How to combine pleasant with useful? Let us talk about vacational programs

Each parent wants to provide his child with not only an exciting adventure and a wonderful holiday, but also a multifaceted personal development

"How I spent the summer" - we all remember this phrase well from the time of the school bench, exactly, like pedantic "marivanna", with a triumphant gloating writing the phrase by calligraphic handwriting on the blackboard. Like, everything, young oafs, summertime’s gone - it's time to sow wild oats. Thus, each academic year began, and today the picture has not changed. And "unfortunate" schoolchildren, who have not yet had time to "switch" from the "do nothing" to "working days" and are still in a state of summer euphoria, with a sigh begin to perform the task.

Then the compositions of schoolchildren did not differ much in variety. Summer house outside the city, rulers and strict educators in the pioneer camp, family rest on the sea and for the "advanced" lucky ones - top "Artek" camp.

Now there is a fundamentally different picture. To standard "I want" and "I can" (more often - "I want", but "I can not"), guided by which a family council approved one or another summer vacation program in the recent past, pragmatic "Why", "What for?", "What's the use of it?" have added and, in general, "is the game worth the candle?".

Pioneer camps, long ago sunk into oblivion, were replaced by language schools and summer themed camps abroad. And it does not seem even to be appropriate to send a child "to the village to anybody’s grandmother". Modern parents, planning a summer holiday for their child, increasingly pay attention to numerous offers of vacation programs that promise to provide their child with not only an exciting adventure and a wonderful holiday, but also a multi-faceted personal development, improvement of language skills and acquisition of new ones. In general, a notorious opportunity to combine useful with pleasant.

The number of proposals run high even for the Internet. And this means that consumer demand is also not "slumbering" and is constantly growing.

Why do more parents decide to send a child to the summer camp or language school abroad? Let us study out. But first a few words about the difference between the two types of children's summer holidays abroad.

Thematic camp or language school?

There is no fundamental difference between the two. Both programs involve studying or improving a foreign language. Different approaches to the very process of learning a non-native language by a child are used, core accents are placed differently.

In the summer language school in the foreground there is study of a language in its traditional accustomed understanding: self-developed methodology, teaching materials, examining testing, qualified teachers who specialize in teaching a language as a foreign language. In the classes, the intensity of which varies from 10 to 30 hours per week, all language skills are worked out: oral and written speech, listening, grammatical material and pronunciation clarity.

A second half of a day and the weekend are leisure time, which is planned by a child. A variety of creative activities and sports activities are available.

Sometimes the program implies preparatory courses for those high school students who are planning to enter a foreign university and for those who are younger, the very stay at such a school is an excellent preparation for life in the boarding school.

Thematic camps prefer modern methods of immersion into the language environment. There are no timetables, textbooks and exercise books that became cloying for nine months of school everyday life - a foreign language is mastered in the process of informal live communication. Employees are native speakers, and mostly, not newcomers do come there, but children who have already visited this camp or a camp similar to it, who speak the language well. In addition, many local schoolchildren are resting here. The purpose of this summer program is to involve a child in the communicative process, to maximally talk in a free atmosphere of sports, cognitive excursions, recreational activities. Most American and European camps offer programs with any bias - "program plus". For example, tennis or basketball schools, film academies, drama clubs, etc.

Your choice

We recommend you to listen to the advice of people having experience as they have repeatedly sent children to an exciting educational journey. The best option is to combine two programs, thereby enabling a child to first acquire the necessary skills at the right level in the school, and then to test and improve their knowledge in practice in the camp.

For example, first a student goes to Haverford (Pennsylvania) for two weeks, where he takes an English course, then spends two weeks in an art camp (New York).

 Haverford College – is one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the USA, whose program includes a summer intensive English course for foreign students from 10 to 18 years old. The schedule implies six hours of English daily, of which four are devoted to mastering grammar and vocabulary, two hours are devoted to conversation on a given topic (business, cinema, future plans, etc.). The program also includes additional activities chosen by a child himself (football or golf, theater or cinema, photography, fashion and design – there are many options).

In Lake Art Camp for two weeks a child will feel freer. Here, the students themselves make up their own schedule, which does not presuppose academic language disciplines (vacations!), but is limited to sports and art programs. The list is impressive: video art, collage, design, photo collage, painting, acting ... + horse riding, water polo, synchronized swimming, motorcycling, surfing ... the list speaks for itself!

