IHJ at 20: Issue 41 Guest Editorial

by Dominique Vouillemin

As a contributor to the very first issue of the IHJ, I was extended the huge courtesy and trust of an invitation to guest edit this 20th anniversary issue. It was an honour and a privilege that delighted and daunted me. It allowed me, like many of our contributors, to read back through the issues noticing threads and emerging special interests, wrestling with academic insight and reviewing evolving classroom practice.

The remit of the journal, to address and explore the giant worldwide matrix of areas of interest and expertise in our profession, is huge. Every issue, since the inception of the journal, serves to bind together, inform and celebrate all those who work, train and study with International House. Schools and affiliates everywhere are invited to share the unique passionate vision of the young Haycrafts with their love of language, of learning, of a vision of world peace and of each other.

Issue after issue of the IHJ Journal is creative, generous and practical. For 20 years it has been publishing articles, reviews, tributes and more recently, links to blogs and websites recommended by contributors all at different stages of their ELT careers and representing all of the special interest groups. They benchmark best practice, offer balance, make suggestions and invite comment.

Profiles of contributors list extraordinary global careers and provide a veritable jewel hoard of lived cultural experience and expertise. There is no single typical TEFLer or career path in language teaching. Beneath the profiles in later issues is invaluable cross-referencing to related articles and links. Each in turn has its own thread of relevant and often specialist citations and quotes. This intelligent and joined up thinking makes for an outstanding resource well beyond the remit to serve the International House organisation.

If the journal were a comic strip it would say “Try this!” “Read this” “Register for this” “Write that down and send it to us!” “Did it work?”  “Anything else to report?” “Go on!” “How else could you use it?” “What was the feedback?” “I dare you!”. The contents of the journal are dynamic and responsive to readers and practitioners.

Co-founder of International House, Brita Haycraft retains still today her deep interest in pronunciation (Issue 9 and others) and her curiosity as to how best to teach and evaluate spoken language. Her clear precious memories of the history of International House (Issues 22 and 24) and early adventures – indeed challenges – in Spain (Issue 25) illuminate a bygone era while inspiring today’s language travellers.

Charles Lowe, instigator, first editor and early guiding light of the IHJ (see the link to his articles in Issue 17), wrote in his 10th anniversary retrospective article (Issue 19) that IHJ “has achieved considerable weight in the profession as a whole”.  This was true then and continues to be so today.  Action research, CEF, CLIL, consulting, culture, Demand High, development Dogme, emergent language, folktales, humanism, i-Pad, jazz, knowledge management, L3, lexical approach and inferencing, materials writing, management, metaphor, MOOC, motivation, NNESTs, social media, TBT/TBL, Translanguaging, Pragmatics and YL are among the many terms and acronyms that feature. These are analysed, trialled, unpacked and challenged to perform by generations of practising teacher and trainers who KNOW when an idea has legs – and a heart. The timely review of English for Football (Issue 34) made known a slim resource which helps the IH London Executive Centre to retain today a key client – a premier league London team!

In his 10th anniversary editorial, Ian Berry (Issue20) wrote that he was quietly confident that the anniversary issue achieved the eclectic mix and balance required by this respected in-house educational forum for and by IH teachers and trainers. The present 20th anniversary issue is equally worthy of quiet – or maybe not so quiet – confidence.

Two seminal thinkers in our field revisit IH careers dating from the 1970s with warmth and appreciation. Adrian (I have used your chart every day of my teaching and training career – DV) Underhill remembers 27 years of IH Hastings and its acquisition of the iconic Old Palace Hotel on the seafront. With immense grace he wonders “…where I would have been without the IH that John and Brita created”. Scott Thornbury remembers an unexpected observation by John Haycraft and discussions with Neil Forrest that led to the formulation of Dogme. “IH is in my DNA” – he writes movingly. This will resonate with many past and present alumni.

