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Here comes summer

March 26, 2009

Hello again,

According to Language Travel Magazine, summer-course organizers are not fearful of being hit by the recession: “Summer vacation courses are vital to our industry and underpin the year-round activity of most private EFL schools,” affirms Tony Evans...

... from Clifton College Services Ltd (CCSL) in the UK. And despite the recent doom and gloom in the global economy, operators report that demand for summer programmes shows no signs of abating. “As far as I’m concerned, demand is increasing,” notes Evans.

So why are people confident that the summer-course market will weather the economic storm? One school of thought is that parents have the educational value of such courses uppermost in their minds and, while they may trim their holiday budgets, they still see it as important to invest in their children. Another factor is the constantly change nationality mix that summer courses attract. While some countries may be feeling the pinch more than others, new markets are always opening up. Thus the global nature of the enterprise offers a certain amount of protection. I noticed this trend last year, when many more Eastern European business people seemed to be coming to the UK reflecting the their need to gear up following their entry into the European Union.

A third factor may be that parents do not want their children to bear the brunt of their own economic woes. They may make sacrifices in other areas to ensure that children can still benefit from the summer course experience. Currency fluctuations are also important. The fall in the value of the British pound means that UK courses competitively priced.

While all this sounds promising, course providers cannot be complacent. Competition is fierce and parents will look for the best possible deal. This means a wider range of supplementary activities needs to be on offer. Again, Language Travel Magazine gives examples: Many of the activities offered to summer vacation clients are sports-oriented but Ute Nanninga from IP International Projects – which runs schools in the UK, France, Germany and Spain – ventures that some students may prefer something a little more cultural. “As art and culture gain in importance, we offer cultural workshops geared to young people’s requirements,” she says.

Let us hope this optimistic view will be borne out in reality. Quite apart from all the fun and education that summer courses offer, they also help young people widen their understanding of other nationalities and cultures and that is possibly the most valuable insight we can give our young people.

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