Online English Courses - Frequently Asked Questions

How are the online English classes delivered?

We use Zoom for our online classes. These are similar to our face-to-face classes, including the use of group and pair work (we use break out rooms, and the teacher is able to join each ‘room/group’ to monitor and contribute); there is a big emphasis on lots of natural phrase-level vocabulary; with speaking practice in each class with feedback from the teacher

What do I need to be able to start?

For the best experience, you need a laptop, or desktop computer; a large tablet device or smartphone also work. You need an internet broadband connection: for gallery view and/or 720p HD video, 1.5Mbps/1.5Mbps (up/down)

For sound and video, it is best with headphones and a webcam, or you can use the camera and speaker on your computer.

You will receive a Zoom link in your timetable to your email to join your classes

Is there a course book?

Adult English classes include an e-coursebook from a recognised publisher with an access code for each student. We share this code before your first lesson. We use this coursebook as our main material in lessons, but also integrate authentic materials, our own worksheets, and many interactive communicative activities in pairs and groups.

What does the course cover?

Please see the syllabus document on the relevant course page for a general guide.

General English courses cover 1-2 topics per week, and integrate work on grammar, vocabulary, and the four skills. We follow a main e-coursebook (juniors IH Bristol use original booklets we have written) which ensure a good balance of language and skills work each week, but we also include authentic materials, our own worksheets, and activities to suit the needs of the group. We include communicative activities to practise the new language you learn, so lots of speaking! As we are flexible with our start dates (you can start any Monday) the more weeks you book, the more topics, grammar and vocabulary you will cover! See sample weekly timetable here (General English; IELTS; Cambridge; Junior summer)

How do I know which level to book?

When you book your course, we check your English level by sending you our 1-hour placement test. This includes 50 Multiple Choice vocabulary, grammar and reading questions, plus a writing task.

We also offer a 1:1 speaking test and needs analysis session, online with the Director of Studies or IH Bristol teacher before you start your course (adult courses). This is nothing to worry about and you don’t need to prepare, it simply helps give us the most accurate assessment of your current level and areas to improve.

The Director of Studies then allocates you to the best level for you.

What happens if I have technical problems during the class?

You can email the school or the class teacher (as we instruct) if there is an issue, but technical issues are very unusual in our experience.

Will I receive a certificate?

Each student receives an end-of-course certificate PDF, with name, course title and dates, your final class level (IH and CEFR levels) plus a personal comment from the teacher.

I’ve had a bad experience with an online course before, how is this course different?

There are now thousands of online English study options around the world, so how do you know if you can trust them? Sometimes you just don’t know!

At IH Bristol, you know that we have more than 30 years of experience in teaching adults, juniors, exam preparation, and teacher training; our school was established in 1987. In fact, some of our full-time teachers are also teacher trainers. We are also accredited by the British Council for teaching English as a Foreign Language (first inspected 1997) and gained the highest grade in 12 out of 15 areas in our last inspection report. The British Council said we had the top mark in these areas: teaching, care of students, quality assurance, academic management, course design, learning resources, academic staff profile, staff management, premises and facilities, accommodation, leisure opportunities and care of under 18s.

That’s experience you can trust. You can be sure your online classes with IH Bristol will be interactive, fun, have lots of new language, and explore real everyday topics and situations.

Can I have a trial lesson?

Yes, no problem. Please email us to book your free trial lesson, stating your approximate English level. 

Are the teachers native? What are their qualifications?

Most of our teachers are native speakers and live in Bristol, UK. Our teachers are qualified to CELTA (Cambridge) or Trinity CertTESOL level minimum (the official recognised qualification to teach English as a Foreign Language). Some of our teachers are qualified to DELTA (Cambridge Diploma) or Trinity DipTESOL level. Some are also teacher trainers. Most IH Bristol teachers have been trained by us as we are an official Cambridge teacher training centre!

How much progress will I make?

Progress is measured by evidence and not time in the same class because everyone learns at different speeds. Because the next level class is faster and more difficult, before you can move up you must pass the end-of-level test and show teachers that you are focused on your learning. Evidence for this is:

· Good attendance, being on time

· Doing homework, including writing homework

· Doing pair and group work in lessons

· End of week mini-test/quiz performance

It takes much longer to move through higher levels than lower ones because the amount of language you have to learn is like this diagram:

At Intermediate level (B1 CEFR) for example, it may take one student studying 15 hours per week approximately 2-3 months before you are ready to move to the next level. It could be a bit faster or slower depending on the student!

I’ve studied English in a local school in my country, what makes this different?

Firstly, IH Bristol has great experience you can trust: teaching English to students from all over the world for more than 30 years. Our teachers are all qualified and most teachers have been trained by us on our own Cambridge / Trinity teacher training courses.

Secondly, our classes are a mix of international students. Our group classes have students from different areas of the world, such as Europe, the Middle East, South East Asia, South America, and others. This also means you all need to speak English all the time as it is the only common language! We encourage students to use English to compare cultures and learn about each other and your different countries. We think this is a great advantage of studying with us online.

Students at IH Bristol also have access to:

  • Phrase of the Day at the start of each class
  • Cultural Question
  • Cultural Project at the start of each week on interesting topics (Time; Men and Women; Money; etc)
  • Free social activities online

Do you also offer face to face courses?

Yes of course. We reopened for face-to-face classes from August 2020 - January 2021, and look forward to doing so again after Covid-19 restrictions are eased, hopefully March-April 2021.

Do I need a visa?

No, as you can study from home there is no need to travel, apply for a visa or incur any related expenses.