Response-Stimulating English Camp Activities
Sangvatanachai, Woralap, Khon Kaen University, Thailand

Abstract: The main aim of an English camp is to get students to react to a stimulator. Prompt reactions are often a camp problem. This action research wanted to find highly motivating, response-stimulating speaking activities. Eight different activities were organized for students in groups of 9-10. Two evaluators rated the activities by observing, using a rating scale to rate speaking, the promptness of reactions, and language levels. The scale used was a linear 0-10 scale where 0 stands for totally negative answer and 10 for totally positive answer. The activity that received the highest overall score was story-telling. In this activity students studied certain words and phrases, drew an object from a bag, listened to the beginning of a story by the teacher, and created their own stories using the words and phrases. It has been concluded that fun activities, time frames, and the personalities of the teachers can get students to give very quick responses. Success also depends upon the students’ language outputs that demonstrate the level of their English usage. Keywords: Response-stimulating English camp activities, promptness of reactions.

The problem of low English proficiency of the average Thai university students has become one of the most important national educational issues. The Ministry of Education and English language teaching institutions all over the country are well aware of the problem. Attempts have always been made on the part of English language program administrators and teachers at school and universities to improve the English language skills of Thai students. Along with these attempts, which emphasize innovations in curricular design and teaching methods, extra activities are also being taken into consideration. It has been seen that lessons and practices in class are not enough for students to be able to master the language skills we want them to. Practice, on one’s own and with others in both real and virtual situations, is always beneficial for them. However, since the country of Thailand still uses Thai as the official and everyday language, real situational opportunities to practice English are not likely for many students. With this in mind, many universities organize virtual English practices such as camp activities for their students, with an aim to at least provide opportunities for students to be exposed to English use. The skills that are most appropriate for camp activities are speaking, which is productive, and listening, which serves as an input. Since the main aim of an English camp is to get students to speak or use English that is based upon fun activities, an input is very important. By this we mean any stimulators (the activity itself, the instruction, the rules, the language, etc.) that will elicit reactions or answers in English. There is also a problem of prompt reaction since it may be necessary for students to take time to think before they can give any answers. This research, therefore, wanted to find efficient response-stimulating speaking activities for an English camp for university students. Preferred activities for English camps mostly and generally involve speaking and listening. At some camps, reading and writing skills may be incorporated. However, there is usually a

or manipulated in some way. activities should be concerned with the learners themselves. The latter is the case when students have a need to master the second language (Wilson. 2008). If they are. then the language will be learned (Harmer. The second is the skill – in order to get fluent answers the knowledge should be there in order to automate reaction. they are said to be internally or intrinsically motivated and if they are not. Learning is effective if learners are actively involved in the process. 5) gapped handouts and worksheets. and effectiveness depends on the type of materials used (Klippel. novelty element. Students are not always inspired by learning per se. competition.464 tight time frame for each station. and 6) quizzes and games. Dornyei (2008) also provides a number of techniques for designing communicative activities. and/or any input that elicits a reaction. Games can be used to attain behavioral objectives. if students are performing communicative tasks that are meaningful. 3) jigsaws. 2000). The designed task should be motivating enough so that students will do their best to complete it. Play is highly suitable in all L2 classrooms. Bailey suggests provision of “manipulables” which is a fancy word for things that can be handled. 2005). 2007). The first of these is the knowledge itself. It can be seen that motivation is a very important element that language teachers have to bear in mind when they design classroom or camp activities. After we have decided on the activities and how to motivate the students. which is achieved by face-to-face interaction in dialogues or exchanges of conversation (Widdowson. challenge. and there is no need to fear making errors from language use. Strategies that will bring motivation among learners (p. personal element. instructions. language learning has been proposed by Guy Cook. In fact. students will lack confidence as a result and so fluency cannot be achieved (Thornbury. which makes most camp organizers choose speaking activities more often than others. 2008). 4) buzz groups. However. directions. interesting content. When these two are missing. The idea of language play. 1978). 2008). both researchers and theorists have been interested in the areas of language humor and language play for some time now (Cook. and humor. Speaking means oral participation of the individuals involved that is both receptive and productive. something should be provided for learners to talk about and teachers should also accept the learners’ preferred topics (Bailey. exotic element. In teaching speaking to beginning learners. intriguing element. 2000). Therefore. who states that play involves adaptation to a foreign language environment and that play and language are closely connected (Cook. Many language teachers use games as a means to achieve targeted language. namely. There are difficulties affecting the promptness of responses from students.98) are: 1) the use of questions. we might have to consider acceptance of lexical phrases as the students may not be able to produce complete sentences as being normal in camp activities where there are always . then they are only extrinsically motivated. The receptive part of oral communication can be the asking of questions. moved. tangible outcomes. it is important that there is a requirement or a task for students to do. and it should be one that they want to do. Designing situations where students will speak a foreign language should be based on the notion of the act of communication through speaking. 2) differentiated tasks. Klippel (2008) suggests two communicative activities: information gap and opinion gap.