Carlo Cimino, writing in Italian explores metacognition drawing on his training in experimental didactics and experience in special needs teaching, seeking wider pedagogical applications of his findings.  David Petrie from IH Santa Clara offers eminently practical and motivating ways in to reading texts. This is a gift to all teachers – not only those preparing exams. Nothing beats the blank faces of Business English students faced with the day’s editorial of London’s City AM – all tips gratefully received.

Jamie King, freelance CELTA and Delta trainer, achieves an excellent balance between theory and practice to highlight the care and discernment required by teacher trainers for effective reflective teaching practice in order to produce “thinking teachers”. From Prague in her role as YL adviser and IH CYLT coordinator, Kylie Malinowska’s upbeat and energetic overview of the explosive rise and rise of Young Learners’ teaching and training within IH is electric. The enthusiasm and excitement of the founders of this special interest group are palpable and it is clear that the young future leaders and cultural ambassadors of the future are in the best possible hands. From the first teen magazine in 1991 and early initiatives by Norman Cain at IH Rome to the creation of certification in the IHCYL up to this year’s 2016 YL conference in Gozo, Malta, YLT goes from strength to strength. IH London will be running three off-site young learner programmes 2017. This is an area of growth and expansion with opportunities for creativity, action research and materials development.

Maureen McGarvey, Programme Manager eLearning at IH London and coordinator for the IATEFL scholarship working party, regular contributor on management issues to IHJ and long-term pilot and inspiration to so many, draws with warmth and love on family lore in her 5 delightful maxims – let’s not think about the 6th – giving deceptively simple heartfelt advice. “Remembering we are people” reminds us that we too at IH are family, under our shared roof.  Neenaz Ichaporia and Beth Caldwell give a vivid account of the expanding market for blended learning courses in India. Paul Emmerson, author of myriad excellent Business English materials, freelance trainer, blogger and teacher at the English Language Centre Brighton, gives a clear and thoughtful overview of currents in BE teaching – our Cert IBET trainees will love it. And yes, Paul – your apology is accepted on behalf of Execs. I fear that in your 16 years in Execs – I too was guilty of jumping the photocopier queue.

Sandy Millin, DOS IH Bydgoszc, exploiting the IHJ online format to excellent effect, offers an appropriate and fine selection of links to websites that explore the history of our profession, the emerging and evolving methodologies and she reflects on how fully IHJ has kept abreast of these changes. Shaun Wilden, IHWO Teacher Training Coordinator, follows the progress of gaming in what perhaps represents the greatest quantum leap that has been faced in language teaching over the course of the 20 years of publication of the IHJ, the ubiquitous use and presence of IT. He reviews the IT thread running through the IHJ, the debates it has spawned and current applications, particularly relevant to the YL explosion. This relevant and informative retrospection that none of us can ignore.

As we raise a glass to the last 20 years of the IHJ and look excitedly to the next 20 and what they may bring, I should like to pay homage to the extraordinary team of editors who have birthed each issue with consummate care and untold incursions into their own time. Each has an individual style which influenced and rendered unique every issue. I wish to salute your artistry, your courage, your embracing of new publishing technologies, your ability to choose from so many voices the blend and the balance that made each issue a delight to receive and to read. So here’s to you – Charles, Matthew, Paul, Susanna and Rachel, Ian, Andrew, Elizabeth and now Chris. Thank you all and thank you to all contributors and readers and to those whose say-so allowed the IHJ to be. You’ve created just one click to a forum that makes our IH world a better informed and a kinder and more inclusive place and our House is a very very very fine House.

Author’s Bio: Dominique Vouillemin is a teacher and trainer of Business English and Culture at the Executive Centre, IH London. She co-tutors on the English UK Cert IBET and the Business Culture Trainer Certificate. She joined IH in 1991 moving on in 1997 for managerial experience. Since returning to IHL in 2001 she has been based in the Executive Centre, including 2 years as ADOS. She has run ESP and BE training programmes in China, Kazakhstan and Russia and was privileged to visit universities in the mid-Euphrates region in Iraq in 2014.