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International House History

The International House World Organisation was founded by John and Brita Haycraft.

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

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

New affiliates began to use the International House name, starting with schools in Italy in 1961, then Portugal, Algeria, Libya, Beirut and Morocco.

Teacher training pioneers

The Haycrafts believed that quality language teaching stemmed from 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, and rapidly set the standard for teacher qualification in English Language Teaching (ELT), 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".

In 1988 the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) 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 it was updated and re-named the CELTA.

The original IH Certificate, which is also updated, is run at International House schools around the world and is content-equivalent to its sister qualification, the CELTA.

Widening the network

International House became a charitable trust in 1974.

John Haycraft published several books about his life in language teaching, tutored the President of Finland and created English language programmes for the BBC’s English by Radio. He also pioneered the use of drama in teaching English as a foreign language and introduced video technology to assist teacher training and development in the early seventies. John was awarded a CBE for services to language education in 1982.

By the time of John Haycraft’s death 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. 

In 2003 the International House World Organisation was formed, specifically to manage the network of affiliate schools. Two separate companies were created: International House London and International House World Organisation (IHWO).  International House London no longer ran the network and its operations and it became an equal affiliate and shareholder.

Following this devolution, 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.

Books written by John Haycraft 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)