October 2009 issue

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Good news for France

Numbers are up in France, with a range of recruitment methods providing a good mix of nationalities across French language schools. Students seem keen to learn but in a cost-effective environment, as Amy Baker discovers.

Nearly every school that took part in this article signalled that bookings were up in 2009, heralding good news for the French language teaching industry after a few years of patchy growth.

This may be due to the economic crisis and its known role as a motivator for those out of work or looking for work to add to their CV by gaining educational experience. Certainly, according to Anna Clara Sainte-Rose from IS Aix-en-Provence, price considerations are still evident. She relates, “General French courses as well as General French combined with activities [is requested], though the more expensive courses are demanded less, with the crisis.”

Meanwhile, at AS Intercultures in Montpellier, Anne Debard says that internships are also rising in popularity, allowing students to gain paid work experience, or unpaid, while in the country. However, intensive one month programmes are also faring well. “The most popular course is the classic four-week stay, with one-to-one tuition, host family accommodation and visits to Montpellier,” she says.

At Alliance Française Nice in southern France, Jean-Philippe Perez indicates that bookings are up by 30 per cent so far this year. He says he is seeing more Chinese and Russian students, while Spaniards and Britons are declining slightly. Conversely, Debard at AS Intercultures signals that the UK is one of the strongest source markets for her school. “There are low-cost flights from London to Montpellier in about two hours,” she observes.

Elsewhere, Eleri Maitland at French in Normandy in Rouen agrees that Spanish numbers are down slightly, possibly reflecting the deep economic decline in the country. She says that Latin American, Dutch and Swiss students are becoming more numerous, thanks to good agency partnerships and promotional work undertaken at the Alphe and ICEF workshops.

At Insted Chamonix, Anna Norén also relates that a fairly diverse mix of nationalities is present at the school, albeit with a Swedish bias because the school has Swedish owners. “Other than [Swedes] there is a good mix of English, Norwegian, Australian, Asian, Spanish and more,” she says. “The number of English students is increasing a lot, maybe a sign of the financial market [there with a low pound].”

A new feature of the market in 2009 has been late bookings, according to a few operators. Sainte-Rose observes a tendency towards “very late enrolments and cheaper courses”, while Debard notes, “Compared to last year, people [sign up] very soon before arriving. We therefore have to be very flexible,” she states.

In terms of recruitment methods, a number of schools point to their website as bringing in more bookings. Sainte-Rose says, “We are travelling less and getting more contacts by email and through the website.” Eric Soulard at L’Atelier 9 in Paris points to the website and word-of-mouth recommendations as responsible for a 10 per cent hike in student numbers in 12 months. And Norén relates, “Our [recruitment] techniques have adapted to new channels such as blogs and Facebook.”

One thorn in the side of good consistent growth is visa policy as relates to Chinese students. Sainte-Rose says, “We do not have any Chinese students because of the French visa politics towards private language schools.” Meanwhile, Perez underlines problems with Chinese and Ukrainian students receiving a visa.

Debard has also encountered problems with Chinese visa applications, but she indicates that she believes the visa process will be simplified before long.

Groupement FLE is reborn

Industry group Fle.fr, as it was known, has metamorphosised into Groupement FLE (Français comme Langue Étrangère) with a new set of ideals. Its three main objectives, according to committee member, Patrick de Bouter, are quality, community and self-promotion.

Groupement FLE now has 32 members and a new website, www.groupement-fle.com. With one priority to promote the 32 members of the group, the organisation is taking a stand at this year’s ICEF Berlin workshop and working on a direct mail mission to promote its new name and introduce its new website.

“We will be integrating new schools that satisfy our criteria,” said Bouter. “The association is aimed at being useful in all aspects of the profession, notably in the distribution of information, such as providing rules regarding host family stays and essential legal information.” He added that greater collaboration with agencies was top of the agenda. “We will develop our communication, primarily in relation to agencies,” he said.

Meanwhile, it is hoped Groupement FLE, as well as other industry associations such as Souffle and Unosel (all of which have slightly different remits) can make headway with the government in regards to problematic visa issuance.

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.





Britannia Student
Generator Hostels  
Hostel World  
NYC Language
Smart City Hostels  
YMCA of Greater
      New York  

English Australia  
Geos North America
IALC International  
International House
      World Organisation
MEI Ireland  
Perth Education
Quality English  

Alphe Conferences  
British Boarding
      Schools Workshops
IALC International  
IEFT- International
      Education Fairs of


LTM Digital

Malta Tourism
Perth Education

Twin Group 
      (Ireland, England,

English Australia  
Perth Education

Bow Valley College
Geos North America

Bell International  
      (Malta, UK)
British Boarding
      Schools Workshops
English in UK North
IALC International  
International House
      World Organisation  
INTO University
Kaplan Aspect  
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland, Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
Princes College
      School of English  
Quality English  
St Giles Colleges  
      (Canada, UK, USA)
Study Group 
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,
Queen Ethelburga's
The English School
      (Northumbria) Ltd.  
Twin Group  
      (Ireland, England,
University of the
      Arts London -
      Language Centre  
University of Essex -

IH Nice  
Universite de
      Paris Sorbonne  
SILC - Séjours
      (England, France,

International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

Alpha College of
MEI Ireland  
Swan Training

Kai Japanese
      Language School  

      Language School  
EC English
      Language Centre 
      (England, Malta,
     South Africa, USA)
Malta Tourism

Derzhavin Institute

EAC Language
      Centres and Activity
      (England, Ireland,
      Scotland, Wales)
Escuela de Espanol
      la Brisa S.L.  
Malaga Si  

EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Costa Rica,
      Ecuador, France,
      Germany, Italy,
      Malta, New Zealand,
      Singapore, South
      Africa, Spain, USA)

IEFT- International
      Education Fairs
      of Turkey  

Califorinia State
Colorado School
      of English  
ELS Language
Geos North
Inlingua Language
NYC Language
University of
Zoni Language

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