A bright start to 2023 and our reflections from Val

It has to be said: 2023 is off to a good start in many ways. The year had an advantage over previous years by virtue of being neither 2020 or 2021 and it currently proving better than 2022 as well.  Not only have we seen a return to travel allowing us all to visit family and friends, but Ireland also won the 6 Nations Grand Slam at the weekend. I realise that for many of you that might not signal as much as it does for me, but let me assure you that it is a wonderful omen for what is come in the remaining 9 months of the year.

We have had our first cohort of students taking exams with us and I am delighted to say that we had a 100% pass rate. Both classes involved worked hard and every single one of them has the certificate to prove it. Our CELTA trainees have been equally successful and we are looking forward to welcoming the next group of future EFL teachers in a couple of weeks.

We are seeing increasing numbers week on week and we have already had to close 2 weeks in July for juniors as we have reached capacity. What a contrast from 2021, when we had 4 junior students in summer and only around 40 adults. It is true that when numbers increased in 2022 but the availability of homestay stayed maddeningly low, we faced some logistical issues. These were compounded by various airlines deciding to delay or postpone flights for up to 3 days. Each time this happened, we were left with students who should have departed but were unable to do so through no fault of their own. And so began the great homestay jigsaw puzzle of 2022.

The homestay jigsaw puzzle involved looking at all available beds and all students and re-arranging them as necessary.  Marcel and I stepped in whenever we could offering a room in our house to those who were stranded by delayed flights or had to change homestay for any reason. It made for very lively evenings around a long table laden with food to meet all sorts of requirements: vegan, vegetarian, Halal and teenage-boy-appetite quantity, this last one being possibly the most difficult of all. We hosted nationalities from all over: German, Spanish, Italian, Swiss, Bahraini, Turkish, but having students is always a delight and every time I enter my house, I am reminder of the summer of 2022 when I see the beautiful origami gift made for us by the lovely Julius.

We have been working hard for the last 18 months to recruit more homestay and to find alternative accommodation in residence for those who prefer than option. 2023 should pose fewer logistical complications, we hope.

So here’s to a bright new year for IH Bristol and the EFL industry everywhere.

Val (Director)