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Language stays restart this summer after two years of turmoil

No more 100% idleness holidays for children, and especially for teenagers. Because after the Covid-19 shutdown, the demand for language travel is picking up again this summer. A recovery which is explained by the desire of parents to bring their children up to standard in the language, knowing that their oral practice has been affected by distance schooling during periods of confinement or class closure.

“The language course is seen as an important educational supplement for parents. It allows you to practice the language orally in everyday situations, to give students self-confidence. Moreover, some even find themselves dreaming in the language they are learning at the end of their stay! », Comments Sabine Bonnaud, General Delegate of the National Union of Educational, Linguistic and Language Training Organizations (Unosel), which brings together 60 players in the sector.

“We are really relaunching the machine this summer”

And if parents are ready to break the bank to offer a “very good trip” to their children, it is because they believe that the formula is 100% winning: “A language stay is the best way to progress rapidly. It is also a human experience that one remembers all one’s life. Because it is often one of the first opportunities for a teenager to discover another culture and develop his autonomy,” adds Xavier Obert, president of the Nacel organization. Parents are less hesitant to book a stay this year, in particular because it is easier and less risky: “Travel restrictions linked to Covid-19 have been lifted in most countries, and insurance allows you to be reimbursed or postpone your stay in the event of contamination”, continues Xavier Obert.

As a result, the booking figures are affected, even if they have not yet returned to the level of 2019. “We are really relaunching the machine this summer. We recorded 3,600 reservations for accompanied stays (compared to 6,000 in 2019), and 1,350 for individual stays, compared to 1,500 in 2019,” says Xavier Obert. “Summer is looking pretty good, even if we are still far from the 2019 figures (- 38.5%). Individual stays leave much faster than supervised stays,” observes Sabine Bonnaud.

England, queen of destinations

Where are these budding linguists going? “The destinations that work best are those located in Europe. Especially since it is currently difficult to redo your passport in many cities in France,” says Tony Debord, manager of Totemia.com, a language travel booking platform. England is still the number 1 destination, followed by Ireland and Malta. The latter being highly appreciated because it is cheaper and served by low cost companies. Spain, Germany and Italy come far behind. In Great Britain, “cities like London, Canterbury, Brighton, Cambridge and Oxford are the most popular,” observes Tony Debord. Outside Europe, Canada and the United States are the two leading destinations for middle and high school students.

The most widespread formula remains the accompanied stay with lessons in the morning in a language school, sports or cultural activities in the afternoon and collective accommodation or homestay. Especially for teenagers aged 13 to 17, who form the bulk of the battalion of starters. “Pupils who are about to enter second and final year are particularly well represented, because parents want them to progress in language before the start of the school year”, notes Sabine Bonnaud.

A luxury for many families

The one-to-one formula, which offers total immersion in a family or with a teacher, is chosen more by students and adults. But there are other types of stays. Summer camps, where children and teenagers are welcomed in Anglo-Saxon summer camps, but without language lessons. Collective themed stays: football, rugby, theatre, musicals… But also stays in France, where young people are accommodated in an Anglo-Saxon family or in a holiday village, with language lessons and activities on the program during the day. “This formula is often chosen for the youngest, because it reassures the parents, who are often on vacation next door,” says Tony Debord.

However, language stays are still a luxury that not all families can afford. Especially since we must expect to pay more for them this year. “The increase in fuel prices and airport taxes, not to mention inflation, explains this increase,” says Xavier Obert. Rates are extremely variable depending on the organization, the destination and the formula chosen. “The average basket for a stay in England is between 800 and 1,200 euros per week,” says Sabine Bonnaud. But by booking early, parents have had time to study the offer and compete.

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