whereas the 10 scores means totally positive. The reason for choosing English camp activities for this study is because an English camp is the best venue for English speaking practices. my favorite story. Objectives This study aimed at finding what stimuli effectively prompt language reactions of students. There were eight activities arranged in a rotation. The 0 score of the scale means not at all or totally negative. Thanksgiving. Two teachers rated the students’ performance as a group. At least two of the eight groups were rated at each station. an English movie. While other skills are also practiced in English camps.465 time constraints. we mean verbal reactions. a popular song. . Huyen and Nga (2003) also agreed with this by saying that games bring relaxation and fun and help students to earn. Nattinger and DeCarrico (2009) state that social conversation is interactional and many times it only requires lexical phrases or language “chunks” of varying length. each of which took 20-25 minutes. the details of which are given in the following section. Methodology The students were divided into eight groups of 10 or 11 students. Students are able to speak when there is a positive atmosphere. She found that students perform better because of the teaching and learning strategies used. By reactions. April Fools’ Day. they have positive attitudes and the activities are not threatening. The eight groups of students were randomly observed. and games involve friendly competition and interest among students. and it effectively creates fun. Then the study was carried on for another semester with another group of students. speaking is mostly emphasized on the grounds that it is the best. namely. and by prompt we mean the reactions were given after the stimuli were given with no delay or like they should have naturally been given. Easter. The results were recorded to develop materials. Two teachers. This action research study investigated different camp activities that were arranged for 85 students. traveled around the camp to observe and rate the stations one by one. The study was conducted on a group of engineering students during one semester to use new student-centered techniques: self introduction. Halloween. Nurisnaini (2000) found out that games and songs are effective strategies in improving students’ participation in activities. and a coffee break discussion. St. and vitality. who were not involved in the activities of any station. “Western Festivals”. The tool used was 10 linear measurement 0-10 scales for ten questions. liveliness. activities. with an aim to improve Thai students’ motivation to speak English through a range of materials and activities. Montha Songsiri (2007) conducted an action research study on promoting students’ confidence in speaking English. foreigner interview. The eight stations’ activities The eight stations were based upon “Western Festivals”. techniques and roles of teachers. Christmas. and Carnival. The eight activities were arranged around the scheme. Valentine’s Day. Patrick’s Day.

