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Campers' Views on the Effects of English Immersion Camp Initiatives for Aural/Oral Skills Development of Pre-and In-Service EFL Teachers

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  • University of Western Pará

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This study examines the effects of three English language immersion camps on the participants. Capitalizing on Participatory Action Research, and informed by Experiential Learning and Social Constructivism, these camps constitute an attempt by a Brazilian Amazonian university to mitigate the lack of fluency and proficiency in English among EFL initial teacher education students and state school teachers of English in the region. Data gathered through interviews and participant observation notes were analyzed following a thematic analysis approach. Results suggest expansion of the participants' English vocabulary and knowledge of the American culture, and development of listening and speaking skills. Additionally, a comparison of discourse themes emerging from this study with those from other similar investigations indicates high resonance between them, suggesting that these programs may be a reliable alternative mode of instruction for additional language education, and reinforcing the theory that massive target language comprehensible input and output generate language learning.
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International Journal of Language and Literature
December 2020, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 54-73
ISSN: 2334-234X (Print), 2334-2358 (Online)
Copyright © The Author(s). All Rights Reserved.
Published by American Research Institute for Policy Development
DOI: 10.15640/ijll.v8n2a8
URL: https://doi.org/10.15640/ijll.v8n2a8
Campers’ Views on the Effects of English Immersion Camp Initiatives for Aural/Oral
Skills Development of Pre- and In-Service EFL Teachers
Nilton Hitotuzi
1
Abstract
This study examines the effects of three English language immersion camps on the participants. Capitalizing
on Participatory Action Research, and informed by Experiential Learning and Social Constructivism, these
camps constitute an attempt by a Brazilian Amazonian university to mitigate the lack of fluency and
proficiency in English among EFL initial teacher education students and state school teachers of English in
the region. Data gathered through interviews and participant observation notes were analyzed following a
thematic analysis approach. Results suggest expansion of the participants’ English vocabulary and knowledge
of the American culture, and development of listening and speaking skills. Additionally, a comparison of
discourse themes emerging from this study with those from other similar investigations indicates high
resonance between them, suggesting that these programs may be a reliable alternative mode of instruction
for additional language education, and reinforcing the theory that massive target language comprehensible
input and output generate language learning.
Keywords: English Immersion Camp Program, pre- and in-service teachers, government-funded schools,
aural/oral skills development, motivation.
Acknowledgement
The research reported in this paper would not have been possible without the unparalleled support of my
colleague, Professor Maria Luiza Fernandes da Silva Pimentel. I am also grateful for the time and collaboration
offered by the participants of the research and other TEFL colleagues from the Institute of Education Sciences at
the Federal University of Western Pará. Moreover, I acknowledge that the publication of this paper was supported
by the Federal University of Western Pará (UFOPA) through the Public Notice No. 001/2020/PROPPIT/UFOPA
- Support Program for Scientific Publication in Journals PAPCIP/UFOPA.
1. Introduction
It is well-documented in the literature that becoming a teacher well-equipped to cope with the challenges
of the classroom implies acquiring a variety of skills most of which are not directly related to the contents one is
required to teach. This, however, cannot be taken as a permission to downplay the need to master content when
studying for a teaching qualification. Ultimately, all the skills teachers may have acquired in their preparation either
at university or at any other educational institution will not be of much use in the classroom if they fail to develop
expertise in the subject matter they choose to teach. It is highly unprofessional, unethical and unfair (as far as the
students are concerned) to enter a classroom and call oneself a teacher of, say, mathematics, if the knowledge of
this subject that one has is not enough to help the students further their knowledge of it. By extension, this also
applies to the area of foreign language teaching, which is somehow problematic in the state sector in Brazil
(Cavalcanti, Mudo, Oliveira, Silva, & Evangelista, 2020).
In this country, one of the various hurdles in this area, especially in government-funded schools, is teachers’
lack of fluency and proficiency
2
in the target language. In the teaching of English, for instance, even after being
acknowledged a long time ago by mainstream Brazilian scholars, this deficiency still affects EFL
3
classrooms
throughout the country (Almeida Filho, 1993; Cox & Assis-Peterson, 2008; Leffa, 2011). The fuel that keeps this big
1
Federal University of Western Pará, Av. Marechal Rondon, s/n, Caranazal, 68.040-070, Santarém, PA, Brazil. E-mail:
nilton.hitotuzi@ufopa.edu.br. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4456-5903. Telephone: +55 (93) 2101-3629.
