One massive difference between summer holidays in Spain and the U.K is the length; whilst in Britain parents complain about keeping their children occupied for six weeks, here in Spain students have nearly three months of summer holiday. In August, Spain is practically shut down for the holidays, with many factories closing or partially opened with a reduced workforce. Many people in Zaragoza spend August outside of their cities in their village or in their apartments in Salou. However, from the middle of June until the end of July, the common thing for children to do is go to a summer camp.
I don’t remember going to a summer camp when I was younger, so I guess it must be more common in Spain due to the length of the summer holiday. From May onwards, parents are bombarded with offers for different summer camps. There is definitely a variety, with summer camps in the Pyrenees Mountains and football camps in Zaragoza. Over the last few years, English summer camps have been in high demand, with students learning English whilst having fun. I am working in the summer camp of my academy for the second time, having done it in the summer of 2010. Although the summer camp can be long and hard work, ultimately it’s a rewarding experience and this year I have had great fun so far. We are teaching students between the ages 8 and 16, so there is a wide range of ages and abilities. The younger students definitely gain confidence from the experience due to the native teachers and the use of English at all times. Our summer camp offers ‘100% linguistic immersion’, meaning that all the activities are done in English, and the teachers only speak English with the students. So far, the level of the students has been very high, and although the first few days were difficult for some students to adapt to the environment, they are now trying to communicate in English as much as possible. The full immersion offers students the opportunity to practise their English and improve their oral expression.
Based in Stadium Venecia, we have all the necessary facilities to have a good time. In Zaragoza, there are many ‘stadiums’. A stadium is basically a private club, with sports facilities and private swimming pools, which allow their members to take advantage of the scorching summers in Zaragoza. In the stadium we have artificial football pitches, tennis courts, basketball courts and other sports facilities to play, several swimming pools for games and classrooms for our English lessons. The students particularly enjoy the swimming pools, which are great for the kids to play in, especially the lake.
The days are enjoyable if a little tiring. We take the bus at 930 and return home at 1820. The camp lasts from 10 o’clock until 18 o’clock and there is a mixture of fun and English. In the morning the students have two classes of English each day, one hour of sport and another hour in the swimming pool, playing games in English. After lunch, the different classes prepare a play or song to perform at the exhibition on Friday. The drama has ranged from recorded advertisements to songs about the summer, written by the students. The students are all highly motivated and very competitive. We have three teams in the camp, the Vikings, Pirates and Redskins. The students win points in class, and in other activities, with the winning team receiving a prize. This has increased the competitiveness of the students as they battle for points.
We have two weeks remaining in the summer camp, and it has been a great way to end an amazing year. After the camp I will spend a week in Barcelona with my family and head back to England for a few weeks. Unfortunately, my adventure in Spain will be over… for now. Next year, I will be starting over in Brussels, which will definitely be a challenge given my lower level of French. I have had a great time in Spain, and met some great people over here. Whatever happens, Spain will always be consider my second home.