The International Language Centre (isi) - a service facility of the University of Innsbruck – has offered students and employees of the University of Innsbruck, in addition to those generally interested in language courses, a range of high quality language and inter-cultural courses since the winter term of 2002/03.

Currently, participants can choose from a wide-ranging offer from twenty different languages and over 100 courses. Approximately 40,000 participants have completed courses at the isi to date.




The isi focuses on improving both participants’ listening and reading comprehension skills in addition to oral and writing skills in equal measure. The educational objectives and contents of our courses are based on the levels stated in the Common European Framework of Reference of Languages (CEFR).

Our language lessons are designed to be interactive and are supplemented by means of the latest media. By simulating everyday situations in class, participants are successfully prepared in the use of the relevant language for everyday situations. Also, enhancing awareness in cultural contexts provides participants with an additional core element of our practice-orientated lessons.

The isi is renowned for its high level of learning standards and continual class participation. Combined with our group-specific learning objectives and methodological lesson planning, this enables participants to achieve an accelerated learning progression.

Our teachers at the isi are highly motivated and qualified with university level qualifications and possess many years of experience. The university concept of teaching at the isi offers the additional benefits of research-oriented foreign language courses: Current topics as well as the latest didactical findings are constantly incorporated into lesson planning. The positive
feedback from participants regarding our courses confirms that the teaching concept and the teaching staff at the isi are focused primarily on the learning success of participants.


The language and inter-cultural courses at the isi are aimed at…

Pfeil_grün ... adult learners
Pfeil_grün ... lernerfahrene und lerngewohnte TeilnehmerInnen, die 
  ... participants who are experienced learners and, in contributing to their own personal learning
... success, know (their own) learning strategies as well as possessing a readiness to learn
... independently and outside the classroom setting.

Language lessons at the isi are characterised by…

Pfeil_grün ... standardised and transparent learning objectives and learning content
Pfeil_grün ... research-orientated language teaching
Pfeil_grün ... extensive emphasis on the four skills - listening and reading comprehension, writing and speaking  (in
... terms of participating in conversations) – in lessons,  in accordance with the Common European
... Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL)
Pfeil_grün ... simulation of real-life communicative situations as a preparation for use of acquired knowledge in real
... situations
Pfeil_grün ... conveyance of cultural context as a significant element of language lessons
Pfeil_grün ... target-group specific methodological organisation of lessons
Pfeil_grün ... highly competent teaching
Pfeil_grün ... enhanced learning progress
Pfeil_grün ... high level of learning requirements
Pfeil_grün ... lessons defined by active participation of participants
Pfeil_grün ... transparent guidelines regarding performance requirements  in addition to transparent assessment
... and measurement of  performance
Pfeil_grün ... a testing culture in terms of a feedback culture
Pfeil_grün ... interactive lessons

Additionally, isi offers its participants…




isi Quality Assurance

The distinguishing feature of isi’s courses has been the high level of satisfaction among the course participants for many years. This endorses isi and its teaching staff in their teaching and service concept. Similarly, it is also the goal of all further endeavours.

Measures for systematic quality assurance are therefore essential aspects of our work. In order to comprehensively establish and secure our standards, underlying guidelines were drawn up by the management and teaching staff of isi in the academic year of 2007/08. The implementation of these guidelines has been continually expanded and checked since their conception as part of the isi Quality Assurance Concept.

isi-Quality Assurance Concept

  • Course design, lesson composition and the level of service are consequently centred around the profile of the isi language courses, which was developed as part of the isi guidelines for language teaching.
  • The isi quality assurance grid offers an overview of the concrete quality assurance measures we use to ensure the implementation of each of the individual isi guidelines (we use the umbrella term quality assurance building blocks for the quality assurance measures). As an example, the quality assurance grid outlines which questions in the course participant survey correspond to the isi guidelines. The quality assurance grid serves, above all, as a test of whether the quality assurance loop is comprehensively closed in all points, and is therefore mainly used in internal process monitoring and
  • The implementation of the guidelines is systematically and regularly evaluated within the framework of the course participant survey.
  • The results of this evaluation are published on the isi website.
  • A key aspect of the quality assurance loop (planning – realisation – evaluation – improvement) is the insights gained from the results of the evaluation. These insights form the basis of isi’s further quality assurance efforts. The isi management team consequently publish a brief statement regarding the evaluation results.
  • The central foundations for quality assurance measures are developed and managed by topic-focussed working parties.
  • The isi quality handbook offers a catalogue of all the relevant materials for implementing the quality assurance concept.

