The IH Bristol Story

IH Bristol Story - by Val Hennessy, Director

Since 1987

IH Bristol was started in 1987 as The Language Project by Val, while studying for her PhD.

The school has been teaching students ever since and it is the biggest remaining family owned and operated language school in Bristol.

We joined the International House global network of affiliated language schools in 2009 and are proud to be members of such a highly regarded, diverse and vibrant organisation.

Over the course of the years we expanded into two beautiful period buildings in the Clifton district and diversified into teacher training, exams, junior summer - and winter - school and foreign languages.

In 2019-2020 we added a new custom-built student common room to our Queens Avenue building, furthering our ambition to always put the student experience first.

IH Bristol aims to give back to the community: we have taught many refugee classes in Bristol and have been involved in development projects in Cuba, Angola and Vietnam. We adapted our buildings for Covid very early so that we could facilitate English exams for medical professionals needed by the NHS. And let's not forget our free exercises and our Phrase of the Day videos, which can help students worldwide to increase their knowledge on a daily basis.

We are working towards making our operation more environmentally sustainable and have so far installed 100s of ultra low energy light fittings and fixtures and sophisticated heating controls.

The English Courses

How can you be assured of the quality of the English teaching? Well, we are the people in Bristol that train teachers for English language schools and that run the English exams, so we know a thing or two about what’s needed.
What's more, any member of the International House worldwide network must always have the highest quality standard in their teaching.

Val's story

When I started the school in 1987, I wanted to provide the highest quality English language teaching at the best price to the most diverse student body. That aspiration remains but it has expanded to include our exam centre, Teacher Training courses and the other modern foreign languages we teach.

We have grown substantially from our modest beginnings in my front room but I am pleased to say that the growth has been rewarding, fuelled by those who work and study at IHB and by other organisations we work with: Cambridge ESOL, Trinity London, OET, Bromsgrove School & International House World Organisation. Being a member of the best language school affiliation in the world is such a bonus. Being able to share our passion for teaching with others who feel the same makes us a truly global community.  IH schools the world over share best practice and innovative ideas, which is why the International House network goes from strength to strength.

At International House Bristol, students come first and our Individual Learning Plans ensure every EFL student benefits to the maximum from their time with us. They have access to online learning before, during and after their stay with us. Everything we do, from materials creation to safe-guarding, is done to provide each and every student with the best possible learning experience. That's why we remain the premier school in the South West of England.

If video is your preferred method of learning about a place, check out the following 2½ minute clip. Please take note, there's no (boring) voiceover, we just show you what we're about...



It is lovely to have students back in the school and our classes have filled up again. The resilience of those who have goals in life is amazing and watching our students cope with the demands of life during CoVid is humbling. Nobody know what the immediate future holds but seeing students embrace their studies pass their exams and improve their lives gives me hope.

I found myself back in the classroom in 2021 when I taught two classes of refugees and helped prepare them for Trinity GESE. They got amazing results and we have now trained one of them to teach Arabic for IH Bristol. It was great to be able to offer something of value to people who had lost so much and I am delighted to say that teaching is a little like riding a bike: you don't forget how to do it.

We still make lots of study materials available online for those who are unable to attend in person: our Free Exercises & Useful Expressions are available to anybody who has access to a phone/computer and our Phrase of the Day videos can help students worldwide to increase their knowledge on a daily basis. If ever there was a time for the world to pull together, it is now, and we are all proud to do our part.

All in all, life is good at IH Bristol. Why not come and see for yourself?

Dr Val Hennessy, Director

Mission Statement

We aim to provide a friendly, caring environment for language learners and trainee teachers.Our goal is to educate, inspire and empower through excellent teaching by experienced, committed, highly qualified staff and a comprehensive student welfare system that supports learners throughout their studies.