October 2012 issue

News Round Up
Inside the industry
Agency Survey
Secondary Focus 1
Secondary Focus 2
Tertiary Focus 1
Tertiary Focus 2
Vocational Focus
Special Report
Course Guide
Regional Focus
Market Analysis

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France forges ahead

The development of new student markets and a wider marketing outreach saw more diversity in the classrooms of language schools in France during 2011 and the first half of 2012. Bethan Norris reports.

France’s marketing budget by region (overall %) Student feedback respondents by world region of origin
Asia 27%
North America 20%
W Europe 20%
C&E Europe 15%
Latin America 14%
Australasia 3%
Middle East 1%
W Europe 52%
N America 18%
Asia 13%
CE Europe 3%
Latin America 5%
No reply 3%

Top nationalites in France by student weeks – according to schools, 2011 To practise French with native speakers is ...
American 12%
Scandinavian & Finnish 12%
Chinese 9%
German 8%
British 6.5%
Swiss 6%
Spanish 5.5%
Japanese 4%
Australian 4%
Russian 3%

Source: STM French school survey

Quite easy 44%
Quite hard 33%
Very easy 11%
Very hard 6%
(No reply 6%)

Commission Student numbers by age range
22% is the average commission paid on a language course

Four of the institutions profiled paid commission on accommodation

8-11: 0%
12-15: 14%
16-18: 14%
19-24: 33%
25-30: 17%
30-50: 13%
50+: 9%

Means of recruiting students in France, 2011 (schools) How did you find your programme? (students)
Agents 54%
Internet 28%
Local bookings 12%
Other means 6%
I found it on the internet 41%
It was recommended by a friend/relative 31%

It was recommended by an agent 25%
I saw it advertised 3%

In my class there are... Compared to your home country, the cost of living in the Spain is...
...just the right amount of students and mix of nationalities 60%
...too many students 17%
...too many students from one other country 13%
...too many students who speak my language 5%
(No reply 5%)
Higher 11%
About the same 28%
Lower 61%

Total marketing spend by sector and by category in %
Agency costs 28%
Commission 20%
Incentives 2.5%
Agency brochures 5.5%

Travel costs 42%
Agent workshops 22%
Student exhibitions 1.5%
Advisor visits to school 3.5%
Entertainment 1%

Trips to agencies 14%
Publicity costs 30%
Agent mags etc. 3%
Student mags etc. 7%
Brochure, video etc 8%
Internet 12%

5.5 weeks Overall average length of stay

22 hours Average language tuition per week

37% of students booked through an agent or advisor

40% of students had been on another study abroad programme

90% of students would recommend their school

Key points in STM school survey France
Number of participating organisations: nine
Total number of students at the organisations in 2011: 8,190
Total number of student weeks in 2011, estimated: 45,045
Participating schools: Accent Français, Montpellier; Escapade Schools, Cannes, Paris and Biarritz; French in Normandy, Rouen; IFALPES, Annecy; Institut de Francais OISE, Paris; International House, Nice; IS Aix-en-Provence, Aix-en-Provence; ISEFE, Chambery; Saint Denis International School, Loches.

Spanish student feedback at a glance
Total number of students: 63 (female 43, male 19, unknown 1)
Average age in years: 29.8
Average number of students in class: 10
Participating schools: Accent Français, Montpellier; Alliance Francais, Lyon; Ecole Suisse Internationale, Paris; Ifalpes, Annecy; IS Aix-en-Provence, Aix-en-Provence; LSF, Montpellier; Universite de Savoie, Chambery.

Business for language schools in France looked good in 2011 and the beginning of 2012, reinforcing a trend noticed in our previous survey of this market (see STM, June 2011, page 52). Stephanie Ang, at Accent Français in Paris, notes, “Fortunately [business in 2011] did increase a lot. We got more nationalities thanks to our new partners and international promotion. We do not focus on a specific [student] market.”

William Rubinstein from International House Nice reports that student numbers at the school remained steady between 2010 and 2011. He adds, “We promote our school more and more and this is the key to success. Of course you have to offer a good programme and quality is most important, but we see our numbers increasing due to our marketing efforts.” Rubinstein notes that student numbers from Turkey and Brazil have been increasing as a direct result of their marketing strategy. He observes, “I know there is a recession throughout the world, France included, but I do not see the consequences within our company, perhaps because our clients or potential clients don’t suffer from it as much as others.”

One school that is facing the global economic crisis head on is IS Aix-en-Provence, where Anna Clara Sainte-Rose notes that, in general, students have less money. “They still come,” she adds, “but choose in general cheaper courses – fewer courses combined with activities for example.” In response to this, Sainte-Rose reports that they have focussed on increasing business in other areas. “We have had more closed groups so our overall result is better this year than in previous years, but this is probably mainly due to the fact that I have concentrated a lot of marketing efforts on the closed groups in order to get compensation for the loss we have already noticed with the choice of cheaper courses,” she says.

One effect of increased economic pressures on students, according to Ang, is an increased interest among students in getting value for money. “The travel costs changed the behaviour of the clients,” she says. “They are more demanding although the offers remains the same.”

Schools also report a wider spread of nationalities in their classrooms due to an emergence of certain new markets. Sophie Yar from Elfe – Ecole de Langue Francaise in Paris says that they have recently geared a new marketing policy towards emerging countries such as Brazil and India. She also adds that Japanese student numbers are on their way up again – making up 13 per cent of enrolments in 2012 so far – after a downturn during the previous few years. “The Japanese are coming back,” she reports. “The tsunami had a profound impact on enrolments.”

