New international student enrollments in the US on the decline

Sadly, it is of no surprise to anyone teaching in a IEP anywhere in the US, but international student numbers have been declining over the past year. Some blame is pointed at Trump, some at the currently difficulty obtaining visas and then there are a few other factors involved too.

For an incredibly detailed article on what is hapenning with international students in the US right now, read this article in Inside Higher Ed.

Melania takes issue with an English language school

There is more than one Trump who takes themselves too seriously.

A private language school in Croatia recently ran ads on five billboards. The billboards featured a large photo of melania Trump standing in front of an American flag with the caption “Just imagine how far you can go with a little bit of English.” The first lady took this as a slight and the school was threatened to take the billboards down or face legal action. The school seemed quite surprised and said their intention had been to present her as a role model.

Read account in the EL Gazette.

From seaturtle to seaweed

Chinese students who study abroad used to get the nickname “seaturtle” once they returned home. These days, their new nickname is “seaweed”.

According to an article in the EL Gazette, there are increasing doubs among the Chinese of the value of studying abroad. Chinese students who have studied abroad are finding that their job prospects are not improved once they return home.

Read more in the EL Gazette.

International recruiters capable of overcharging and fraud

It may not come as a surprise, but with the millions of dollars spent by colleges, universities and private schools to recruit international students, unethical and unlawful student recruitment agents have experienced a bit of a windfall. Agents are largely unregulated and easilt manage to overcharge and defraud the students on whose behalf they are meant to be working.

Read more in the Vancouver Sun.

International Students and Mental Health

The CBC recently reported that many international students in Canada avoid seeking mental health support because of fears that it will lead to their being deported.

As many international students studying in Canada hope to immigrate to Canada after their studies, there is a common fear that seekign help for depression and other mental health issues will leave a black mark on their files that will lead to their immigration applications being rejected when the time comes.

Read more on CBC.

Some English instructors feel pressure to pass international students

Two English instructors at Langara College in Vancouver have gone public with their concern that they are being pressured to pass international students who deserve to fail their classes. While the College provost denies there is any such pressure, the instructors are just two lending their voice to the growing number of post-secondary educators pointing to the problems created by the exploding number of international students at Canadian colleges and universitites.

As well as institutional pressure, there is also the pressure from students who sometimes try to move their instructors to improve their grades through tears or begging… or complaining to the department head. Instructors are also concerned about the effect of failing students on “rate your preofessor websites” and their ability to fill classes going forward.

These instructors have also voiced the concern that the quality of education for domestic students is going down because of the international students’ common inability to properly participate in the class because of linguistic deficiency.

Read the article in the Vancouver Sun.

Ontario universities increasingly dependent on international student tuition

A recent story by the CBC reveals how heavily schools in Ontario are now relying on international students for the funding they need to operate. From 2010 to 2016, the number of international students studying in Ontario increased by 88.5% while the number of domestic students only increased by 7% in the same period. Total revenue from international students’ tuition more than doubled, going from $620 million to $1.28 billion. At the same time, there has been reduced government funding to universities.

Fun fact: international students provide more than half of the University of Toronto’s $1.3 billion in tuition revenue.

Read the report.

When the communicative approach doesn’t fly

Apparently there was a bit of a stir at this year’s IATEFL conference when Jocelyn Wang, the head of teacher development at China’s largest private English language teaching organization, “defeated” Jim Scrivener’s defense of the Communicative Approach.

Ms Wang’s argument was essentially that Chinese students expect to come to class and for the teacher to impart knowledge (lexical items, etc) that they can then go home and memorize. Spending time “communicating” in class is seen as time wasted; because of this attitude, students will not engage and thus ensure that time is indeed wasted. For a more thorough retelling of her argument, please read the summary of her argument in the GL Gazette.

Forgive us for drawing a line between this and one of our products. At one point, Ms. Wang says that Chinese students’ fear of mistakes keeps them from speaking. We do not think that Chinese students are alone in this and we have argued before that the Communicative Approach does ask students to start producing language quite quickly with not  much prior exposure to the language/structure. We really do think that this is one of the great benefits of for students. As it is used primarily as self-access (many IEPs use it as homework for their students), students have the opportunity to see and listen to language models as many times as they want. They can then, on their own schedule and without anyone witnessing them, practice speaking. And of course, they can stay motivated by choosing what interests them from thousands of authentic videos available.

Find out more about using with your students! Email Calin –

Canada and Mexico get friendly

While the relationship between Mexico and the US has grown frosty, Canada and Mexico seem to be getting cosy these days. The education industry in Canada is benefiting from this. Partly because of Trump and partly because of visa restrictions being removed for Mexican students in Canada, enrolment is definitely rising.

Earlier in the summer, Languages Canada also signed a cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Education of Mexican State of Guanajuato “to formalize and expand collaboration in English and French language education.” It would seem that the initial stages of this collaboration will involve exchange programs and Canadians running professional development for Mexican teachers.

Read the Languages Canada press release.