Teaching at an ELT summer school – An expert’s view on non-residential teaching roles

Find out from an expert what it is like teaching at an ELT summer school, focussing on non-residential roles.

With the summer fast approaching, we thought it an ideal time to look at something that many teachers will be doing, teaching at one of the countless ELT summer schools around the world. To get an expert’s view, we chatted with Adam Cookson, the Kaplan International Languages Director of Operations UKI about the different aspects of this rewarding ELT teaching experience…

 

What is life like for a first-time EFL summer school teacher? What is an average day like?

A lot of fun! It can be quite hectic, especially if you are working with juniors and running activities/supervising meals but there is usually a great team spirit. There is often a good mix of brand-new teachers and more experienced ones so it’s a great opportunity to learn from each other.

An average day would be planning lessons, teaching, mixing with colleagues and sharing ideas. If it is a junior centre, you might also be playing sports, doing arts and crafts, supervising meals or going on trips.

What are the best things about being a non-residential teacher in a summer school?

Lots of variety, lots of excited students. Students usually stay for a short time during summer, so you get new students all the time. The atmosphere in the school is a lot of fun with many people studying abroad for the first time. For the students, it is an experience of a lifetime and it is great to be part of that.

If you are a new teacher, it is a great opportunity to try out what you have learnt and get some experience. There are usually plenty of hours available so you can try out different levels. If you throw yourself into it, you can get so much experience in a very short time.

Are there any potentially negative aspects of teaching in a summer school?

Schools are often very busy so it can be quite full on. I would say that is all part of the fun though! The first week can be a little bit stressful if you are in the management team and responsible for setting everything up. You can make great friends with other teachers at the end of a stressful week though and the weather is great!

Is it ok to reuse lesson plans and English language games from previous summer school roles?

Definitely! You should always follow the school’s curriculum of course but you will often find that there are lots of activities that you can include that fit within the curriculum. Becoming more experienced as a teacher involves refining some of your activities and working out what works well. Sometimes you will find that an activity goes brilliantly with one group and is a bit of a disaster with another. Repeating activities with different groups and reflecting on what did or didn’t work and why, is a very useful process.

Having some go to material is also useful if you have some extra time at the end of the lesson or are asked if you could do some last-minute cover. More experienced teachers often have loads and loads of material and can walk into any class and just start teaching without preparation. That takes time of course but a summer school is a great place to get that kind of experience and confidence.

How do you best build respect and rapport quickly with students in a summer school?

It sounds obvious but make sure you remember their names and interests. Most schools will expect your lessons to be fun and not too formal. You are the teacher and in control of the class but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a joke with your students. They should be laughing and learning!

It is important to find your own style and perfect it. It is always a good idea to do some peer observations and get feedback from your students whenever you can.

Try to be confident but never lie if you don’t know the answer, just tell them you will get back to them with an answer tomorrow (but make sure you do). Set rules on phone use and stick to them!

What is the difference between teaching classes of monolingual students and teaching students from multiple different countries?

Multilingual classes are often easier as if they want to speak to each other, they have to use English. There is also often more curiosity about each other’s culture so lots of differences to explore and discussions to be had.

In monolingual classes, you have to work harder to make sure everyone is speaking English. Explanations of vocabulary can be quicker though as often when one student gets it, they will say the word in their language.

What is the longest recommended commute time for a teacher teaching at a non-residential summer school?

It's difficult to say exactly, but I would say that a commute of more than an hour is probably too far for a non-residential teaching role at a summer school.


Roles teaching at a summer school available!

If you are interested in teaching at a summer school, there are non-residential UK summer school roles available with Kaplan, one of the world's leading educational providers. There are also similar roles available in Dublin. If these roles aren't right for you, please check out other available jobs on the TEFLwork website.


Apply for a CELTA!

We have a wide range of different CELTA courses for you to choose from from around the world. See more information on and apply to upcoming CELTA courses by date here. You can also find out more about the CELTA course in general. For those looking to take the next step up on the ELT ladder, you can see upcoming DELTA courses by date here. You also can find out more about the DELTA course in general.



