I have recently noticed some slight shifts in student preferences and trends regarding language training and courses that I think might change the way schools provide their services, if they detect the trends. Here are some:
1. Companies are cutting down on language training for their employees
They are either hiring native speakers of other languages to then train them in whichever department they will work in, or hiring language consultants to work part-time alongside their executives. Language training also requires the company to pay extra for logistics, material, etc. Getting execs to fend for themselves is much cheaper and equally effective due to competition and pressure.
2. Immersion is still strong but not always in Brazil.
Most executives now prefer to travel abroad for immersions as the price is almost the same and quality is assured. It´s almost impossible to get bad training in a country where everyone speaks the language you want to learn. You also get to travel and meet new people.
3. Students want their teachers near them.
Executives and students that need languages for work are not content with the regular school setup anymore. They want a teacher that is always available to help them prepare for presentations, conference calls, etc. This can be tough on schools as too much intimacy with a teacher can be bad for business and they loose control over both the teacher and the student.
4. No intermediaries please.
Consequently, students are now hiring private teachers that can follow them around or offer immediate support when needed. Private teachers are also easier to negotiate with and more willing to cut prices because they have no extra costs.
5. Students don´t always know or find what they want.
The English course setup is not working as effectively as it did because students feel they need to learn things regular textbooks are not teaching. They need updated information and to be able to talk about their work and interests, as opposed to talking about Jane and Fred´s problems and lifestyles. Despite this, they do not always perceive this new possibility or do not always find it in their providers or teachers, causing frustration and again…immersions overseas.
There are lots of training and teaching schools offering “custom” courses, but the students are afraid of the extra costs this implies and are not always sure what is being offered. The fact that they can “choose” almost everything from material to duration causes a little suspicion and insecurity.
6. There are just too many providers out there.
Language training is booming, language teachers are being sucked up by companies to fill the language gap, and material and resources are too abundant and unspecific. Custom courses are too expensive while regular courses are too vague. There is still room for innovation in the language training sector but few seem to have tapped into the opportunities or are unable to communicate their new approach to students to make them willing enough to pay extra for it.
7. The new market is covered by university language centres.
There is a huge new market out there for schools and teachers: university students. However, universities have been quick to notice and are now offering their own language training programmes, although not all of them are good enough. Some major universities have recruited linguistics students to provide the services, resulting in poor quality teaching. This does not seem to matter as the intention is to keep students within university walls.
…so what can your school do about it?
e-Advance is currently conducting research and trials to determine the real needs of language students. Consequently, we are offering short courses with maximum coverage of business terminology and situations. Effective courses sometimes mean jumping sticky grammar topics or offering these topics separately.
We have created new, one-month 2 to 4 hour-a-day courses for students at pre-intermediate and intermediate levels to improve their language skills almost immediately using basic language structures that are repeated throughout the course for natural assimilation. This has rendered some impressive results.
Another strategy is to cut the costs of immersion by offering one-day training courses or immersions near the student´s home. Student just aren´t willing to pay for logistics, teacher accommodation and classroom rental anymore.
If you have any trends you would like to share, please leave a comment.