September 2011 issue

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Canada diversifies

Visa problems and a strong dollar have had an impact on student enrolments at Canadian language schools, although demand from new markets is on the rise. Bethan Norris reports.

Language schools in Canada reported mixed results for the first half of 2011, with some, such as ILSC – International Language Schools of Canada in Vancouver, BC, reporting an increase in student numbers of 30 per cent in the January to May period in 2011, compared with the same period in 2010.

Mara Muller from ILSC says that there are a few reasons for this increase. “Visa regulation changes in the UK have made Canada a more desirable study destination. Our work experience programme continues to be very successful and is a popular draw for students. As well, we have been strengthening our university pathway programme and the programme is increasing in popularity as a result.”

John Taplin, President and CEO of Global Village Calgary, AB, also reports an increase in student numbers of 20 per cent in the first half of 2011. “A key factor has been the significant increase of Saudi students as a result of scholarships from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and their desire to see their students go to a variety of Canadian cities and not just the largest centres,” he says.

Other nationalities performing well at Canadian language centres at the moment include Brazil and Korea according to schools. Muller puts the increase of Brazilian students down to “Brazil’s strengthening economy and increased global involvement through upcoming events like the World Cup Soccer and Summer Olympics”. She adds, “We have also seen increased enrolments during the past year from Thai, Taiwanese, Mexican, Colombian, Venezuelan and Italian students.”

However, while the mood is buoyant for some language schools in Canada, others report less positive results. “[Student numbers] have decreased slightly,” says Vivian Hart from Edutour Homestay Associates in Gabriola, BC. “The high Canadian dollar is certainly having an impact, combined we would guess with the ongoing fallout from the banking crisis.” Hart notes that Japanese enrolments have been down this year, “due most likely to the earthquake/tsunami and the fact that there are just fewer students in the target age group in Japan”.

Visa issues have also been rearing their head again in 2011, which is an ongoing problem for Canadian language schools (see LTM, September 2010, page 55). Muller says, “We have noticed a decrease in Turkish students. We suspect this is due to the unstable visa approval rate, which makes agency partners reluctant to promote Canada as a study abroad destination for Turkish students.”

In last year’s Market Report on Canada, schools were reporting a large decline in student numbers from Mexico after a change in visa regulations for this nationality. Taplin reports that numbers from this country are still down in 2011. “We have not seen a bounce back in numbers,” he reports. “We had hoped for better Mexican student enrolments once the market absorbed the shock of the Canadian government insisting on visas for Mexican visitors, including students, starting in the summer of 2009.”

Tatiana Porvatkina, Regional Marketing Director at International Language Academy of Canada (Ilac), with branches in Toronto and Vancouver, also notes visa difficulties experienced by some nationalities. While the core Ilac student nationalities have not declined, she says, “We noticed that some Asian nationalities experience a higher visa refusal rate and some former Soviet Union countries are facing delays in visa processing times.”

In order to remain competitive in the global English language teaching marketplace schools are concentrating on developing new courses in order to meet demand (see box) and also focusing their attention on building relationships with study abroad advisors in a wide variety of student markets. Porvatkina confirms, “Consistent and extensive marketing support of Ilac’s agents has had the biggest impact on enrolments in 2011.”

Pathway to uni

When asked which programmes were proving popular, language schools in Canada were almost unanimous in their response. Tatiana Porvatkina from Ilac in Toronto and Vancouver is typical when she says, “We have noticed an increased demand for university pathway programmes, even from nationalities which focus on short-term ESL courses [such as] Mexico and Ecuador.”

Consequently, Ilac has expanded its provision of university pathway courses and services and now has pathway agreements with 35 universities and colleges.

ILSC – International Language Schools of Canada in Vancouver, BC, too, has expanded their pathway programme partners to include universities in the USA and Canada in order to meet demand. Mara Muller at the school says, “This programme has consistently been in high demand for Saudi students. However, we are seeing more and more demand from students of different nationalities, including Korean, Russian, Japanese and Thai.”

EFL courses that prepare students for academic English tests are also proving popular, according to John Taplin from GV English Calgary, AB. “As an Ielts test centre, GV Calgary sees many candidates who need preparation courses and so Ielts preparation has been a strong area of growth.”

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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  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  

Association of British Language Schools  
English Australia  
International House World Organisation  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
Perth Education City  
Quality English  
The English Network  

British Boarding Schools Workshop   

Cambridge Esol  
Pearson Education  
TOEFL Educational Testing Service  
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Dr. Walter GmbH  
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Western Union  

Malta Tourism Authority  

St Giles International  
Twin Group  

Ability Education  
Academies Australasia  
Bond University  
Carrick Institute of Education  
English Language & Foundation Studies Centre  
Impact English College  
Language Studies International  
Lexis Engilsh  
Melbourne Language Centre  
Pacific Gateway International College  
Perth Education City  
Shafston International College  
Southbank Institute of TAFE  
Think: Education Group  
University of New South Wales  
University of Tasmania  


CERAN Lingua International  

Access International English Language Centre   
Apex Language & Career College   
Banff Education Centre  
Bond International College/ Bond Language Centre  
Cornerstone Academic College   
East Coast School of Languages  
English School of Canada  
Eurocentres Canada  
Fanshawe College  
GEOS International Schools North America  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  
International Language School of the YMCAs Quebec  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
Luther College High School  
LSC Language Studies Canada  
Language Studies International  
Niagara College  
North Island College  
Queen's School of English  
University Of Victoria  
Saint Mary's University  
Vancouver English Centre  
ABC Languages  
Absolutely English Young Learners  
Angel Language Academy  
Bell International  
Cambridge Education Group - HO  
Camp Beaumont  
English Language Centre Brighton & Hove  
Hampstead School of English  
International House London  
INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
Liverpool Community College  
London School of Business & Finance  
London School of English  
Malvern House College London  
Ovingdean Hall College  
King's Colleges  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
Spinnaker College  
St Giles International  
Study Group  
SUL Language Schools  
University of Essex - International Academy  
Wimbledon School of English  

Accent Francais  
Ecole Suisse Internationale  
Langue Onze Toulouse  
Le Franc Parler   
LSF Montpellier  
Lyon Bleu International  
Paris Langues / Club CEI des 4 Vents  

Sprachcaffe Languages Plus  

Alpha College of English  
Atlantic Language Galway  
Cork English Academy83  
Emerald Cultural Institute  
Galway Cultural Institute  
Language & Business College Ireland  

Clubclass Residential Language School  
EC English Language Centre  
English Language Academy  
inlingua Malta  

Eurocentres Cape Town  

Cape English Language School  
EC Cape Town  
Eurocentres Cape Town  
Good Hope Studies  
inlingua Language Training Centre Cape Town  
International House Cape Town  
Interlink School of Languages  
Jeffrey's Bay Language School  
Kurus English  
LAL Cape Town  

International House - Sevilla CLIC  
Inturjoven Spanish Courses   
Malaca Instituto - Club Hispanico SL  
Pamplona Learning Spanish Institute  

ELS Language Centers  
STS Student Travel Schools  
University of Arizona  
University of California San Diego  
Zoni Language Centers  

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