So, having thought upon consulting with your friends, having skimmed through the Internet pages with suggestions and having discussed some details with a child, you shall be inclined to present this tempting summer trip to your son or daughter. But something hinders to make a final decision. Being a true pragmatist (as this is the disease of our century) you have accustomed to build own system of actions, focusing exclusively on the specific result. The most important thing for you is not to lose. The question of usefulness/uselessness for you is principle in any situation.

So what will your child do get from this trip?

Language immersion (immersion in the language environment) is today regarded as the most effective method of studying a second (third, fourth ...) language. Everyday communication with native speakers in the immediate surroundings (in addition to business and educational) is one of the mandatory conditions for the effectiveness of this methodology. The staff of the language schools and thematic camps, the majority of which are always linguistic carriers, shall ensure transportation of a student from the airport to the place of residence; while teachers and counselors shall help a child in the classroom and in organization of leisure - the language studied will accompany a participant always and everywhere.

  • If you plan to arrange a child for a boarding school abroad, then you understand that language skills and ability to use them freely will help the child quickly and painlessly adapt to a new foreign language environment.
  • Any exams, and entrance examinations to a foreign institution of higher learning in particular, always imply a potentially traumatic situation for a teenager. Participation in the vacation program will increase the self-esteem of a future entrant and give self-confidence in own abilities and opportunities. Besides, in the conditions of constantly growing competition among those entering prestigious universities, a candidate simply needs to have advantages over the others. The Admissions Committee will certainly pay attention to his level of language proficiency and will appreciate it.
  • In the globalized economical conditions and other spheres, the processes of which we observe knowledge of foreign languages has long ago became a vital necessity. The more languages a candidate for a vacant position in an organization interested in him knows, the higher his level of language proficiency, the greater his chances of finding a job.
  • The ability to read a book, watch a film or listen to a song in the language of the author-creator, joins to the world culture and expands the world outlook.
  • Realizing the dream of becoming an experienced traveler and seeing the world is impossible without learning foreign languages. What a child does not dream about this?! Elementary colloquial phrases of everyday vocabulary (ordering food or drinks, public transport, request for help, etc.) will for a long time enter the active thesaurus of a child even for several weeks of stay in the foreign environment.

So, there are plenty of arguments. Please also note that in addition to mastering and improving the linguistic skills, the summer vacation program is a healthy active holiday, an interesting pastime, an opportunity to find friends around the world and experience of independent life.

It is clear that not everyone is ready to let his child go alone to a foreign country. Sometimes a son or daughter lingers for half an hour, does not call and does not answer calls, and parents no longer find their place and start beating the bells. And it does not depend on the age of a child - a parent is a parent. However, vacation language programs foresee this, too. Almost every program has the option of "family vacation", when parents and children attend classes at one time, but in different groups. Family programs are designed to minimize your anxieties: groups for adults and groups for children are, as a rule, study in the same building. Free time is spent by a family at their own discretion. Some programs offer language training for children from three years old. Lessons for kids are held in a playful form, and the presence of mom or dad promotes to a better mastery of material. Such a holiday is very popular among families with young children and planning to move abroad.

If you still decide to use one of the vacation programs that do not involve the presence of parents, and to send your child for a summer abroad for one, use our recommendations when choosing a school or camp.

The easiest way is to get acquainted with the surface information, offered by brochures, advertising videos or the Internet. However, you will agree, the trip of a minor to a foreign country is a question, in the solution of which time saving is unacceptable. Ideal option would be to visit the camp or school, see everything personally, talk directly with the director and the staff. Unfortunately, this way of collecting information is not feasible for the majority. It remains only to try to "get" a maximum of information from representatives of authoritative consulting agencies in your country.

List of approximate questions to the consultant:

What is the philosophy of the program?

What are the advantages of this particular program?

What will promote to a child's personal growth?

Are there any confirmations of the success of the program (awards, diplomas, certificates)?

How are conflict situations resolved? What happens when children violate the rules?

What is the experience of working with children and average age of the staff?

What is the quantitative ratio of teachers/counselors and holidaymakers?

It will not at all be superfluous to talk to the parents who have already sent their children abroad under the program chosen by you, as well as with the child himself.

Find out more details about the following:

• Has the child changed after participating in the program? If so, how?

• Was the experience useful for the child on his/her return?

• What exactly did your child like and did not like?

If you made the appropriate conclusions for yourself and you decided that this program can be completely trusted, and it meets the interests of your child - safely say to yourself "yes!". Be sure that such a decision will make your son or daughter happy and bring nothing but good.