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International House

Giugno 2010
Two Cities under One Roof

The Beginnings

When John and Brita Haycraft set up the first International House school in 1953, their passion for language and teaching would bring about a revolution. When John died in 1996, The Independent described him as “an inspiring teacher and animateur of people” and spoke of International House World Organisation as the body “which more than any other single private institution has shaped the evolution of the profession of English language teaching (ELT).”1 Before the intrepid work of John and Brita, training for English language teaching was virtually non-existent. They developed the teacher training course which became the basis of the Cambridge qualification in teaching English to foreign students and helped raise the quality of language learning around the globe. From the first school the network has grown to include 144 International House schools in 51 countries.

Taking Care of Business

The International House (IH) school in Milan has been carrying on in the Haycraft tradition and has been helping students to develop their English skills since 1997. The school now has three centres; one in Piazza Missori, one in San Donato Milanese and a new Executive centre in Piazza Diaz – just a stone’s throw from Milan’s magnificent Duomo. The school’s mission statement promises to give you “all the support and confidence you need to achieve outstanding communication.”
The new modern executive centre was opened as a response to the growing need of Milanese businessmen and women to communicate more and more effectively in English. The centre offers programmes aimed at highly motivated professional people who want courses that are focused, stimulating and challenging.

Two European Cities

“We find that business professionals want a new, more personalised approach to developing communication skills,” says Sieglinde Wolkan, Director of International House Milan. “We’ve been inspired and helped by the great work done by our colleagues at International House London.”
Indeed International House London has been a pioneer in teaching English since its creation by the Haycrafts back in 1953. It attracts students from all over the world and IH Milan has sent many of its students to attend executive and general courses at the fabulous Covent Garden school.
“Our Italian students have a great fondness for the cosmopolitan attractions of London,” says Sieglinde, “so they come back to Milan not just with better English but with some great memories too!” And where better to spend a few weeks improving your English than in Europe’s coolest capital?
The executive courses at IH Milan and IH London give students the chance to study in small groups or even one-to-one. They have modules that help professionals feel more confident when leading discussions, negotiating, presenting ideas, writing emails and entertaining guests. The courses are run by well-trained, professional and talented teachers and students have access to all the benefits of modern technology. “Our students also ask for help in acquiring inter-cultural skills and knowledge. Skills and knowledge that are becoming critical for success in the modern business world,” adds Sieglinde. “For this reason we have teachers specialised in helping people prepare to work with colleagues and clients from other cultures.” Something the globe-trotting Haycrafts knew all about.

Exams

Companies are increasingly asking staff to take examinations to certify their level of English. IH Milan and IH London have courses dedicated to helping people prepare for exams and tests such as BULATS (Business Language Testing Service), the Cambridge ESOL BEC (Business English Certificates), IELTS (International English Testing System) and a whole range of Cambridge examinations (FCE, CAE, CPE, etc.) Indeed both schools are recognised Cambridge centres and have examiners on the staff.

So Much More

Of course the Haycrafts’ vision of helping the world to communicate embraced many other elements too. IH Milan has a vibrant Young Learner department  - helping hundreds of children be passionate about the English language from an early age. IH Milan and IH London both teach lots of other modern languages (including helping foreign residents and visitors to Milan learn Italian). Both schools are continuing the Haycrafts’ mission to promote excellence in language education by offering a range of teacher training and development programmes. For example, International House Milan is holding a conference – “The future of English teaching” for Italian state school teachers on 24 September 2010.

The Future

Even in these days of economic problems and volcanic dust clouds, International House Milan and International House London are optimistic about what the future holds for language learning and teaching. “We continue to learn with the help of our students and we are constantly adapting our courses to suit their needs in a rapidly changing world” says Sieglinde. The IH Milan mission states “We believe your challenges and goals are a BIG deal! Working together will help you reach levels of success that just might surprise you…”
And, in a time when communication knows fewer and fewer barriers, the work started 57 years ago by the Haycrafts and International House has perhaps more relevance now than ever before.
www.ihmilano.it

1 The Independent, 28 May 1996, John Haycraft Obituary


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