Activity Leader Induction

There are seven parts to this induction; the Activity Programme, the Excursion Programme, Airport, Meal and Pastoral duties, Your Responsibilities, How we support you, Our Expectations and Communicating with students. You can move through these parts with the arrows at the bottom of the text. When you reach the end of the induction there will be a short test.

The aims of this induction process are:

  1. To familiarise you with the activity and excursion programmes, their purpose, and what is generally included in the programmes
  2. To alert you to the main responsibilities of your job and our expectations of you
  3. To demonstrate the types of support you will receive to do your job successfully
  4. To help you to help our students have a memorable time

Part 1: The Activity Programme

The activity programme is not an optional add-on to our courses. We therefore expect students to take an active part in it (as will their parents). Activity sessions take place morning, afternoon and evening. The person responsible for planning and organising the programme of activities and excursions is the Activity Manager, but all staff, Activity Leaders and Teachers will be involved in putting the programme into action.

What is the purpose of the Activity Programme?

  1. To give students opportunities to practise and improve their English outside the classroom.
  2. To have fun.
  3. To help students make new friends from different countries.

How does the Activity Programme work?

The activity programme is a central and integral part of our courses. If the programme is to succeed it must involve all our students, enhance their experience in Britain and energise them. If it does, you, too, will have succeeded.

We run a zig-zag programme in all of our centres. This means that students are divided into morning and afternoon groups labelled RED and BLUE. While one group does English lessons, the other does activities (or a half-day excursion). In the afternoon, the groups swap over. Activity sessions are usually around 3 hours during the day and 2.5 hours in the evening. The 3 hour sessions are usually divided into two smaller sessions of 1 hour 15 minute with a 30 minute break for the students in between.

What is the Activity Carousel, how does it work and why do we do it?

The Activity Carousel forms a part of the overall Activity Programme. Students are organised into multinational groups of around 18-22 students of a similar age. These groups take part in a number of compulsory sporting and non-sporting activities throughout the course.

We do the carousel for a number of reasons. We believe that being in a multinational group with students of a similar age will help our students to gain confidence with their English and improve their fluency. The Carousel also encourages students to interact with different nationalities and try new activities which they might not have done on a “normal” free-choice activity programme.

What type of activities do we offer?

We offer a range of sporting and non-sporting activities to our students so that everyone gets a chance to do things that they like! (We are always interested in trying new activities with our students, so if you have anything that you feel like trying, let your Activity Manager know!) Examples of what we do are here;

Volleyball, Football, Rounders, Touch Rugby, Tennis, Swimming, Drama, Art & Craft, Team Games, Nature Walks, Photo Hunt, Pub Quiz, Dance (& Aerobics), Casino Night, Mini Olympics, Murder Mystery, Disco (& Karaoke), Computer Room, Cinema.

Part 2: The Excursion Programme

The purpose of the excursion element of the courses we offer throughout the summer is to introduce students to British culture, history and society and to enable them to practice their English in a truly authentic environment. And, of course, to have fun!

Where do our students go?

The destinations we offer for excursions varies from centre to centre. Some centres closer to London, might offer more trips to the Capital, whereas centres further from London will provide something for students who want a different cultural experience. You can find information about the excursion destinations for each centre on www.elac.co.uk by clicking on the centre you are interested in and going to the tab called “Activities & Excursions”.

What do the students do on the excursions?

Our excursions nearly always include a short walking tour of all the important sites on the visit. Many excursions also include entrances into attractions, such as the Brighton Pavilion, the Jorvik Centre and Cardiff Castle. Towards the end of the excursion our students usually get supervised free time where they can do some sightseeing, shopping or just relaxing in small groups. Instead of free time, some groups might choose to do a visit to a museum or another place of interest. Excursions are organised by train or on a private coach. On optional excursions the itinerary is organised between the Group Leader (the adult accompanying a group of students from abroad) and the Assistant Centre Manager, before it is passed on to you.

How often do students go on excursions?

Most students go on three full-day excursions each 2 weeks. In some courses there are also half-day excursions, which can be in either the morning or afternoon. There is usually a “free day” with no programmed lessons or excursions. On this day students can choose to go on an “optional excursion”, where they can choose where they want to go from a range of options. If they don’t want to go on another excursion, Students can choose to stay at the course centre to do activities and/or relax (or to spent time with their hosts if they are on a homestay programme).

