Domestic Immersion, Queenstown 2020

Domestic Immersion Programme, Queenstown 2020

With International borders closed due to Covid19, Future Learning Solutions Centre for Languages was not able to run our usual Immersion Programmes overseas.  We did not want our teachers to miss out, so we decided to run a week-long Immersion Programme for the first time in Queenstown during the Term 3 School Holidays for teachers of Chinese, German, French, Japanese and Spanish.  We asked one teacher from each language group to answer a questionnaire about their experience.  See the results below.

Language Group: Chinese 
Teacher: Karen Hinge, Whangarei Intermediate School, Whangarei

What was the highlight/favourite moment of the Immersion Programme?

There were so many! Of course I know my answer should be about the thought provoking professional discussions and learning that occurred, or perhaps about the connections gained and the networking with other language teachers, because those were really valuable parts of the programme. But actually, in terms of favourite moments, I just loved the excursion to Arrowtown. To have a guided tour of the Arrowtown museum, to see how the people lived and to hear about the injustices of the past was mostly new learning for me. It was a great experience in a beautiful place. I particularly enjoyed that magic moment when panning for gold in the Arrow river when I spotted that tiny golden flake!

What were the takeaways for class/lessons/units?

Again there were many. I think when teachers are given the opportunity to have relaxed professional discussions lots of ideas are shared. Often they seem quite simple, but even if it's just something like using flash cards in a different way (like a race to bash the correct word with fly swats) it can invigorate a lesson. One idea that I am going to try is to have the students sit closely behind one another in a line, the last student is shown a character and then 'draws' that character on the back of the student in front of them with their finger. When it reaches front of the line the lead student then draws it on the whiteboard or paper for all to see. It might even work 'relay race' style.

What key connections did you make?

Prior to the trip a whatsapp group was formed and this was used for communication throughout. Now I know I can contact any one of my colleagues in this group for advice and support. This is perhaps especially helpful to myself and the other primary teachers on the trip who are all at varying stages of beginning our Chinese language learning journey. 

All the educators on this trip were able to form connections and I have no doubt that this will form the basis of a long lasting, valuable, professional learning network.

Would you recommend this programme and if so, why?

Absolutely! I would recommend this programme without hesitation. Mainly because it was so much FUN! It was lovely to have the chance to explore Queenstown during our down time and it was a real bonus to have a lake cruise and gondola ride included in group events. The 'Amazing Race' was lots of fun.

Great experiences, great food, great company. It's not too heavy on the learning but yet invaluable in the ideas shared and connections made.

Describe the Immersion Programme in 5 words or less

'Remarkables', Invigorating, Inspiring, and FUN!

    
   
Photos (L to R, top to bottom): Photo 1: Karen Hu, Future Learning Solutions (FLS) Facilitator and Chinese teachers on the Million Dollar Cruise in Queenstown. Photo 2: Teachers taking part in the Amazing Race activity. Photo 3: (Third person from left) Karen Hu, FLS and teachers having dinner in Queenstown. Photo 4 (Back two rows): Chinese teachers, back row on right hand side, Jeff Drain, Facilitator from Wellington and front row, more Chinese teachers and (front row on right hand side) Karen Hu, FLS Facilitator.  Photo 5 (front of photo in blue denim shirt): Zhang Jianyong, Thai Chi Instructor from China Culutral Centre Wellington and Chinese teachers doing Thai Chi outside Remarkables Primary School, Frankton, Queenstown.

Language Group: French
Teacher: Helen Flore, Aquinas College, Tauranga

What was the highlight/favourite moment of the Immersion Programme?

It’s so very difficult to choose, there were many! I loved being able to speak French all day, every day and, of course, the fantastic itinerary that was kindly prepared for us to discover beautiful Queenstown. However, I think the most important thing for me was being able to connect with other teachers/professionals from around New Zealand who share my passion. I’m relatively new to teaching in NZ and the only French teacher in my school, so the opportunity to make these connections, discuss which/how languages are taught across the country and share ideas and stories was really beneficial to me.

