Tsinghua English Language Summer Camp 2012 Opens

The largest English language summer camp in China opened at Tsinghua University on Tuesday 26th June. Over the next three weeks around 2,600 Tsinghua students will be taught by native English speakers from around the world. Over 160 teachers and student volunteers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand have come to Beijing to immerse the students in Anglophone speech and culture.

The camp, which is now in its sixth year, uses various interactive activities to improve students’ English. Among these are games, speech, singing and dance competitions, movie-dubbing and debates. Students will also have a chance to show off their acting skills in performances of Shakespearean theatre. The teachers and volunteers have brought gifts and trinkets from their home countries, which students will be able to buy with tokens awarded for participation in their classes.

The foreign visitors first met university staff at the camp orientation on Saturday 23rd June. Camp assistant foreign coordinator Bennet Adkinson, of the University of Tennessee, said the programme was a great example of cultural exchange. He said: “It gives the students a unique experience of immersion in oral English; and it works both ways. We learn a lot about Chinese culture at the same time as they are learning about the Anglophone world.”

Students gathered on the morning of Tuesday 26th in Teaching Building Six to observe the opening ceremony of the camp, which began with a speech by Deputy Dean of Foreign Languages and Literatures Zhang Weimin. His address was punctuated with the sounds of students’ laughter, establishing an earnest but lighthearted atmosphere for the weeks to come. Deputy Dean Zhang said that three basic principles underlie the camp: positivity, patience, and participation. One of the key objectives of the camp, he stressed, was “to cultivate the humanitarian spirit of Tsinghua students.” He added: “We have people from all over the world to teach English. Most of the Tsinghua students are not very confident about talking with native speakers, so this is a great opportunity to practice.”

After the speech, students and volunteers alike were asked to stand for the national anthem, March of the Volunteers. 

Following this display of patriotism, camp participants watched a short montage of scenes collected from last year’s summer camp, showing students laughing, singing, learning, and enjoying themselves. The video emphasized togetherness and teamwork, as well as the vast range of language learning methods that Tsinghua English Summer Camp offers.

In the video, Jonathan Banfill, a teacher at Tsinghua University, told students that the camp will enable them “to be competitive and to engage with the international conversation.”

The final address was from Dean of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures Liu Shisheng, who exhorted students to “be positive, be patient, and participate.”