Are Traditional Language Schools Dying?

If you're reading this, there is a good chance you are a language learner. For the professionals in my network, advanced-level learning will play a crucial role in career development. I've investigated the future of language learning, and the results are surprising.

According to Brand Essence market research, the global language learning market is forecast to grow from $60 billion in 2021 to $196 billion by 2028. But since 2020, language schools have experienced a drastic drop in demand for live classes.

Is this just a pandemic trend or will it continue?

The report, published in May 2022, cited the following reasons for the predicted explosion in language-learning market value:

  • The importance of languages in boosting career growth
  • New technological advancements in the field
  • The rising Gen Z population base escalating the demand for innovative solutions
  • The implementation of Artificial Intelligence

It is technology, not a rising desire to learn in a traditional classroom setting, that will cause growth. In fact, due to covid-19, there has been a seismic shift towards blended and online learning methods.

The largest share of the language learning market no longer belongs to children learning in classroom academies after school; it belongs to individuals learning with online tutors.

Companies such as the iTutor group, Busuu, and iTalki have developed platforms which offer a huge range of teachers and courses for children, teens and adults. It seems that their rise is the reason for the traditional schools’ downfall. Further, brick-and-mortar premises have suffered rent increases, high energy bills and rising employee costs such as social security and statutory sick pay.

Blackboards and textbooks are no longer necessary to teach languages, and the number of physical institutions is predicted to fall further during the 2020s.

So what are the shifts we might see in language learning the next few years?


AI replacing the classroom for beginners

Babel, Rosetta Stone, Memrise, Duolingo, the list goes on. Gamified language software is likely to increase its market value. The Brand Essence report states the scale of these companies shows their intent to invest in future tools to continue growing.

New tools could take the form of semi-live sessions with avatar teachers. The importance of communication for beginners may take a back seat, allowing a quicker and deeper initial language input while cutting personnel costs.

Personalised learning:

It’s clear from the many reviews of software like Duolingo, that it doesn’t build spoken fluency or any kind of production at an advanced (C1+ level). We need interaction to build fluency (as in most cases, that is the end goal). With static video content and e-learning modules, students are unable to apply what they have learned in a real situation. That’s why so many learners are choosing live tutoring.

Group learning solves this problem to an extent. Cohorts can interact and motivate each other to reach language goals. Yet, outside of a few target languages, those goals are unlikely to converge. Personal coaching and one-to-one sessions are, therefore, likely to continue their rise.

The effects of globalisation

Many languages are dying. It is certainly true that fewer languages will hold commercial importance in the future. Modern European languages, alongside Mandarin, look set to dominate the next 10 years of language learning.

In the business world, English has become lingua franca. Rather than in-person business English training, we may see more nuanced intercultural or soft-skills-based language learning. The need for communication consultants, localisation specialists and transcreation experts will certainly rise.


Can Language Schools Survive?

In order to survive, I believe academies and schools will need to offer something in addition to language. Further to public schools teaching non-language subjects in the target language, academies and camps may choose a Language+ model, offering physical or cultural activities in the target language. For me, this is the only way that language schools can push back against the trend of rising costs and falling students.

Only the future can tell us if the current decline in schools will continue. One thing is for sure: language learning brings massive value to our global society and will continue to grow.

This is a reduced version of a longer article, published on Medium.


Round Up

In case you missed them, here are my top 5 posts from December:

  1. Instead of writing up a full Technical Corner article, I'll share these two posts, which cover the trickiest punctuation: Commas 1, Commas 2
  2. Need more speed? Check out this video: How to Write Faster
  3. Christmas fun: How Kevin McCallister smashed his Q4 business objectives
  4. Are you a freelance writer? If so, you'll want to check this out: 3 business mistakes to avoid for professional writers
  5. I exist outside of LinkedIn too! Did you know I have profiles on YouTube, Facebook, Medium, and more? Check out my links. (and no, I'm not on TikTok).


Do You Hate New Years' Resolutions? (I Do)

I'm not a fan of resolutions. They always seem to involve quitting something rather than building towards a sustainable future. Let's not be negative. And let's not rush things.

With this said, goal setting is important. If you don't fix your sights on your target, you'll never reach it. My advice is to make sure your writing goals for the year are tangible. Here are mine:

  • Grow my combined online network of writers to 25k
  • Take a course and finally finish my novel
  • Lead corporate training for two new clients
  • Publish my next novella and edit a short-fiction anthology
  • Reach 5,000 downloads with my Proficient Writer eBook
  • Launch more workshops and group courses
  • Work with over 100 clients

What are your goals? If they revolve around building your profile as a writer, you'll need to work on your writing authority. You'll need to write accurate, effective and inspiring work in 2023. Only then will you get the recognition you deserve.

If you want to build your writing authority and transform your career, get in touch via email.

Thanks for reading.

Happy New Year!