Kieran McGovern offers some handy hints for coping with, and maybe even enjoying, those gruelling summer language courses.
In the popular imagination, a summer school is pretty much a paid holiday. The teacher holds forth to his/her enraptured students, perhaps under a shady tree. One hot afternoon teaching the present perfect to riotous fourteen-year-olds in an airless room will cure you of that illusion.
Thinking about how difficult the summer school experience can be for new teachers, I prepared a tip sheet for teaching short courses.
Here’s a summary:
- Vary activities & keep everything moving fast.
- Use a course book or a planned programme of materials. Students like to see that they are following a plan.
- Reduce teacher talk time. Give concise instructions but devolve activities via pair & small group work.
- Avoid whole-class speaking activities.
- Allow the shy to shine. Don’t force participation but give quiet students the space to contribute.
- Children/Young Learners sometimes need calming down! Dictation is a surprisingly effective tactic.
- Ban the use of bi-lingual dictionaries in class (see below)
- Remember you’re in charge! Two YLs never stop talking? Split them up!
- Keep students informed about your lesson plan: e.g. ‘First we’ll …. then you’ll ….’
- Encourage friendly competition but between teams rather than individuals.
What do you think? Do you have suggestions for making summer schools survivable – enjoyable even?