Over the last few weeks, FEDELE, with Mari Carmen Timor at its head, has undergone a process of renewal and elected a new management board. We spoke to Mari Carmen and asked her to tell us in general terms how she sees the sector at the moment and to talk about the Federation’s short and medium-term plans.
- How has the Spanish as a Foreign Language sector evolved over the last few years? What has FEDELE’s experience of this been?
Spanish is spoken by 572 million people and is the second most used language by native speakers on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks to the fact that Spanish is considered to be the language of international communication that facilitates business activity, it has become the second language in many schools throughout the world, especially in English-speaking countries. This has caused an increase in the number of young students visiting Spain.
The schools that make up FEDELE have not only increased in number, we have also had to increase and adapt our programmes and revise our internal procedures, improving the quality of our services and especially bringing our people up to date with the digital world. A wide range of services has been created to complement language learning – accommodation, cultural and sports activities, conferences, trips, special courses and courses for young people and families in the summer.
Apart from the fact that we need to meet current and future challenges, the repercussions for FEDELE schools are fairly beneficial and mean that we are in a good position when it comes to development within the ELE sector.
- What challenges is FEDELE facing and what tools does it need to deal with them?
Our aim is to become like our British and French counterparts and we are working to make our schools and programmes a reference point for studying Spanish, offering a quality guarantee for international students. To this end, FEDELE wants to establish a digital strategy for broadcasting our activities, offering services to users and capturing new audiences.
Our schools are aware that the digital world has provided a great leap forward as far as creating and obtaining information is concerned and become a strategic element of knowledge, control and management in achieving success and improving results. FEDELE is a prestigious entity with ninety-six accredited schools, and it’s growing. FEDELE is working to educate and integrate the various parties which are fundamental to this sector and in this way to create synergies to facilitate the student visa process and the obtaining of university credits.
- What is FEDELE asking of the government to help improve the “Spain brand” as a destination for studying Spanish?
Although we count on the great job the Instituto Cervantes has carried out over the last few years as far as promotion, spreading of the language and certification is concerned, it’s absolutely essential to implicate more people in strengthening the position of Spanish language teaching as a specialised activity on the same level as other important international European languages. Better coordination is needed in the promotion of the Spanish language with joint ventures and also an improvement in the commercial and communication channels of language as a tourism product.
FEDELE wants to encourage this coordination becoming involved in all the activities which promote the “Spain brand” as a destination for studying Spanish with a guarantee of success. To meet these objectives we need to work together with all the private and public institutions in Spain and abroad with the common aim of supporting the internationlisation of these language services which provide such an important economic contribution to our country.