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January 2017

Spain sees fall in language learning

Gobierno de Castilla La Mancha English language teachers

Adult enrolment in language schools in Spain has gradually dropped as the employment situation has improved in the country. Most of the evidence for this comes from the EOIs – Escuelas Oficiales de Idiomas – state language schools in Spain. ‘We are like a social thermometer on matters such as unemployment,’ said the director of the state language school in Vigo, in Galicia, in the north of Spain.

‘I think that the reduction in demand may be caused by the decrease in the number of unemployed.

Many people enrolled in English language classes to improve their CVs, but making work and study compatible is difficult,’ stated the director.

The schools in this area of the country have lost 20 per cent of their students in the last two years.  ‘Years ago, with the crisis, there was a boom and everyone started learning Chinese, German, English. But now people have been finding work and leave languages a little,’ the local government Education Department explained to La Voz de Galicia newspaper. The schools in areas such as La Rioja, Asturias, Andalusia, Extremadura or Comunidad Valenciana stated that the number of adult learning is also dropping. One of the schools in Valencia said that it has had a reduction of 58 per cent in the last three years, La Información newspaper reported.

State language schools are language schools with qualified teachers which are very cheap because they are subsidised by regional governments in the country. The price of a year-long course ranges between 150 and 300 euros a year, and during the financial crisis a lot of unemployed people started to study foreign languages, especially English. This massive enrolment in the EOIs left some school such as the one in Palma de Mallorca with a waiting list of 5,000 people in 2011.

As the EOIs filled up, private schools began to enrol the overflow, and there are signs of a similar decline in this sector too. According to ACEIA – the Association of Language Schools of Andalusia – the market is still growing for courses leading to a certificate, despite the slowdown in the private sector.

The market for courses ending with a B1-level test grew by 1,700 per cent in 2013. By 2014 this growth has slowed to 54 per cent. Courses leading a B2 test grew by 988 per cent in 2013 but by 2015 this had dropped to only 20 per cent, reported ACEIA. Despite the gradual drop, English is still the most popular language chosen by students in both the private and state language schools nationally.

Pic courtesy: Gobierno de Castilla – Government of Castille Autonomous Region 

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