What were the takeaways for class/lessons/units?

I particularly enjoyed all the activities that were shared for encouraging our students to speak more TL in the classroom. This is inevitably the hardest skill to develop in our classrooms and I have already tried out several ideas (eg. passez la bombe!).

What key connections did you make?

The group of teachers that took part in the immersion week are all very supportive and on hand to help each other when necessary. It is also great to know that the professionals at FLS Centre for Languages are right behind us and ready to support us as and when necessary. Not forgetting Morgane at the Alliance Française and Hazel from the French Embassy! It is nice to know that there is so much support out there for language teaching. 

Would you recommend this programme and if so, why? 

Yes, of course. For many of the reasons that I have already mentioned really but:

  • To make connections with other teachers/professionals who share your passion
  • To improve/practise speaking French
  • To get up to date information on language teaching in NZ
  • To get/share ideas for teaching
  • To be able to get other people’s perspectives on language teaching from across the country
  • To immerse yourself in your passion and give yourself a new lease of life (professionally)

Describe the Immersion Programme in 5 words or less

Engaging, action-packed, fun, social, inspiring… et à ne pas manquer!

   

    


Photos (L to R, top to bottom): Photo 1: Guillaume Charton, National French Advisor, FLS and teachers, Photo 2: Teachers making their way to an exclusive French film screening at Dorothy Browns Cinema in Arrowtown, Photo 3: French cooking demonstration, Photo 4: Million Dollar Cruise, Photo 5: Teachers participating in an activity at Remarkabes Primary School, where language lessons were held during the week.

Language Group: German
Teacher: Gordon Gallop, Baradene College, Auckland

What was the highlight/favourite moment of the Immersion Programme?

We learnt about media and made a radio programme as a group. Listening to the final product amazed me. It sounded so professional!

What were the takeaways for class/lessons/units?

I was so impressed with the variety of tasks that we had to do that invited us to use the target language in a relaxed manner. We all had a task to do which when combined made a radio station. We played handball and saw how sport could be used in the classroom, we had a bike ride, gondola trip, boat ride, escape room and silent disco. It really got me thinking about how useful these things could be to help student learning and to engage student interest, motivation and participation. Through the tasks, and using the five senses, we also learnt about cultural things at the same time. 

What key connections did you make?

The group I was with just gelled from the first meal together. The people were great and I felt like I left the immersion experience with new friends. We had a lot of laughs, the dinners at the restaurants were really fun too. We are wanting to meet up again socially and to share ideas for the classroom later. 

Would you recommend this programme and if so, why?

Yes, definitely. I felt that I could revise and practise my German in authentic situations. We were immersed in German and this made it feel like we were actually in Switzerland or Austria. All the tasks and activities were presented in a relaxing manner which made us get the most out of the experience especially being in the school holidays. I would honestly give the programme 10/10. 

Describe the Immersion Programme in 5 words or less

“Fun, engaging, non-threatening, refreshing, inspiring.” 

  

  

  
Photos (L to R, top to bottom): Photo 1: Alexandra Töniges, National German Advisor, FLS and teachers who participated in the Domestic Immersion. Second from Right: Alexandra Falk, Presenter.  Photo 2: Remarkables Primary School, Photo 3: Alexandra Töniges, National German Advisor, FLS and teachers trying out the Luge at Skyline Gondola, Queenstown, Photo 4: Scenic view of Queenstown, Photo 5: Teachers Birgit Egorov and Jutta Crowe, Alexandra Töniges, National German Advisor, and teacher Jenny Booth. Photo 6: Alex Falk presenting to German teachers at Remarkables Primary School.

Language Group: Japanese
Teacher: Jennie McMillan, John Paul II High School, Greymouth

What was the highlight/favourite moment of the Immersion Programme?

That is a hard question because everything was fantastic!  I especially enjoyed Arrowtown in the snow.  It was so amazingly beautiful.  Our tour guide was super cool and had the best laugh.  He taught us a lot about the area and its rich history.

What were the takeaways for class/lessons/units?