The group that gets the most “correct” words wins. Patrick’s Day 3 April Fools’ Day Info board Real objects in a black bag Expression cards hung around the place 4 Easter False Easter eggs with a word inside Baskets Note pads Worksheets Prize Tape recorder A song 1 Ss listen to two teachers speaking about Valentine’s Day and take notes. Details for each of the eight station’s activities are shown in Table 1. 4 Ss listen to a song and fill in gaps on Worksheet. two to three teachers were responsible for encouraging students to participate in the activities. 5 T gives correct answers. 3 Ss match idioms with the right meaning. 4 Ss do crossword puzzles. Details of the 20-minute activities at each station Station Number and Name 1 Valentine’s Day Kits Activities (in steps) Skills Practiced Average Total Score by Evaluators Idiom cards Meaning cards Note pads Tape recorder A song Info board Info cards Green hats Crossword Puzzles Paper Colored pens Leprechaun masks prizes 2 St. Ss answer. 4 Each group takes a turn to come in front and draw an egg at a time.466 At each station. Speaking Writing Listening 81 Writing Listening Speaking 75 Reading Speaking 86 Speaking (at a word level) 82 . 6 Ss make a commercial in their group to invite people to come to St. 5 Each pair prepares a story about the object using the expression on the cards. 5 One S from a group looks at the word and gives hint until the group can guess the word. 3 Ss read the cards and study info on the board. 2 Ss wear the green hats. 7 Ts judge the best commercial and give the prize 1 Ss study the information on the board. Table 1. Patrick’s festival. 3 Ss answer questions about April Fools’ Day. 8 Ts give points and award prizes to the best storytellers. 2 Ss are divided into pairs. 2 T asks questions. 2 Ss are divided into 2 groups. relate story about St. 1 Ss are divided into 2 groups. 7 Each pair take turns completing the story. 4 Each pair draws an object from the bag. 3 Ss pick as many eggs as they can (each word in an egg counts 5 points). 6 T starts a sentence for a story. 1 Ts hide Easter eggs around the place. Patrick’s and teaches Ss to sing a song. 5 Ss sing songs together.

4 Ss find two cards that match each other and read the words. 4 Ss match pictures and words. s/he will be punished by the mock hammer. The in-house constructed scale used was a linear 0-10 score . Therefore. two groups of students were randomly observed by two evaluators. 7 The losers’ noses are painted red like Rudolf’s. 1Ts explain about Carnival.?” and “Do I …” to the others. 3 All Ss move around asking “Am I.467 5 Halloween Vocabulary board Cards indicating characters 6 Word cards Thanksgiving Pictures Note pads Hats songs 7 Christmas Info posters Christmas decorations Mock hammer Word cards Santa hats Picture board 8 Carnival Idiom cards Meaning cards Note pads Worksheet 6 The two groups sing a song together.. 2 Ss are divided into 2 groups. especially in speaking and promptness of reactions or answers given to each of the stimuli. 2 Each S is attached with a card on the back. 3 Cards are laid face down on the floor. 4 S has to use a relative clause in giving the clue. 3 Ts give out pictures. 2 Ss write down what each of them is thankful for and their reasons why. Results and Discussion Two evaluators rated the activities by observing each station once. 2 Ts collect word cards from the board and put them on the floor. The rest lines up and takes turn giving the clue related to the word shown by T. 5 Each group has 5 min to guess the word. 3 One S in a group sits in the hot seat. If not. 5 Ss make a story from a selected card. 5 The team that gets the most words correct wins. 6 The group getting the most words correct wins and is rewarded. 4 Other Ss answer their friends’ questions until everyone gets the answer. Guided questions in the rating scale included the level of practices. 1 Ts explain about what people do on Halloween Day and go over words on the board. 1 Ts explain about Thanksgiving. Pronouncing Speaking (very simple structures) 78 Pronouncing Speaking Writing 81 Speaking 82 Pronouncing Reading 70 The activities for all of these stations lasted for a total of 4 hours (roughly 30 minutes for each station) because between stations it was necessary for students to walk from one station to another. 6 Songs are played and hats are put on all throughout the session. 1 Ss are divided into 2 groups.

