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The leading education organization in Europe ICEF features Prodirekt poll and analysis, relating to young language learners, in the Monitor.
Job opportunities have been shrinking with the global crisis and employers are becoming more selective; therefore, speaking English as a second language has become more important. The Verbalists survey points out that in developing economies the need for language education among young learners is perceived as a must, and that parents are willing to continue spending on their children’s education abroad even in harsh economic times. READ MORE
Belgrade, Serbia – March 6, 2012 – PRODIREKT and its language network Verbalisti today announced the results of the poll designed to discover how parents in the Balkans feel about the language education of their children. The visitors of the Verbalisti Facebook page were asked “How important is it for your children to learn a foreign language in the native speaking country?”. The survey was conducted in four countries – Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, during two time intervals – from 21st November to 21st December 2011, and from January 6 to February 6, 2012, and it generated enormous interest among the Verbalisti network fans and other Facebook members alike. The poll reached 247,757 people, while 1,566 participants cast their vote, with 1,226 of them saying that they would send their children to learn a foreign language in a native speaking country, regardless of the family budget constraints.
The Prodirekt poll was inspired by the similar one Berlitz Corporation conducted in Japan, Germany, the USA, Mexico, China, Brazil, France, Poland and Italy earlier in 2011. The purpose of the Berlitz poll was to determine how parents of children between the ages of 4 and 17 perceive the importance of foreign language learning. Their key findings show that almost 90% expressed interest in foreign language learning for their children outside regular school hours. Countries with recent strong economic growth, such as China, Mexico and Brazil, showed especially high interest in language education abroad. The lowest interest was in developed countries such as USA, Japan, France and Germany.
“It was interesting to find out from the Berlitz poll how parents in those 9 countries feel about language education of their children, but it is also helpful to see how Berlitz findings relate to our poll conducted in part of Southeast Europe. Furthermore, we wanted to determine what the parents’ opinion about learning a foreign language at home and abroad was”, said Jasmina Saric, director of educational programs, Prodirekt.
The Prodirekt survey polled 1566 people from 4 countries: Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Participants were asked “How important is it for your children to learn a foreign language in the native speaking country?” There were 4 answer options:
a) It’s extremely important and I will provide it for my child regardless of financial constraints in the family budget– voted by 78% (1,226 votes)
b) It’s very important, and I’ll provide it for my child if the family budget allows it – voted by 16% (246 votes)
c) It’s not that important, a local language school is good enough – voted by 2% (34 votes)
d) It’s not important at all – voted by 4% (51 votes)
The poll results clearly showed that parents in SEE regard foreign languages as extremely important part of their children’s education:
96% of them would send their children to a private language school – 94% to a language school in a native country, plus additional 2% who maintained that a local language school was good enough for their children’s language education;
78% of the poll partakers uphold that improving a language in the country where its spoken is so important that they will provide it for their children regardless of the financial constraints in a family budget
Only 5% maintains that learning a language abroad is not important – 2% believes a local language school will do the job, and 3% claims that language education abroad is not important at all.
Jasmina Saric from Prodirekt further commented on the poll results: “The prolonged and severe economic crisis apparently does not affect, at least declaratively, the parents’ willingness to spend on their children education. This makes perfect sense: 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.”
This high percentage of parents in Southeast Europe who perceive foreign languages as key to their children’s success ties in with the analysis about the boom in the junior language market, published by Dan Thomas, of The Pie, an online publication for educators (“Is the junior language market seeing a boom?”, January 12, 2012). In an ever more competitive job market parents recognize a second language – and having studied abroad – as a distinct advantage. The Pie analysis also shows that the demand is not only for English courses, but for other world languages as well.
Job opportunities have been shrinking with the global crisis and employers are becoming more selective; therefore, speaking English as a second language has become more important. The Verbalisti survey confirms the Pie findings, but also points out that in the developing economies the need for children language education is perceived as a must, and that parents are willing to continue spending on their children’s education abroad even in the harsh economic times.
_ About PRODIREKT LLC and Communication Network Verbalisti (Verbalists) PRODIREKT provides strategic management and executive education and training in the Balkan region. PRODIREKT’s innovative solutions for corporate management, marketing and international business communication offer a bridge between strategy and education, while its business group and social network Verbalisti, dedicated to language studies and professional training, helps young professionals and business people achieve their objectives in international communication.
The communication and language network Verbalisti has been created for language lovers and all those wishing to improve their communication skills. Furthermore, Verbalisti are the answer to the growing demand for the regional standardization in foreign language studies. Verbalists offer quality language courses for students of all ages and levels according to their various budget needs.
Dan Thomas, in his article for The Pie, an online publication for educators, looks at the factors behind the growth of the junior language market. Major players in language education have seen sustained, sometimes rapid, growth in recruitment over the last few years; opening new campuses and increasing the diversification of nationalities on their courses.
Driving the phenomenon is an ever more competitive job market in which having a second language – and having studied abroad – gives young people a distinct advantage. For this reason, say educators, during a period of economic austerity in many language learning markets, parents are willing to continue spending on their children’s education while making savings on their own.
It appears the demand is not only for English courses. In Europe, Italy’s Linguaviva says it sees around 5% growth each year for its Italian classes, while Germany’s DID says interest from students wanting to learn German in Berlin has increased.
Another success story is Azurlingua in the South of France, which has expanded from 20-30 students to 2,500 students in the last 10 years. Director, Jean Luc Librati, says the French market is coming to maturity, with junior courses becoming an educational rite of passage for language learners and being taken more seriously.
“Let’s say that 10 years ago, it was more like ‘let’s have fun and at the same time learn French’. Now it’s more ‘let’s learn French and at the same time we’ll have fun’,” says Libreti.
Students on Azurlingua’s courses now take exams recognised not only by the French Government, but also the Common European Framework of Reference for languages which enables qualifications to be recognised across European borders.
“This new way to recognise language ability is becoming better and better known,” says Libreti. “It is also proof that the market is reaching a more professional level.”
While the need for a second language is certainly the fuel for growth, other factors are catalysts. One such is visa conditions. As junior courses are generally short haul and rarely year round, students can usually enter a country far more simply than adults, often on a tourist visa.
Increased awareness of junior products is also helping providers. The relationships an educator builds with his agents around the world helps drive “word of mouth” marketing. Consumers have also changed their attitudes. Teachers and students are more knowledgeable about the courses available and parents are more trusting and willing to allow their children to travel.