2
While fluency is being used in this paper to refer to the speed and smoothness with which learners of an additional language
use it either in speaking, listening (language processing), reading or writing, proficiency refers to their overall ability to use the
target language accurately and adequately.
3
English as a Foreign Language.
Nilton Hitotuzi 55
wheel running seems to be the inability of many Brazilian universities to deal with this problem in their EFL initial
teacher education (EFLITE) programs (Santos & Oliveira, 2009). It seems thus that Brazilian universities need to
rethink their EFL initial and continuing teacher education strategies so that pre- and in-service teachers can be better
equipped to exploit content knowledge effectively in the classroom. To this end, a university in western Pará
(henceforth Amazonian University) is already experimenting with alternative approaches, particularly those
capitalizing on Experiential Learning (Dewey, 1938, 2007; Keeton & Tate, 1978; Kolb, 2015) and Social
Constructivism (Vygotsky, 1978; Beck & Kosnik, 2006). One such is the engagement of EFLITE students and state
school EFL teachers in English language immersion camps (ELICs) aiming particularly to maximize opportunities
for the enhancement of interpersonal communication skills in English, cultural education, cultural awareness and
motivation to study the language.
2. Background to the study and research questions
The rationale behind the immersion camps promoted by the Amazonian University is twofold. On the one
hand, there is the problem of considerable lack of understanding and speaking skills in English, especially but not
exclusively, among first-year students attending the university’s EFL initial teacher education program. The
pervasiveness of this problem is such that more often than not some of those nearing graduation which means a
license to teach at upper primary and secondary school levels in Brazil
4
are found equally still struggling to
understand and speak the language they will be teaching in government-funded schools not long after their
graduation day. On the other hand, there is another problem that seems to feed into this one, inasmuch as the
English proficiency levels of the majority of the EFL teachers working in state schools in western Pará appear to
range roughly from low to very low. This is an inference based on the English proficiency levels of the EFL teachers
from state schools who registered for three editions of a continuing professional development (CPD) course on
EFL learning and teaching strategies offered by the Amazonian University.
In the first edition of the CPD course, forty-seven EFL teachers working in government-funded school
enrolled for it. The results of a placement test administered to the candidates as part of the enrolment process
indicated that forty of them were at A1 level of proficiency in English
5
and seven were at B2 level when they started
taking the course. In the following edition, forty-nine teachers started the course, eighteen of whom were at A1
level, another eighteen at A2 level, eight were at B1 and five were at B2 level. In the third edition, the number of
teachers taking the course dropped to twenty-one. Eleven of them began the course at A1 level, nine at A2 and one
at B1. It is worth noting that most of these teachers were at A1 level of English proficiency when they started taking
the CPD course, which is hardly surprising if the results of English proficiency tests administered in Brazil by
Education First are indeed representative of the level of English proficiency in this country (Education First, 2019).
In 2018, Education First administered English proficiency tests to 2.3 million adults from 100 countries.
With a score in the low-proficiency band (50.10), Brazil ranked 59th from the total of countries surveyed, and 12th
in Latin America, behind countries like Honduras and Bolivia, which have a GDP per capita equivalent to less than
half of that of Brazil (International Monetary Fund, 2019). When the scores of the test takers in Brazil are compared
by state, the English proficiency level in Pará falls in the very-low band (46.00). This seems to corroborate the results
of the placement tests administered to candidates for the three editions of the CPD course, and thus the inference
about the level of English proficiency of state school EFL teachers in western Pará.
The awareness of the snowball effect caused by having non-proficient teachers attempting to teach English in
state schools was decisive for starting the immersion camp program at the Amazonian University. Here is how this
destructive snowball effect works in some parts of Brazil: teachers who cannot speak English are in the EFL
classroom teaching everything but English; consequently, their students are, too, learning everything but the target
language that they should be learning. To make things worse, when these students finish secondary school, some of
them enroll in an EFLITE program. Needless to say, except for those whose parents can afford to pay for English
lessons in private language schools, their level of proficiency in this language is still exceptionally low at that stage.
The context of western Pará is no exception to this bleak scenario that can become even worse if the university
does not help these students to advance to at least a B2 level of English proficiency: They will obtain their teaching
qualification and will go back to state schools; this time, as teachers of English who, like their former EFL
schoolteachers, will not be proficient enough to help their students learn the target language. That is the pernicious
4
In Brazil, one can apply for a teaching position in government-funded schools upon finishing a 3,200-hour initial teacher
education program, which is offered at undergraduate level by universities across the country (Brasil, 2020).
