Concern among Spanish Schools in Spain for the short-term consequences of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in our country.
In the same way that Spaniards travel to other countries to learn foreign languages such as French or English, our country receives thousands of students from many countries with the intention of studying Spanish and do a language immersion in Spain. The teaching of Spanish as a foreign language (ELE), is being greatly affected by the border closure policies of some countries, with massive cancellations of students that affect not only schools but a large number of workers who depend of them.
In 2019, the schools associated with FEDELE (Spanish Federation of Associations of Spanish Schools for Foreigners) welcomed more than 138,000 students according to data recorded in the sector report carried out by the entity and published on March 6th during the Annual Convention where they cited a hundred centers and schools. Data that has meant an increase of 15% over the previous year.
The Coronavirus crisis has arrived in Spain just when the peak period of students’ arrival begins. The consequences will be seen in the sort, medium and long term, since there are currently students who have canceled their study trips for various reasons, including the suspension of communications, as is the case of Italy, the country that issued the majority of students in this date. According to updated data from the Federation, students’ cancellations are around 80% in some areas of the country, with millionaire losses and imminent dismissals.
Not only is the teaching of Spanish in our country being affected, but also all the companies that depend on language tourism, which is understood as the set of activities that people carry out during their trips and stays, in order to make a linguistic immersion in a new language. It is worth highlighting the host families, student residences, monitors, guides, restaurants, transport, commerce, leisure, etc.
Although the main motivation of the students is learning or perfecting Spanish, many students come in groups and usually hire «language immersion» «packages» lasting between one week and one month, where around the classes they gather a whole range of cultural, historical and gastronomic activities of the place, the benefits being distributed among different actors in the local, regional and national economy.
In the aforementioned convention, the data collected among its federated centers in relation to cancellations was evaluated in order to take stock of the latest data registered and analyze the problem, highlighting the high number of cancellations that occur on a daily basis in a massive way. In addition, the economic consequences were studied, where million-dollar losses that directly affect employment are recorded, resulting in hundreds of layoffs that will affect many families throughout the national territory, due to the drastic drop in students and the uncertainty created.
From FEDELE and its federated schools, a message of calm is requested from the authorities, since 90% of the negative effects of this crisis will not come from the spread of the virus, but from decisions stemming from panic. FEDELE wants to highlight that Spain continues to be a safe destination and trusts that the institutions help to alleviate such effects. Likewise, work has already begun on an action plan in the face of this uncertainty to return to normality as soon as possible, otherwise the economic and social impact on the sector derived from the coronavirus is incalculable.
The Spanish Federation of Associations of Spanish Schools for Foreigners.