I’m a really new teacher (did my CELTA in March) and I’ve started my first proper summer camp job. I really enjoyed the teaching I did on the CELTA (20yr olds of mixed L1) and was grand with the few days work I got just after (mainly Austrians). But after starting this summer camp, I’m having lots of difficulty with my young learner pre-intermediate class. They’re Italian and Spanish 12-14yr olds and they just don’t really talk in groups or to each other, or to me.
My hope was to head to Asia come October, but I assume it’s far more difficult out there than at home. I’d love to teach foreign, but is this a sign I should just quit while I’m ahead?
– Distressed Paddy
16 July, 2018 at 12:33
Total posts: 768
Sorry to hear that you’ve had some difficulties with summer camp teaching. You’re not alone! I’ve met many teachers who love teaching abroad, go back to the UK or wherever for summer camp teaching and hate it.
The important thing to remember is that it is a completely different teaching context. Kids on summer camps often don’t treat it particularly seriously – they prefer to hang out with other kids of their own nationality (a natural tendency of course) and have a laugh. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this – they’re kids! But it does mean that the studying side of things isn’t taken particularly seriously. (This is a generalisation because there are always a few delightful kids to work with.)
But… teaching this age group abroad is different, because the whole summer camp “having a laugh away from home” context is gone. Yes, teaching kids is a challenge wherever you are, and some teachers teachers thrive on it, others don’t. But you’ll probably find that the kinds of things you’re finding difficult now are less of an issue abroad.
Plus, right now you’re teaching only kids. There’s no escape from it, and as soon as you’ve finished one class you’re thinking “oh my god I’ve got to do it all again in half an hour, and then 3 times tomorrow, and the next day…” So it doesn’t take long in this kind of environment to start thinking the way you’re thinking.
But in a job abroad (if you choose carefully) you’ll most likely be teaching some adults and some younger kids too, so you have a mix. Jobs without any teenager teaching are quite hard to find, but if they’re mixed with other age groups, it’s much easier to deal with, and you may end up loving it. Call on the experience of other teachers too for tips and ideas for working with this age group – sometimes some minor changes in your approach can make a huge difference.
Hope that helps. Don’t give up just yet – TEFL can be extremely rewarding and satisfying if you stick with it and give it a chance. Good luck!