1/ Working in a different country
One of the main benefits of working in a summer school is that you will experience working in a different country.
This will not only give you the opportunity to get away from the habit of working in your own country but it will also offer you an insight into how things are done in other countries; some might be more and some might be less efficient.
In either case, you would get enough experience with all these technical aspects of our job (e.g. short-term contracts, hours of work per day, lunch breaks, completing a record of work, etc.) that you could then use in your permanent job back in your home country.
2/ Working with learners from different cultures
In some countries, teachers get the chance to work with learners from a single cultural and linguistic background. For example, teachers in Greece are mostly likely to work with Greek learners. Teaching learners who share the same culture and language has its own advantages, but being in a class with learners from five or six different countries can be very exciting. Learners find it hard to resort to their native language when they are unsure of the right English word or expression. This gives room to more experimentation with the language which, in turn, provides teachers with rich student-generated material to exploit. Also, the fact that they come from different cultures creates opportunities for rich, meaningful, and memorable discussions in class.
3/ Meeting teachers from other parts of the world
Teaching can be one of the more isolated professions. Once the classroom door closes, you are on your own and the only chance you get to discuss with colleagues is in the staffroom during short 10-minute breaks, which does not give you much time for meaningful and varied exchange of ideas. Teachers can also meet with other teachers during conferences and online communities but this, again, does not give the opportunity to really work together. Working in a summer school does offer this great advantage of meeting and working with professionals from different parts of the world which, in turn, can be very beneficial for you as you not only get the chance to learn about working in a different context and in a different way but you also get the opportunity to network with them and be offered permanent jobs in their institutions.
4/ Experiencing the culture of the target language community
Some teachers don’t get the opportunity to travel to and spend time in a country where English is the main language used. Working in a summer school gives you, the teacher, the opportunity to use English in a meaningful way, get in contact with local people, and experience the culture of an English-speaking country. As a result, you will improve your own language awareness and you will be able to use this exposure to an authentic linguistic environment in your future lessons.
5/ Making teaching and learning more fun
Another benefit of working in a summer school is that it can make teaching and learning really fun. Contrary to your permanent teaching context where you might be asked to follow tight schemes of work based on a coursebook or prepare students for exams, which does not leave much time for fun, in summer school settings, teachers are encouraged to prepare lessons that are fun, interesting, and engaging. Among other things, you can send your learners on a mission, have a class outside the four walls of your classroom, link your lessons to the students’ evening sports and/or social activities, or create some sort of competition between different classes.
6/ Adopting roles other than teaching
What teachers think they do best is teaching. However, more often than not, this is what teachers think they do best because they do not get the chance to try out different roles in their home institutions. Working in a summer school for a short period of time (e.g. four to six weeks) gives teachers the chance to explore working in different roles like academic managers, (assistant) directors of studies, etc. Even if a teacher is not interested in moving up to such a position, having some experience with different roles can feed back into your own teaching practice and overall professional skills.
7/ Building your resumé
Imagine you are a school administrator in your country who wants to hire a new teacher and you receive two resumés: one from a teacher with extensive teaching experience in language schools in one country and another from one with varied experience in language schools in one country and summer schools in other countries. Wouldn’t you be more interested in hiring the second one?
8/ Making money!!!
The truth of the matter is that this might perhaps be the number one reason why teachers give up their summer holidays to go and work in a summer school. In most – if not all – summer schools, jobs are residential. This means that teachers get to sleep and eat in the place of work (and the cost of this is covered by the school).
So, all your salary could go directly to your savings account. Not bad at all, right?
9/ Vacationing while working
Teaching summer school is undeniably hard work and does not really allow for much relaxation time. But the change of scenery from your own school and for a short time, is a break of sorts, and can make a difference! Plus, if you choose your location wisely, e.g. Brighton, Somerset, etc. you will get the chance to find some time off and enjoy the beach and the (somewhat) sunny weather. Other locations, in smaller towns may bring you closer to nature, lush countryside, walking, cycling, and, of course, most summer colleges do have swimming pools!
10/ Back to school!
Despite the fact that you will be working as a teacher (or in another teaching-related position), working in a summer school gives you a sense of going back to school: the campus-like environment, the fact that you don’t know your learners and your colleagues and you have to get to know them, the possibility of trying out new things are some of the reasons why you will get the feeling that you are back at school, a refreshing reversal of roles for hard working teachers!
About the Author
Angelos Bollas (MA in ELT) completed his CELTA and Delta at CELT Athens in 2014 where he subsequently trained up to be a CELTA tutor.
As of July 2016, he is an approved CELTA Tutor at CELT. Other than teaching and training, he enjoys being a member of IATEFL Conference Committee, participates in and co-moderates #ELTchat weekly discussions on Twitter, and presents in various conferences around the world. He is a PhD candidate at Leeds Beckett University.
N. B. The blog post above was inspired by his experiences as a classroom teacher, teacher supervisor, director of studies, and EAP teacher and teacher recruiter in various colleges in the UK after acquiring his CELTA (and later Delta) qualifications.