Thank you for 2023

Val - Director at IH Bristol

We are nearing the end of the year with January well on the way, so it must be time to review the year for IH Bristol.

I think it is fair to say that 2023 was our first normal trading year since 2019. Students have started to return to international education and although numbers still lag a little behind pre-pandemic level, the trend is definitely upwards. It is lovely to see so many people come to Bristol to improve their English and to immerse themselves in the culture.

Our junior programmes are back in force. We were full for most of the summer of 2023 and it was a pleasure to see groups of teenagers once again engaging with one another in a different language and throwing themselves into all that was on offer. It is true that we had the occasional return flight cancelled, but with one notable exception, it was only for one or two people. The exception was a delightful group of young Italians whose flight was cancelled and reschedule for the following Tuesday, which meant Marcel and I had 7 young house guests for their extra days in Bristol. You can imagine the volume of conversation around the dining table. They were a brilliant group and we thoroughly enjoyed having them and helping to turn a potentially difficult situation into a positive experience. Fingers crossed, the airlines will get their act together for 2024. Judging by how full we already are for juniors for summer 2024, we really need the logistics to work.

We are delighted that from March 2024, we will once again be running IELTS exams in Bristol. Watch out for special offers on IELTS courses coming in the New Year. Our exams are growing and we will also be adding APTIS to those we offer, thereby allowing students to pinpoint their level of English before they commit to a particular level of Cambridge exam.

In 2023, we ran our first Best of Bristol 45+ course which is aimed at more mature students who are eager to learn some English while benefiting to the maximum from all the cultural opportunities available to them in Bristol and the South West. They were such great people and all involved had a lovely time. We can’t wait to welcome the next set of 45+ students and to share with them all that makes Bristol such a fabulous place to live, work or study.

In the course of the year, I realized that one of the highlights of my week was my regular visits to each class to meet new students and introduce myself. No matter how busy I was, taking a few minutes to chat to students always put a smile on my face. It dawned on me that I miss teaching, I miss the interactions which were the reason I set the school up in the first place. So, I created the IH Book Club. This is an open-to-all, free add-on where a group of us read a book and then share ideas about it. I create some language tasks for the group but it is really just a way for me to have time with the students and for me to encourage people to read. Book Club is definitely going to return in 2024!

I know that there are major events going on at the moment in various parts of the world which can cause despair. But I believe that at times such as these, the best thing we can do is to give people the gift of language and communication, to open their minds and hearts to other races and cultures and to encourage everybody who comes here to recognize that we are better together.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

Pete - Principal and Director of Studies

It’s good to be back!

It is years like this which remind me why I love my job. 2023 has been exciting and positive and I have loved welcoming so many of our lovely international students back to the school and to Bristol, my home town, especially after the difficult pandemic years. 2023 has had all the things I enjoy most about International House Bristol: the variety and fun, seeing students coming together on our social programme activities, and students achieving their goals - whatever they may be.

I am always amazed by how varied our students are at IH Bristol. This year alone we have welcomed groups from countries including Peru, Switzerland, Thailand, Brazil, Spain, and Italy. Students on our Adult and Junior English programmes have been of all ages, from 12 to 71 years! It has been fantastic to see the full range of our course programmes in action this year: our General English courses, exam preparation courses for IELTS, Cambridge and Trinity GESE, our new Best of Bristol 45 years+ course, our Foreign Teachers of English course, and our other teacher training courses, including CELTA. I always love the buzz and the energy of all these students coming together from all over the world, making new friends, sharing things in common between cultures, learning together and then enjoying the social activities we provide together. It’s a great thing to be part of!

I was also happy that we’ve been able to have a really varied programme of social activities again for our students, showing off the best my city and the local area has to offer. It’s great to see students having fun, making friends and practising their English on our events. Highlights for me have been our BBQ parties (with the BBQ legend – our senior teacher, Charlie), going to Fireworks Night in November, the famous Bristol Balloon Fiesta in the summer, our IH Bristol Street Art Tour (including Banksy, of course!), and our Christmas Party with presents, games and singing. Outside of Bristol, we enjoyed very successful trips to London ‘to see the King’, Stonehenge, and most recently to see the wonderful and atmospheric Bath Christmas Market in December.

In school, it has been satisfying to see lots of students achieving their goals. For example, 33 students achieved the grade they needed on their Trinity GESE (Speaking) exam and 37 trainees studied with us and are now qualified teachers of English (CELTA), able to teach English in schools around the world! We welcomed back our returning Swiss teachers again this December, who completed their methodology course with us – it is remarkable to think that this is their 10th visit to IH Bristol and we love working with them each time they come.