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Canada has one tenth of French language market

Just under one in ten internationally mobile French language students study in Canada, according to a new report presented at the Languages Canada conference this month.

Italy is the top source country for French language students worldwide, followed by Switzerland and Germany. Photo: The PIE News

The report recommends that Languages Canada and its members work to highlight Canada’s unique selling points

The association noted an opportunity to market the sector and highlight the country’s unique selling points in order to make Canada a more attractive destination for French language study.

‘Mapping the global French language travel segment’, compiled for Languages Canada by StudentMarketing, found that Canada’s share of international French language students totals 9%. France claims the majority of the global share with 83%.

Switzerland accounts for 5% and Belgium accounts for the remaining 3%, according to the report.

“French language education centres are less used to working with agents”

“[Canada’s] French language student population is rather small when compared to other destinations (40% of [language centres] teach less than 100 French language students per annum),” the report says.

Looking at Canada alone, the report finds that a third of all French language students in the country are domestic.

The report said that this statistic indicates that “Canadian providers cater for the domestic demand almost on an equal footing to international demand”.

The biggest source markets for French language students coming to Canada in 2014 were identified as Brazil, the US, Mexico, Switzerland and Colombia.

Together these five markets accounted for 60% of international students coming into the country for French language study.

Overall, however, Italy is the top source country for French language students, according to the report, accounting for 13% worldwide. Switzerland accounts for 9%, and Germany comes in third with 8% of the market share.

Globally, almost a quarter of all bookings are done through education agencies, which the report notes is lower than in the English language market.

“This is not only in order to maintain [educational institutions’] margins, but also because French language education centres are less used to working with agents,” the report points out.

Most of the agents surveyed said the reason they did not promote French courses abroad was that they did not find suitable school partners (39%).

A further 35% of agent respondents said that French courses are not popular in their country.

The report suggests ways that Canadian French language programmes can be promoted.

“It is recommended to start with branding first,” it says. “For this purpose there has to be a certain set of promotional tools, as individual programs are presenting Canada as a destination and need to create buzz in the industry about French learning opportunities.”

It also recommends that Languages Canada and its members work to highlight Canada’s unique selling points in order to make it more competitive as a destination for French language study.

Competitive pricing was recommended after the surveyed agents responded that the price of the course was the most important factor for French language students, “almost as twice as important as school quality,” notes the report.

Canada’s bilingualism is another unique selling point, offering a compelling reason for choosing Canada.

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