Latin Americans see the English language not only as a new form of communication but as an opportunity to invest in their own future. Selo Belta is a Brazilian association that unites schools that offer courses, trainee and student exchange programs around the world, and they reported that 94% of all Brazilians wish to learn English while living abroad.
Mexico is another great example of Latin Americans that are working hard to have English as a second language. Learning English in Mexico is a big priority for both work and leisure. Nowadays, 21% of the Mexican population is learning English via public or private educational institutions.
Due to the proximity to the United States, Mexicans can also score lots of better job opportunities in their own country or abroad that require the English language. A long-term investment that pays off!
There’s no better way to become fluent in a second language than to study – and sometimes to work directly in your second language. Latin Americans know that and are willing to invest time and money in this.
This wave of foreign students is heading to a number of different countries all over the world. Brazilians, for example, are heading to places such as Canada, Australia, and the United States to study English abroad.
“In 2016 alone, the number of Brazilian students moving to other countries to learn a new language grew 14%. This makes around 247.000 Brazilians that went to study abroad or that are still studying in another country, spending something around USD 2.2 billion while improving their education. Per student, you can get an average paying ticket of USD 8,000.”
Source: Top Destinations Brazilians go to Study English Abroad
What should you do to attract international students?
When students decide to look for a school in a country where they can to improve their English skills, lots of bits and pieces are taken into account. Schools should present themselves as an authority when teaching English to foreign students. They also must have good educational reputation, great references from other students, and of course help where they can when it comes to visa requirements.
This, of course, is not an effort that comes only from the international language program or the travel agency working with foreign students, but from the whole country and its bureaucracy.
What can you do to make students feel confident in your language exchange programs?
Authority In Your Field
There are plenty of international awards that can help language exchange schools evaluate its programs.
Those awards analyze the methodology of the school, the quality of the language program and many other factors. They can make or break the language school, helping lots of students decide over one or another. Even though it’s not mandatory, having good awards to show is an interesting way to prove to students they’re an authority in what they do.
When people start to think about studying abroad, they can get in contact with a travel agent or any of the school representatives. They need to make sure the students will enroll in a school that offers exceptional teaching levels, guaranteeing that they will learn English as fast as they can – in the best way possible.
Make Sure You’re Being Seen
Let’s face it: when students want to study English abroad, there are thousands of school options to choose from.
They might be in contact with a handful of them as soon as they decide to invest in this experience – and your school should be one of those.
That’s why it’s so important to be where your audience is. Find ways to partner up with local language schools, for example. They are offering classes to students who are willing to invest time and money to learn English. This audience is extremely similar to what you’re looking for – and even if they’re not always willing to go abroad, their friends might want to.
Another way to become top of mind for Latin American students? Offer summer courses, programs in partnership with public or private universities and do everything you can to be part of the daily life of your future customer. That’s the best way to be their first option in case they decide to go abroad to study.
Referrals From Students
If a good local presence is a silver, having good references is gold. In the world of marketing tools, there’s nothing more important than word of mouth. This is and will always be your best tool.
Nowadays, having good references is even more important.
Students should have one of the best experiences of their lives while studying abroad. Naturally, they will talk about this for the rest of their lives to their friends, family, and acquaintances.
If their experience with the language school was great, it’s clear that they will also talk about that without thinking twice. Offer great services to your clients – that’s the best investment you can make.
Active Online Presence
Let’s say the students of your language exchange program talked extensively about your services to their own friends. They were interested and decided to check you out. They google the name of your school, but cannot find your website. Or worse: your website is old fashioned and it doesn’t show anything your company’s doing.
It’s likely that you already lost this customer before ever being in direct contact with him.
You must be easily found on the web. Work with SEO to have a good ranking on Google. Ask for good references online. Work together with other websites to talk about your services in both English and the languages of the countries you’re working with. You have to make the school shine online as well.
Social Media Is Mandatory
On the same level of great SEO and a good website, you also need to invest some time in building your social media presence.
If a client is happy with your services, they might want to talk about you online. They might want to link your school so their friends know who’s providing all those good experiences to them. All this should be easy.
If someone decides to search for your school programs, your social media profiles must be active. Must be updated frequently. Must have news and what’s happening with your students, guaranteeing that the school is active and engaged with its programs.
Social media is one of the main places where people like to publish reviews and talk about their experiences – so make it easy for your clients. Better than that: encourage them to share their good experiences.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blog, Snapchat… there are dozens of different places where you might be active.
Make sure you know what you’re looking for and where your audience is before you start investing in social media though. It’s always interesting to work with a strategy in mind, and for this, you might need to find a digital planner to help you with it. That’s perfectly fine – and an important investment if you want to work with the new generation.
Extracurricular Activities Are Important
Language exchange programs are not only about the school’s program. It’s all about learning through experiences. Students that are going abroad also want to immerse themselves in a new culture.
Help them do exactly that!
Extracurricular activities are a great way to differentiate yourself from another language programs. It can help all students feel at home and having fun while learning.
Some language exchange schools are able to offer:
- touristic tours around the city
- specific classes to work on a niche vocabulary such as travel or business
- short classes focused on improving your writing skills in a second language
Ask yourself how can those students learn even more while having a good time.
Some schools go above and beyond, offering the opportunity to study in different branches across the country to experience a new life in a slightly different environment.
It’s important to think about your unique selling proposition and how this can enhance the learning process of your students. Don’t limit yourself to the classroom.
Invest in Local Payment Methods
Students might be going abroad to study, but their money still comes from their home country.
Make it easy for them to work with payment methods they’re already comfortable with. Schools that can offer payments the students are used to always have a huge advantage. In Brazil and Mexico, for example, payment in installments is absolutely common and encouraged. If you need to reach this market, you need to adapt.
“According to the World Bank, 38% of the global adult population do not have access to any banking services. In terms of Latin America and the Caribbean, 49% of the adult population were unbanked in 2015.
These numbers talk. These people are your prospective customers. By offering local payment methods, you create an instant opportunity for consumers to purchase your products and services regardless if they are banked or not.”
Source: Add Local Payment Methods to your Payments Strategy and Boost Sales
Studying English to rank higher in your own field of work is something common when you come from Latin America. Speaking English is a huge plus that guarantees lots of opportunities for Latin Americans, is it in their home country or abroad, for private or professional reasons.
Every student that has the opportunity will prioritize an international experience at a local language school. Latin Americans prefer to dedicate a period of their lives to immerse themselves in the language and have some international experience when they head back home, boosting their CV with a new language and experience abroad. It’s time to work side by side with them to make this dream come true!
What’s your strategy to talk to Latin American students that are looking to learn English?