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Trade Mission sets footprint in Southeast Asia, aiming for diversification

A record number of first-time member attendees were in Thailand and Vietnam for the first Languages Canada Trade Mission of 2020! With members from all sectors – English, French, private, public, college and university programs – representing locations across five provinces, the Canadian language education sector was very well-represented in Southeast Asia.

From March 2nd to 6th, 2020, over 600 B2B meetings took place between participating LC members and attending agencies from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Nepal.

In Bangkok, the mission’s first stop, in addition to meeting with 17 selected agencies, members also had individual appointments with Directors from 10 Thai high schools. Many schools in Thailand traditionally organize their own group trips abroad, and LC members had the chance to promote Canada as a new destination for them. Most of those groups currently travel to the UK, Australia and Singapore, and Thai school directors were excited to learn about the qualitative advantage offered by institutions in Canada. This bonus activity was facilitated by the Education Trade Commissioner at the Embassy of Canada in Thailand.

In Ho Chi Minh City, LC members met with 19 education agencies from Vietnam – besides taking part in several side activities with new and existing partners. Several LC members took advantage of their presence in Asia to attend student fairs in neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as the Success Canada Fair in Bangkok.

The mission was made possible with the support of the Embassies of Canada in Bangkok and the General Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Global Affairs Canada's CanExport - Associations program. Members also benefited from presentations by local IRCC staff in both cities, as well as one-on-one meetings with Education Trade Commissioner in Thailand, Nitchawan Sriviboone.

In line with the Languages Canada 2020-2024 Strategic Plan, launched during the 2020 Conference in Vancouver, the trade mission aimed at providing members with an opportunity to diversify their source markets. Thailand sends thousands of students abroad for ESL programs every year, but Canada only accounts for a small market share of those student weeks. Vietnam, on the other hand, already considers Canada the number one destination for ESL study and is one of the few markets that can help offset lowering numbers of student weeks from flat or decreasing markets, such as China and South Korea.

Languages Canada board member Martine Allard, Director, ELI at Seneca College stressed the importance of meeting face-to-face with southeast Asian agencies given the "dynamic and ever-changing landscape of education consultants in some of these markets". Furthermore, being in Thailand and Vietnam allowed for LC to share important updates with IRCC about the language sector in Canada and orient members and agencies on how to better prepare student visa applications.

It was the first LC trade mission for Tomoe Aoyagi, Associate Director for International Marketing and Business Development at Langara College. She commented on the "distinguished professionalism by Languages Canada organizing the event in a small and exclusive setting, bringing the profile of participating members to another level." 

Kyoko Akiba, Assistant Director for Recruitment & Partner Support at ELS Canada and Sylvain Langlois, owner of Edu-Inter in Quebec City shared a common thought: "the Trade Mission allows schools to optimize their time and have dozens of meetings in few days, focusing on partners who are interested in building real agreements. Instead of spending weeks researching agencies and organizing individual meetings throughout several days, we can rely on LC to do that for us." 

Languages Canada wishes to thank our long-standing mission sponsor International Insurance. Lorie Lee,’s Director of International Business Development, was very complimentary about the organization of the mission. She said that is happy to support the member programs.

Thank you to all participating Languages Canada members and education agencies!