The building blocks of the isi quality assurance concept

  • Selection of teaching staff

    Isi follows the qualification profile for teachers from the union of university language centres and institutions, which was established in 2007 as a common standard to ensure the quality requirements for the selection of teaching staff
    ( The participants of isi courses are therefore exclusively taught by engaging, academically educated teachers, with many years of teaching experience and high didactic competence.

  • Limitation on the number of course participants

    In order to be able to ensure an environment conducive to learning, and the provision of individual support from the teaching staff, the number of participants is limited to 20 for conversation courses and 23 for general language courses.

  • Selection of teaching material

    Teaching and learning materials are factors that contribute to the success of language lessons. The teaching staff at isi therefore choose their text books on the basis of a cooperative, systematic assessment of which materials are suitable for each course. The selection criteria are based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), when available, and include the trial of the text books in lessons aligned with the CEFR, as well as book recommendations by expert representatives of accredited publishers.

  • Assurance of the participant requirements

    An essential requirement for the success of a course is the current level of the course participants. In order to provide a suitable course for participants, isi has made placement tests and help available on the isi website (available here). Those interested in a course are also informed about the possibility of having a personal consultation and that a high level of demand, as well as a steep learning curve, are part of the isi course concept. In order to ensure learning success, isi’s course offer is conceived for a precisely defined target group. The definition of the target group can be found on the isi website (here) and is published in the description of the isi offer.

  • Transparency of the lesson content and learning goals

    The isi courses are oriented around six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). For the isi language courses the individual levels are further subdivided into so-called plus-levels. The description of the learning goals of the individual course levels can be found on the isi website (here). The description of the content and learning goals of individual courses can be found on the isi website under the relevant course.

  • The learners’ contribution to the success of the course

    The success of a language course is dependent on the motivation and participation of course participants. Alongside the effective teaching methodology of the teaching staff, isi places great value on informing course participants about the expectations of them in advance. This is communicated by means of the course application and course description, as well as, from the winter term of 2014/15, an information hand-out, which participants will receive at the beginning of the course.

  • Survey of course participants

    In order to evaluate the performance of isi, a special questionnaire has been designed, which collects information about the course participants’ satisfaction with the course, as well as their satisfaction with the accompanying isi services. The questionnaire comprises six topic areas and 24 questions. The questionnaire is carried out regularly at the end of each term across the board and is analysed by a neutral, superior body (the statistical analysis is carried out by the vis-group of the University of Innsbruck). A sample questionnaire can be found here, and a summary of the findings from the last survey can be found here.

  • Transparency of the performance review

    The performance review of isi courses is carried out according to consistent standards. It has been formulated together with the isi teaching staff and can be found in published form on the isi website (examination regulations at the isi).

  • Continuing professional development (CPD) for teaching staff

    In order to ensure the special didactic standards of the isi courses, the isi teaching staff are offered specific opportunities for professional development. An important focus is on the integration of current research in (foreign) language acquisition in the design of the lessons. To this end, experts in adult education and scientists from the relevant disciplines are involved in projects, working groups and CPD opportunities within isi. The demand and the satisfaction of the teaching staff is constantly reviewed through internal consultation and the programme is adapted accordingly.

  • Quality assurance workgroups

    For the continual development of special quality assurance matters, topic-focussed working groups are appointed by isi. Teaching staff and members of isi’s management team deal with special issues in didactics in the context of adult learning and issues of performance assessment. For example; the Didactics working group deals with the implementation of research-led teaching in isi courses. The working group for Performance Evaluation in Conversation and Writing Courses has worked on the continual development of the isi exam regulations.

  • isi quality assurance pilot project

    isi has assigned itself the task of continually verifying and expanding its quality assurance measures. Through internal university and inter-institution pilot projects, relevant questions will be explored and instruments tested, for example the ECTS project. As part of this project isi has investigated the question of how much time participants really (have to) invest to achieve the intended success of their isi course.