection of documentation.

Philippe Zbinden, Director of SRZ, said, “We are delighted that the certification procedure went so smoothly. We spent several months working intensively to meet the requirements and we hope that other study tour providers will follow our example.” Zbinden added that if other agencies decide to apply for DIN certification, “this standard can become the quality benchmark for language study tour providers throughout Europe”.


Speak Out
This month, Timothy Blake, Managing Director of London School of English, wonders whether inspection schemes always have it right.

“Life just keeps getting better, doesn’t it? Standards always rise, whether you want a better cup of coffee in the school snack bar or air conditioning in your classroom. We are all happy about that, I suppose. And the same goes for teacher qualifications. All schools now have to employ only highly qualified teachers. They may even retire their older, less qualified staff. That’s good for students, isn’t it? Well, hang on a moment.

Is a ‘highly qualified’ teacher always preferable? Character, personality, experience, knowledge of life, and maybe of specialised areas, is also important. What about being interested in students, kind, fun, encouraging, motivating, inspiring even? Given that life is seldom perfect and we often have to make compromises, are we sure that being ‘highly qualified’ is more important than these factors? I don’t think I am.

But inspection schemes, which hardly look at these other factors at all, place ever-greater emphasis on qualifications. Have they got the balance right? Is this obsession with qualifications appropriate, because they really are the most important thing, or is it just because ‘highly qualified’ is unthinkingly expected?

Even worse, is it just because qualifications are relatively easy to measure and more human factors aren’t? The fact that something is easy to measure doesn’t mean that it is important; it just suits the current tendency to want to reduce life to tick boxes and to performance measures. Does anyone really think that much is gained by all this?”

The views in this article do not represent the opinion of the Language Travel Magazine. They may not even represent the views of the author. But we hope they may encourage thought and debate. timothy.blake@londonschool.com


New study abroad centre in Japan

A new library environment for study abroad has been created in Tokyo, Japan, aiming to help build interest in study abroad and ultimately lead to more bookings for local agencies. Step Up Study Abroad Information Center is a new idea from Step Up Inc., an online portal, which is owned by Global Study.

Masaru Yamada, Chief Executive of Global Study, explained, “At any agency, prospective clients pick up the brochures from their information source, even after they have consulted with student counsellors.” He underlined that there is interest among students in browsing brochures despite the availability of counsellors and the Internet. “In every field of industry, mixed media marketing is believed to be useful,” he continued.

Actual counselling will not be available at the Step Up centre in Shinjuku, although student advisers will be on hand to answer some questions and refer clients to an agency if they wish to book.


Industry issues - agents speak out

Q. How often do you overhaul your product range?

Adalgisa Franceschin, International Know How, Italy
“We mostly overhaul our products more thoroughly when we update our catalogues once a year. We have two catalogues printed: one for teenagers for the summer. It has multiple choices of teaching centres and countries for the summer period. The second catalogue lasts for the whole year and is dedicated to the adult market. Our business is not sold online yet, maybe in the near future we might think of doing that. Of course, it is important to us that we visit our schools to be sure of what we offer. We try to add new products and even if only a few students choose them, we notice if the school is well organised and covers our requests adequately. When we decide to no longer work with a particular provider it is because we find it too difficult to reach the place from Milan or the school cannot offer what we need.”

Karen Mitelman, Soluciones Profesionales Educational Consultants, Uruguay
“We overhaul our product range once a year. First we evaluate the changes in our market, students’ interests and product possibilities and demand, then we check the new programmes at student fairs. Once a year we renew our business plan, and decide in which products to invest more resources. Our print catalogue contains general information about the different programmes we offer. We also use the website to market our brand name and encourage people to visit us. For next year, we have decided to focus on high school studies, both inbound and outbound, and increasing our market share for study abroad and working holiday programmes. Uruguay is a small market, where most of the outbound students are looking for an English language programme combined with work experience, sports, agriculture and other activities. Our inbound students come to Uruguay to study Spanish or [go] to high school.”

Julia Richter, Studiosus, Germany
“We overhaul it every year. About 80 per cent remains the same and 20 per cent changes or is added [to our portfolio]. We have a printed catalogue and an even wider offering online on the Internet. We visit all schools before representing them in our catalogue. If we no longer work with a particular education provider, this is mostly because a location is not that fashionable (requested) any more or if there is a much better-equipped school [in the same area] with better offers, better quality and a better location.”