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With the summer fast approaching, we thought it an ideal time to look at something that many teachers will be doing, teaching at one of the countless ELT summer schools around the world. To get an expert's view, we chatted with Adam Cookson, the Kaplan International Languages Director of Operations UKI about the different aspects of this rewarding ELT teaching experience...

 

What is life like for a first-time EFL summer school teacher? What is an average day like?

A lot of fun! It can be quite hectic, especially if you are working with juniors and running activities/supervising meals but there is usually a great team spirit. There is often a good mix of brand-new teachers and more experienced ones so it’s a great opportunity to learn from each other.

An average day would be planning lessons, teaching, mixing with colleagues and sharing ideas. If it is a junior centre, you might also be playing sports, doing arts and crafts, supervising meals or going on trips.

What are the best things about being a non-residential teacher in a summer school?

Lots of variety, lots of excited students. Students usually stay for a short time during summer, so you get new students all the time. The atmosphere in the school is a lot of fun with many people studying abroad for the first time. For the students, it is an experience of a lifetime and it is great to be part of that.

If you are a new teacher, it is a great opportunity to try out what you have learnt and get some experience. There are usually plenty of hours available so you can try out different levels. If you throw yourself into it, you can get so much experience in a very short time.

Are there any potentially negative aspects of teaching in a summer school?

Schools are often very busy so it can be quite full on. I would say that is all part of the fun though! The first week can be a little bit stressful if you are in the management team and responsible for setting everything up. You can make great friends with other teachers at the end of a stressful week though and the weather is great!

Is it ok to reuse lesson plans and English language games from previous summer school roles?

Definitely! You should always follow the school’s curriculum of course but you will often find that there are lots of activities that you can include that fit within the curriculum. Becoming more experienced as a teacher involves refining some of your activities and working out what works well. Sometimes you will find that an activity goes brilliantly with one group and is a bit of a disaster with another. Repeating activities with different groups and reflecting on what did or didn’t work and why, is a very useful process.

Having some go to material is also useful if you have some extra time at the end of the lesson or are asked if you could do some last-minute cover. More experienced teachers often have loads and loads of material and can walk into any class and just start teaching without preparation. That takes time of course but a summer school is a great place to get that kind of experience and confidence.

How do you best build respect and rapport quickly with students in a summer school?

It sounds obvious but make sure you remember their names and interests. Most schools will expect your lessons to be fun and not too formal. You are the teacher and in control of the class but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a joke with your students. They should be laughing and learning!

It is important to find your own style and perfect it. It is always a good idea to do some peer observations and get feedback from your students whenever you can.

Try to be confident but never lie if you don’t know the answer, just tell them you will get back to them with an answer tomorrow (but make sure you do). Set rules on phone use and stick to them!

What is the difference between teaching classes of monolingual students and teaching students from multiple different countries?

Multilingual classes are often easier as if they want to speak to each other, they have to use English. There is also often more curiosity about each other’s culture so lots of differences to explore and discussions to be had.

In monolingual classes, you have to work harder to make sure everyone is speaking English. Explanations of vocabulary can be quicker though as often when one student gets it, they will say the word in their language.

What is the longest recommended commute time for a teacher teaching at a non-residential summer school?

It's difficult to say exactly, but I would say that a commute of more than an hour is probably too far for a non-residential teaching role at a summer school.


Roles teaching at a summer school available!

If you are interested in teaching at a summer school, there are non-residential UK summer school roles available with Kaplan, one of the world's leading educational providers. There are also similar roles available in Dublin. If these roles aren't right for you, please check out other available jobs on the TEFLwork website.


Apply for a CELTA!

We have a wide range of different CELTA courses for you to choose from from around the world. See more information on and apply to upcoming CELTA courses by date here. You can also find out more about the CELTA course in general. For those looking to take the next step up on the ELT ladder, you can see upcoming DELTA courses by date here. You also can find out more about the DELTA course in general.

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