Student who studied English at IH London in 1973 returns in 2015

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Retired music teacher Johann Surer studied English at IH London in 1973, 42 years later he’s back studying with us again. Here he tells us about his time at the school during in the 1970s and what it’s like to come back.

I first studied at IH London in 1971 for four weeks, in 1972 I came back for six weeks and then for one week in 1973 before going to Lady Mabel college in Yorkshire to study music. After 42 years I wanted repeat my English learning experience and improve my English language, so I came back to International House London.

IH London on Shaftsbury Avenue in the 1970s

IH London was located at 40 Shaftesbury Avenue 1959 - 1977

In the 1970s International House London was in Shaftsbury Avenue, at the junction with Rupert Street. Last Sunday afternoon I walked to the old site of the school and had tea in a café opposite the old building. I sat for 40 minutes in the café remembering my time at the school when I was a young man.

London was a very exciting place to be, I had never been to such a large city with so many people before, in comparison it made Munich feel like a small village! There was so much to do, so many concert halls, museums and galleries – I especially loved the British Museum and the National Gallery and have revisited these places recently. They are still wonderful places to visit and they are free.

English class at IH London in 1968

An English class at IH London in full flow in the Shaftsbury Avenue school

The people in London back then were friendly and helpful; I met people who were from all over the world. It was very easy to have a conversation with someone on the bus. Back then I was a music student, I play the organ, and I was invited to play music at St Patrick’s church in Soho Square – another place I have revisited since returning.

Even though London is a bigger city now, with a population of over 8 million people, I still find it to be a friendly place. If you take time to talk to people they like to talk. I have revisited many places I enjoyed when I was here 42 years ago and of course some have gone, but there some buildings I loved then that are still here as well as many new and incredible ones.

I also remember travelling around England and Scotland with the school when I was here 42 years ago. There were coach trips to Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh organised by staff at the school. It was wonderful to see so much of the United Kingdom and to meet so many people. When I finish my current studies, I intend to travel to these places again before returning to Munich.

IH London reception in the 1970s

The reception at IH London on Shaftsbury Avenue

I have been here almost two weeks and I am now half way through my current studies. It has been so wonderful to come back to International House London; I recommend that everyone who wants to learn English comes here. My first time at the school was incredible and it is the same now, with wonderful teachers. And of course, the new school in Covent Garden is very different from the school in Piccadilly; it is a lot larger and very modern – like a university.

I enjoy being with my fellow English students here too. I taught music in schools for 35 years, so it is wonderful to be in a classroom full of intelligent and energetic young people again. I would like to thank them all for making me feel so welcome.

And maybe, just maybe I will come back here again soon!

IH London language school and teacher training centre 2015

An English class at IH London in 2015

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August 13, 2015 12:46

I'm sure his teaching at IH was excellent and agree that he writes in good English now, but to be fair he has had another forty years to work at it :-) . Thanks for this post - I taught in IH in the early 1970s and have good memories of my time there, so sadly do not remember Johann Surer!

View all comments by Martin Eayrs



August 12, 2015 05:21

By reading his message, I noticed that his English level was very good, which didn't surprise me. He must have had very useful lessons at IH.

View all comments by PREUILH