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Language learning a priority in Balkans

A recent survey by the Serbia-based management consultancy group Prodirekt, carried out in four countries, shows that many parents in the Balkans would send their children to learn a foreign language in a native speaking country, regardless of the family budget constraints.

Young language learners leaving for London

"It is extremely important regardless of financial constraints in the family budget"

Using the Facebook page of Verbalisti, a vibrant social network focused on language learning managed by ProDirekt, consumers were asked:  “How important is it for your children to learn a foreign language in the native speaking country?”

Almost 80% of the 1,226 voters responded: “It’s extremely important and I will provide it for my child regardless of financial constraints in the family budget.”

A further 16% of voters responded: “I’ll provide it for my child if the family budget allows it”. Meanwhile, 4% thought learning another language wasn’t important at all while 2% said learning at a local language school was sufficient.

Prodirekt managing director, Dejan Trpkovic, told The PIE News, “The results are important because they show the language travel potential in the region and they are an indication of the future behaviour of parents.” He added, “There will be more students studying foreign languages abroad as the economic situation in the region improves.”

The poll was inspired by an earlier survey by Berlitz Corporation to determine how parents of children between 4-to-17 years old in economically strong countries like Japan, Germany, the US, Mexico, China, Brazil, France, Poland and Italy prioritise language learning.

“The results are important because they show the language travel potential in the region”

Aimed at parents from less economically stable Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia who visited the Verbalisti Facebook page, the poll aimed to compare sentiments in the Balkan region.

Jasmina Saric, director of educational programs at Prodirekt, commented, “With the economic crunch and high unemployment rate among young people, parents perceive their children’s language competencies as a key factor in getting a job, especially in the local offices of foreign companies, or at least as a necessary requirement for further education options abroad.”

Since its inception less than two years ago, the education social media community Verbalisti has grown to over 11,000 members with 120 foreign language teachers.

Its YouTube channel passed 100,000 views in under a year. It partners with concerts and festivals in Southeast Europe, such as the Nisville Jazz Festival and has a “Speak your mind” segment that includes more than 100 videos of celebrity interviews focused on learning a foreign language.

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