One of the ongoing projects I’ve been working on has been to train leaders to run the English camp once Peace Corps leaves. I blogged about it before here where I mentioned that Romanian High Schools students were being trained by Peace Corps Volunteers and the Romanian NGO “Leaders of the Third Millennium”. During the summer, leaders received training on leadership development and then attended our summer English camp as camp leaders. Like any project, at the end of the camp our students gave us feedback and suggested that we provide them with more training on teaching English in a camp setting….so that’s what we did in December 2012.
We regrouped on a cold, rainy Saturday in December and I led a morning workshop introducing students to the communicative way of teaching English. The basic idea of this method, and one that I use in the classroom, is to teach English using interactive ways for students to learn. The leaders were introduced to the use of -total physical response-natural approach-relia-scripting/role play, gamification-sorting-peer work/small group. In essence, these methods taught our leaders how to implement music, poetry, hands on activities, games, and practice dialogues that students will use during camp. Leaders were involved in the morning session by participating in the games and methods I introduced. Then, to immediately apply the learned skills, we had a group of young learners come to school so the leaders could practice teaching them a lesson. It was a complete success because each leaders had a chance to teach a lesson in English using two methods learned in the morning. From the feedback we received the leaders felt more comfortable and prepared than how they felt last summer.
Our winter English camp took place in early January in Ranca, a small ski resort 30 minutes from where I live. Three leaders came up to the camp and led lessons during the four day camp. The breakdown of the camp consist of three morning activities that focus around a theme, during the winter we focused on winter vocabulary, Christmas songs, winter sports and other similar lessons. All lessons and outdoor activities are led in English and students are expected to use the vocabulary learned during the day in the afternoon activities.
We have done a lot of wonderful activities not simply to teach English but to encourage students to step outside their comfort zone and meet new kids. We all know how it is, we stick to who we know…so we developed peer work and team activities in the first day so students felt comfortable approaching kids they didn’t know. We did a wonderful activity last summer in which each student created a paper mailbox which we later taped to their bedroom door. At the end of each day we had reflection time and students were asked to write something nice about each student and deliver the mail. It was truly wonderful to see kids run around delivering mail and later hear of the wonderful things students wrote!
We work with the students from 8:30-11ish(long days), depending on the night games the students want to play. During this camp, we played American trivia, musical chairs, danced, made Christmas tree ornaments, snow globes, peer work, skied and had a scavenger hunt. We also played dodgeball and tug of war in the snow. Oh, on our first night we watched Home Alone–always a good choice!
I commend and applaud these leaders because it takes a lot of courage to teach a foreign language at such a young age, especially when its their first time doing so. They have taken responsibilities that a lot of students their age shy away from. I know they will make powerful and important contributions in their communities. There is still one more camp we’ll run this summer and with that I’ll conclude my service and head back home.
Below are pictures from the training and the camp. I know they are out of order, I apologize. Andrea.