This week, we interview Antonio Anadon, Founder and Owner of Spanish language school brands don Quijote and Enforex, part of the Ideal Education Group, about company developments and Spanish market trends. 

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How is the market currently for Spanish language study abroad?

Last year was not the best year for the Spanish. In fact, this was the first year we didn’t make a growth in sales. This is because the Spanish economy suffered a lot and that has been reflected in the level of interest in studying Spanish in Spain.

Latin America has been growing and taking over some of the demand for Spanish language study, but has also suffered a little as well, particularly Costa Rica and Mexico.

There is no doubt about the importance of the Spanish language in world terms. The interest is back, and in fact we already see this coming back in early 2014. Through the over 1,000 agent partners we have worldwide in over 82 countries, interest is waking up definitely and very fast, and it will be bigger than before. The Spanish economy is getting better now as well and this will reflect.

The lesson we got is that all schools need to be very professional to grow. We all need to reinvent, renovate, change and be more global, investment in quality certificates and internal training is really very important. The quality control in Spain is getting better and better, and we were the first to invest in this and are happy all the schools are following.


In which countries or regions do you see interest growing?

All the world is growing, no one market will be the single dominant area of growth for Spanish study. The Middle East has a good chance of being a growth market for Spanish because they are investing heavily in education. Asia will also be an important growth market. But perhaps the biggest growth will come from the USA. Because of demographic changes, maybe half of the population will speak Spanish in ten years. Spanish is the second most important language in the world


Which are the major markets for your schools?

The top markets for us are the USA, Germany, Asia, Brazil, Italy and France. But we don’t allow any market to take more than eight per cent share of our business. We have almost 40 per cent of the market sales for Spanish language schools. I try to make it very global. This way we didn’t have a problem during the economic crisis and could still grow as a business.


Are there any particular growth areas for Spanish language providers?

Higher education is a good opportunity, and we are already involved with our brand eduSpain University Placement in this sector. We have links with 30 universities in Spain, doing foundation and higher education programmes.


You recently refreshed the brand imagery of don Quijote.

Yes. Every business needs to rebrand after seven or eight years. If you do this, the internal staff and your clients see you are trying to improve and embrace the new generation.

With the image, we have kept the red colour, but we have tried to be modern, uniform and professional. Youth, energy and quality; all these things are goals of the business, and we tried express this in the brand. I think it is very passionate and full of the energy of studying the Spanish language. The passion is important; we want to transmit the importance and passion of Spanish


Last year you acquired the Academia Columbus brand of Spanish schools in Latin America. How are things going there?

We are very happy with Academia Columbus. We introduced many changes, our know-how has been integrated into the schools and we have grown 35 per cent since last year, which shows the value of the support of an organisation like ours. But we kept the brand and its personality. We always try to retain the identity and difference between our brands. Beside the schools in Costa Rica, Ecuador and Mexico, we are opening in Colombia during this year.


What developments are on the horizon for don Quijote?

The big development for us is that we will launch our Spanish online courses.

We think this will be a good model for blended learning. It has all the technology, we will have ebooks in class, lots of exercises and tests, contents, over 200 videos, students will be able to arrange a teacher online 24/7, and it includes an online community.

Everyone talks about online learning as the only future, but it is not really working so far. You need to have a personal touch with the professor and you need to have the technology to bring the materials together. We have invested more than one year and €1.2 million (US$1.6 million) in getting this right. It will be a big plus for students and agents. We want to be able to license the platform for schools and agencies to offer to their clients. This is today’s reality. Be online!


Why is investment and development important for language schools?

Improving and changing are things we all need to do. We are there with the technology, with the renovation of our schools and accommodation and the new logo. Training and motivating the staff every day is fundamental. This is what a leading brand needs to be doing. It is important for people in this industry to believe in regeneration and the idea of entrepreneurship.

Personally, I moved to the UK three years ago to expand and create new areas of the business, because this is really a global travel hub and the hub of the industry. London is the best place to meet clients and partners from all over the world, while you enjoy a unique city of the world.

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