In the words of... Gonzalo Peralta

Dans les mots deGonzalo Peralta is the executive Director of Languages Canada and has recently been appointed Chair of the Global Alliance of Education and Language Associations.


Following the fifth annual Languages Canada Conference in Vancouver, how is the association doing?

It’s excellent. In two years, the number of Languages Canada programs has increased from 149 to 170. The organization now has 110 private programs and 60 public programs. Languages Canada has also doubled its staff. We now have five employees spread over our Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal offices. But what makes us particularly proud is the huge increase in the number of international students. In 2010, more than 130,000 students arrived to learn English and/or French in Canada. This is a 30% increase since Languages Canada was founded. These students have generated over $500M in tuition fees, not to mention close to $2B in overall export revenues.


Who are these students, Mr. Peralta?

There are a lot of South Koreans (20,466), Saudis (16,340), Japanese (15,930) and Brazilians (14,000). Brazilians could represent a substantial clientele for French programs, along with Mexicans and Americans. Regardless of the language course taken, most of these students take part in programs lasting an average of 12 weeks. Many of them then pursue their studies in Canada.


How does recruitment work?

We have to take advantage of the fact that Canada has a positive image abroad. Every year, our organization conducts several international missions and representations. Last year, Languages Canada went to Brazil, the Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, Italy, Great Britain and, of course, the United States. We have a simple but solid strategy. We always start with an initial canvassing visit to identify the needs of the institutions and government departments. The second visit, which takes the form of a mission with 20 or so institutions, allows us to build relationships between Canada’s programs and our future clientele. Once the relationship is well-established, Languages Canada pursues its visits to consolidate its leadership position. For example, in Brazil, where two thirds of the second-language student market opts for Canada, our subsequent visits help introduce our businesses’ language products and services.


What are your next challenges?

Selling these language education products and services so that they are used outside the country. We also want to tap into the Asian market. There are more than 300 million Chinese who want to learn English, and Languages Canada needs to capitalize on this market. Yet, the visa requirements imposed on Chinese students and others is a hindrance in this regard. Whether in terms of the Chinese market or other markets, Languages Canada's growth depends on government immigration policies—policies that are also key to national growth.

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