Greece is not Germany

Greece is not Germany. Greeks are not Germans. 3 days is not 5 days. 50 students are not 30 students. These may seem like obvious statements, and they are, but these were the statements that were the tests for our TEFL curriculum during an English Easter camp near Athens. None of these were insurmountable, but they would present challenges.

Before this camp, the curriculum had only been used in Germany for a 5-day camp with 30 students. A clear majority of the students were German and originally from that area of Germany. This new camp was a 3-day camp with around 50 students coming from over 6 different countries, including Greece, Albania, Afghanistan and Syria.

It is for situations like this that we designed the curriculum. We want the curriculum to be used by anyone and for a lot of different situations. Could it work? Would it work? We thought so!

There were complications for sure. One of our teachers ended up being sick for most of our time there, so I had to jump in the classroom for the first time since leaving Maryland. Then we had too many students in the middle level, so my co-leader pulled a small group out and taught as well.

One of my favorite stories that highlights some of the differences was when I asked a question to the class and got a very interesting answer.

Me: “Name any color you know.”

Student: “Monkey.”

Me: “That’s an animal, but what color is a monkey. Do you know?”

Student: “Banana.”

Me: “Bananas are fruit. Do you know what color bananas are?”

Student: “Monkey”

That’s when I knew he was messing with me, so I moved on. Needless to say, the sarcastic side of me wanted to crack a smile, give him a high five and congratulate him on a joke well-played.

Other students started naming colors with great proficiency, but when one student started naming colors like “dusty pink” I got curious. I asked her where she learned that color and she said YouTube makeup tutorials. She could have gone all day naming different shades of makeup if I would have let her. YouTube to the rescue!

At the end of the week the students knew more vocabulary than they started. They were conversing more than they had at the beginning, and they were connecting well with the teachers. That is our goal. Our curriculum was made not only for the students to learn and speak more English, but it was also created so the teachers could connect with the students. Our curriculum allows us to show them love and that even though we just met them, we care for them and so does God. Seeing some of the relationships that came about because of this camp, I can easily say that our curriculum did exactly what it was supposed to, and God’s love was made known.