English Summer School – what, no plan!

Part 1

theLingoGuy classroom rule book

Rule # 1

Go in with a plan 

Students used to traditional or front end teaching will be scared with the notion of no plan.
And I was not sure how my students would take it, so I informed them at the end of their 40 hour intensive week. During handing out the certificates I let them know, in the Tap room in front of their colleagues and coursemates, that I came into the week with no plan. In order to to challenge them and myself.
They excelled themselves over the 5 days, even if it was not a total success. But more of that later.

What no plan? For a such an intensive course. What were you thinking?

I hear the comfort zone trainers/teachers’ exclaim. This Dogme or student centric teaching is not new, but may scare many. For the uninitiated here are some safety net considerations.

Do it:

in groups with a percentage of students who you know or are returning

with a percentage of students who are not so conservative to modern learning techniques

with a secret weapons folder of activities to hand, as back up or fillers
just in case it goes completely pear shaped. My folder remained untouched for the whole week, which is not to say I did not use some gems I have collected over time.

Create 5: This is the first installment and review of some of the activities.

At the offset, in the first double unit (1 x 45 mins) I found out that they were concerned about the restructuring happening within the company and the dearth of skills of entry level employees. Leaving them to find out whether their unknown paired up partner “followed in their parents footsteps” (career or hobbies wise), I devised an activity that I now call the “potential employee prospectus”.

Before I outline the nature of this task, and critique how I ran it, let me reveal to you dear reader that the location of these courses is a University sponsored/ supported by the company the students work for.

Potential employee prospectus

Aim: to give an introduction into the company for University students.

Task 1

What should be included? : discuss what is important for university students when choosing their future employment.

Task 2

You have been allowed the human resources and budget for 5 sections, discuss what they should be.

Task 3

Along with PR, management has decided you need to include these sections:

Current affairs – linking something in contemporary news to the company. In order to show you are relevant to cutting edge technological issues.

Departmental lateral shift – to show you are effective to adaption to the fluxes of change, justify the restructuring of a departments role/ function.

Employee profile – showing a taste of the skills needed and the type of job a prospective employee may undertake.



What did not work at all well was that I did not give the necessary time to explain each task, and probably the task
lacks sufficient clarity in the text explanations above.

However they found out a lot about each others work, the bigger picture of the company itself and how to see solutions and not just problems, as well as the positive of this issue:

Delayering: It is not such a bad thing in a giant company that has got too BIG, and that the enterprise is actually trying to address this through the University, which they did not previously know was the crux of it’s purpose.

Also I was able to adapt the Employee Profile above for a mingling activity for the coffee breaks, so they got to meet the other five trainers, and create brief Trainer Profiles. Something I think is neglected by all institutions and courses with numerous trainers.
This trainer profile activity exposes them to different accents/dialects, and deals with the learning issue of over familiarity with the assigned trainer’s accent.

Although not an entire success the Prospectus activity enabled them to reflect on the issue at hand and from a different perspective, I hope therefore  freeing some of their career/ corporate anxiety.




A native Brit, Stewart is from the East Midlands. He has worked all over England and has been in Germany since 2002. Through working with the youth and the disabled he has been able to fine tune his communication skills. A Cambridge qualified (CELTA/LCCI CerTEB) instructor of English as a Foreign Language, he also has experience as a copy editor/ proof reader specializing in Higher Education and Business English. He assists established companies & local English trainers (LELTA) in optimizing their platforms, markets & copy (texts). With a Bachelors degree in English & Art, he brings diverse skills within a broad palette to his academic courses, an English speakers community (So Social Club) & an art project (Lebenskunstler). Not only focusing on creative expression but exemplary use of language.

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