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French, German gains ground on English in SALTA survey

English language study has lost ground to the French language learning market according to the annual survey by association, SALTA, whose members represent many of the largest study travel agencies in the country. English study, however, still dominated demand and accounted for two-thirds (62.9%) of all language travel trips in Switzerland.

"The market in Switzerland isn't growing so most of us have to see how we can get students from other European countries"

French, second-most requested language product, accounted for 12.5% of business – up from 10%  in 2011. Within this sector, 10.5% of the business was headed to French speaking destinations outside of Switzerland (with 2% studying in Romandie, French-speaking Switzerland).

German market share also rose from 6.8% to 10%, thought to be because language travel providers in Romandie “are significantly more active”, said SALTA.

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 16.21.05Agencies in this significant outbound market say they expect a bullish market for this year. “We’re optimistic about 2013 because in Europe things aren’t as good as they used to be so people are going to build up their CV and education and [therefore] languages,” said Claudio Cesarano, Managing Director of Swiss agency globo-study.

“Also, there’s a big shift in Europe as people leave one country looking for work in another one, so languages are more important than ever.”

“Malta was the only English destination to see a rise, earning 8%”

Overall turnover for 2012 was “stable” compared to 2011, according to the survey, despite seeing a decline in demand for all English language destinations.

Not much changed in the league table of ELT markets. The UK continued dominate with a 34.3% market share, followed by the USA which slumped to its 2010 levels of 25.2%, down on the previous year. Australia was the third most popular destination with 13.5% market share, then Canada with 9%, New Zealand at 4% and Ireland attracting 3% of the market.

SALTA pieMalta was the only English destination to see a rise, earning 8% market share, up one percentage point across all destinations.

The quality of English taught in the national curriculum has lead to stagnation in the ELT market, according to Cesarano. “Almost 80% of all of our students are for English language but the difficulty is to find an interest in long-term courses because of English being taught in lower grades already,” he said.

“People don’t need to go for five or six months anymore. They’ll go for four weeks to improve [their level] or have an experience abroad rather than actually learning a language. This is something we didn’t have to face 10 or 15 years ago.

“The market in Switzerland isn’t growing so most of us have to see how we can get students from other European countries,” he added.

“They wouldn’t stay long in South America or Spain. They would stay three to four weeks maximum”

Cesarano explained French will always be a stable market for providers, especially in the junior sector which accounts for the popularity in domestic courses. “The junior market is more focused on French because of English coming into schools, but they have to learn French because it’s our second language.”

A trend for shorter stays emerged this year, with four-week courses proving more popular this year than the average of 5.7 weeks in 2011. According to Cesarano, the trend reflects the growing interest in brief Spanish language courses abroad among adults.

Respondents also reported an increase in online reservations, showing the need for providers to have stellar websites in order to be competitive.

Websites also present providers with a low-cost opportunity to combat the lack of growth in the Swiss market. “We’re looking to expand everywhere because the web gives you that opportunity; it’s very open,” said Cesarano.

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