Summer Ecology Project
To make the summer learning break more valuable, useful and more importantly, to allow students to develop an important life skill, you can introduce a Summer Ecology Project (CLIL). Ecology is definitely a key issue in our day-to-day lives and is certainly important for the future, but we perhaps don’t pay it enough attention during the school year through lack of time. Summer though, lends itself to ecology as most holidays involve time spent in nature (the beach, the seaside, the lake or the mountains) and can raise students’awareness of the world around them.
Students can explore:
Recycling – environmental issues and solutions such as beachcombing, and picking up litter, keeping a record using the three R’s (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle)
A nature scavenger hunt - have a checklist of animals, insects, plants and flowers that they manage to see over the summer, keeping a log of where and when they have seen them.
Summer revision books are common for the school holidays. These are welcomed by parents and not so much by students. Nevertheless, ‘practice makes perfect’ and this goes hand in hand with language learning but the choice of book needs to be as relevant as possible to what students will face in the following year.
Something that is new to the Italian curriculum is the inclusion of English in the INVALSI test from this year for students in the 3rd year of SSPG, the end of the primo ciclo, and for 5th year primary students. It will be introduced from 2019 for 5th year Upper Secondary school students. Step by Step and Successful INVALSI by Pearson offer valid test-like tasks that will stand students in good stead for the exams.
Summer Films and TV
It may be stating the obvious, but sometimes students have to be reminded of the importance of watching favourite TV shows or films in English. They are an integral part of students’ lives and now we live in an age where there really is no excuse not to, as most things can be seen in original language at the click of a button. It can be done with the help of subtitles (in English or Italian, I think either is a good start) and watched in small doses depending on level. If they have already seen the programme in their own language that will help comprehension. Many other countries are at an advantage because their films and TV shows are not dubbed as they are in Italy.
Other than it being entertaining and enjoyable, another benefit of using film is that it provides a source of authentic and varied language. Film provides students with examples of English used in ‘real’ situations outside the classroom, particularly interactive language – the language of real-life conversation. Film exposes students to natural expressions and the natural flow of speech. If they are not living in an English-speaking environment, perhaps only film and television can provide this real-life language input.
Summer, sunshine and songs seem to go hand in hand and if there is one thing we know, it is that children and teenagers love songs. They provide examples of memorable and rhythmic language and are motivating for students keen to repeatedly listen to, and imitate, their musical heroes. Songs are authentic and easily accessible examples of spoken English. The rhymes in songs provide listeners with repetition of similar sounds. Students often choose to listen to songs time and time again, indirectly exposing them to these sounds. There are a number of online websites dedicated to songs as a tool for learning English where students can improve their listening skills and build their vocabulary by watching music videos.