5
The placement tests were based on the criteria of the Common European Framework of References for Languages (Council
of Europe, 2001).
56 International Journal of Language and Literature, Vol. 8, No. 2, December 2020
snowball effect, or the big wheel, if you like, that ought to be stopped if one takes English language public education
seriously in this country.
One cannot stress enough the fact that the majority of the Brazilian parents cannot afford to send their
children to a private language school, which means that they depend almost entirely on government-funded schools
to help their children learn English. This does not exclude the possibility that some students will never learn English
in state schools even if they have highly proficient EFL teachers to support them because the lack of an appropriate
proficiency level on the part of the teacher is just one of many issues that can be an obstacle to learning English in
those environments. The numerous factors that can prevent upper primary and secondary school students from
achieving high levels of English proficiency in state schools in Brazil may be better represented with another
metaphor, namely the unwanted-millennial tree, whose roots will only be glimpsed at here for the sake of economy
(Figure 1).
Figure 1. Obstacles to Achieving a High Level of English Proficiency in State Schools
6
There are so many deep-rooted problems in the educational system of western Pará that the solution to
them must emerge from collaborative work involving all possible stakeholders. Accordingly, teachers, headteachers,
pedagogic advisers, the students themselves, their parents, local and national policy makers, politicians, and teachers’
unions, all must be involved in the process of making room for real English learning at state schools. Knowing that
synergic effort is required from all stakeholders to unroot this unwanted millennial tree, a professor from the
Amazonian University challenged his colleagues to plan and implement the English language immersion camp
program for EFLITE students and for teachers of English working in state schools in western Pará. Basically,
through these camps, the Amazonian University wants to: (i) strengthen partnership with state schools in the region;
(ii) foster the use and development of the participants’ creativity; (iii) help participants to be familiarized and have a
dialogue with Anglophone cultures aiming at cultural awareness; (iv) incentivize social networking and English
learning; and particularly (v) foster the development of participants’ listening and speaking skills in the target
language.
The study reported here focus on the assessment of objectives (iii) to (v) considering the discourse often
found in the literature that short-term language immersion programs also play a significant role in additional
language education (Supriyono, Saputra, & Dewi, 2020). Thus, two research questions were posed: a central question
(a) How did the three editions of the ELICs program affect the schoolteachers and undergraduate students who
joined them regarding interpersonal communicative skills development, cultural knowledge, cultural awareness and
6
This photograph is a contribution of White@leakingh to Unsplash photo to everyone on February 21, 2020. Retrieved
from https://unsplash.com/photos/I0CJEeguKXc
Nilton Hitotuzi 55
motivation to study the target language? and a sub-question (b) How does the answer to the central question
compare to those resulting from similar studies found in online publications? The Amazonian University has
conducted five immersion camps so far. But, for the sake of economy, only the first three of them will be discussed
in this paper.
3. Experiential Learning and Social Constructivism
John Dewey, an American philosopher and educational reformer, who lived between the second half of the
19th century and the first half of last century, saw the connection between experience and education as sine qua non
in any educational arena (Dewey, 1938, 2007). And, standing on his shoulders, Kolb (2015) also underscores the
important role of experience in the educative process. He defines learning as a process of knowledge creation that
is materialized as a result of the transformation of experience. But before him, Keeton and Tate (1978) had already
drawn attention to the first-hand nature of experiential learning. According to this theory, the direct engagement
with the object of study and the possibility of change constitute two important factors in the learning process.
But Dewey (1938) calls our attention to a fundamental challenge for those who want to capitalize on
experience as a pedagogic tool. The challenge is to have the ability to bring to the learning environment those
experiences that can be at the basis of new experiences in productive and imaginative ways. So, for instance, when
teaching children geometry, it seems it is to their advantage if the teacher introduces the notion of shape by helping
them notice that the things they have at home, the things they play with and the things in their own classroom, all
have shapes. After the students understand the notion of shape, they can then embark on new experiences involving
geometric patterns ‘fruitfully and creatively’, to put it in Dewey’s (1938, p. 28) terms.
