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English camp can be seen by some as just one more burden for our overworked teachers; however, there are some schools who have embraced the concept. Some educational commentators would state that it is the government directive that has been the catalyst for the increase in English camp activities that schools have undertaken as part of their academic requirement recently.

 

Earlier this year, I was involved with an English camp at Bantatprachanukoon School in Ban Phue district, Udon Thani. There are three teachers at the school who have been involved in a project I am overseeing and I was interested to see what they could do at an English camp.

 

These teachers are Prathom teachers, who have not had formal training to become English language teachers. I wanted to see how they would cope after taking part in the project we were doing as in my opinion, most teachers in this situation can do a good job if they feel confident in themselves.

 

They chose their activities that they wanted to do in the English camp and prepared it in their own time. There were some meetings conducted so that questions could be asked and answered, but the planning was left up to the teachers themselves.

 

The camp was to last for two days and because of the numbers; it was decided to split the Prathom students into two groups, 1-3 for the first day and 4-6 for the second. This was a voluntary camp and involved about 160 pupils.

 

It was decided that four stations would be the best option, allowing four groups to take part in four activities in the morning and after lunch and a change of activities, four groups would visit four further stations in the afternoon.

 

The children arrived well before the start time and met in the meeting hall to check their names and to have a warm up session. Everyone seemed excited and eager to take part in the activities.

 

My three teachers had someone at their station with them to help; however, they were in charge of the activities that were being presented and I watched them throughout the two days conduct themselves admirably. They seemed very confident and this confidence grew through the two days.

 

At the end of the first day, several teachers wanted to amend parts of their activities for the next day due to the students being older and at a higher level, which I found particularly pleasing as it showed they were flexible and able to adapt as they went along.  

 

After a good warm-down session, the children filled out questionnaires which asked for feedback as to what they thought of their English camp. The results were extremely favourable, which is to be expected in Thailand; however, where they were asked to write their own comments, organisers were able to look at specific areas that students particularly liked or areas for improvement for next time.

 

My three Prathom teachers said that they had gained a lot from this experience; the most important being that by preparing properly, teachers feel more confident in what they are doing and with the right support, they are capable of doing almost anything if they really want to.


 

English camp


Children from Bantatprachanukoon School asking why elephants are so big and why chickens are so small.

(Unedited article published in the Bangkok Post 21st July 2009)

 
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