What are you expected to do an excursion?

On excursions, your responsibilities include organising and supervising a group of students (usually with another Teacher or/and Activity Leader) to ensure their safety and wellbeing. You will also be expected to guide the students on walking tours and engage with them; asking questions, conversing and helping them to learn about British culture.

This begins with their behaviour on the coach/train and towards the driver if travelling by coach.  Although the Group Leader knows the students well, and can be relied on to give instructions in their own language from time to time, you cannot rely on them entirely, as there may be different cultural expectations that they are unaware of regarding safety, noise, conduct etc. – use this as a teaching opportunity. Don’t shout, but be prepared to point out (firmly if necessary) to students the expectations that we need them to conform to. It is particularly important when travelling by coach that we retain the goodwill of our coach providers. On trains, ensure your students are safely seated and not blocking doors.

Always be aware of how many students are in your group and continually look out for stragglers if you are taking them on a walking tour. Ensure they know how to cross roads safely. Do frequent headcounts. If there are two Elac staff members, then don’t walk together: one near the front, one near the back. When students have supervised free time in a particular location make sure they understand the instructions about where they can go and when and where to meet back etc., and allow the Group Leader time to translate if appropriate.

The students should only be allowed to go off in small groups with the permission of you and the Group Leader. They must always be in groups of at least 3 rather than alone. Groups should also not be too big either as this can cause problems. They should be told to meet back at a clearly defined spot well in advance of when you need to move on. You must have a mobile telephone number for at least one of the group, and they must have your number if possible and Elac’s emergency telephone number. You should also exchange mobile numbers with the Group Leader. Elac’s emergency telephone number is printed on the students’ Elac Emergency Contact Card, which they should carry at all times.

What should you do in an emergency?

If you are unsure then ‘phone for advice.

  1. A Missing Student: this is the most frequent cause for concern. This is usually because they are late back to the meeting point, and this is usually because they have lost track of the time. If they are very late, and the coach/train is leaving, one member of staff will need to remain behind (with money to travel back). Keep in contact with Elac until the student is found and then travel back independently.
  2. An Accident: deal with the accident as appropriate, either yourself if it is minor, or by recourse to the emergency services. Contact Elac as soon as possible to inform us of the situation.
  3. An Incident (e.g., shoplifting): Contact Elac for instructions.

Whatever the emergency, assistance is at hand. Be ready to give your on-the-spot assessment of the situation and proposed course of action. You are in the best possible position to know this and your Centre Manager will take on board your advice and support you. It is essential that these matters are reported, however, because ultimately the Centre Manager has to take responsibility.

Part 3: Airport, Meal and Pastoral duties

As an Activity Leader there is a good chance you will be involved in some, or all, of the following; Airport, Meal and Pastoral duties.

Airport duties involve going to the airport on the student arrival day and meeting groups as they come through into the Arrival Lounge. This might seem like a simple job, but you might be surprised how many people don’t get it right. First impressions are incredibly important which is why there are a few simple rules to follow closely;

  1. Get to “Arrivals” on time – nothing annoys Group Leaders more than being left waiting in an airport they don’t know after a long journey with tired, hungry students.
  2. Wear your Elac T-shirt and take an Elac sign – There are lots of people at airports in the summer and lots of groups of students arriving every day. So your group can find you easily, it’s important to stand out from the crowd.
  3. Go prepared – You will be given flight details, contact numbers and times about the group (or groups) you have to collect by the Centre Manager, but you should also make sure that you your phone is charged, and that you get to the airport in plenty of time to work out where everything is.
  4. Smile, be friendly and talkative! After a long journey (and maybe delays!) the Group Leader might be tired or frustrated – or perhaps they have a lot of questions about the course. Make sure that you give them an excellent first impression of Elac. (And don’t forget to talk to the students too. Remember that they have come to the UK to practice their English!)

Once you have met the group, they will need to be taken to the coach station. Once there you will need to find the Coach Marshall (often wearing a high-vis jacket) who will call your coach from where it is parked. It will take a few minutes (or sometimes more) for the coach to come and pick you up.

