Summertime, and the living is easy…unless you’re a TEFL teacher. Along with those hot summer rays, your summer as a TEFL teacher will be full of bright young students brought by their parents who are eager to make the most of their child’s summer break. This season is full of summer school programs, field trips and an influx of students into regular classes. Read on for my tips on how to make the most of the season, or, if you really are that busy, to survive.
If you don’t have time for tips and just want some summer outdoor activities, you can download a free summer resource below. It has five great games and projects for you to try with your YL or teen classes to enjoy the weather.
In the Classroom
Summer is full of distractions for students. They are in your classroom, but probably distracted by their amazing morning at the beach or their upcoming vacation. During the school year, if you ask your young students about their week, it is often the same answers. “I went to school. I went to science class. I went home. I went to sleep.” The summer is another story…literally.
Why not make the most out of these stories? One way to do this is by having your students keep journals. This can be done in a number of ways:
1. Pictorial journals, where they draw a quick picture each week of their favorite moment and a sentence to go with it. They can then share with a partner or the class. I recommend keeping strict time limits on this.
2. Written journals. Challenge your higher level students to a 10 minute journal entry once a week. Collect them every so often and give them feedback. You could potentially even have other students read them and give feedback.
3. A story through pictures. Use social media in a natural way and have students post photos once a week on a shared social media space. They have to write about the photo and post comments about two other people’s photos. Keep it a closed community and make sure to monitor this.
I’ve also had a lot of success with book clubs during the summer season. Obviously this would need to be with higher level students and you’d need a decent buffer in the curriculum to allow for this. However, if you give the reading as homework, you can get away with spending only thirty to forty minutes a week on this: five to ten minutes checking for understanding and answering students’ questions, twenty five minutes for discussion activities and another five minutes to assign the reading for the next week. Nothing increases a high level student’s vocabulary better than reading; and nothing is more stimulating for conversation than a good book.
For some summer outdoor activities, you can download the resource by clicking on the link at the end of this post.
Summer Course Ideas
For the past two years my teaching team has been trying to come up with new and unique ideas for summer courses. We’d all been a part of the same old boring summer schools and wanted to do something a little different. Well, many of the stranger ideas didn’t work out so well. Here’s my advice for popular summer course ideas that work.
The creative studio:
This can mean whatever you want it to mean. We found that by making the course too specific (arts and crafts, acting, singing, etc.) it polarized students too much. By clumping together all of these creative outlets and advertising it to students, there was something for everyone.
The English taught in this class is not as direct as a classic TEFL lesson. Instead, the project is the priority and English the backdrop. It is essential that instructions and feedback are carried out in English. Students pick up a lot of language without necessarily being taught it in the classic sense. On the teacher’s part, instructions need to be well thought out and visual asÂ well as verbal. This is for young learners.
2) Intensive Summer courses
Especially in Asia, it’s common that students don’t really have a summer break in the same sense as in many western countries. Instead, many students’ summers become cram sessions in different subjects where they are lacking or that they have a special interest in. Some of our most successful courses have been “intensive courses” that meet twice as often as a normal course and cover twice the material.
3) Test Prep courses
Likewise, students, or at least their parents, like the idea of challenging their children. There are several good tests out there for teens from Cambridge (PET, KET, FCT) or TOEFL which now has TOEFL junior. By doing these tests early, it gives students a realistic picture of their English according to internationally recognized tests. It is also a way to increase their confidence before they take important entrance exams for High School or University.
I’m going to come clean here, I haven’t had an incredible amount of success trying to promote different clubs at my school. That might be partly due to being based in a relatively small community, but we’ve only been able to run a few of these and usually without large numbers of students enrolling.
Having said that, I’m a big fan of the idea of clubs and will keep trying to run them to the day I die! Maybe that’s because I was such an active member in clubs when I was younger. Anyways, here are some ideas that I’ve tried out. Maybe you’ll have more success than me.
- Model United Nations
- Writing Club
- School Newspaper
Outside of the Classroom
Personally, I prefer the idea of students having a bit of fun during their summer break rather than taking intensive courses or preparing for difficult tests. However, there is increasing pressure in many countries students to master English at a young age. That doesn’t mean that they need to have a horrible time doing it.
Based on the feedback from parents at our school, we are planning a lot of fun summer excursions for students. These will include field trips to local museums, sites or beautiful natural places. Of course there will be an English language component, but the goal is that they have a blast and a fun summer memory.
Another thing we are planning to do with our teen students is to get them involved in the community by volunteering at orphanages, taking part in beach clean up projects and other such community centered activities. We don’t only want to improve our students’ English, but as we promised their parents, to help them become global citizens concerned about their local community.
I hope this helps you with your summer whether your are a teacher, manager or even student. If you don’t have a direct say over what courses are run at your school, consider suggesting one of the above that sounded interesting to you.
It’s summertime. It’s gonna be a hot one in the TEFL industry.