English Camp in Korea
An English camp in Korea is set up for students to attend during the summer months when they have more free time from their regular schools. Not all EPIK teachers are asked to teach in one of these but I was and I loved it.
As an EPIK teacher in Korea, we are sometimes afforded the opportunities of working outside of the classroom. Every city or province has its own education office who are responsible for fielding these offers to us. Sometimes these may be extra classes after school at a language institute, or even one-on-one mentoring with high school students.
A great opportunity which was presented to me in the summer time was working at an English Immersion Camp for 3rd grade (the equivalent of 9th grade) middle schoolers. These would be students with a high level of English who actually wanted to attend an English camp. It sounded like a great chance to work with motivated students and have fun while doing so. Plus, who doesn’t like a little extra money, right?
This particular camp ran bi-weekly for a period of 3 months, once in the spring and again in the fall. I was invited for a week during the fall session with a group of 30 girls. Teaching all the same gender was different than my normal school classes, but I was ecstatic do it since girls are generally better behaved.
We were a group of 3 foreign teachers, with 1 camp coordinator heading the activities. It was an interesting and truthfully easy set up because we didn’t have to prepare anything ahead of time for the camp.
All the games and activities were already set, and we teachers learned gradually through the instruction of the coordinator. It demanded a lot of time from us, as we worked 12 hour days with minimal breaks in between for lunch and dinner. Activities were back to back to back, keeping the students and us teachers on our toes constantly.
Naturally, the girls were all nervous on day one, but that would change quickly as they worked in teams to collaborate on various English activities, such as personality quizzes, a research presentation, journal writing and movie making.
They also had to show their hands-on innovation with tasks such as creating a protective case for an egg (which would later be tested through a steep drop) and building a bridge to balance heavy books. Throughout it all, they were obliged to speak in English always, with team penalties if they didn’t. Great way to keep them accountable for one another.
It was really refreshing to be around students who spoke English so well and understood 90% of the words I spoke. They worked extremely hard on their tasks and grew more confident as each activity went by.
Leaders emerge early on and galvanized their teams to collaborate and win competitions. By then end of the week, bonds were formed between the girls that they will likely carry throughout their youth and beyond. Just as importantly, I feel it left a good impression for us teachers of the English education in Korea.
The truth is, it can be tough for us at times, and even just a short 5-day change can give us a chance to recalibrate and apply new ideas to our own students. If given the opportunity to work an English camp, I think every foreign teacher should.
I was able to grow close to the students in a short time and they left me with some of my fondest teaching memories here.
Have you ever taught in an English camp in Korea? What was your impression? Let us know in a comment below.
Kenneth is a Travel and Teaching Blogger. Kenneth began his ESL teaching adventure in Prague, Czech Republic before his far east journey to the ROK (Republic of Korea), better known as, South Korea. You can call him an avid traveler or a dedicated teacher, but the title he’s most proud of is “Bonafide Foodie.” Always seeking the signature tastes of other cultures is a true passion, and he’s got pictures to prove it. Ultimately, however, Kenneth’s main goal is to share those real personal teaching and travel experiences that YOU can relate to.