IH Certificate in Teaching Very Young Learners

The IH Very Young Learners (IHVYL) course aims to prepare teachers for the specific challenges of working with very young learners, aged 3, 4 and 5 years old.  Many schools and kindergartens around the world are focusing on language teaching for very young children so this course is an extremely useful tool to have.  It gives a solid foundation for VYL teaching with lots of excellent activities and ideas for VYL teachers.

Choose your dates and apply for the Certificate in Teaching Very Young Learners now >> 

Who is it for?

  • Qualified and experienced language teachers who are interested in teaching very young learners (age 3 to 5 years old)
  • Qualified and experienced language teachers who have already taught young learners (age 6 and above) who would like specific training teaching younger children (age 3 to 5)
  • Qualified teachers who have experience teaching languages to adults but not with Young Learners
  • Recently qualified English teachers who have just started teaching English and would like to specialise in teaching children who are 3 to 5 years old
  • Teachers in international kindergartens or schools who would like help in managing children in class (non English as a Second Language specific)

Please note participants’ minimum level of English should be B2.

The course is specifically designed to help teach younger children (ages 3 to 5). Ideally the candidate should have some previous experience teaching English to adults, young learners (aged 6 and above) or teenagers as the course is not about teaching language but about learning new skills. It is not required to have taught Very Young Learners (ages 3 to 5)  previously.

Click here to read testimonials from people who have recently completed this course. 


There are 10 online sessions covering the following:

  1. What are Very Young Learners (VYLs)
  2. The Very Young Learner (VYL) teacher
  3. Managing young children in the classroom
  4. Course books and materials
  5. Materials development
  6. Lesson planning
  7. Storytelling for children
  8. Games for children
  9. Music and songs for children
  10. Early literacy and learning


The course is self-study with support from an online tutor and is 100% online and 100% asynchronous. This means that there is no requirement for you to be online at specific times, you work through the materials when you want. However, you must complete all tasks within the set week, and work in lock-step with your tutor group. Each week has required discussion forum input, collaborative tasks, as well as compulsory and optional activities. It runs over 10 weeks and you complete one module a week.

Across the 10 weeks the work you will do will range across discussion forums, quizzes, readings, tasks and activities to try out in your classes. There is a complete range of tasks for each module based on the subject matter of that specific week. The first and last modules are personal reflection style tasks. In the first module you will be asked to identify what you want to take away from the course, where you think your skills might be lacking and what you would like to learn. In the last module you will reflect on the course as a whole, on what you have learnt and how you want to progress in the future. Generally the tasks do not involve essay writing and are more practical. You will be asked to do some lesson planning and try out materials in activities in your own classroom. For example, in the storytelling module you will be given a story to adapt and use in a very young learner classroom.

Read our IH OTTI FAQs >>

What is the main difference between teaching Young Learners and Very Young Learners?

There are some common elements to teaching Very Young Learners (3 to 5 year olds) and Young Learners (6 years and above) but also many differences which teachers need to be aware of. The two age groups have very different needs.

In Young Learners classes (children aged 6 and above) your primary role in the classroom is that of a language teacher. Most of the students will have had some experience of being in a classroom and having tasks to complete. When teaching Very Young Learners (children aged 3 to 5 years old) you have a lot more responsibility for the care of the children in general and this can be challenging. A 3-year-old does not go to class because he consciously wants to learn a new language.  Between the two age groups not only will the activities be different but also your role as a teacher is different. You need to be a carer and react to the children and their needs. You will also face the challenges of teaching children who are not used to being in an English classroom and might have never been in any kind of classroom before.

In general, teachers are often trained to teach young learners and not very young learners and because of the differences between the two age groups, they struggle to deliver the lessons they plan. This course is aimed precisely at aiding English language teachers who need some extra help and support with the age group of 3 to 5-year-old.

Are you looking for some suggestions on how to teach Very Young Learners? Here, our tutors give some great suggestions:  https://ihworld.com/news-blog/ih-blog/7-suggestions-from-otti-tutors-on-how-to-teach-very-young-learners/


The work that you do during the modules (discussion forums, quizzes etc) is not assessed.  Every module has a task which is assessed by your tutors. The final assessment is based on an end-of-course portfolio. The portfolio is made up of the tasks completed over the duration of the course and a final reflective essay.

Candidate portfolios are assessed by the IH World Assessment Unit at the end of the course.

You can find out about the certificate you will receive here.

Time commitment

Participants are expected to spend a minimum of five hours per week online. The actual time dedicated to the course varies from participant to participant dependent on involvement in discussions. Participants can expect to spend approximately two further hours per week completing portfolio tasks. These tasks will involve the practical application of the course input to the participant’s everyday Very Young Learners teaching.

The course is paced at one module per week and therefore lasts for ten weeks. After the end of Module 10, participants have a further two weeks to complete the portfolio work and final assignment.

Participants are not required to be teaching VYL at the time of the course.

What is unique about this course?

One of the best things that participants always tell us is that they have got so much that they can take away because they get lots of ideas from the other trainees and trainers. You will take away a bank of activities, games, songs that you can use with your children in class.

The second thing that is unique about this course is the amount of discussion in a very international environment. Courses are often made up of participants from all over the world and everybody learns from discussing and sharing together. Although the course has useful reading and theory input as well, it is primarily a very practical course where you can talk to a lot of other teachers like you and your tutors. Everybody shares their ideas and then you can go away and use them in your classrooms. Once you have experimented you can also go back to the group and share the experience on what worked or didn't work. It is a really practical course.

'It provides both useful background knowledge and practical tips for teaching VYLs'. Becky Webb

'It not only provides valuable materials, but it also makes us reflect on our own teaching practice'. Pilar Martinez

Is there a reading list in preparation for the course?

We provide a course booklet which participants are encouraged to read before the start of the course. It gives a breakdown of all the modules and provides some ideas for additional reading that you can do either during or after the course.


There are at least two tutors per course but this may vary depending on the number of participants. The course is taught by tutors who are qualified both in the area of very young learner teaching and tutoring in the online environment. 

Course dates & fees

  • 1st June - 10th August 2024 - £495 (£421 IH staff)
  • 5th October - 14th December 2024 - £495 (£421 IH staff)

We advise choosing the time of the year when you can best manage the joint demands of work and study.

*The course fees stated are exclusive of 20% VAT. VAT will be added to the fee if it is paid by a business or individual located in the UK.

Course fees must be paid in full prior to the start date. 

How do you apply?

  1. Choose your dates and fill in the online application form, which is sent directly to us. You will have to answer some basic questions about your qualifications and experience, but there is no need to submit any documents or proof of language level.
  2. We will review your application and get in touch if we have any queries.
  3. Once your application is approved, we will send you a payment link to pay for the course via debit/credit card. 
  4. Once the payment fee is paid (by you or your employer) we will confirm your place on the course.
  5. A few weeks before the start date we will send your login details, and you can access the platform / VLE to familiarise yourself with how it works before the course starts. We will also send you any pre-module reading materials.

There is no deadline for applying, but once we have 12 people confirmed on a course, then it is full – so it is better to send your application form in as soon as you’re interested, to secure a place on the course!

We create each new course specially for the participants, and so we need to close applications on the Wednesday before the course begins to give us time for this.