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ELT crisis hits headlines worldwide

New Zealand is the latest country where language schools’ pleas for government bailouts have featured in the national press. The ELT sector was the industry most at risk from travel restrictions, English New Zealand chair Wayne Dwyer told News Hub website on 30 March. This is because – unlike universities and high schools – it relied solely on foreign students for income.

Similar calls for help have hit the headlines in Canada, where language schools’ association Languages Canada asked for financial aid on 25 March. Similar pleas also came from Malta’s language schools’ association Feltom on 20 March and from Australia, as reported above.

Language students across the world have struggled to return home as flights have been cancelled. In the resort of Cebu, in the Philippines, more than 1,000 students were schools, according to the website of Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK.

Other students are struggling to stay on. In Ireland, the government has already come to the assistance of international language students by automatically extending their visas and allowing those who lose their jobs because of the virus to claim the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Premium.

One Irish language school, the English Studio, has had to stop trading. Its sister school in London has also closed down. BLC in Bristol, England has also gone into liquidation.

In the UK, the national press has largely ignored the impact on language schools. However, industry observers say that if language schools cannot trade during the peak summer season the current trickle of closures could turn into a flood.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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