October 2011 issue

Business Focus
Advisor Survey
Market Report
Special Report
Course Guide
Regional Focus

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French gusto

The French language teaching market is back to its fighting best with student numbers reminiscent of those pre-2008. School associations are also working together to be more proactive, as Nicola Hancox finds out.

Of the six institutions that took part in this month’s article on the French language teaching market, none reported a business downturn in the last 12 months. Instead, providers noted that student enrolments were “very stable” or had increased by between eight and 25 per cent.

Frédérique Di Tullio, Director of Lyon Bleu International in Lyon, attributes this good growth (the school experienced an increase of between 10-to-15 per cent in terms of student numbers) to new agreements forged between themselves and new agent partners. “I think we will continue to have new agent partners as our reputation is growing and we have just received the Label Qualité FLE,” she said.

Volodia Maury-Laribiere, Sales and Development Coordinator at Séjours Internationaux Linguistiques et Culturels (Silc) in Angoulême, says that enrolments were back to pre-recession levels. Finding new advisor partners and maintaining existing ones has helped to drive growth, explains Maury-Laribiere.

In fact, expanding advisor networks appears to be at the very forefront of this market-wide growth. Virginie Courau from Accent Français in Montpellier ascribes their eight per cent rise to promotional efforts made by the school and its partner advisors. This, she says, is something they hope will continue well into 2012. “We hope to increase the number of registrations through partnerships in countries like Scandinavia and South America,” she pinpoints. While William Rubenstein, Director of International House Nice, observes that they have upped their advisor workshop attendance in a bid to market themselves more effectively. “The market is there,” he asserts. “And we can compete better with more marketing strength.”

Low cost airlines, operating within the EU, make France extremely accessible for students, particularly Germany, Ireland and the UK, vouches Courau. Di Tullio reflects that countries such as Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands – where French is still taught as part of the school curriculum – have helped keep the market “active” for them. Also performing well in the nationality stakes are North and Latin American domiciles, a trend noted by both Di Tullio and Maury-Laribiere.

At Alliance Française de Nice, Jean-Philippe Perez observes that “special links” between Russia and the French Riviera – Russia launched a rail service between Moscow and Nice in 2010 – have seen Russian numbers increase recently.

At ISEFE, the university language centre linked to the Université de Savoie in Chambery, the nationality spread is slightly different, notes spokesperson Karine Patrouillault. “We welcome a lot of Chinese students – 80 per cent – during the year and American students during the summer.”

Some non-EU nationalities may be deterred from studying in France due to the complexities surrounding visa applications. Patrouillault predicts that their Chinese student numbers could suffer long-term. “[Chinese students] may prefer to learn Italian or German instead because it is easier to get a visa [for study there],” she muses. The centre’s six-week summer programme and 10-week university trimester course may appeal to newer markets, however. “Students do not need a student visa for a six or 10-week [course].” Unfortunately, she bemoans, this excludes Chinese students. “A Chinese student cannot come and study for a short period; he/she has to stay for up to one year.”

In terms of course uptake, Courau relates that clients are often “enthusiastic” about language and activity programmes, “but they are very difficult to turn into enrolments”, she reflects. Instead, exam preparation and courses incorporating a work internship have been much more successful, a trend also highlighted by Rubenstein. Conversely, Di Tullio notes that their French plus cuisine and French plus culture courses are helping the school to “reach a wider range of students, with a nice mix of nationalities and ages”.

Group efforts

The recent activity of language school associations in France has not gone unnoticed by member schools and many have great confidence in their future initiatives. “I trust that Groupement Fle will help a lot in the promotion of our language and our schools,” observes Virginie Courau from Accent Français in Montpellier.

Indeed, according to Frédérique Di Tullio, Director of Lyon Bleu International in Lyon, four school associations – Groupement Fle, Souffle, Unosel and CampusFle/Adcuefe – signed an agreement back in December last year, calling for greater synergy between the groupings. It is hoped that the combined efforts of the four representative bodies – entitled the Conference of Fle Centers – will carry more sway with the government and pack more punch in future overseas marketing initiatives.

“The main aim is to be more pragmatic in organising the French market and marketing it abroad,” says Di Tullio – who is also Treasurer of Groupement Fle. “Souffle and Groupement Fle represent mostly private schools and are similar in a way. That’s why we have started to cooperate and work on projects like the reception we organised in London during Alphe UK. The aim is to show that associations are working together instead of being seen as competitors.”

Karine Patrouillault from ISEFE in Chambery, is optimistic about the pulling together of ranks. However, she, like many, has little confidence in the French government. “Language school associations work a lot to develop the market,” she says, “But I am not sure that government policies go the same way,” she adds.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Study 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 Services  
Milhouse Hostel  
Nido Student Living  
Smart City Hostels  

English Australia  
English UK North  
Feltom Malta  
Groupement FLE  
NEAS Australia  
Perth Education City  
Quality English  

Alphe Conferences  

Cambridge Esol  
TOEFL Educational Testing Service  
Trinity College London  

Dr. Walter GmbH  

LTM Digital  

Malta Tourism Authority  

Professionals UK  
St Giles International  

Dental Nursing Australia Kingston  
English Australia  
Language Links  
Lexis English  


CERAN Lingua International  

Bow Valley College  
Braemar International College  
Niagara College  

Absolutely English Young Learners  
Camp Beaumont  
International House London  
InTuition Languages  
Kaplan International Colleges  
Language Studies International  
London School of Business & Finance  
London School of English  
Malvern House College London  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
Spinnaker College  
Study Group  
University of Essex - International Academy  

Accent Francais  
AGISEFE - Université de Savoie  
Alliance Française Paris Ile de France  
Ecole Suisse Internationale  
Langue Onze Toulouse  
LSF Montpellier  
Lyon Bleu International  
Paris Langues / Club CEI des 4 Vents  

Goethe Institut  
International House Berlin - Prolog  

Dialogo Language Services  

Clubclass Residential Language School  
EC English Language Centre  

Garden Route Language Centre  


EF Language Colleges Ltd  

ELS Language Centers  
UC Berkeley Extension  
Zoni Language Centers  

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