Summary of our market study

As of 2020, the language travel market experienced a significant decline due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the UK's market size dropping by approximately £590 million compared to the previous year. The number of international students attending language courses in the UK plummeted by 79%, with over 50% of the industry's staff being seasonal employees who were largely impacted, as more than 4,420 were released from their duties. Despite the challenges, industry participants, like British language centres, expressed optimism for a market recovery, with 42% anticipating a rebound in 2023. The pandemic also highlighted the growing importance of digital language learning platforms, with Babbel as a key player, as the demand for online alternatives surged. Furthermore, the study revealed a shift towards more professional and work-experience-inclusive language programs, as seen in Kaplan English International's new offers. The South of England, especially London, continued to attract the majority of English language learners, with a noticeable seasonality peak during the summer months.

Trend Analysis of Language Travel in the UK

The language travel market in the UK showcases a robust pattern of growth and diversity in terms of demand, offerings, and the market structure itself. A significant impetus propelling the market is the universal quest for English proficiency, with students from Asia, notably from China, contributing to a considerable portion of the demand. The UK and the US, as prime destinations for language studies, have dominated the market for years, with the UK market alone contributing to a financial injection of between €135 and €140 million through language travels. These figures underline the centrality of the English language, with the global reach of the language driving a staggering two-thirds of language learners to seek proficiency. An interesting trend is the focus on the youth demographic, evident from the surge in participation from students aged between 12 and 18 years.

This group forms a substantial part of the market, reflecting the value placed on early language acquisition. However, the market is not monolithic, and there is a noteworthy pattern of adult learners who seek professional language skills to enhance their career prospects and personal growth. Focusing on the geographical spread within the UK, there's a clear concentration of language learners favoring the South of England, with London alone attracting nearly 50% of all language travel visitors. Seasonality also plays a role, with the summer months witnessing a peak due to aligning with school holidays, indicating a high volume of student travelers during this period. The offerings in the market vary, with both short-term stays of between 4 and 14 nights and more intensive courses lasting up to a year available to students. With the average spending and stay duration of language travelers eclipsing that of average tourists, it's evident that language travel significantly contributes to the UK's economy.

This market is not merely about language learning but is an intersection of education, travel, and cultural exchange, driving an economic boom in the regions where these language schools are located. In terms of market segmentation, while the precise financial figures for specific companies are not disclosed in the text, the presence of major players like EF International with revenues reaching the billions indicates a highly competitive field with considerable market consolidation. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, posed serious challenges, leading to a stark reduction in the number of students and a substantial decline in market value in 2020. Nevertheless, the optimism for a market rebound is notable, with industry stakeholders anticipating a significant recovery by 2023. Despite these impressive numbers, it's noteworthy that not all statistics sail.

Prominent Market Leaders in the Language Travel Industry The global language travel market features a range of specialized agencies, organizations, and educational institutions that facilitate the immersion of individuals into foreign languages through travel. Several key players dominate this industry through their comprehensive services and programs designed to cater to a diverse clientele comprising children, teenagers, and adults.

  • EF Education First stands as one of the most prominent companies in the language travel sector, possessing an extensive network of schools and providing an array of language learning opportunities worldwide. Their programs are designed for various age groups and proficiency levels, reinforcing their reputation as a trusted provider of educational travel experiences.
  • Language International is another significant entity within the market, operating as a booking platform that connects language learners with a diverse selection of courses and schools globally. The company is committed to making language studies abroad accessible and convenient, offering tailored advice and support to their clients.
  • GoAbroad is recognized for its comprehensive online directory of study abroad programs, including language courses. This organization offers more than just language travel; it serves as a resource for a variety of international programs, reflecting its goal of promoting cross-cultural understanding and global engagement.
  • Local universities, such as Sussex, Ashford, and Oxford, play an integral role in shaping the language travel market by offering summer camps and courses to improve English proficiency. Their esteemed academic backgrounds and the quality of education impart a level of prestige on their language programs, appealing to students who seek a combination of academic excellence and cultural immersion.
  • A unique segment of the market is catered to by companies like Homestay English and Lingoo, which connect language travelers with host families. These organizations endorse cultural immersion as a path to language fluency, allowing travelers to live and converse in the language they aim to master.
  • Kaplan International English, another leading language education provider, has adapted to the evolving demands of the market by offering professional courses and work experience options. This approach reflects the industry's shift toward a more diversified and professionalized offering that considers the varied motivations and objectives of language learners. In conclusion, these major players in the language travel market contribute significantly to the industry through their specialized services, customer-centric programs, and innovative approaches to language learning through travel. Their presence exemplifies the vitality of the market and its importance in facilitating global communication and cultural exchange.
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Summary and extracts

1 Market summary

1.1 Presentation and definition of the language travel market

Language study stays occur for varying lengths in a foreign country. The goal is to learn or improve the language of the country in question. Linguistic stays are carried out by:

  • Children (under 12),
  • Teenagers (12-18 years)
  • Adults

The global market for language travel has seen an impressive growth in recent years both in value and volume, due to the increasing attention towards the necessity of foreign languages in an increasingly globalized world. Demand is strongly driven by students from Asia studying English in Europe or the US.

Among the main players on the market are agencies specializing in language holidays, associations, and specialized organizations that own their own language schools. Key names include EF Education First, Language International, and GoAbroad. The UK market’s benefiting from the fact that English is taught all over the world; it still, together with the US, dominates the number of recipients.

