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IALC: language travel increasingly linked to academic goals

The annual IALC workshop has wrapped up for another year, after three days of back-to-back seminars, exhibitions, meetings and networking events across Bologna culminating with a gala dinner in the heart of the Italian city.

L to R: Celestine Rowland, David Niland & Giorgia Biccelli enjoying the 2018 IALC Workshop. Photo: The PIE NewsL to R: Celestine Rowland, David Niland & Giorgia Biccelli enjoying the 2018 IALC Workshop. Photo: The PIE News

Fewer than 50% of students learning German, English and Chinese were doing so for personal reasons

A highlight of the language travel calendar and now its 35th year, IALC’s 2018 workshop brought owner-operators of IALC language centres from across the globe together with international study travel agencies to discuss partnerships, key issues and trends in the sector.

“English language proficiency has reached critical mass”

Nestled amongst the digital marketing seminars on day one was the launch of IALC’s 2018 report Perfecting the student experience, which explored the motivation behind students’ reasons for learning a language abroad.

A global study of current and former IALC students, the report is the result of an online survey administered by Student Marketing of 4,755 students across 136 countries.

The report revealed that although ‘personal’ reasons for studying a language abroad is a motivating factor for more than half of respondents, the popularity of language acquisition in line with academic goals has gradually increased since 2012.

The report noted that current study-related reasons for learning a foreign language have been growing (up 6% on 2012 figures) at the expense of employment-oriented purposes (down 8% for the same period).

Study rationale was also shown to be language-specific.

According to the report, fewer than 50% of students learning German, English and Chinese were doing so for personal reasons, compared to more than 70% of those pursuing Spanish.

A “considerable proportion” of students pursuing German and English courses were shown to be motivated by study related reasons, while employment-related reasons drive 35% of Chinese learners.

Presenting the findings was head of research at StudentMarketing Patrik Pavlacic, who told The PIE News that while work-related reasons for learning a language abroad reach its peak in the 35-44 age group, study-related reasons are overtaking personal ones among younger students.

“People are learning English in the early stages of life and they are doing so because they want to be admitted to a good university either in their home country or a foreign one,” he said.

“If you look at those people aged 17 and under, almost 80% are taking English…and later on in life, they tend to take on a different language, which is an opportunity for non-English language schools.

“Language schools need to preach more about the value of their course”

Pavlacic said that while the report might not be 100% reflective of the entire industry, given the sample size of IALC students and the nationalities covered he considered it a “decent reflection” of the sector as a whole.

He added that because people are learning English earlier, proficiency has reached “critical mass” and students have less of a need for a general English language course as they age.

“English is a universal lingua franca for a reason but demand for English is cooling down, so more people need to justify their investment…and language schools need to preach more about the value of their course.”

In addition to the report launch, seminars were provided by digital communications analyst Elena Saura Ramos, Jackfruit Marketing founder Jackie Kassteen and Nicolas Miller of recent IALC partner and technology provider Edvisor.

The busy social program also took in some of the most historic sights in the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, as well as a visit to the family-run Italian language school and workshop host, ALCE Bologna.

The final evening rounded up with a gala dinner at the Palazzo Re Enzo, and the announcement that the 2019 IALC Workshop would be hosted within the lively capital of Spain’s Andalusia region by CLIC Seville.

Speaking with The PIE, IALC president Giorgia Biccelli said the 2018 workshop had been an opportunity bring agencies and schools together and to showcase Bologna as a wonderful city to study in.

“It has been hugely successful, some excellent schools have joined us this year and the workshop has had a record attendance,” she said.

“The workshop is a fantastic opportunity for schools and agents to network in an intimate environment not only through meetings but through the various social activities.

“Our host in 2019 is an excellent IALC school in Seville, and we are expecting an even bigger turn out next year,” she added.

For pictures of the 2018 workshop social highlights, click here.

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