Working at a French Language Summer Camp- My Experiences

Finding summer employment is often a necessity for teachers. A good option for language teachers is to teach at a summer language course- find a list of these here.

I taught at once such course two years ago in Tipperary. I should stress that the language school in question is now closed down and doesn’t feature on the above list. However, I felt that it may be useful to give a brief overview of my tasks to anyone thinking of working in one.

In my case, I had three hours of Junior Certificate classes in the morning and three hours of senior level classes in the evening. Each class had a fifteen minute break. In this particular college, students were free to stay from one week to three weeks. As well as this, many foreign students attended the college. Unfortunately some Irish students had arrived under the impression that it was an “French speaking only” college- this wasn’t the case.

The college marketed the course as being a “intensive exam preparation” course for all levels. As I knew that the course was quite expensive, I really did my utmost to make the course a worthwhile one for the students. Naturally, some students were more motivated than others. Just like a normal classroom, some students aimed for A grades whilst it was clear that others had been sent as a result of their parents! This was obviously to be expected. However, this discrepancy did initially prove somewhat challenging and I don’t think I have ever differentiated so much in a short space of time!   As well as this, I had no ICT resources whatsoever in my classroom (no internet/ projector/ computer/ CD player), so making the classes interesting was definitely challenging at times. Luckily I used some fun activities (“stop the bus” in French, whiteboard races) that are still useful today in my classroom.

Lodgings were included, as were meals. I did have to share a room with another member of staff. My pay was €400 per week.

Before beginning to teach, I was given very little information about teaching the course itself. I had been informed that the college would provide their own resources and that there was no real need to bring my own. However, I found these quite disappointing. The resources for each class consisted of a folder of various topics- many of the pages were missing from it. I found that the folder didn’t really reflect the course’s intention to be an “intensive exam preparation” opportunity for students. Luckily I had brought my own memory stick but I would advise anyone working in a summer college to clarify matters before they arrive!

Overall, working in a language college can certainly be a great experience and a great asset to your CV.  However, I would definitely contact the college beforehand so that you know exactly what to expect in terms of facilities and resources. Always bring a back up just in case! Again, I must mention that this college that I refer to above has recently closed down. I know that my friend worked at another one (mentioned on my list here) and had a wonderful experience. Feel free to ask any questions!


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