Junior students have become an important growth segment in recent years, especially in Europe

The junior market – that is, students under the age of 18 – has been a growth segment in language travel in recent years. Demand is being driven by a greater emphasis on foreign language learning in markets abroad, and by an increasing interest on the part of parents in boosting their children’s language proficiency. However, the junior segment is also susceptible to economic conditions and other market disruptions and some destinations – notably Canada and the UK – saw a decline in junior numbers in 2015. Overall, the segment appears poised for further growth and development, and consumer demand is shifting to more specialized programs for youth, including courses focused on preparation for academic studies abroad.

Junior students have become an important growth segment in recent years, especially in Europe, where students under age 18 now compose a significant proportion of language travel enrolments. Juniors accounted for nearly half of all language students in the UK (see chart below) and Ireland (47% each) and Malta (48%) in 2015.

adult-and-junior-student-numbers-for-private-sector-language-centres-in-the-uk-2011-2015
Adult and junior student numbers for private-sector language centres in the UK, 2011–2015. Source: English UK

Language schools are reporting that students are travelling to learn a language at ever-younger ages.

Parents who have grown up in the age of globalization know how integral English proficiency is to securing a place at a good university and to improving career prospects, and they are looking for safe and exciting programs for children as young as four. Schools participating in the 2015 ALTO/Deloitte Travel Industry Survey indicated that of their junior student enrolments (28% of total enrolments across the 228 schools represented), nearly half (12%) were students aged 16 and under (versus 16% for 16-18-year-olds).

German courses for children
Junior students today can pair English learning with sports, drama, design, computer programming, and countless other interests

As of 2015, the top 10 junior student destinations in terms of student weeks booked (as reported in the 2015 ALTO/Deloitte Travel Industry Survey) are:

  • UK: 20%
  • US: 17%
  • Canada: 14%
  • Ireland: 9%
  • France: 8%
  • Malta: 5%
  • Australia: 5%
  • Germany: 5%
  • Spain: 4%
  • New Zealand: 3%

The junior segment has been a bright spot in a global language travel market that has seen more intense competition and slower growth in recent years. Looking ahead, we can no doubt expect more specialized programs and greater competition for junior students as the market continues to grow and develop.

Excerpt from ICEF article: Junior language travel market continues to develop

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