Am I the only one who is worried about the decline of the English Language teaching industry here in the UK? Due to some excellent recent studies for organisations such as English UK and British Council, it is clear that more and more international students who want to learn English are giving up on the UK and increasingly going to other countries, such as America, Canada and Australia.
The UK Government’s own 2012 report forecast a tripling in size of the English Language Teaching sector over five years from 2012 – 2017. OK, so that was before Brexit but the demand for English Language teaching is still growing. According to the British Council, 2 Billion people will be speaking or learning English by 2020. And yet despite the increasing demand, while the UK is still a big provider the numbers coming to the UK declined by 11% from 2015 to 2016, resulting in the closure of a number of schools.
This is a problem that affects all of us that are involved in this sector. While we can all call on the Government to do more, we can also wait a long time to see any real action from that area.
So what can we do? Well, there are plenty of hugely successful national corporations and businesses where the strategy for growth came from the bottom up! As an industry, as language schools, as teachers we need to work together to constantly market and promote to international students, teachers and agents around the world, the fantastic range and variety of English Language teaching establishments available around the whole of the UK. We need to become the first country of choice.
Of course marketing and promotion can cost a lot of money so we need to work together, to work smart, make maximum use of technology, the internet and social media to generate an international following and interest in us collectively, in our language, in our culture, our schools and everyday language issues. We need to become the first place that students, teachers and agents come to find the best location and school for them. We need to work together to promote and sell our country and English Language teaching establishments collectively. Then, when the students have chosen our country to develop their English language skills, they can choose the school of their choice.