Market Analysis
After a couple of troubled years, France's language sector appears to be recovering with renewed vigour in 2017, with new markets and business streams emerging, as Matthew Knott discovers.

While the terrorist attacks that France experienced in 2015 and 2016 had a negative effect on student confidence, things are picking up according to schools. "2016 was a lot better than the year before and 2017 is looking really great! We are almost back to 2014 in terms of sales," says Isabelle Demuth from Accent Français in Montpellier.



Saint-Denis International School in Loches works on academic year system, and Philippe Minereau at the school, reports a 10 per cent increase for 2016-17.


David Sampere, Sales and Marketing Director at France Langue, which has four locations in France and one in Martinique, says "2017 is looking really great" after a challenging year in 2016. The Far East was the region most affected by the terror attacks and is still timid, he notes. Meanwhile, Anna Diaz, Director of IS Aix-en-Provence, says that 2017 has picked up, but adds, "What is difficult now is the unpredictability with so many last-minute bookings and even school groups requesting stays only a few months before."




Eleri Maitland, Spokesperson for Groupement Fle and Owner of French in Normandy, says, "After a poor showing in 2015/2016, we feel that students and agencies alike realise that studying in France offers some tremendous opportunities and the French language is irreplaceable on the international scene. It is one of the official languages for so many international bodies."


Outlining growth areas, Eleri adds, "The South American market is showing renewed vigour especially for pathway programmes, while the demand for work experience coming from the Swiss market seems to be growing." David adds, "The most clear trend is that Latin America, Brazil especially, is 'coming back to the game' and some new agencies in Korea are taking over the traditional market."



In terms of course requests, Isabelle says, "We always have more teenagers and people joining for professional purposes, so people invest in their future and career more than in language learning only." At Saint-Denis International, Philippe notes that integration into the normal curriculum is a niche, but growing market. "Students can mix with the French kids in different lessons other than languages and stay in our boarding facilities. That's an excellent way to progress in languages and friendship."


"Clients and agents want more tailor-made solutions," says Anna, adding, "We have noted a surge in demand for the exam TCF ANF to request the French nationality, especially in British citizens doing this test in order to become French nationals, due to Brexit."



Schools report innovation in course offerings to meet market demand and in marketing to agents. David explains that France Langue has launched regional promotions in Latin America and Asia and is adapting communications to regional holiday dates. Philippe advises that Saint-Denis International's rebrand was well received by agent partners, and adds that the school has become the first secondary school in France to receive the Label Qualité FLE language accreditation. "We really think it will bring the confidence among parents and agents when looking for an appropriate course for their kids." Meanwhile, IS Aix-en-Provence has opened teacher training programmes and Accent Français has focused on professional and examination courses.


Eleri adds, "Groupement Fle is launching a new partner agency scheme and we hope that our member schools' agencies will welcome this initiative to make French as a foreign language more visible."


Overall, schools were optmistic for the future, and Eleri added, "We are hopeful that the election of Emmanuel Macron could boost the attractiveness of France as a major destination for studies and business."




Eleri Maitland, Spokesperson for Groupement Fle


"2017 seems to be a great year for French with renewed confidence and a buoyant market with increased student intake reported across the board. According to our quarterly reporting, the vast majority of Groupement Fle schools have seen an increase in student numbers and a marked increase in general enquiries about learning French and further study in France."





Thanks to the following schools who participated in our survey: Accent Français,; Actilangue,; Alliance Française de Lyon,; Alliance Française de Nice,; Alliance Française Paris Ile-de-France,; Alpine French School,; Cavilam - Alliance Française,; Centre International d'Antibes,; ELFE,; France Langue,; Idiom,; IFALPES,; Inflexyon,; Inlingua La Rochelle,; Institut Linguistique Adenet,; International House Nice,; International School of Paris,; IS Aix-en-Provence,; Langue Appart',; Language in Provence,; Lines Languages Ltd,; LSF,; Riviera French Institute,; Saint-Denis International School,


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