Written by Kathleen Scott
This summer I worked as an English camp tutor for Lingue Senza Frontiere (LSF), an Italian company based in the northern coastal town of San Remo. LSF organise summer camps for Italian children aged 7-14, lasting two to four weeks which take place all over Italy. Camp tutors do not require any previous teaching experience or any foreign language skills so it’s a great company to work for if it’s is your first time teaching abroad. Full training is provided before arrival, plus an onsite five-day orientation in San Remo.
During orientation, accommodation and meals in San Remo is arranged and paid for by LSF (however, flights to and from Italy are not covered). LSF provide information on how to get to San Remo Train Station where they pick you up and take you to orientation. I flew into Nice airport, where I met some other EFL camp tutors and then we took a quick train ride over the border into Italy. Over the five days tutors stay in private shared accommodation at a beautiful location by the Mediterranean Sea – this year we stayed atBlue Beach Bungalows. LSF set up a facebook group before orientation so we could get in touch with other camp tutors and make travel arrangements.
At orientation, LSF will guide you from theory to practice, and enable you to teach English in an interactive and fun way through games, songs and activities. LSF enforces an English-only policy at camp and provide all tutors with a detailed camp programme. All camp tutors leave orientation with a handbook full of ideas for lesson plans and arrive at their designated camp to find a box of didactic materials.
Camp tutors only find out their placement locations at the end of orientation so LSF advises everyone not to book return flights. Many tutors decide they want to do an extra camp or even go travelling with other tutors after camp so it is always best to leave yourself open. If you have to book a return flight, Milan Airport is the most accessible – especially as most camps are in northern Italy, with only a few below Rome.
Your camp location will be decided based upon on your performance during orientation, skill set, experience level and the requests of host families at each camp (e.g. a host family may request to host a male or female tutor, have pets that effect certain peoples allergies etc). Host families are always very welcoming and may bring you on excursions or arrange entertainment for you. They will most certainly feed you well (this is Italy!). In the rare case that no host family is available to take the tutor, he or she may be placed in private accommodation (an apartment or B&B).
I was placed in a religious school – L’Istituto Suore Francescane dell’Immacolata Concezione di Lipari – in Rome. Usually LSF’s camps are bigger with groups of around five tutors. However, due to my previous teaching and leadership experience it was decided that I would live in the convent and manage a camp of over 30 students with one other tutor. It was the first year LSF had organised a summer programme there, so that meant we had a lot of responsibility ensuring that it went well.
A typical day at camp runs from from 9am to 4.30pm. You are expected to arrive early, around 8.30am, to greet parents and children and to set up for the day ahead. There’s time in the evening to plan your upcoming lessons which will involve collaborating with the other tutors at your camp. The majority of camps have a supervisor who is responsible for your camp. You can contact him or her if you need support with any issues that come up, either with your host family or at the camp itself.
Although I didn’t receive the typical arrangements (as I was living with nuns!). I was completely immersed in Italian culture. I was located about 30 minutes away from Rome’s city centre, and managed to visit all the major sites at the weekend, such as Vatican City, The Colleseum and Roman Forum. I thoroughly enjoyed learning and working in a multicultural environment and making new friends with people from all over the world. Besides being a fantastic fun, this is a unique opportunity to boost your CV by learning to teach a foreign language in a creative and fun way. This teaching placement will contribute to both your personal and professional development – and be an experience that you will never forget!