Training for managers in language schools – the IDLTM

Andy Hockley explains all about The International Diploma in Language Teaching Management (IDLTM), including the history, the syllabus, how participants are assessed and why it is a qualification worth pursuing.


Andy Hockley explains all about The International Diploma in Language Teaching Management (IDLTM), including the history, the syllabus, how participants are assessed and why it is a qualification worth pursuing.
The International Diploma in Language Teaching Management (IDLTM) is a course designed to train those involved in academic management in language teaching organisations. It involves eight assessed modules of study and is usually run in a blended format with 2 weeks of face-to-face study followed by approximately seven months of online work.  


UCLES (as it was then – now Cambridge English), developed a course in the early nineties called the Advanced Diploma in Language Teaching Management (ADLTM). This was piloted in a number of countries and contexts. Based on this original course, at the turn of the century, three organisations (Cambridge English, the University of Queensland, and the School for International Training(USA)) came together and decided to revise and redevelop the course and relaunch it as the IDLTM. All three organisations are well known for their work in ELT and so the diploma itself was automatically widely recognised, and very globally portable.
The first IDLTM course began in the USA on October 1st, 2001. I vividly remember this date as I was the course coordinator - three weeks before the course was due to start, September 11th happened. We thought this would force us to cancel the course as all the participants in that particular group came from outside the US, and not only did some need visas, but all, of course, needed to fly in. Fortunately, we pulled it off. Since then there have been nearly 50 IDLTM courses run around the world – in Brattleboro (Vermont, USA), Brisbane, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Barcelona, DaNang (Vietnam), Muscat, and Izmir. The number of people who in that time who have completed or are currently enrolled in the course is slightly under 400. 

Content and delivery

The course covers eight modules: Managing Organisations; Human Resource Management; Managing Financial Resources; Marketing; Customer and Client Services; and Academic Management, as well as two locally chosen modules – usually Project Management and Managing Change. The content and examples of every module is specifically tailored to the language teaching organisation context. Read more about the syllabus on the University of Queensland web pages.
It is a blended learning course involving (usually) two weeks face to face at the beginning, in which typically all the eight modules are begun. Subsequently, in a seven or eight month period, the modules are extended and gone into in greater depth in an online format. This is also the period in which the assessment takes place. Assessment is by way of an assignment for each module, which are designed, as much as possible, to be practical tasks which are (it is hoped) of value to the person taking the course (and his/her organisation), as well as being an assessment tool for the diploma itself. To give an example, the marketing assignment is to create a marketing plan for a new course, while the financial management assignment involves creating a fully costed proposal for some development of the organisation.
So, far the course has had an extremely good record of student retention, with fewer than five percent dropping out (which as I understand it for blended or online learning is a very good rate). In addition the course can be said to have spawned the very successful CUP book “From Teacher to Manager: Managing Language Teaching Organizations” (2008) by four authors who have done a lot of training on the course. That book is now a key resource for those embarking on the IDLTM.

The future of the IDLTM

Sadly, as of this year, Cambridge English have decided to withdraw from the qualification, as they wish to devote their energies towards high volume products (such as TKT and the CELTA), and the IDLTM does not attract enough candidates for them to be truly behind it. This is, of course, a setback for the diploma – the Cambridge name is very well known and it is a key selling point. However, with every change comes opportunity, and we are very much hoping that the course, which by now is fairly well known in its own right, will now be somewhat cheaper and also more flexible and can be offered in more locations. Time will tell, obviously, but those of us involved in training and coordinating courses feel very positive about the possibilities that this opens up.

So, why take the IDLTM?

Other than the fact that you might get me as a tutor, you mean? Well, obviously I’m biased, but I believe it’s a great course for managers of language teaching organisations, many of whom have come into management positions through teaching and have had very little (if any) actual management training. This course meets the needs of such people, and provides both a hands-on and an in-depth theoretical grounding in management principles and practices. My belief in the value of the course is backed up by feedback from those who have taken it, the vast majority of whom are extremely positive and effusive about the things they took from the diploma. In addition the IDLTM is the sole  ELT management qualification recommended by NEAS (the Australian language teaching accreditation body).

And finally…

The most important question of all. How in the world do you pronounce “IDLTM”? Assuming you don’t want to refer to it as “The International Diploma in Language Teaching Management” all the time. Well, opinions differ. There are some who pronounce a short I, with a schwa between the T and M. Something like Idyll-Tm. Others go for a longer I (Idle-Tm) though some dislike the fact that this creates the word “Idle” in the title, while some participants have played fast and loose and gone with Ideal-Team.
Whatever it is called, though, it is an excellent qualification for managers in language teaching organisations – whether they be private language schools, university entry programmes, large multinational educational chains, state sector providers, or any other language centre.

About the author

Andy Hockley is a freelance educational management consultant and teacher trainer based in deepest Transylvania. After 11 years of teaching English worldwide, he completed an MA in International and Intercultural Management in the USA. He has been training (both teachers and managers) for over 15 years and has been coordinating and training on the IDLTM (International Diploma in Language Teaching Management) since its inception in 2001. He is co-author of 'From Teacher to Manager' (CUP, 2008), 'Managing Education in the Digital Age' (The Round, 2014) and author of 'Educational Management' (Polirom, 2007). He is also the co-ordinator of the IATEFL Leadership and Management Special Interest Group (LAMSIG).

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