Written by Gesica Sîrbu
What is the most effective method to improve one’s English speaking skills? – communicating with individuals passionate about doing the same! From August 9-13, America House Chisinau organized a five-day summer intensive program for students aged 14-16. The program opened the window to American culture, history, language, and accents to help teenagers develop a diverse range of competencies and collaborative skills through interactive activities. The program was conducted by Irina Stropsa, English language teacher.
During the five days, the schedules were packed with informative lessons, fun games, small contests, comics, poetry, and lots of team-building activities. Initially, the participants felt nervous at first (that is normal); however, throughout the program, everyone encouraged their neighbors to open up and share thoughts, ideas, and opinions. In the end, the space became a funny and friendly environment for jokes and a good mood.
Each day, the participants were introduced to a new topic: Civil War, American and British accents, U.S. personalities, story-telling, and business planning. The most important rule was English only – no Romanian allowed. Apart from theory, the practical parts were a must. Every student raised their hands to take part in the conversations and games.
Here are some ways to learn actively:
American and British accent similarities and differences:
Daily habit: use a dictionary to check the meaning and pronunciation of a word (an online dictionary is recommended.)
“Who am I?” – Acting game
“Guess what I am” – Acting game
Daily habit: play such games with friends and family to brighten up the atmosphere.
Make a story: It must start with “Unfortunately, it rains; fortunately, I have an umbrella.” Continue the story with the exact phrase substituting “rains” and “umbrella.”
Create a business plan: Use an A2/A3 poster paper and sticky notes to start. The poster is the business, and the sticky notes act as the jigsaw puzzles needed to construct the company’s plan.
The program finished with a smile on the students’ faces – hungry for more knowledge on American culture! Some students noted that the project proved that fun and games could teach so much in such little time.
On balance, America House has helped these enthusiastic students to enhance their English abilities preparing them for going back to school. After the program, the participants had fun playing board games, such as Uno and Monopoly, with their new friends. Some students also became interested in the volunteering program – perhaps this will not be their last.
Most significantly, do not forget to practice English!