Having been invited to run a summer school sponsored by the Italian government, we’ve spent much of our summertime immersed in the language classroom.
Aged between 14 and 18, our young group of multilinguals took to the training like proverbial ducks to water – and have been rejoicing in the world of language learning ever since.
Set against the stunning backdrop of Bradfield College, these past few months have acted as a timely reminder of the magnificent merits of summer schools.
Schools are for summer
“By hosting a summer school in a country where the language is spoken, it makes the entire experience much more real,” explains our resident Training Manager, Mark Lewis.
“But above all, it takes place in a way that relieves the pressure. In a summer school, there are no exams to worry about and the only pressure participants face is to communicate with one another, which, of course, grows easier as time goes by.”
What’s more, unlike a traditional academic environment, summer schools are designed to provide a holistic learning experience.
Mark says, “When you know that what you learn can be used outside the classroom on the same day, it tends to focus the mind!”
But in a world of limitless distractions, how can summer schools ‘focus the mind’ – especially when the language classroom is filled with hyperactive teens?
Summer schools ideal for aspiring multilinguals
“The experience should not mirror what the students encounter at school. In a summer school the attention is moved from the teacher to the students,” Mark says.
“You learn by participating, not by copying or repeating. What is required is a curriculum that takes this into account, and a teacher who is passionate about what they are doing.”
By ticking both these boxes, summer school organisers lay the foundations for a truly unique educational experience.
If participants really want to enjoy themselves and get the best out of the school, however, they must enter the classroom with a real sense of drive and purpose.
“As a language teacher, it’s important for you to walk into the classroom with a smile on your face,” Mark says.
“Appreciate it! It’s a great opportunity, and you’re lucky to get it.”
As well as being a great way to sample different cultures, upgrade a resume, build confidence and develop language skills, a summer school can work wonders for a learner’s social skills.
Apprentice polyglots often establish strong and long-lasting friendships with one another in the learning curve, and establish a sense of connection which, in many ways, is the essence of language learning.