Our school survey for 2011 revealed that Japanese students were in the top 10 nationalities for French language schools, making up four per cent of the average student mix. Rubinstein has also noticed an increase in Japanese student numbers after a decline for two years, and points to another nationality that could be entering France in greater numbers if it weren’t for bureaucratic issues. “It is very difficult for Chinese students to get a student visa [for study in France],” he explains.

However, Ang reports that on the whole, visa problems have been kept to a minimum this year. “We faced a few problems with the visa deliverance, but globally it was OK,” she says. “A few received a visa refusal [letter] because the procedure changed last minute and extra documents had to be provided. They applied again, we supported their action and even sent a few requests to the main office in Paris. I guess our persistence helped and they finally got their visa,” she adds.

With every penny counting for many students about to embark on a language learning trip in France, it certainly pays for schools to make sure they are catering to demand. Eleri Maitland from French in Normandy says that they have recently introduced more Delf/Dalf preparation classes for students looking to develop their academic French skills and go on to higher education in France. Meanwhile, Ang reveals that they have changed their holiday language course – consisting of standard formula language classes plus activities and excursions – to become a French and cultural programme in order to appeal to a broader student market, including those in the older age bracket.

Overall the outlook for French language schools looks positive and our contributors for this article expected enrolments to grow in 2012. Maitland says, “[We have had a] good first six months and a record July, so wait and see!”

Survey snapshot

Our most recent Status survey on business among French language schools in 2011 revealed a distinct shift among the top 10 nationalities when compared with the results for 2010. Scandinavian and Finnish students tied with Americans to become the most populous nationalities at French language schools – although in 2010 Scandinavian and Finnish students weren’t listed in the top 10 at all. This result is partly due to one language school posting a high number of students from the Scandinavian region – with this nationality group making up 45 per cent of their total students from Western Europe and 32 per cent of their student body as a whole. Apart from this change, the top nationalities remained very similar to the previous year apart from the loss of Korean and Brazilian students in the top 10 and appearance of Australia.

The marketing budget by region didn’t contain any surprises in the results for 2011, with the largest spend focussed on the Asian student market followed by Western Europe and North America. The budget for Central and Eastern Europe did decrease slightly however, from 23 per cent previously to 15 per cent in 2011.

The use of agents to recruit students increased slightly in 2011 from the previous year, from 47 per cent to 54 per cent, while the Internet decreased from 34 per cent in 2010 to 28 per cent in 2011. Agency costs within the marketing budget had also increased correspondingly from 23 per cent to 28 per cent.

The largest group of students (33 per cent) was aged between 19 and 24 years in our 2011 survey, a change from our previous survey where the largest student group was aged between 25 and 30 years. This trend towards a younger cohort is countered however by the fact that the number of students over the age of 30 increased in our current survey to 22 per cent of the student body (compared with 15 per cent previously), with nine per cent over the age of 51 years (up from six per cent).

Patrick de Bouter, the president of the French language school association Groupement FLE talks about recent trends in the industry.

The French language school market has enjoyed a buoyant last 12 months – most of Groupement FLE’s member schools are reporting a particularly busy summer and a very good year generally. This is very encouraging, especially given the current economic climate worldwide, and confirms France’s position as the country welcoming the most foreign tourists each year. This also shows that France continues to be an important destination in the language travel industry, due to the fact that the French language is still one of the top languages studied and spoken in the world – witness its extensive use and exposure during the recent London Olympic Games. The country is able to provide a very wide range of interesting destinations for language learning.

One of the reasons for this positive trend is without doubt the efforts language schools have made recently to raise standards. An increasing number of schools have been accredited by the French government’s ‘Qualité FLE’ label, which is recognised by agents and students as a guarantee of quality. School associations such as Groupement FLE are more and more active, both in marketing their member schools by attending workshops such as Alphe UK and organising roadshows to meet agents, and in promoting the French language by organising training sessions and conferences for teachers, agents and managers.

The recent change of government in France has been met with cautious optimism by language schools that have suffered recently with visa problems, resulting in a loss of student bookings to countries such as Canada and Switzerland that have a more flexible response to visa requests. The hope now is that the new government will look more favourably on welcoming overseas students wishing to come to France to learn the language.

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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  
ESL Townhouse  
Find Digs  
Homestay Technologies Ltd  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  
Stay Club (The)  

Vos School Buenos Aires  

English Australia  
MEI - Marketing English in Ireland  
Perth Education City  
Quality English  
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Bond University  
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ILSC Australia  
Impact English College  
International House Sydney  
Language Studies International  
Access Macquarie Limited  
Perth Education City  
Study Gold Coast  
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CERAN Lingua International  

FAAP - Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado  

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iMandarin Language Training Institute  

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INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
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London School of Business & Finance  
London School of English  
Malvern House College London  
Oscars International  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
St Giles International  
English in Chester  
University of East Anglia  
University of Essex - International Academy  

Cambridge Esol  

Accent Français  
Alliance Française Paris Ile de France  
Campus de Bissy - Bordeaux International Campus  
Ecole Suisse Internationale  
French in Normandy  
ILCF Institut Catholique de Paris  
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LSF Montpellier  
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Griffith Institute of Language  
MEI - Marketing English in Ireland  

EC English Language Centre  

Homestay Technologies Ltd  
Pay to Study/FELCA  

Xul Comunicación Social  

City Education Language School  
EC Cape Town  
EF International Language Centers  
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Eurocentres Cape Town  
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inlingua Language Training Centre Cape Town  
Interlink School of Languages  
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Kurus English CC  
LAL Cape Town  

EF International Language Centers  

Malta Tourism Authority  
Perth Education City  
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ELS Language Centers  
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Global Language Institute  
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Saint John's University  
UTP (University Track Preparation)  
Zoni Language Centers  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  

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