0 These scores showed that five out of the eight activities were rated at over 8. 6. 10. Students learned and/or use some sentence structures.6. 5. the station was lively. Conclusion We have concluded that in order to encourage students to speak. Overall success of the station. Patrick’s Day Carnival 8.0. All students are participating.e.1 7. Students use their reading skill. All students give prompt reply/reaction. April Fools’ Day. Students learned and/or use some expressions. 4) the students composed sentences themselves and spoke them out.468 where 0 stands for totally negative answer and 10 for totally positive answer.5 7. 5) the teachers were very active. 3) the students created their own ideas. 8. However. 5. and 6) overall. 2. 7. The details are as follows: The evaluators rated this station as the most successful in prompting students to speak because 1) the activities were fun. 2. 4. but they should also encourage students to speak and use other language skills. Only three of the activities were rated below 8.8 7. The results showed the station activities that encouraged and prompted students to react quickly to stimuli in the order from highest to lowest as follows: 1. Students are speaking English. 4.1 8.6 8.0. 3. 2) the students were excited when they made stories. i. Students use their writing skill. to see why the station was rated at 8. 6.2 8. Besides these questions.. the following should be taken into account: . which could be considered successful in encouraging students to speak or give reactions to stimuli. 7. 3. yet they all received a score higher than 7.2 8. The ten items for rating are as follows: 1. Students use their listening skills. April Fools’ Day Christmas Easter Thanksgiving Valentine’s Day Halloween St. We then studied the details designed by the top-score station. the observation form also includes evaluator’s preference of the station and the suggestions for improvement. it should be noted that camp activities should not only be fun.0. 9. Students learned and/or use some new words. 8.

2. and prepared effectively. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Communicative fluency activities for language teaching. December 2003. The English camp that was held this year did not enlist students majoring in English. T. It could be argued that these students had applied for the English camp. In fact. we found that students who participated in the activities shared approximately the same level of English proficiency. Learning Vocabulary Through Games. (2005). When students are at the same level. (2000). J. Lexical Phrases and Language Teaching. The Psychology of Second Language Acquisition. & Nga. This can lead to unwanted results because teachers focus upon activities that are fun at the expense of good English practice which is appropriate for the level of students. We believe this to be true. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 3. designed. . They should be enabled or allowed an opportunity to use English at a suitable proficiency level. T. this could also be applied in English classrooms. ASIAN EFL Journal. (2003). J. The teacher should be active. Oxford: Oxford University Press. References Bailey. & DeCarrico. We can see that the April Fools’ Day activities were very successful in this respect. Fourth Edition. In addition. 6. G. Klippel. so at a certain level they were ready to participate.station teachers are asked to design fun activities. Students should be divided into and work in very small groups. it is more likely that they will try to participate in activities.469 1. Cook. Students should be provided with vocabulary and expressions that they can see easily and use. Language Play. Practical English language teaching: Speaking. ( 2008). Students at university level should not be practicing pronouncing words or guessing a character (a single word answer). Oxford: Oxford University Press. K. Provided things are planned. Dornyei. Students should be able to create their own ideas. New York: McGraw-Hill. they were not good at English. Nattinger. (2009). Language Learning. (2008). (2007). we are left with a future research question to be answered. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Harlow: Pearson Longman. Huyen. 5. F. 4. Harmer. “How can students be motivated to use English more?” In organizing an English camp one important factor has been observed in the planning process . J.M. Z. The atmosphere should be lively and fun (not very formal). Students should be provided enough chances to speak. Therefore. without having to incorporate knowledge from any sources.

Other Degree thesis thesis. (1978). S. Universitas negeri Malang. Teaching Language as Communication. Edinburgh Gate: Pearson Longman. Practical Teaching: A Guide to PTLLS & CTLLS. Songsiri. Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis.G. Australia. H. L. (2000). Victoria University. (2008). Melbourne. Oxford: Oxford University Press. A. M. An action research study of promoting students’ confidence in speaking English. London: Delmar Cengage Learning. . How to teach speaking. (2008). Using Games and Songs to Improve Students’ Participation and Classroom Situation for Fourth Grade Students at SDN Arjosari III Malang.470 Nurisnaini. Wilson. Widdowson. (2007). Thornbury.

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