I am doing an Amazing Race with my students.  Greymouth is not quite as exciting as Queenstown, but I am modelling it on what we did.  The students are super excited!  We were also given heaps of cool ideas in the afternoon classes and I am looking forward to trying them.  For example, having the students listen to a short clip and use some of the words they hear to form a Haiku.

What key connections did you make?

There was an especially great lesson on the main ways Kanji are put together.  I remember looking around the room and we were all saying, “Why didn’t we know this earlier?”  Now I am seeing those combinations as I am doing my study, and it is helping me remember the Kanji.

Would you recommend this programme and if so, why?

Absolutely.  It was a remarkable time! Pun intended!  Seriously though, everything was perfect.  I met and was reacquainted with some brilliant teachers and we laughed and learned and laughed some more, in the most spectacular place.

Describe the Immersion Programme in 5 words or less

楽しい 素晴らしい 美味しい 気持ちがいい リラックス

   

  

Photos (L to R, top to bottom): Photo 1: Jennie McMillan (front of photo) with Japanese teachers, Snowy Arrowtown, and Onsen Hot Pools, Queenstown.

Language Group: Spanish
Teacher: Lois Parker Hanks, John Paul College, Rotorua

What was the highlight/favourite moment of the Immersion Programme?

When we woke up the first morning to a winter wonderland, a magical time was in store for us! The cultural activities, including two guided tours, The Escape Room, Salsa Dancing and the glorious Gondola ride all served to challenge our minds, move our feet and open our eyes to the wonders of Queenstown, Arrowtown and each other. In fact, it was the discovery of each other that really was the highlight for me.
People. Stories. Vision. Passion.

What were the takeaways for class/lessons/units?

Our morning Zoom sessions with marvellous Marta both challenged and inspired us as professional learners and leaders. In spite of the nearly 20,000 kilometres separating us, and the occasional technological glitch, we felt seen and heard and Marta had a way of adapting our antipodean assignments to meet our needs and requests. We have come away feeling better equipped and renewed in our passion for teaching Spanish.

What key connections did you make?

Meeting members of the Latino community and listening to their experiences, hearing first hand from restaurant owners who had a dream and have dedicated their lives to pursuing it, chatting with our bus driver during the early morning rides, sharing memorable meals together and learning from each other in our own Professional journeys -the trials and the triumphs - that is the real benefit and blessing. To feel connected to something outside our own classroom enables us to return with a renewed sense of commitment, passion and purpose. We can see the benefits of adopting a new way of “saying and seeing” the world-and we long to pass on that same vision to our students-opening new worlds of opportunity and possibility for them too. What a privilege!

Would you recommend this programme and if so, why?

On behalf of all the teachers, our sincere gratitude for the work and commitment of Future Learning Solutions in affording us this awesome opportunity and to our Captain Clara and her wonderful team including Kath and Abbie for working tirelessly to make this a REMARKABLE experience for us all -  ¡Muchísimas gracias! ¡REMARCABLE!

Describe the Immersion Programme in 5 words or less

In one word - REMARKABLE!

  

   

   

Photos (L to R, top to bottom): Photo 1: Group photo of Spanish teachers and FLS Staff at Remarkables Primary School.  Photo 2: (Back row): Spanish teachers, (front row 4th and 5th person from left) Latin Soul Dance Instructors and (rest of front row): Spanish teachers.  Photo 3: (Standing) Clara Gómez Jimeno, National Spanish Adviser, FLS and (seated on floor) Spanish teachers taking part in an ice-breaker exercise on the first day of Immersion.  Photo 4: Clara Gómez Jimeno, National Spanish Adviser, FLS and Lois Parker Hanks, Spanish teacher from John Paul College, Rotorua on Viewing Deck at Skyline Gondola Queenstown.  Photo 5: Group photo, Mix of Spanish teachers, FLS staff and (front row 2nd from right) Argentinian Tour Guide Cecilia Nuñez at a view point overlooking Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown.  Photo 6: Dinner on the last night at La Rumbla, Arrowtown.