“The children fall about laughing when they see the volunteers doing everything they can possibly think of to try to explain what a word means or how to play a game”, says Leander Colpaert (25), a Dutch volunteer at one of our camps for non-Dutch speakers. “They realise that it is also a challenge for us to explain things. That way, they don’t feel so bad if there is a word they don’t know.”
“Roeland camps have got the balance between language and fun exactly right - there is plenty of both during the language labs. This ensures that the children are constantly learning, often without even being aware of it themselves”, says Leander (on the far right in the photo).
Games During Language Labs
“I always do my best to integrate games into the language labs. I use a bingo machine to teach numbers and the card game UNO to teach colours. I don’t want them to feel as though they are doing a course; I want them to take a creative, interactive approach to language.”
“As a volunteer, you constantly need to make sure that the children are making effective use of the target language. But it’s important not to do this in a forceful way or to make them feel bad if they make a mistake – that is counterproductive.”
“When they make a mistake, we answer them using the correct words or formulation in our reply. That way, they learn really fast.”
Assistant Activity leaders
“We ask children who have been to camp with us a few times and who have a good grasp of Dutch to be assistant activity leaders. They help us to prepare activities and games at camp. They really enjoy the responsibility. They appreciate being given the chance to show how much they can achieve whilst speaking a foreign language.”
“The younger children look up to them, too. They are role models for them. They hope that one day they will also be asked to be an assistant activity leader with lots of responsibilities.”
Drawing and Signing
“We always give the children the chance to express themselves, even if it doesn’t work out. If they don’t know the words, they can draw or use signing to express themselves. As volunteers, we also use drawings and signing to explain things. We literally use our hands and feet to explain. It leads to some really hilarious situations ! We make sure that everyone is having a good laugh whilst learning. That’s one of the best things about camp.