Language School Marketing Trends: The Growing Demand for ‘Language +’ Programs
Date posted: September 20, 2017
Countless individuals across the globe are interested in learning a new language. Whether it’s for their personal benefit, educational reasons, business purposes, or simply for entertainment, it’s clear that the demand for language education is on the up.
One area of the sector which has become increasingly popular recently is ‘language +’ programs, which can be broadly defined as courses that offer students language training with some sort of added benefit, activity, or service. These unique programs can appeal to a wide range of different audiences, including families, world travellers, and even business executives.
In order to attract students, language schools must be able to recognize the unique selling points and benefits of the language + programs they offer, who the ideal market is, and the best way to reach out and connect with them.
If you have programs like this at your school, keep reading for some valuable advice about how to effectively recruit students.
Why Language + Programs are Becoming Popular
Many students who travel to another country or an unfamiliar city to take a language course will want to benefit from more than just formal language education, which is why language + programs are becoming a popular option. Language + programs offer added value to students, allowing them the opportunity to receive the language education they want while also having an additional enriching experience.
According to the International Association of Language Centres study Trends in the Demand for Foreign Languages, language + activity programs are one of the most popular study options across many languages, as well as professional and executive courses, which involve general language training, but are focused on the student’s area of expertise like medicine or business. These can also be considered to be language + programs, since they offer an added benefit that goes beyond simple language training.
Conveying the Benefits of Language + Activity Programs Using Language School Marketing
As the graph above shows, language + activity programs are a popular option, especially among students interested in learning English, German, Italian, and Spanish. Language + activity programs will typically pair language courses with some sort of immersive experience, which can range from culinary excursions and photography classes, to visiting local attractions, and more.
Often, language schools will choose activities that their location is known for. A language school in Ottawa, Canada, for example, may offer a language + activity program that involves traditional Canadian experiences such as maple syrup tasting, skiing, or visiting nearby tourist attractions, such as the Canadian Parliament Buildings. Finding what makes your location unique can give you some interesting ideas for your offerings.
Example: The Koine Center in Lucca, Tuscany, offers the appealing combination of language education paired with Italian cooking lessons and wine tastings.
To effectively market language + activity programs, you should make a list of the unique perks students gain from selecting your particular program as opposed to a traditional generic language course. These will form the key messages you need to communicate through your online initiatives. You can then weave these messages into your blog posts, social media, and email campaigns.
While the key messages of your language school marketing efforts will depend on what the activity is, it’s a good idea to tie it back to how it will reinforce their language learning. For instance, you could discuss something along the lines of how cooking classes will provide an opportunity to use the language outside of the classroom, or how visiting a particular attraction will deepen their understanding of the culture of the country they are studying in. If you can’t find a connection between the activity and language, simply pointing out the value and convenience of having activities planned on their behalf could be enough to win over prospective students.
Example: ILSC Language Schools promotes its Language and Ranchstay program in British Columbia. The program provides students with the opportunity to take intensive English classes and then work on a ranch with horses and other farm animals while practicing their skills. Using a bulleted list, ILSC highlights the main benefits of choosing this particular language + activity program.
Using Language School Marketing to Promote Family Packages
Another growing trend in the language school sector is family packages. An increasing amount of parents are looking for schools that can entertain their children throughout the day with language learning and activities or excursions, while the parents themselves also take language courses and participate in age-appropriate activities.
If you choose to go this route, there are several key messages you’ll want to communicate in order to appeal to parents. First and foremost, parents are concerned about safety. They’ll only be able to relax and have a good time if they know their child is in good hands. As a result, highlighting how your school works to ensure child safety and providing testimonials from parents of past students could be a great way to establish trust. You also might want to point out how this is a convenient way to plan a vacation that is both educational, stimulating, and fun.
Even if your school does not have a program existing that combines education for both adults and children, you could make it part of your offerings by simply making the connection on your website. You could do this by creating a webpage devoted to how you can work with parents to find a suitable children’s language program, as well as a program that suits their own interests. This could even work with your existing programs; you would just do the legwork for the parents by making the connection for them.
Example: IH Vancouver notes on its Children’s Adventure Program page that parents can study nearby during the same hours their child attends a language program. The webpage also mentions fun weekend excursions that are available to the whole family, which is a great example of how to answer the needs of the target persona and how to promote a language school language + program effectively.
The Increasing Need for Language Programs for Professionals
Another popular option that falls under the category of language + programs is language courses that include a professional element. While this is an expansive category, common language + industry programs include language + business, language + marketing, or even language + medicine.
With the growing prevalence of globalization, and as English becomes the universal language of many fields such as business, medicine, and education, these types of programs are becoming increasingly popular amongst professionals.
Language + industry programs allow individuals working in a certain profession to not only learn English—or any other language for that matter—but also learn the terminology and vocabulary that’s commonly used in their industry.
Example: ITEC Dubai offers a Business English Course which includes training in areas like meetings, negotiations, and presentation skills. Since they are based in one the world’s growing business centres, running a course like this is a great way for the school to attract students.
While the benefits of these programs are fairly self-explanatory, it’s a good idea to outline how the program will help bolster a prospective student’s career. Living in a native-speaking environment, learning terminology relevant to their area of specialty, and connecting with others working in their industry are just some ideas of great unique selling points to include on your program’s webpage.
It’s also important to point out how a language + industry program could have a positive impact on the potential student’s career prospects. Taking a language program relevant to their area of expertise, as opposed to a general English course, is likely to be a beneficial differentiating factor when they are looking for employment or a promotion upon returning home. A certificate or credential of this type will bolster their CV and allow them to stand out from other professionals in their industry.
Marketing Language Programs that Cater to Specific Age Groups
Another growing trend is language programs that are organized by age group, such as courses specifically for people aged 40+, 50+, 60+, and so on. These programs are generally popular amongst the baby boomer demographic, as they tend to prefer a program that introduces them to individuals who have similar values and interests, and who want to learn at the same pace.
Generally, language programs that are categorized by age group are similar to language + activity programs, allowing students to take language courses while also participating in fun, age-appropriate activities with their fellow students.
When marketing language programs that are categorized by age group, make sure to consider the specific interests, concerns, and needs of that group. For example, if it’s an older age group, perhaps 65+, you should be aware that some individuals may have health concerns or mobility issues that make walking or standing for long periods of time more difficult. Communicating how the program will accommodate those needs is important.
As a general rule of thumb, you should also make sure to highlight the opportunity for meaningful social interaction with like-minded people, the chance to meet interesting individuals from across the globe, and any other unique benefits your program offers.
Example: IH Madrid promotes its Spanish language and Culture for 50s+ course. The program includes fun activities, like cooking classes and visits to museums and art galleries, which would be of interest to this age group.
It’s an exciting time for the language school sector. As more and more people across the globe realize the profound benefits of being multilingual and crave a more involved and enriching travel experience, it’s only reasonable to expect that the popularity of language + programs will continue to grow.
In order to stay competitive, schools must be able to identify the unique benefits of their language + programs and find an effective way to communicate them to prospective students. They must move beyond just marketing the educational benefits of their courses, and learn to also market the activities they offer and the destination they are located in.
Marketing for language schools now involves promoting the entire program as an experiential package with a diverse set of perks. If you can do this, you’ll be able to convey the unique value of your school’s language + programs and recruit more students.