It might be that you are returning to the centre with the group, if so, you will be able to get on the coach with them. Alternatively, you might have other groups to pick up, in the same, or different terminals, in which case you will need to repeat the process all over again!

Meal and Pastoral duties may vary from centre to centre.

In general a meal duty will involve; making sure that the right students go into lunch or dinner at the correct time as some meals times are staggered to avoid excessive queues, overseeing the dining room so that students leave it tidy and that they clean away their trays etc., and assisting the catering staff so that the process of students getting food is done orderly and without problems.

On a pastoral duty, you will often have to check the boarding houses in the evening to make sure that the students have been signed in and that no one is missing.

Part 4: Your Responsibilities

One of your main responsibilities with regards to the activities is to organise and facilitate enjoyable and safe activity sessions for groups of students on our courses. So, what does that mean exactly? You will need to provide structure to the activity sessions (so you’re not just going to throw the students a ball and tell them to play football for 3 hours!). You also need to ensure that the sessions run smoothly and are a valuable use of the student’s time.

On excursions, your responsibilities include organising and supervising a group of students (either alone or with another Activity Leader or Teacher) to ensure their safety and wellbeing. You will also be expected to guide the students on walking tours and engage with them; asking questions, conversing and helping them to learn about British culture.

Part 5: How we support you

We know that we need to provide you with certain tools for you to be able to do a good job.

To help you deliver successful, well-structured activity sessions;

  1. Part of your induction day before the start of the course will be dedicated to giving you information about the activity programme. It will also be an opportunity to meet your colleagues, ask questions, and become familiar with the materials and equipment available.
  2. We have developed some Activity plans for some of our most popular activities, some of which will be part of the activity carousel. The plans give you ideas about how to organise your sessions as well as what material you will need. They can be found on the Activity Programme Resources.
  3. Our Activity Management team are really experienced and nearly all of them will have done the Activity Leader job. They will always be available to assist you with your sessions (and are open to hear any ideas you might have as well!).
  4. At the beginning of the course you will be given an Activity Folder, which has lots of useful information about the programme, including risk assessments and timetables. In the Staff Room you will also have access to the Elac Staff Guide and Elac Staff Handbook (both of which you can find here).
  5. You will have an Activity Clipboard which is for day-to-day use. It has contact phone numbers, tips for running sessions, procedures, student medical information, registers etc. The Activity Manager will help you keep this up to date with useful information throughout the course.
  6. There will be regular meetings with your Activity Manager and the rest of the team to keep you fully informed with updates and information about the programme, the students, the activities. It will also give you an opportunity to discuss any doubts or concerns you have. There is always a “Tip of the Day” which will give you something positive and constructive to think about when planning your activity sessions.
  7. Our Activity Mangers try to observe all the Activity Leaders delivering sessions at least once during the first week to 10 days the course. The aim of these is to provide you with some constructive feedback about your sessions, to support you with any difficulties you might be having and to give you some tips on how to deliver even more successful activity sessions.

To help you lead successful, cultural and safe excursions;

  1. Your Induction day will include information about the excursion programme. You will be guided through a mock excursion, told about our procedures and given some example scenarios. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions.
  2. Pre-excursion meetings. A day or two before an excursion, you will have a meeting with the Activity Manager and/or the Assistant Centre Manager, who will provide you with all the information you need for your excursion. You will also have the opportunity to meet with the Group Leader of the group you will be accompanying. You will be provided with an Excursion Kit, which will be put together by the Assistant Centre Manager before each excursion. The kit will have the following items; a risk assessment for the excursion destination, a risk assessment for unsupervised students off campus, excursion tips & a “what to do if” procedure sheet, a register of students in the group & a list of students with any medical/dietary needs, a mini first aid kit, voucher(s) for entry to the excursion venue (if necessary), and any emergency contact numbers you might need.
  3. Our Group Leaders will be asked to complete an Excursion Feedback form at the end of each excursion about their experiences. This will provide us with valuable information to help us, and you, deliver successful excursions over the summer.
  4. All our walking tours for the excursions are available here for you to look at before you start work in the summer. There are also quizzes and information about the excursion destinations for you to share with your students, which will enable them to practice their English as well as learn about UK culture.

