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Itís that time again, when TEFL teachers get booted out of their schools for summer and begin to regret heavily moving into a career which rarely offers holiday pay. So what do we do, go back to England and get another teaching job which solves the problem of no holiday pay by in fact depriving you of your holiday.
Which is generally OK because itís normally a pretty good laugh.

Iíve worked on a number of summer schools, always with Italians and itís true to say that many of them are not motivated so much by English but the holiday itself. I wouldnít say this undermined their commitment but they are usually open to fun activities in class as opposed to more traditional classroom activities. The last time I taught some of our lessons were taken up with video, music, mock guided tours, games, watching Italy win the World Cup again. We also did a lot of conversation and very little grammar.
 

View from the classroom



There are always boundaries to respect when dealing with teenage students like these, rightly so, but it doesnít lead us down the path of absolute formality and I found I was always able to have a laugh with the class. Boundaries do not need to be marked with barbed wire. Itís true what they say about students needing to know who is in control, but it doesnít mean shouting. It simply means knowing what your job is and showing you know what your job is.
It might be worth adding that when teachers get angry, it is more often than not with themselves rather than with the class. Lazily planned or unprepared lessons that donít go exactly the way the teacher wants them to can rattle their cage a bit, some people donít have the dignity to own up to things and just get narked. But then, thatís another discussion.
The programme I mainly worked on was a study holiday which gave students three hours of lesson time a day. It was organised so we would give lessons in both the morning and the afternoon, to two different groups who then changed over half way through, and came to morning class very bleary eyed. It wasnít all about partying all night, they wanted to sleep and in spite of a few of them being in friendsí rooms until the early hours, it had more to do with the constant monitoring of the group leaders. Responding to this is part of the job, getting them woken up with more speaking-based tasks in the morning is a good idea, but not so planning activities which require the whole class to be fully with it. I organised a talkathon contest once, and half the class were in the land of nod, they barely said anything.
The magic of the summer programmes is for me rising to the challenge of not spoiling the studentsí holidays by being the boring one they have to put up with in the morning, and it is praise indeed when after two weeks of parties, talent shows, trips to London and generally dossing around with their new friends (and they forge very strong bonds on these trips) some of them still list the lessons as one of the best things of the trip. One girl once said to me, ďthank you, I always hated English but now I love it.Ē I donít know how much she actually learned, but itís still probably the biggest thing Iíve achieved in a classroom. That is in essence our job, to inspire. When we do that, everything else tends to fall into place.
 

Accommodation


Italians are, as youíll see from the site elsewhere, fantastic people with a passion for life, and having a group of 16 or so in your classroom does keep you on your toes. But a little devotion to duty and creativity goes a long way, and I for one like to think that some of them take more away from the experience than their photos. I know for a fact that two ex-students, now in their 20s, are studying English at university partly because of their English experience. Many may forget it, thatís their choice, but English is not for everybody. For two weeks in summer, we do our best to give them chance to make the right choice, and maybe have a bit of fun into the bargain.
If youíre interested in summer teaching in England, I only recommend two employers:
Accent Courses Ltd
Stafford House
There may be other good ones but I have had no contact with them.