Language learning expert Greg Thomson once implored learners: “Don’t learn the language! Rather, relearn the world, as it is known and shared by the people whose language you are learning.” Indeed, language is more than just a means of communication, but a way of thinking and interpreting the world. Unfortunately, most programs do not implement Thomson’s progressive approach to language acquisition and instead rely on rote memorization.
Three core features define our customized ESL camps:
- Immersive classrooms: Current domestic high school seniors serve as peer ambassadors and work with exchange students in small groups.
- Team-building activities: These enable exchange students to encourage and teach each other.
- Homestay: Students improve language skills through conversations with their American host family and build enduring bonds with their host families.
Two weeks ago, 30 students from Hainan Overseas High School in China visited The Sparhawk School in Amesbury, MA to participate in an immersive ESL Camp. In partnership with The Sparhawk School, the International Collaborative Programs team adapted our seven-day program to the specific goals of our partner.
In addition to English pronunciation, reading comprehension and essay writing lessons, the curriculum included American jokes and riddles, idiomatic expressions, creative writing and outdoor team-building activities. These creative approaches to learning English provided students a fun way to improve their confidence and fluency. During the American jokes and riddles lesson, the classroom was filled with laughter as students created and performed their own English jokes. Using their imagination and new English vocabulary, students honed their linguistic skills by developing elaborate stories in the creative writing workshop.
Discovering new English expressions, cultural nuances and historic sites in the local area, students gained valuable insights on America, China and themselves. Emma, a student enrolled in the rigorous Sino-US program at Hainan Overseas High School, described the camp as “an unforgettable learning experience” and one that she “will remember for the rest of [her] life.” As another student, Daniel, aptly asserted, “Our trip here has enriched my perspective on American culture and education. In many ways, I have matured.”
Yet, it was not only the students who benefited from this short-term exchange camp. Host families praised the character of students and the camp, describing the exchange as a “great experience.” One host parent in particular was “so very touched” by her guest that she noted the two “will miss each other so very much and will definitely stay in touch!” During the final award ceremony, Sparhawk Headmaster Louise Stilphen echoed the sentiments of host families and was “very impressed” by the visiting students.
KnowledgeLink ESL Camp is just one example of a short-term exchange program that can be customized based on your school’s resources and needs. Our team can work with you to design a program that enhances language learning while also cultivating meaningful relationships within your school’s community. If you are interested in learning more about our ESL camp or any of the many ways in which a short-term exchange can benefit your school, please contact [email protected]