Don’t let funding issues, transportation costs, or busy schedules keep you from having an EFL summer camp!
Teachers know that language retention over long breaks is one of the most important aspects of continued language study, but it is difficult to engage students in anything extracurricular. Don’t give them an excuse to forget their English by making it easy and fun with these 8 virtual activities in which they can participate from home! These can be used throughout the year as well for extracurricular practice.
Encourage Your Students to Take Part in These Learning Activities from Home
Set up a Facebook page, Yahoo Games group, etc. where students participate in a Scrabble (or any word game) tournament. Set a particular two hour time slot every week to play and include a prize for the ultimate winner. During the sessions, post chat questions like “what have you done this week” to encourage conversational English practice, or other questions that aim to review prior concepts.
Ask students to provide a cell phone number, Facebook messenger screen name, Whatsup screen name, or whatever other contact information for the newest popular App. Give them a list of students and their App name/cell phone number. Once or twice a week, send a categories question to a student. When he receives the question, he should add a category answer and text it to the next person on the list and to you. Send the list with the original category to everyone when it gets back to you. This will end up being amusing as they inevitably go off track, as they practice thinking in English!
Once a week, give students an hour to answer a list of trivia questions from home. They can use whatever media they have at their disposal, but they only get an hour. The student with the most right answers wins points toward an end of break prize!
Photo Show Contest
Create a group Facebook or other social media. Every week, ask students to post a picture about a certain theme, and ask them to encapsulate the theme in three sentences. Recruit a volunteer judge that does not know your class to go through the portfolios at the end of four weeks and select the best portfolio.
Word of the Day
Send students a word every day to their communication of choice. Give those that respond with the word correctly used in a sentence a point toward some sort of reward for the person that has the most points after a given timeframe, such as two weeks.
Current Bizarre Events
Ask students to post the most bizarre current events they can find on the Internet or by word of mouth to a group page once a week, such as “duck saves dog’s life”. Request that participants comment on at least two other articles as well on the page. This is a great way to get them to read and search for information in English!
Pair students and ask them to be pen pals and maintain correspondence over the summer or break time. Every week, send a list of one or two questions such as “explain a family event that happened this past week” and ask them to write to their pen pal about the topic. At the end of the break, have a pen pal competition where each student is tasked to write a story about her pal based on the information she has learned over the break. Judge the stories based on a set criteria (grammar, creativity, flow, incorporation of vocabulary principles) and give a prize to the winner.
Alternatively, if it is better for students to practice verbal skills as opposed to writing and reading comprehension, ask students to talk every week using a set of questions, on Skype (or on the phone or in person if possible) for 20 minutes. After a set amount of time, ask them to record a video (or call you personally depending on technology available) about their pal! Give a prize to the best response based on criteria such as grammar, pronunciation, fluency, etc.
It is easy to focus on the barriers to practicing English over breaks, but with Smart phones and computers so readily available, no teacher has an excuse to avoid practicing with students!
Keep it fun, simple, mobile, and time sensitive and you can virtually word camp with your English learners all summer long.