Boost for Spain in language market

December 14, 2001

Spain's universities and private language schools, which are already reaping the benefits of soaring global demand for Spanish-language tuition, want to increase their share of the market.

Spanish is spoken by 400 million people around the world and is the second international language of business as its importance in the United States grows.

It is estimated that Spanish will be the first language of 51 million Americans by 2010. Spain hopes to position itself as the prime location for learning the language.

In 2000, 150,000 people came to Spain to learn Spanish. They spent €186 million (£116 million) on fees and accommodation costs and €72 million on other services and items.

The number of people sitting Spanish-language examinations in Spain is rising by 15 per cent a year, according to the Instituto Cervantes, Spain's equivalent of the British Council.

"There is a massive increase in demand," said Jan Kingsley, director of the language school at Esade, the Barcelona business school.

This year, university language schools founded the Association of Foreign Languages Centres in Spain to set and enforce quality benchmarks. The association will also undertake other activities including joint initiatives for marketing Spanish courses overseas using the concept of Spanish Plus, courses aimed at equipping foreign students with the language skills and cultural background needed to go on to study at Spanish universities.

"We are talking about people who might want to go to a flamenco school or to do an MBA at Esade," said Bob Burger, marketing director at the Malaca Institute, a private language school in M laga.

Mr Burger said the government had started to take the language industry seriously, funding 20 promotion activities a year through its overseas trade board.

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