English Camp: Layers of Learning that Changes Lives
The University of Vermont (UVM) Secondary Education China Experience is a grant-based immersion teaching opportunity for students in the graduate and undergraduate programs. The primary focus of the 28-day immersion experience is a two-week English Camp. In English Camp the UVM students assist Chinese teachers of English in developing their oral English skills through teaching and modeling student-centered, active engagement methodology. The program has evolved from a volunteer immersion experience to a course-based program involving pre-trip planning and preparation sessions, an intense and demanding immersion and teaching experience, post trip reflections, meetings, and a presentation. Although the development of oral English skills is part of the English Camp focus, the students are not TEFL trained; in fact many of them have not even completed their student teaching at the time of the program. I offer this scholarly personal narrative as a means of sharing the challenges and rewards of the UVM Secondary Education China Experience with others interested in creating or being part of a similar experience. I will address the program background, the selection process, the pre-trip planning, the immersion experience, the English Camp, the leadership considerations, and the post-trip reflections.
Keywords: Cultural Immersion, Cross-cultural teaching, Cross-cultural learning, Cross-Cultural Teacher Training, Chinese Educational Reform, Teacher Training
Dr Lynda Reid
Adjunct Faculty, Department of Education, University of Vermont