Slow the summer slide

What happens to your students’ development when the school closes for the holidays? Do they keep on practising all four skills as well as thinking in English? The long weeks of the holidays are full of fun, but the time spent away from learning takes its toll on your students’ language development. Although most of us give homework for the holidays, which might range from writing a diary through reading books to grammar activities, there is a lot more that can be done also within the family.

We encourage parents, family members, sisters and brothers, friends as well as teachers in summer camps and holiday courses to motivate their students to learn outside the classroom. The summer slide or summer literacy slide is a phenomenon which is experienced not only by language teachers but all across the curriuclum in different disciplinary fields. What can we do to help children and teens put the brakes on the rate of attrition in an engaging and meaningful way?

Illustrations from Jack’s Endless Summer, written by Martyn Hobbs and illustrated by Lorenzo Sabbatini. © Helbling Languages

1 Read something every day

Encourge the children in your family or in your group to read something every day. At different times of the day they can read different things. They can read the news in the morning, and the news can be about their favourite bands, sports people, actors. Then during the day they can read novels, short stories, comics, anything that they feel like reading, even a cereal box will do. It often happens that students forget that reading a magazine (even if it is an online edition) also counts as reading.

2 Binge watch TV series

TV series have become as popular and well-made as films today. Watching a good series is a bit like reading a good novel. It is even more fortunate if the series is the adaptation of a novel, and then the students can also read the original text.

Explain the following strategy to make the students more aware of the language learning potential in TV series.

  • Watch an episode in English with subtitles.
  • Then choose your favourite scene and watch it again with subtitles. Stop and repeat sentences which sound interesting.
  • You can then watch it again without subtitles.
  • If necessary, first you can watch the episode or the scene in your native language with English subtitles, or in English with subtitles in your own language.

3 Play computer games 

Recommend adventure and strategy games, or games which encourage students to solve puzzles. If they do it in English, not only will they have fun, but they will also learn new phrases in English as well as engaging in communicative tasks.

4 Play board games

Several board games are available in English, and especially the co-operative ones encourage communication and problem solvoing.

5 Turn your students into teachers

Finally, we recommend that you ask children and teens in your family to teach someonesomething in English every day. It can be a phrase, it can be a song or a story, but they will feel that other people can benefit from their knowledge.

An extra idea. 

Set your social media channels to English. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat in English, and try chatting in English. Just by learning to use the interface in English, you can practise navigating in a different language.

What tasks do you usually give to your students over the holidays? Share your ideas with us!

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