I chose the ACLE program after first hearing about it from friends I made through a volunteer program I still currently work with. The organization, Peace by Peace, is a tri-campus anti-bullying advocacy organization where university students such as myself can apply and, if they pass the orientation, visit an Elementary School once a week for a period of 12 weeks to teach them issues on anti-bullying. Since the method of teaching invokes alot of openness and game play, I was confident that due to the similarity with ACLE's methods I would find the program fun and interesting to be a part of.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The program provider assisted me with a full week of orientation with the other tutors, a manual with all kinds of games/activities, plus the age specific lesson plan series for each group, as well as any classroom materials we have needed, depending on the kinds of activities suggested and/or requested by the camp director. We were given all the tools, yet what we needed to provide ourselves was how we were going to deliver them to the class. Every classroom of students is different, some can excel collectively in one aspect, and struggle with another. Or, the class can be made up of a very diverse student body regarding their competence levels. The important thing as a tutor is to recognize which of these it is, a conversely adapt a teaching plan that is best suitable. In addition to the classroom help received from my program provider, travel expenses between camps as well as host-family housing accommodation was also provided.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Really remember throughout the program that as a tutor you are representing the company and your lessons do need to be professionally planned and carried out, it is also important to realize that ACLE is not your average summer camp teaching program. Often the children may know more than they let on, but hold back because they are not confident that they can speak the language. Some of this stems from normal human insecurity regarding studying a language, however another aspect is possibly the fact that they have had language teachers who may have been quick to criticize, and thus they feel they will never be able to speak English well. Your job, by using the games, songs, and more provided by ACLE, is to change their self-perception. By the end of the week, often without even realizing it, they will learn a whole new array of English vocabulary, and a certificate after the final show performance as a visual reminder to them as well.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
The day always starts off with a "warm up circle", all students are to make a circle, and each tutor either leads a song, or instructs a game, usually a mix occurs, however both types involve use of the English language, and get the kids energized for the day. For the rest of the morning each class goes with their respective tutor. They may continue games in class for a little, and then complete a lesson plan with worksheets to test their knowledge and assist them if they have any questions. After lunch it is usually camp choir and rehearsals, both of which are for the Friday night "Final Show", a series of performances by each classroom in-front of an audience of the parents (it is also where the students are given their certificates). There are afternoon activities, and a "cool down circle" to close the day. After camp, your host family can bring you home or to a place they choose. Most families eat dinner from 8:00-9:00 at night. Unless your camp is two weeks, you will travel on the trains every Saturday to your next host family. Once you've arrived, there is usually a meeting with all of the tutors and camp staff to plan out what they would like for the week, leaving Sunday completely off for a day of touring and/or relaxation.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
Personally, I have not had much experience traveling, especially away from Canada (the longest I had ever been away prior to ACLE was three weeks). I overcame this anxiety by obviously following through with it, and I am very happy I did because I learned there is nothing to be afraid of. ACLE pairs you with people for traveling as much as they can, so when you have to leave to head back home (which I did alone), you feel completely fine because you are so used to it. I not only was able to book a one-night hostel, taxi for the airport, take trains, and return on a connect flight, but by the end wished I stayed longer.
Did you continue to travel after the program?
If you are doing this program and are considering traveling afterward, I would highly suggest it. Unfortunately I had work and other commitments awaiting me right when I was done with my 6 week adventure, however if I had the choice I would've definitely done some of my own traveling afterwards across Europe. Traveling from country to country in Europe is not that expensive, and furthermore, due to the high tourism rate there is almost always a place available, especially in this day and age considering the various traveling apps such as 'AirBnB' and 'CouchSurfing'. You might even be able to visit some of your newly made friends since ACLE often has tutors from all over the world, all working together in a beautiful country, to help teach kids.