Recipe for a Language Immersion Camp:
- a weekend in October
- language teachers - large quantity, and a variety of different types
- great venue with food provided
- language activities
- some tourist activities to break up the weekend
- a sense of fun and a willingness to engage
Once you have your weekend sorted, bring all the teachers together from across the country to the venue you have provided. Ensure that they all have a room where they can enjoy the company of other teachers even if the beds may be a bit saggy or a bit far from the bathrooms.
Provide lots of excellent cheese and other snacks on the first evening as you do a language quiz on kahoot to create a sense of team bonding and competition. Move on to board games so that teachers can continue to get to know each other.
After a possibly not-so-restful night, get straight into engaging language activities that encourage teachers to use lots of language and also give them ideas to take back to the classroom.
Next, put all the teachers in a bus and take them to explore the Redwoods - walking high above the trees in Rotorua where they can enjoy the incredible treetop walkways. Again, encourage lots of language use.
More activities and a rest after lunch are advised at this stage.
In the evening, again use the buses to take all the teachers to soak in the Polynesian spa. This step is vital to ensure the well-being of the group, and to allow a sense of relaxation before a second night at camp. Stop off again at the Redwoods on the way back to experience them at night.
On the final morning, send all the teachers out on a huge scavenger hunt, giving them tasks to achieve. By this time, the groups have truly blended well and their
co-operation, team spirit and competitiveness are in evidence.
To finish your camp, get all language groups to spend a scant 40 minutes preparing an item for an end-of-camp concert. Despite their misgivings, this will work - the concert will be a wonderful and celebratory endpoint to the camp.
Once the camp is completed, send the group of tired but happy teachers back home ready to head back to the classroom on Monday morning.
2020 has been the second year that we have run immersion camps for teachers. This year did not disappoint - we were fortunate that the predicted rain held off, and that all the planned activities were able to go ahead. The camp weekend was a wonderful experience both for the FLS Centre for Languages staff, and for the teachers who participated. We hope to keep these camps going in the years ahead to allow this wonderful, collaborative, fun experience to continue for teachers of all languages.
Belinda Sydenham, Facilitator, Future Learning Solutions
Photo (Top, above article) Group Photo of all teachers who participated in the Language Immersion Camp as well as FLS Facilitators, National Language Advisors and Presenters
Photos (L to R) Photo 1: (Standing) Belinda Sydenham, FLS Facilitator with teachers. Photo 2: (First three people on left): Teachers, (Second row, at back) Tony Halalilo, FLS Facilitator, (fourth person from right) Stephanie Mortimore, FLS Facilitator, (third person from right) Janelle Wood, FLS Facilitator, (second person from right) Karen Hu, FLS Facilitator, and (right) teacher.
Photos (L to R): Photo 1: FLS Facilitators and teachers at Redwoods Treewalk. Photo 2: (Front) Guillaume Charton, National French Advisor and teachers at Redwoods Treewalk
Photos (L to R): Photo 1: Chinese teachers performing in final concert. Photo 2: (Standing) Tongan teachers performing in final concert with (seated, holding guitar) Tony Halalilo, FLS Facilitator
Photos (L to R): Photo 1: Teachers performing in the final concert. Photo 2: (Left) Teacher, (middle) Janelle Wood, FLS Facilitator, (right) Alexandra Töniges, National German Adviser