The 2011/10/12 at 16:00
The future is looking bright for the staff at EF Education First. A move to larger premises on Avenue de Provence in Paris is in the works. The aim is to group together this language school’s sales activities and its classrooms where foreign students have their French lessons. EF Education First, a Swedish company set up in 1965 and present at 200 sites worldwide, already employs 33,000 employees. “Today, the potential for development in France is significant,” says Malika Settati, Language Sales and Marketing Manager. “According to the EF Proficiency Index study that we carried out amongst two million pupils throughout the world, the French are amongst the worst pupils in English language learning.
According to the ELAN 2 survey, 11 % of French companies have recently lost a contract in Europe because their managers lacked language skills.” A sad verdict that nevertheless works in favour of this company that promises progress by one level according to the European framework of reference for languages for all its pupils. “We handle the whole language learning procedure and we ourselves organise stays in EF schools with EF teachers and an EF methodology,” continues the Sales and Marketing Manager. “Above all, we follow the evolution of our pupils thanks to entrance and end-of-programme tests.” One of the pillars of the school’s offer is its high-quality immersion programme aimed at businesses, coordinated by Cyril Florio, BtoB Sales Manager. “We have developed two universities entirely dedicated to professionals with a specific training plan in Cambridge and Boston.
Adult students can work on their general English, their Anglo-Saxon culture, then focus on specific themes. Today, when you talk with company heads, either from SMEs or large groups, they explain to you this need to invest in language needs, as they are obliged to look towards other markets outside of exclusively French ones.” To obtain framework agreements on hundreds of weeks of lessons, Cyril Florio may approach the French Army just as he may have dealings with Schneider Electric or France Télécom. An additional adult language trip costs between 1,600 and 3,500 euros per week for lessons overseas, excluding the price of the air ticket. The other strength of the school is its programme for young profession-als, BtoC, specifically for over-25s.
Two schools in Manchester and Chicago welcome these young people, usually in the context of traditional lessons. This less expensive option comes to 395 euros for half board, excluding the price of the air ticket. But what is surprising is its long-distance training offer. “EF On-line School harbours the ambition to create an immersion course... online,” sums up Cyril Florio. How? By allowing students to attend genuine classes in which they can take part via a microphone, but above all to join classes at any time of the day or night. A 6-month fee for this option costs between 420 and 690 euros.The managers at EF Education First will nevertheless not deny the importance of gaining familiarity with Anglo-Saxon culture thanks to an overseas stay, in an immersion context.
“We always offer our pupils the possibility of home stays. But we can’t get away from the fact that they often prefer staying in hotels, especially the adults,” remarks Cyril Florio. “Within our universities, our teachers thus offer cultural programmes with exhibitions or nights at the pub for example.” To get acquainted with local folklore, an oenological activity is offered to those staying in California. Culture, yes – but not at the cost of comfort. Mixing with pupils from other countries (100 nationalities may cross paths thanks to the organism’s various bases), French students enrolled with EF Education First are thus given the opportunity to escape from ghettos formed by pup-ils from a single country. “A real obstacle to learning,” insists Cyril Florio. EF Education First’s catalogue also includes destinations as diverse as all European countries and China for learning Mandarin. The Chinese offer may be less successful for now, but remains crucial. Malika Settati points out that “at least 95 % of pupils wish to learn English”. In a country where businesses are going international, this is the language that remains the priority.