In recent years, the offers and formulas proposed have evolved. The offer has been extended to a larger number of countries, even if knowledge of english remains the primary motivation for this type of stay.

While this study is mainly focused on the students that come to the UK to study English at the various language centres, it also includes a little bit about British students travelling abroad to learn foreign languages.

1.2 A healthy global market largely dominated by the UK and the US

Despite the lack of research and information on the language study abroad segment, which is part of the broader international education industry, there is some evidence that the global market for language study abroad is doing quite well. According to the IALC Study Travel Research Report (***), which, among other things, collects ...

1.3 The UK language travel market has been in better shape since 2017

Established in ****, the British Educational Travel Association (***) is the institution that governs all educational travel activities in the UK. In ****, the inbound youth, student and educational travel sector was worth £** billion to the British economy [***].

Within the educational travel sector, the language travel industry accounted for £*.* billion, or *% of the total ...

1.4 The importance of learning English

The fluency in English in particular is considered a crucial professional asset, since it is the language of choice in many fields (***) and an increasing number of jobs require proficiency in this language. The companies are internationalizing, and speaking English allows you to take advantage of more professional opportunities. In addition, ...

1.5 The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic

The covid-** pandemic and the resulting lockdowns and restrictions imposed by the British government brought terrible consequences for language travel industry. Starting with the market size, this decreased by approximately £*** million compared to the previous year (***).

In terms of number of students, this also fell between **** and ****. A study by Bonard, ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Europeans learn many languages, with English being the main language

English is by far the most popular foreign language in Europe, with **% of students in secondary education learning it. Spanish, French and German are the next most popular languages among European students. The evolution has also been promising, with the percentage of secondary school students learning English increasing by * percentage points ...

2.2 English, a useful language for the majority of Europeans

As seen in the part *.* of this study, English is a very popular language among European countries. This is supported by the fact that * out of the top ** nationalities of the visitors to the UK are European, with only Japan and China as the outliers.

Main nationalities for the English language ...

2.3 Chinese students are highly represented in Great Britain

In regards to the profile of those who travel to the UK for English language courses, we see that there is a slight difference in the gender distribution of those undertaking these courses. **% of visitors are female while **% are male [***].

Gender distribution of visitors who take an English language course UK, ...

2.4 Strong demand during holiday periods

There is a clear seasonality in the number of visitors travelling to the UK to undertake English language courses. While overall visits to the UK tend to be somewhat evenly spread out along the year, visits for English language courses mostly happen in the Summer period and are quite low at ...

2.5 The falling popularity of foreign languages in the UK

Given how this study also focuses on the behaviour of the British towards learning foreign languages, it is interesting to note how the British have been giving less and less importance to foreign languages.

First of all, only **% of the British population speaks at least one foreign language, and only *% speak ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Who are the organisers of language stays?

There are three main types of players participating on the market language stays in Great Britain.

The local universities which offer the possibility of summer camps to improve your English: Sussex, Ashford, Oxford, etc. The host families and sites for connecting with families to be able to enjoy full cultural immersion ...

3.2 Online learning platforms are gaining traction

According to the Ambient Insight, the digital language learning should experience an exponential growth worldwide until ****, supported by the learning of English. Indeed, between **** and ****, forecasts predict a doubling of the size of the digital language learning market in the English language segment, from €*.* billion in **** to €*.* billion in ****.

A player ...

3.3 Geographical distribution

The South of England - and predominantly London - is where the largest concentration of English language course visitors is. In fact, the * southern-most regions (***), concentrate **% of total visitors who undertake an English language course. This can be seen in the table and map below.

Source: ****

Geographical distribution of visitors undertaking ...

4 Analysis of the offer

4.1 A wide range of products on the language travel market

Stays generally take place during school holidays and often last from * to ** nights. However, the duration can be longer depending on the type of stay and can even be one year.

Duration of stay of visitors undertaking English Language courses UK, ****, in % Source: ****

In general, there are between ** and ** hours of ...

4.2 Prices vary according to the type of stay chosen

The price of language stays depends on several factors:

The type of organization chosen, The duration of the stay, The choice of location (***), The course and cultural immersion formula chosen

Some of them formulas include accommodation, courses, activities and travel, while some include only courses or cultural immersion, for example.

For ...

4.3 Towards a more professionalized offer of language stays

According to the Let's study abroad, the demand is no longer limited simply to young teenagers wishing to improve their English and the offer is adapting by offering more professional courses.

For example, Kaplan English International, one of the leading companies in the sector, has launched two new offers for this ...

5 Rules and regulations

5.1 Regulations

The regulations that govern the activity of language travel in the UK is mentioned in the following document.

6 Positioning of the actors

6.1 Segmentation

  • Nacel
  • EF International
  • Kaplan International English
  • Boa Lingua
  • Linguland
  • WEP
  • Homestay English
  • Lingoo
  • Ashford University
  • Oxford Summer Courses
  • UKLC
  • English Country Schools

List of charts presented in this market study

  • Evolution d'étudiants étrangers venus apprendre l'anglais à Malte
  • Sondage : "Quelle langue avez-vous apprise en séjour linguistique?"
  • Sondage : "Pour quelles raisons avez-vous pris des cours de langue ?"
  • Taille du marché britannique des séjours lingustiques
  • Nombre d'emplois générés par le secteur des séjours linguistiques (directs et indirects)
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Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

EF International
Kaplan International English
Boa Lingua
Homestay English
Ashford University
Oxford Summer Courses

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