Agency of the month

In a series appearing each month in Language Travel Magazine, we ask a different language teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or agent partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.

This month, Ecole Perl based in Paris, France nominates Gio Club in Japan. Melanie Raymond, Commercial & Administrative Manager at the school, explains this decision.

“With its branch offices located in the three most important cities in Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya), and as the publisher of the most famous study abroad guides, Gio Club Study Abroad is definitely the reference for Japanese language lovers. This agency has quickly shown a real confidence in our school, staff, French programmes and extra services, sending us an increasing number of students year after year. And every time we launch new programmes or special offers, the agency’s professional team has proved their efficiency in promoting them.

Moreover, Gio Club’s big plus for the students and our school is its office in Paris, since this reassures the students who may feel lost in their new environment. We have been published in their “Study Abroad Success Book” for several years, and this year, we have also chosen to be advertised in the new “Study Abroad Success Brochure” (distributed free in branch offices). Perl will definitely benefit from this strengthened partnership.”


On the move

There have been some changes at Nacel International. Gérard Avundo (left), who was in charge of the company in the late 1990s, is returning and will manage the Nacel International Office in Rodez, France. Laurent Huc (centre), son of the company‘s founder, FJ Huc, has been made Nacel International Development Manager. Sandrine Laurent (right) with more than 12 years’ experience with Nacel French incoming programmes, is now Sales Manager Assistant. Jean Burdin, CEO of the Nacel and CLC Group, has been nominated Nacel International President and will be overseeing operations.

James Herbertson has launched a new UK inbound company, Answer English, for language students coming to the UK. Based in Central London, Answer English finds language schools and accommodation for students and also organises social events to help students practise their English. Before starting the company this year, Mr Herbertson worked for News International & IPC Media in Madrid, Spain, and is fluent in Spanish.

After nearly 10 years working as an advisor for different agencies in Brazil, Bruno Cabral has become partner and Programme Director of Go Places!, a new business in Goiânia. “It is a market with little competition and our goal is to provide the best and most complete service,” he said.

Balazs Pokoradi has left Tensi agency in Hungary and moved to Confotel, which is starting to sell language programmes online. “As the company works in close cooperation with one of the biggest Hungarian online newspapers, we can reach many people,” said Pokoradi. Confotel will deal with executive and specialised student placements overseas.

EC welcomes Jes Camilleri as the new General Manager at EC Brighton in the UK. Mr Camilleri brings a wealth of experience in sales, marketing and management from the communication industry. He replaces Sue Camilleri who, after 17 years at EC Brighton, is moving to South Africa to become the General Manager of EC’s new school in Cape Town (see page 7).


Q&A

Feltom has been busy working with the Maltese government towards the implementation of the new visa for students. John Dimech, President of the association, answers our questions.

Full name: Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations of Malta
Year established: 1989
Number of members: 17
Type of members:
Full members (operate year round); associate members (operate for up to eight months a year); affiliate schools (summer only and less than 300 students each year).
Association’s main role:
To establish and maintain codes of conduct and national standards; promote Malta as an English language-learning destination of quality and repute.  
Government recognition: yes
Code of practice: yes
Complaints procedure: no
Agent workshops/fam trips: yes
Contact details: Isabella Conti, Executive Secretary, FeltomThe Victoria Hotel, George Borg Olivier Street,
Sliema SLM 12, Malta
E-mail: exsecretary@feltom.com
Web: www.feltom.com

What has Feltom been up to in the last year?
Feltom has made numerous representations to the authorities regarding the issue of visas in the past few years and the latest submissions were when the executive board met with the Prime Minister and the ministers responsible for Justice & Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Tourism & Culture in January. There was a clear disposition by all concerned towards instituting a specific student visa and clear user-friendly application and processing procedures [see page 6]. The issue of low-cost airlines was also discussed with the Minister of Tourism in April. The Minister reiterated the government’s recent announcement regarding low-cost airlines and felt confident that the support offered to the airlines during the November – March period is sufficient to encourage them to operate outside this period as well. A presentation on the implications of the euro conversion on 1 January 2008 was held in May for our members, who found this topic very interesting as it brought to the fore the complexity of issues associated with the euro in Malta.

