Summer courses are very short and usually pretty intensive. It’s a good idea to have everything planned in advance.
Here’s a checklist of things that are worth remembering.
As with any other course, it’s important to check what the students’ goals are. Needs analysis is going to be your friend here. For such a short course, it’s enough to just have a chat with your students and find out why they signed up for this course. The goals could be very specific, for example: I want to be able to communicate on holidays, or more general: I want to improve my general speaking skills.
Once you know what your students want to work on, it’s time to get the syllabus ready. And even if you don’t normally prepare a syllabus for the standard course, it might come in handy during the summer lessons. These courses are so short you want to make sure you cover all the necessary topics.
Read this article for more information about needs analysis and preparing a syllabus.
Materials and activities
Now that you have your syllabus, choose the materials. And again, even if you don’t normally prepare in advance, having all your materials lined up is going to save you a lot of hassle.
What can you use?
People who choose to learn English in the summer, most probably want to brush up on their speaking skills. But depending on their level, they might mean something different.
Students at these levels usually want to learn functional language (even though they might not know this name). So they’ll want some useful phrases and language used in real-life communication, usually on holiday. It could be: ordering food, buying things, getting public transport, etc. Practical first and foremost. Something that they can use straight away. You can find a lot of ready-to-use materials for situations like this in our shop HERE.
For these levels, you might want to use a lot of communicative activities, such as role plays, scenarios and situations.
Check out this article for more on how to teach functional language, and this one to find out more about role plays.
And if you want to make it super practical for your students, try this:
Instead of a regular classroom lesson, one of the days, your group can pretend to be tourists. Go out to a restaurant or pub, and get the students to order their own food and drinks in English. And then, continue talking in English at the table as well. Depending on your groups and location, this might not always be possible. But if you can organise one day of the course for an outing like this, it will give the students a great practice run before they go on holiday and have to order their own food in English, in a real situation.
If you can’t organise to go out, set up a fictional restaurant/airport/hotel in your classroom: move the tables around and get students to play different roles.
Students at higher levels are usually familiar with most functional language (although sometimes they still need some work on that), and they might look for something else. Maybe they want to improve or maintain their speaking skills while learning some more vocabulary?
For these students, summer courses are a great opportunity to introduce more unusual topics. People are generally in better moods and more willing to discuss topics such as Immortality, Chocolate or Jewellery (you can find all of these topics, together with ideas for activities, in Lesson Starters Upper).
Make it complete
This is one of the reasons why it’s important to create a syllabus for your summer classes. The last one or two lessons should really feel like it’s the end of a course. Don’t finish on a random topic or, worse, in the middle of a topic. Make sure to plan a revision lesson and a wrap-up lesson. Your students need to feel that it was a complete course and not just a bunch of random lessons.
For the last lesson, you might want to surprise them with a fun activity or just wrap up a course with a chat while getting answers to these questions.
Are you going to give homework? If so, what is it going to be? Maybe you could recommend some applications or videos to watch on the topics you covered?
With the weather being so nice outside in the summer, consider doing some of your lessons outside. If you have a garden around your school, you can take your classes with kids outside on the blanket. With the adult groups, it might be a great idea to meet for a walk and a chat (in English, of course).
Summer courses can be a great way to show off your teaching business and get the students to stay on for the standard courses throughout the year. So don’t cut corners, make it professional!
And most importantly – in all this, don’t forget to look after yourself. Schedule time to take a break whenever you can. You can find some tips on how to find balance as a teacher in this article.