International House World Organisation

International House 1953-2015


John Haycraft, who was British, met his Swedish-born wife Brita in Oxford. When they married, they moved to Spain, where they set up the very first International House school, in Córdoba, Andalusia, in 1953.


John and Brita Haycraft in Cordoba, Spain, in 1953

John with his students in Cordoba

John with his students in Cordoba

After six years in Andalusia, John and Brita moved back to the United Kingdom and set up International House London in Covent Garden, London, in 1959. The school moved to larger premises on Shaftesbury Avenue (West End) in 1961, and relocated again, this time to a former 18th century gentleman’s club at 106 Piccadilly, (opposite Green Park) in 1977.

New affiliate schools began to use the International House name, starting with schools in Italy in 1961, then Portugal, Algeria, Libya, Beirut and Morocco.  International House became a charitable trust in 1974.


IH – teacher training pioneers

The Haycrafts believed that quality language teaching began with quality teacher training and launched the International House Certificate – the first training course in how to teach languages interactively and without translation – in 1962.

This ground-breaking course was first advertised in ‘The New Statesman’ in October 1962 (see the ad below), and rapidly set the standard for English Language Teaching (ELT) qualifications, with thousands of teachers worldwide becoming IH-trained.

From 1977 to 1988 the certificate was administered by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and became widely known as the “RSA“.3

In 1988 the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate took over responsibility for the administration of the certificate and it was renamed the Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Adults (CTEFLA). In 1996 the certificate was updated and re-named the CELTA.

So the most recognized English Language Teaching certificate in the world had its beginnings at IH!


Today, the CELTA course is run at IH schools worldwide, from London to Seville to Cairo to Cape Town to Dubai to Muscat to Sydney to Auckland to Bangkok to Los Angeles, to Chicago to New York to Galway to Dublin – literally around the world!

The original IH Certificate, which is also updated, is run at International House schools

around the world and has the same content as its sister qualification, the CELTA.  The IHC is also available to teachers of other languages – IHC preparation courses are given in Spanish, German, Arabic and Italian, for example, at IH schools around the world. Many other teacher training and development courses are also run at different IH centres, including the Cambridge Diploma in Englsh Language Teaching to Adults (DELTA) – see schools for more details.

IH London continues to be innovators in teacher training – they designed the Distance DELTA in partnership with the British Council and the CELTA Online in partnership with the University of Cambridge. These distance programmes have made the Cambridge teacher training qualifications accessible to everyone in the world. Many IH schools and British Council centres, including IH Galway, offer the two week face to face component of the Distance DELTA Module Two programme.

Widening the network

The exterior of International House (Casa Internacional) in Cordoba in the 1950s.

The exterior of International House (Casa Internacional) in Cordoba in the 1950s.

John Haycraft’s life revolved around teaching and IH – he published several books about his life in language teaching (see below), he tutored many famous people, including the President of Finland, and he created English language programmes for the BBC’s English by Radio. He also pioneered the use of drama in teaching English and he introduced video technology to assist teacher training and development in the early seventies. John was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, awarded by the Queen of England), for services to language education in 1982.

By the time John passed away in 1995, International House had affiliated schools in 25 countries, including Spain, the UK, Italy, Portugal, Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, Morocco, Japan, France, Thailand, Egypt, Argentina, Hungary, Germany, Turkey, Singapore, Oman, Finland, Australia, the USA, Poland, Austria, Georgia and Greece.  Today, there are 160 schools in over 50 countries around the world.


InInternational House, 106 Piccadilly, London

InInternational House, 106 Piccadilly, London

In 2003 the International House World Organisation was formed to manage the growing network of affiliate schools. Two separate companies were created: International House London and International House World Organisation (IHWO).  International House London became an equal affiliate and shareholder of IHWO along with other member schools. IH London is a charitable trust.

Following this, the International House World Organisation moved to its current office near Tower Bridge in London in 2006. It is from this base that it provides all services and administrative support for International House affiliates around the world. IH London is now based in Covent Garden, back where it started in 1959!



Quality Mark

All applicant schools to IHWO need to meet the 5 quality charters ( I’ll send you these so you can make a link)  in order to become an affiliate member school, and regular inspections are carried out to ensure that these quality charters are maintained.

John’s legacy

The Haycrafts believed in fostering international understanding through language learning, an ethos which stands true to this day at IH schools.  There is an incredible amount of sharing among IH schools, as the intellectual property is enormous. Most of the famous course books have been written by former IH teachers, and many of the leading writers and researchers of ELT taught at International House at some period in their working life. Every year, all the Academic Directors of IH schools worldwide meet for the academic conference, where many ideas are shared and new innovations are introduced. School Directors also meet once a year to discuss new developments in school management, resources and new ideas.  Brita Haycraft continues to write articles (see the Autumn 2014 edition of the H Journal), and she gives regular pronunciation sessions at IH London.

John was a prolific writer and books written by him include:

  • Babel in Spain (1958)
  • Getting On In English (1962)
  • Babel in London (1965)
  • George and Elvira (1972)
  • Choosing Your English (1972)
  • Action: Early Stages in English (1977)
  • Introduction To English Language Teaching (1978)
  • Italian Labyrinth (1984)
  • In Search Of The French Revolution: Journeys Through France (1989)
  • John Haycraft: An Autobiography, ‘Adventures of a Language Traveller’ (1998)
A lesson at IH Cordoba in the 50s.

A lesson at IH Cordoba in the 50s.

John Haycraft looking dashing on a scooter in Cordoba in the 50s.

John Haycraft looking dashing on a scooter in Cordoba in the 50s.

Little did John and Brita know that the tiny school they founded in their living room in Cordoba in 1953 would evolve into what IH World Organisation is today: an association of quality language schools and teacher training centres in over 50 countries. They’ve also been the catalyst behind a great store of articles, books, courses, innovations and methodologies and most importantly, of great teachers and trainers!