Innovative English immersion – Language Magazine
The English language program market in the United States has been strained in recent years by declining enrollments – and now the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly taken its toll on the industry. The programs are experiencing the most dramatic declines in enrollment in English programs in their history. In a recent survey of members, over 75% reported registrations for sessions of 50 students or less.
However, many of these declines began several years before the pandemic due to the strength of the US dollar, competition from other markets in English-speaking countries, fewer entry-level English studies, and falling prices. scholarship opportunities for students who understood academic English. language study.
From an association perspective, there have been over 50 member program closures reported by EnglishUSA, since the start of the pandemic, late summer 2020 and December 2020. Program closures have included all types. programs (those governed by higher education institutions and private language schools). Some of the chain’s vendors have consolidated their operations, suspending operations in some physical locations while grouping teachers from different schools together to teach students online.
However, English lessons have always been offered throughout the pandemic, with the majority of programs rapidly evolving to teach language skills and content at a distance. This industry has always been resilient, and EnglishUSA member programs have innovated and offered more flexible options early on in response to the pandemic. Now, the best practices and innovations that emerged during the pandemic are being incorporated into programs to serve students in person (full-time or hybrid). The programs look forward to new registrations in the summer and fall of 2021, based on an increased number of applications and numerous classroom and local COVID-19 protocols in place.
Given the size of the United States and the flexibility and authority given to individual states regarding COVID-19 guidelines, the options of in-person study (whether in-person studies on time solid or hybrid) vary from state to state, city to city, and program to program. program. Prospective students and parents ask if language programs are open and ready to enroll students while wondering if the borders are open to international students. While the borders are open to students from most countries, not all embassies have resumed their regular activities. The best option for students and parents is to check out each Embassy website, all of which are regularly updated by the US Department of State (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en / us-visas / visa-information -resources / wait-times.html), on the waiting time for appointments for student visas. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also recently issued a request for public input regarding potential barriers to visa applications for international students (among other basic operations). The United States has announced an “act” campaign to encourage its members to submit suggestions to advocate for the opening of embassies.
The initial and ongoing management of the pandemic by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has been helpful. On April 26, 2021, SEVP announced that it would extend and continue to adhere to the guidelines originally published in March 2020 for the 2021-2022 academic year and will not make any changes to the March 2020 guidelines. see issuing visas to study in the United States even if their degree program is a hybrid program with only in-person learning required.
The United States’ highest priorities for its members are to provide support for recruitment and management of enrollments by continuing to promote opportunities for members to share best practices and for strategic partners and associates to share their expertise on changing market and student needs. The association also continues to support advocacy with SEVP and other government agencies to encourage state and national leaders to adopt policies that encourage and support international students and visitors. The Biden-Harris administration has been very supportive of the international education industry during its election campaign, and we plan to continue the positive rhetoric regarding international education, which will help change current negative perceptions. The new administration can and should work with schools and leaders in the field (for example, EnglishUSA) to address these issues in a way that does not undermine international education or the ability of the United States to attract students. best and brightest to study in the US – a new “you are welcome here” campaign. There is always a huge appetite for further education in the United States, and there will be pent-up demand in our market, so we need the administration to support and help embassies and consulates work effectively to process the visa applications and remove obstacles in international relations. student paths towards the English language, professional, personal and academic studies.
Changes to language programs due to COVID (virtual student recruitment, online and hybrid education, changing assessment practices, offering varied programs, etc.) will likely remain in the field beyond the period. of the pandemic. Global competition is likely to continue to increase, with variables such as ease of obtaining a visa, work opportunities and program costs critical to attracting students, as well as the industry’s strong overall reputation. that accreditation and association membership help promote. Greater English preparation online is built into the course models, i.e. starting the online program in the country and then coming to the US for in-person preparation. In addition, student guidance will increasingly travel online and will be given before departure.
The resilience of English teaching in the United States has not waited and does not wait for circumstances or policies to return to what they were. We don’t “bounce back”; we bounce forward. We know that no aspect of education will ever be the same again. The challenges we have faced will lead to continued creativity and diversification in the field in a way yet to be designed, and as an association we look forward to playing a role in supporting our members and the community. industry as a whole.
Cheryl Delk-The Good is Executive Director of EnglishUSA and has held leadership positions for several international education associations during her 30-year career. Cheryl was the Director and Professor of the Intensive English Program at Georgia State University and taught at Western Michigan University and Michigan State University.
EnglishUSA is the largest and most diverse professional association of more than 250 intensive and passing English programs and associates (service providers such as agents, testing companies, editors, etc.) across the United States. EnglishUSA includes member programs governed by universities, colleges, and community colleges as well as private language schools in small, medium, and large cities across the United States. Of these members, we have over 1,000 people who engage with EnglishUSA’s resources, events and online community. The United States promotes the well-being and success of its members and supports the industry as a whole by providing quality programs and services to students while continuing advocacy efforts at the national level.
All EnglishUSA member programs are accredited either by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Education and Training or the Commission on English Language Program Administration, and / or they fall under the regional accreditation of their governing institution. Accreditation bodies require adherence to standards in various fields, with the well-being of the student being the primary goal.