Part 6: Our Expectations

Any programme of activities and excursions, no matter how good it looks on paper, can fall flat if those people involved in supervising and facilitating it approach it in the wrong way. We want the activity and excursion programmes to be full of life, energy and fun – and, just as importantly, so do the students and leaders. It is not something that you can do half-heartedly in order to earn a little extra money.

We expect that you will be enthusiastic, friendly responsible and will show some initiative and demonstrate a bit of common sense.

We expect that you dress appropriately for the task. If you are running a sports activity; trainers, Elac t-shirt, shorts/tracksuit etc. If you are going on an excursion; comfortable shoes, appropriate clothing for the weather etc. Flip flops are rarely suitable and ripped jeans or t-shirts with inappropriate slogans or images are never acceptable attire.

We also expect that you will be punctual for meetings and for the start of excursions and activity sessions.

Part 7: Communicating with students

One of the key features of the activity and excursion programmes at Elac is that they provide an opportunity for students to practise their English, using it in real interactions with you, other people and other students. Please feel free to input, correct or shape the students’ language without disturbing the flow of the activity to any significant degree. However, we know you are probably not a professional English language teacher so here are a few hints for you in how to understand and, more importantly, be understood.

What is difficult to understand?

Which of these two sentences is more difficult for a low-level speaker of English to understand?

Please fetch the rackets.
Please go and get the rackets.

Well, it depends. If you know the word fetch and you recognise it in the context, then there’s no problem.  However, go and get are far more common verbs which almost all learners will understand so the answer is the second sentence is the easier one to understand.  That’s the one to use.  You could use both, sneakily teaching fetch to those whose didn’t know it.

Try another: Which of these two sentences is more difficult for a low-level speaker of English to understand?

The racket’s broken.
Someone has broken the racket.

The second one. Why? Three reasons

  1. many languages (those of lots of our students) expect the topic of the sentence to be at the front of the sentence
  2. the first sentence only has two parts, both of which mean something.  In the second sentence, the word someone doesn’t actually mean anything
  3. the second sentence contains a verb made of two parts (has and broken) and that’s harder to decode.

There’s a general rule here.  If you are giving instructions for something, make sure the most important information is right at the front of what you say.  For example, don’t say,

Don’t forget to be back here at 4 o’clock because the bus leaves at quarter past!

but… Please be here at 4 o’clock. The bus leaves at four fifteen.

Not only have you avoided the difficult quarter past x construction but you have also put the information clearly at the front of what you say and broken it up into easily understood sections. You don’t need the because bit – that’s obvious and students routinely misunderstand things like that, anyway (as well as sentences with expressions like if only, even if, however and so on).

How do you know you’ve been understood?

Certainly not by asking, Did you understand? to which you will almost certainly get a confident Yes! People, especially teenagers, don’t like to admit they may be the only one not to have understood. The trick is to check and check again.  Select the student who you suspect hasn’t been listening and ask something like What time does the bus leave?  If you eventually get the right answer, ask someone else What time must you be here? That way, you have a good chance of not having to wait around at the bus stop for too long!  It’s also given you a natural way of repeating key instructions. This applies to almost any instruction you give – rules of games, times to meet, things to do and so on.

Stay cool and courteous

There’s sometimes a temptation, in an effort to be clear, to slip into pidgin English or to start shouting curt instructions on the principle that foreigners understand loud words better and short commands more easily. Neither is necessarily true. Don’t say, then, Come here! Wait your turn! It’s much better, easier to understand and more courteous to our clients to say something like Please stand here and wait for your turn. in a polite way.  It’s also more likely that you’ll get things done. Clearly, a lot of this is common sense but, in the heat of a busy summer activity programme, sometimes simple things like this get forgotten.

This is the end of the Activity Leader Induction. You will now be asked a series of questions about the information you have just read. You will need to get 90% correct in order to print out your Activity Leader Induction Certificate. Once you do this, please send it, together with the Safeguarding Certificate and All-Staff Induction Certificate to hr@elac.co.uk so it can be added to the other documents you have sent us. If you don’t get 90%, don’t worry. Read back through the information and take the test again!