Developing Teachers

by Sandy Millin

No matter how good you are at independent professional development, there comes a time when nothing less than a piece of paper with an official stamp of approval will do. It looks great on your CV, and a good course provides you with time to try out and reflect on what you’ve learnt. In this instalment of the Developing Teachers column, I’ll introduce you to IH Online Teacher Training (OTTI) ( and talk you through the certificates on offer there, as well as sharing my experience of the courses I’ve done.

If you’re lucky, your school will already offer some of the IH certificate courses, perhaps even face-to-face, but if they don’t, you can sign up yourself. IH teachers get a significant discount on all of them. Most are run over three months, and you can fit them around your working week at a time that suits you. Many involve short written assignments that you submit during the course, and two involve observed teaching practice. There’s something for everyone, from the completely unqualified to the old hand. Read on to find out more…

IH Certificate in Teaching English (IHC)

This is an initial teaching certificate designed for those with little or no experience of teaching English as a Foreign Language. As part of the blended course you will do six hours of observed teaching practice, for which you will need a local tutor who can watch your classes.

IH Language Awareness Course (IH LAC)

When you start teaching English, especially if you are a native speaker with no language learning background, the grammar of English can seem like a minefield. This course aims to help you negotiate this grammar, understand and critique how it is presented in coursebooks, and improve your ability to present it to your students.

IH Certificate in Business English (IH BET)

This course teaches you about the basics of business awareness, differences between business and general English, and how to approach teaching business students. It also introduces you to various sources of business English materials and gives you lots of activities you can take straight into the classroom.

It helped me to feel more confident about teaching in company, especially as a new, young teacher, where most of my students were about twice my age, and with considerably more experience in the business world!

IH Certificate in Teaching Young Learners and Teenagers (IHCYLT)

The IHCYLT is a blended course, meaning that you need to have a local tutor to observe four of your classes. You’ll learn practical activities, and lots of classroom management tips. For me, the most interesting part was thinking about how children of different ages learn and what skills they have, and how to adapt your teaching to each of these age groups.

Before doing the course, I fell into that all-too-common group of teachers who had no desire to go anywhere near a young learner classroom, and would only teach teenagers at a push. After the course, I felt confident enough to approach any of these groups, and while I still feel a slight tremor of fear at the thought of being faced with twelve eight-year-olds, I know that I can get through it, and maybe even enjoy it, thanks to what I learnt from this course!
As an added bonus, this course is now moderated by Cambridge English Language Assessment, making it even more attractive on your CV.

IH Certificate in Teaching 1-2-1

This course focuses on what makes 1-2-1 teaching different from group teaching, and gives you ideas for how to approach the 1-2-1 classroom. There is also information about analysing your students’ needs and working out how to meet them.

IH Certificate in Advanced Methodology (IH CAM)

If you’ve been teaching for a few years and you’re ready to go into a bit more depth with methodology, but you’re not quite ready for Delta, this is the course for you. It’s also a good refresher if your Diploma is a fading memory and you want a bit of a reminder of some of the topics on it.
CAM covers areas such as teaching theories and approaches, the basics of syllabus design, and more in-depth coverage of how to teach skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) and systems (grammar, vocabulary, lexis and discourse). It is now moderated by Cambridge English Language Assessment.

I found the course a good stepping-stone from the basic theory of CELTA to the much more in-depth Delta. It also prompted me to investigate methodology books for the first time. You can follow up the CAM with a Delta 1 Exam Preparation course.

IH Certificate in Online Tutoring (IH COLT)

The educational landscape is changing rapidly as technology takes over many areas of our lives. COLT helps you to appreciate the differences between online and face-to-face tutoring, and to learn how to adapt your teaching to the online environment. Even if you’re not planning to teach online, the course introduces you to various technology tools you can use with your students.

I’m currently teaching a couple of lessons a week via Skype, and COLT gave me a lot of ideas for how to make up for some of the elements I feel I miss from face-to-face teaching. It also showed me activities which I can use online which I wouldn’t be able to do offline. I think it also made me a much better online student, as I appreciate how challenging it can be for the tutors at times!

IH Director of Studies course

This course is for new and inexperienced DoSes, and introduces you to the skills you’ll need to negotiate the move from teaching to academic management. Having become a DoS in September, this is definitely on my wish list!

IH Teacher Training course

This is a brand new course for OTTI, which was piloted in January 2014. It is designed for experienced teachers who want to take the first step towards becoming teacher trainers, whether as part of in-service training or as a tutor on an external course such as CELTA. It doesn’t replace the CELTA trainer training programme, but it does provide a good grounding for it. 

Author’s Bio: Sandy Millin is currently DoS at IH Sevastopol. Before that, she taught at IH Brno and IH Newcastle, as well as in Paraguay and Borneo. She is interested in making professional development available to everyone, and to that end is an active member of the online ELT community, with three blogs and a Twitter account for teaching: