Earning during your summer break: teaching summer school

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If summer will see you between posts or with several weeks to fill (but without the money for a long holiday), teaching summer school might be a great solution for you. You’ll have a chance to share your work with a new audience, experience a different teaching environment, and earn a bit of cash. Summer courses can even help with internal course progression issues or help with department recruitment. What do you need to know to get started?

Summer in situ

Many university departments run formal courses during the summer months, especially to help students get a chance to complete oversubscribed core modules. Ask your line manager whether there are opportunities to get involved. You could also propose such a programme if you are aware of unmet need. If this teaching is outside of your contract, you should be paid.

Some universities also offer pre-sessional programmes for non-traditional entrants, such as mature students and students with disabilities, and most arrange pre-sessional programmes for students who speak English as a second language—especially those who still need to achieve a specific IELTS score. These courses are often quite enjoyable to teach, as learners are keen to be there and to succeed. Excursions, tours of the campus and lunchtime sessions are frequently part of the mix along with in-class work.

English (and other) language teaching

Summertime is hot for language learning, whether it’s quick courses in holiday Spanish, teaching Business English, or giving group lessons to help students cram for language exams. You can do this as an independent freelancer or through an established language school in your area.

Depending on the student group and the intention, summer language classes can include travel. For example, some academics take groups of students abroad to learn and practice a language, while others arrange for English-language learners to try their skills out in the community. In places like Canterbury and London, groups of overseas students following an English teacher around the sights are a regular sight.

Because these are short courses with a defined goal, you’ll need to make sure you have a structured plan and build in plenty of practice and quizzes.

Teaching in the community

Other lecturers get involved with teaching in the community, whether that’s workplace courses that get you back in the trenches of your field or leisure course provision. The Workers Education Association (WEA), community centres, and institutions like London’s City Lit seek experienced teachers who can bring top-notch expertise to their roster.

Entrepreneurial lectures could also think about emulating the success of public education series like the popular (but unpaid) Café Scientifique concept. There is definitely a growing appetite for public engagement with ideas in the wake of the TED Talks phenomenon, and you could take advantage of this—perhaps in concert with like-minded colleagues.

Whether it’s a one-off paid lecture, a short course for adults, or taking part in your university’s own offerings, teaching summer school can be an enjoyable experience for lecturers and learners due to the more relaxed pace and environment.


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