Integration on Camp
19th November 2019
Integration has become a major buzz word in the market for English language learning. The opportunity to expand knowledge and develop essential communication skills through integration with native speakers has been a proven method of enhancing the learning experience. However, it’s not always clear what is meant by ‘integration’, or how it works in practise when learning English as a foreign language.
In this post we discuss how Varsity uses this concept of integration as an important and effective part of the experience we offer our young learners.
Varsity delivers two types of programme, a Residential Camp in Oxford and nine different Day Camps across London, Oxford and the South of England. On our Day Camps, international students have a 2-hour English lesson in the morning or the afternoon – in small classes split by age and ability level. The lessons are where each individual student will be able to improve their English language skills, with particular emphasis on developing strong spoken communication skills. When students are not in lessons they are participating in sports and art activities with local British children – giving them plenty of opportunity to authentically practise their English and to build new friendships.
Our Day Camps typically have 85-90% local British children attending, and we maintain this ratio to ensure a very high level of native speakers to international students. The activities on Camp promote working as a team and are all delivered in English, meaning that communication is an important factor when participating. Students often find they’re no longer thinking about how to say something and simply throw themselves into the game whole-heartedly. This is an organic way of having students use their existing knowledge and absorb new useful words and phrases and leads to a very natural type of integration.
Varsity’s Residential summer programme offers international students the chance to have an even deeper immersion experience. Students have two programme options, one for English language learners and one for fluent/C1+ speaking international students with both incorporating integration as a key aspect of the programme. Students have 15 hours of English language classes per week, with lessons either in the morning or afternoon. Each day includes a designated ‘Buddy session’ where English children join the class to participate in small team games or activities – led by the teacher. These sessions are designed to be a structured and guided opportunity for students to communicate with native speakers while using a game or activity as a facilitator.
When international students are not in lessons, they take part in sports, adventure or arts activities integrated with British children who attend the camp during the day. There is usually a good ratio, around 1:2 British to international students, with low numbers of any one foreign nationality, which helps create a balanced and effective learning environment. International students on our Fluent Speaker programme will be fully integrated with British children for the whole day, giving even greater exposure to authentic English language and the chance to build lasting friendships with children from all over the world. Excursions are a great opportunity for international students to share an exciting experience with their peers and the British children providing great talking points that children of all ages and ability feel enthusiastic to discuss.
While there are many ways to use integration as a learning tool, our approach has proved hugely effective and given fantastic results in building international children’s confidence with their English language skills and giving them an awesome summer experience.
Written by: Amy Huggins, Academic Manager