How many members have now ensured their quality standards adhere to the Feltom accreditation scheme?
The accreditation scheme was launched only a few months ago and we have already received a number of applications from our members. Non-members have also reacted very positively to the new scheme as, although standards are higher [than required], they are more objective and final approval has been taken out of the hands of existing members and placed in the hands of the independent Accreditation Council.

There has been bad press in Malta about the behaviour of young students. Does Feltom advise on best policy practice?
We are very concerned that the bad publicity about the unruly behaviour of some foreign students could be more damaging than the behaviour itself. However, we encouraged our members to control organised outings better and to emphasise to students the need to avoid vandalism, indecency and the lack of cleanliness in the public places they frequent, and to inform students about a list of Do’s and Don’ts.


Grapevine


Eastbourne School of English in the UK celebrated its milestone achievement of reaching 70 years of age earlier this year with a 1930s-themed garden party in the school’s garden, complete with swing music. Students released 70 balloons with messages of goodwill; one of which travelled over 40 miles. Principal, Graham White, said, “Over 750,000 people have learned English in our school. Our great team of teachers and staff are the reason why we can look forward to the next 70 years with confidence and excitement.”


The British Educational Travel Association (Beta) hosted its now-annual parliamentary reception at the Houses of Parliament earlier this year. The afternoon networking session, which featured a presentation from Shaun Woodward MP, the new Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism, was followed by a trip on the London Eye for industry members. Pictured, left, on the House of Commons Terrace, from left to right: David Stratten, Don Quijote; Tony Millns, English UK; and David Foley, Cambridge Education Group. And right, caught on camera in a London Eye pod, sponsor Ralph Sutton of Anglophiles Academic in France.

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.

Name

Company
Country

Telephone

Email


ASSOCIATIONS/ GROUPS
Education New
       Zealand Trust
English Australia
Fedele
Feltom
Ialc
MEI~Relsa

WORKSHOPS/ EXPOS
English Australia
ICEF

TOURIST BOARDS
Malta Tourism
       Authority

INSURANCE
InterGlobal Ltd.

STUDENT WEBSITES
language-
       programs.net

AUSTRALIA
Academies
       Australasia
Byron Bay English
       Language School
CHEC English
       Language Centre
ELSIS English
       Language School
 
      in Sydney
English Australia
GEOS Sydney
Global Village
       Sydney (Universal
       English College)
Monash University
Sydney Institute of
       TAFE
University of
       Newcastle
       Language
       Centre
University of
       Western Australia

CANADA
Archer Education
       Group
Vancouver English
       Centre

CHINA
Mandarin House

ENGLAND
Aspect (Australia,
       Canada, England,
       France,Germany,
       Ireland, Malta,
       New Zealand,
       Scotland, South
       Africa, Spain, USA)
Bell International
       (Malta, UK)
Ialc
LAL Language and
       Leisure (England,
       Malta, South Africa,
       USA)
Liverpool
       International
       Language
       Academy
Malvern House
Mountlands
       Language School
Oxford Intensive
       School of English
       (OISE) (Australia,
       England, France,
       Germany, Spain,
       USA)
Queen Ethelburga's
       College
St Giles Colleges
       (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group
       (Australia, Canada,
       England, France,
       Germany, Ireland,
       Italy, New Zealand,
       South Africa,
       Spain, USA)

FRANCE
EICAR- Paris
       International Film
       School
SILC - Séjours
       Internationaux
       Linguistiques &
       Culturels (England,
       France, Spain)

GERMANY
Prolog- International
       House Berlin

IRELAND
Emerald Cultural
       Institute
High Schools
       International (HSI)
       (England, Australia,
       Canada, Ireland,
       USA)
MEI~Relsa

JAPAN
ISI Language School

MALTA
EC - English
       Language Centres
       (England, Malta,
       South Africa)
Feltom
Malta Tourism
       Authority
NSTS (Head Office)

NEW ZEALAND
Education New
       Zealand Trust

RUSSIA
Language Link,
       Russia
Liden & Denz
       Language Centre
Moscow Linguistic
       Centre

SINGAPORE
inlingua Singapore

SPAIN
Fedele

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

USA
American Language
       Communication
       Center (ALCC)
Hun School of
       Princeton, The
Kaplan Educational
       Centers (Canada,
       England, USA)
Program for
       American Language
       Studies (PALS)
University of
       California Riverside
University of West
       Florida
Zoni Language
       Centers