Ice-breakers, meetings, dancing and discussions; promoting UK ELT and building business relations in Europe
14 March 2016

Warsaw was the host destination for this year's Central, Eastern and Southeast European English language teaching (ELT) B2B workshop, our English UK Fair which brings UK language teaching member centres together with education travel operators, education councillors and agents from across this region.

The agents present had unique access to a variety of English UK members, ranging from small private language centres, through boarding schools, and state colleges – all fully-accredited English language providers and all keen to do business with them. In return, the UK educators and service providers met a diverse group of agents from over 10 countries in the region. These included Poland, Italy, Russia, Turkey, Belarus, Hungary, Austria, Ukraine, Montenegro and Austria; countries which accounted for more than 25% of the total English UK member ELT student weeks in 2014. For over 45% of these agents, Warsaw was their first experience of an English UK regional event. A further 25% were English UK partner agencies, meaning they have demonstrated that they successfully promote the UK as an English language teaching destination through their work with English UK member centres.

After the one-to-one meetings element, it is this strong nationality mix that the attending educators ranked as the most important feature of these workshops. But even that is only one of many reasons they are popular, as Louise Hunter from Winchester School of English explained “There was a wide range of agents from a good number of countries…I was very impressed with the pre-departure organisation and clear distribution of information, everything was clear. I thought the size of the fair was ideal, with time enough to meet and speak to nearly all agents, formally and socially, as well as seminars providing a good chance to share ideas”.

Delegates were kept busy through a packed schedule of seminars, discussion groups and B2B meetings on 2 and 3 March. But the crucial difference with the English UK workshops is their all-inclusive nature, with opportunities to network socially outside of the usual formal meeting structure.

Memorable networking moments in Warsaw included an interactive icebreaker during the welcome speech by British Council Poland’s Rebecca Mason, group discussions and an evening spent discovering some of the local history and culture together. Participants sampled traditional Polish cuisine and joined in folk dancing at Folk Gospoda, one of the oldest taverns in the city, plus had the chance to find out a little more about the country’s drinks tradition with a vodka tasting session. This networking aspect concluded with a farewell gala evening in a city fort. These programmed-in recreational activities result in more time for the delegates to really get to know one another, creating a solid foundation for doing business.

This enjoyable but productive way of promoting UK ELT and consolidating industry connections is appreciated by the delegates. Maria Rostovesta from Magister based in Russia enthused that ‘I am sure that such events help to improve communication between agents and schools and also the quality of our work with clients. We met with new partners, discussed new trends and opportunities of students recruitment. So we are ready now to offer new options to our potential clients in the field of education abroad’. 

An increasing number of parents in Poland are looking to send their children to summer language courses in the UK. Therefore to dovetail with the Fair and maximise our presence in Poland, British Council Poland organised a Young Learner UK Summer Course Fair Road Show to dovetail with the English UK fair. This provided Polish parents with the opportunity to find out more about the study options for their children in the UK this summer. Hundreds came to the events in Krakow and Warsaw to meet with English UK and the 16 language accredited UK centres that participated in this student-facing activity.

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