Contents - October 2006

Special Report
Global market mix
Our annual report on the English language teaching market reveals some slight changes in market share among the main providers in 2005, although the overall league table remains unchanged. Amy Baker reports.

Agency service assessed
Why do people book language travel courses through agencies? And what do they think of the service they receive? We interviewed a number of students to find out their views. Gillian Evans takes a look at the results.

USA's east coast states
Incorporating the states of New England, right down to Washington DC and Virginia, the east coast contains some of the USAxs most treasured historical gems as well as being the countryxs political and academic hub. Gillian Evans takes a look at some of the highlights of this vast area.


The human factor

Backpacking around the world is a typical adventure these days for graduates in the UK who have left college and are trying to put off getting a real job for a while. An aim of their gap year is to see the world and learn about other people and other cultures but some backpackers end up in a British house share in Sydney doing an office job and sampling the exotic nightlife down under, not dissimilar to that which they left behind in the UK. I was musing about how one can make the most of an experience overseas and I realised that memorable travelling moments come about as a result of interacting with people.

The Angkor temples in Cambodia are truly magnificent, but remembering visiting this world wonder without remembering being taught to count to ten in Khmer by the children selling maps and offering to be my guide (“English, German, Japanese?”) seems, somehow, two-dimensional to me. The next best thing to interacting with locals is meeting other travellers. A lot of the appeal of backpacking, in my experience, is swapping stories, tales and experiences with others.

The language travel students surveyed in this issue asserted that they wanted to be in a class of mixed nationalities that would enable them to meet people from different countries and explore their location with new-found international friends. One Swede complained of being in a class with too many other Swedes while a Brazilian was pleased her agency had sent her to a school with few of her compatriots (pages 18-20). Attention to such details as class nationality mix in partner schools will mark out the best agencies.

I was impressed to note that over half of the students reported that their agencies had checked up on them since they had gone overseas. It is difficult to measure, always, a critical level of care from an agency, which is why word-of-mouth recommendation is so important. But a new European standard does prove that an agency reaches a certain level of expectation, and a Swiss agency has become the first company to fulfil these requirements (page 10).

Our school commentator, Timothy Blake, wonders this month if quality schemes reduce language schools to mundane tick boxes and ignore the spark that makes a school unique (page 10). Quality assurance is important in this industry, of course, but it is true to say that it is difficult to quanitify the human factor that is so important in any study abroad experience.

The human factor

HUK immigration changes
IDP sells 50 per cent stake
Malta introduces new visa for students
New owner for ISI Ireland
Malta introduces
Study Group buy-out by Australian investment firm
St Giles expands into Canada

Travel News
China – US visitor exchange on the up
Low-cost boom in Asia
UK to introduce biometric visas
Munich airport goes green

Agency News
IFirst agency becomes norm-certified
Speak Out

Agency Survey
Japan ticks over
Slow but steady business characterised the Japanese study abroad marketplace last year and agencies are confident that business may build – with many looking to university placements overseas as a growth area.

Small class sizes and an even spread of nationalities in classrooms got the seal of approval from students studying at German language schools this year, with high rates of student satisfaction all round.

Course Guide
Learning Russian
While traditionally viewed as a perfect destination for summer activity language courses, Malta is increasingly able to offer students more academic-focused language courses, including test preparation.

Language and activities in Canada
Students studying in Canada are spoilt for choice when it comes to the specialist language and activity programmes on offer. Whether offering instruction in yoga or ice hockey, schools provide a fun learning environment.

Regional Focus
New South Wales
New South Wales is the home of Sydney, the vibrant city often mistaken as the country's capital, but there is a lot more to discover in this Australian state that has something to suit everyone.

France 2005
The Status survey is a venture by Language Travel Magazine, which gathers specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world. For the first time, it is possible to compare world market statistics.