During my extended stay in Spain, I had the opportunity to teach English at summer camp during the summer of both 2008 and 2009, and then I followed that up with ten weeks of intensive teaching during the summer of 2010 and return trips in 2011–2013. Students typically stayed for two weeks, though some stayed for three. Each teacher retained their students for at least two weeks before moving on to a new set of students. Class sizes were typically no more than 13 students, even for large sessions of 160+ people. Teachers had the flexibility to create their own lesson plans; however, the same general themes were kept among most of the groups. There had to be variations in the themes for those classes that were on the extreme high and low ends of English level. While teaching was done on a professional level, all efforts were made to keep classes as entertaining and interactive as possible
These photos represent a very thin slice of the events during those six summers. I consider myself fortunate to continue to have the opportunity to teach and befriend many people and learn a lot about teaching in the process.
Summer Camp 2008
A Presentation in English About the Basque Region of Spain by my Basque Students
During the third week of summer camp 2009, I had the opportunity to take a group of adolescent Basques for a special one-week class. They were all friends and had all been at camp for two weeks already. With a new class of students coming in, I didn’t want to put them in other classes where they stood a chance of seeing some of the same material. I agreed to take them, and I decided to do a special project with them.
The Basque region of Spain is very contentious, and there are a number of unfair stereotypes that exist about the region and its people. Therefore, I thought it reasonable for my Basque students to present (as neutrally as possible) information about their region and people to the rest of the people at the camp. They enjoyed this project immensely, and they were proud to represent their region. That they did it all using a non-native language is impressive.
In the end, it was bittersweet as I severely twisted my ankle playing volleyball hours before they were to give their presentation. I ended up having to go to the hospital while they gave the presentation, but a friend of mine thankfully recorded it on his camera. The presentation is split into a series of five YouTube videos:
1. A presentation in English about the Basque region of Spain by my Basque students – Part 1
2. A presentation in English about the Basque region of Spain by my Basque students – Part 2
3. A presentation in English about the Basque region of Spain by my Basque students – Part 3
4. A presentation in English about the Basque region of Spain by my Basque students – Part 4
5. A presentation in English about the Basque region of Spain by my Basque students – Part 5