This summer, many of us participated in the 2010 Summer CWNU English & Foreign Language Intensive Program (CELP). This month-long summer camp was an opportunity for over 100 students to experience some of the learning advantages of studying abroad, but without the great expense of international travel.
Eighty English students, alongside many French and German students, left behind their other studies, most of their friends, and for the most part, even their families, for a month of full-time language study. Students lived in the dormitory, ate meals with their homeroom classmates, and spent their days immersed in the language of their choice. For the most dedicated students, this involved more than merely taking part in the many formal classes and organized activities of the camp.
The best students also took advantage of the camp atmosphere and its language immersion rules to practice their skills in informal situations outside of class. From an English teacher’s point of view, it was very satisfying to hear Korean university students in the cafeteria, in the halls, and in the classroom during break time, discussing their lunch, their weekend plans, and their personal lives in English. It showed all of us, teachers and students alike, how much can be achieved in a short time, if people choose to make a sincere effort.
The best part was that these casual English conversations became quite natural to many of the students. Though many were nervous and hesitant to speak English outside of class in the beginning, by the end of the camp they were eager to chat in English, to gossip in English, and to discuss their futures in English. Their skills and their confidence improved with each day’s effort. Now, a month after the camp’s end, our CELP students are still happy to speak English with us when we meet on campus. They have overcome their fear of using a foreign language in a real-life situation, and that is the most challenging part of language study.
One disappointment is that many of my students from the spring semester were interested in applying for the camp, but learned about it too late. So my recommendation for anyone who would like a chance to study English, French or German full-time in a challenging but fun immersion environment is to watch out for the next CELP camp, and apply early.
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