Cardiff-based English language school, Celtic English Academy, has made a global name for itself since it first started teaching international students 18 years ago, with the company now providing its services to over 1,200 learners a year from more than 50 countries including Saudi Arabia, Italy, Spain and Japan.

Overseas trade missions key to success abroad

Established in 2004, Celtic English Academy originally started out teaching English in just four classrooms to learners going on to study at local universities as international students. In 2012, the company received funding from Welsh Government to support it to attend overseas trade missions, which kickstarted its export drive and helped it to build its name abroad.

Since then, the British Council accredited school has grown significantly, attracting students from all over the world to come and study at its renowned facilities in Cardiff.

Today, exports account for 95% of Celtic’s trade and the company has expanded to also offer online and hybrid courses, as well as in country teaching and teacher development programmes – diversification that has helped it to remain resilient throughout the pandemic. 

Over the past three years, Celtic has landed four major new contracts across Europe, Africa and Asia, which it sees as key to helping propel it back to pre-pandemic levels. Most recently, it has been awarded two remote teaching contracts with Kuwait and Vietnam where it will deliver online sessions with national in-country partners to support English teacher development.

Exploring new overseas markets

Following a challenging year, the academy is now looking to further increase its international presence and is focusing on Latin America, Japan and the Middle East as routes to business recovery and growth. The school has recruited staff in Japan and Brazil, and is exploring in-country teaching opportunities in Saudi Arabia in response to rising demand for English language teaching in the region.

Shoko Doherty, CEO of Celtic English Academy said: “Exporting is central to us as a business. Working with students and teachers from a variety of nationalities, as well as our emphasis on being agile and adapting to changes, has helped us remain resilient as we are not reliant on one single market or region.”

Welsh Government support

Key to Celtic’s export success has been support from the Welsh Government, via Business Wales, including access to the Overseas Business Development Fund which has enabled representatives from the company to visit new territories and attend trade missions to find potential new clients or bring new products to already established markets. 

Shoko added: “Most of our business has been secured by travelling abroad and meeting new clients directly. These interactions have been crucial to both attracting students to study at our school in Wales, as well as building relationships in order to obtain in-country contracts in target territories, so we are very thankful to the Welsh Government for their support in making this possible.”

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