Figure 2. Campers’ Attitudes toward the ELICs Supporting Experiential Learning
Social Constructivism, on the other hand, helps us understand learning as a construction of knowledge that
results from the individual’s interaction with physical and social contexts. One does not need to side with the
extreme social constructivist view that all ‘reality is socially constructed’ (Berger & Luckmann, 1966, p. 13) to accept
educative processes as constructions, as Dewey (2007, p. 33) points out: ‘[…] education is not an affair of “telling”
57
56 International Journal of Language and Literature, Vol. 8, No. 2, December 2020
and being told, but an active and constructive process’. This assertion suggests an intrinsic connection between
Experiential Learning and Social Constructivism. The evidence of this link is further stressed by Lev Vygotsky, a
Russian psychologist and social constructivist who lived in the time span of John Dewey’s life. Vygotsky (1978)
argues that the fine-tuning between speech and practical activity is responsible for the highest peaks of intellectual
development. But, to maximize the learning process, a social constructivist approach to education resorts to
different types of experiences emerging from life in society, inasmuch as attitudes, emotions, values and actions also
play a pivotal role in the construction of knowledge (Beck &Kosnik (2006). This implies that both the things without
and those within the individual can be instrumental in the knowledge construction enterprise.
The possibility of harnessing the diversity of human experience to the process of knowledge construction
reiterates the organic relationship between Experiential Learning and Social Constructivism, and this makes these
theoretical perspectives sit comfortably within the ELICs program and the study described in this paper. One
example of this is the discourses of some of the ELICs participants (henceforth campers) that are part of the data
gathered through interviews for the study
7
reported in this paper. Figure 2, for instance, shows campers’ belief in
the idea that through experience the process of learning is facilitated, which is in line with the experiential learning
perspective. Likewise, the selection of comments made by campers shown in Figure 3 is supportive of the view that
a social constructivism approach to education can yield positive results in terms of motivation and learning.
Admittedly, these comments, some of which underscoring the overwhelming power of massive exposure to English,
also lend credence to the existence of a symbiotic relationship between Experiential Learning and Social
Constructivism, which implies that ultimately any successful social interaction will demand an effective interplay of
the interlocutors’ accumulated experience; and that the interactive process itself will generate learning.
Figure 3. Campers’ Attitudes toward the ELICs Supporting Social Constructivism
8
7
Pseudonyms are used to preserve the anonymity of ELICs stakeholders (e.g. students, schoolteachers, professors and
members of the events’ organizing team) whose words are quoted in this paper.
8
A part of the comments at the top and the bottom of Figure 2 seems to suggest a high level of confidence in the native speaker
as a more trustworthy source when it comes to foreign language learning. Despite resonating with language learners from
different parts of the world, this view has been criticized by several professionals in the area of English Language Teaching
(Medgyes, 2017; Canagarajah, 1999; Jenkins, 2000; Holliday, 2005; Bayyurt & Akcan, 2015). Oda (2017, p. 99), for instance,
discusses an English language program implemented by a Japanese university as an attempt ‘[…] to overcome the negative
influence of “native-speakerism”’. The author also shares his views on how such belief gains momentum amongst the “general
public” to put it in his words. As important as it is, however, further discussion on this topic would constitute a greater
digression from the purpose of this paper. It may yet be the object of another study based on this research corpora though.
58
Nilton Hitotuzi 55
4. Discourse themes supporting language immersion camp programs
The notion that language immersion programs are catalysts of improvement in different dimensions of
language education is not a novelty. Since the inauguration of the first program to meet the demand for more
adequate French as a second language teaching methods existing among the Canadian Anglophone community in
the 1960s (Genesee, 1985), this mode of instruction has been capitalized on by educational institutions in different
parts of the world as a means to help students become proficient speakers of additional languages, develop cultural
awareness and succeed academically (Fortune & Tedick, 2003). Benefits such as these have been supported by
several studies on language immersion programs, including those implemented at campsites in countries where the
target language is not the national language.
Following the six phases of analysis proposed by Braun and Clarke (2006), a systematic analysis of 32 works
published less than two decades ago and available online has revealed several discourse themes expressing beneficial
effects of language immersion camp programs in contexts where the mother tongue of the nationals differs from
the one under study. For the sake of economy, however, only the eight most recurring themes are presented here.
One such is the idea that these programs can help lower language anxiety
9
(Wighting, Nisbet, & Tindall, 2005;
Trottier, 2006; Han & Lee, 2008; Feuer, 2009; Seong, 2012; Ahn, 2016; Shiratori, 2017; Banwell & Sasaki, 2017; Liu,
Hu, & Peng, 2017; Noguchi, 2019; Syahidah, Umasugi, & Buamona, 2019; Zakaria, Mohamad, & Idris, 2019).
Arguably, the informal learning environment and the playfulness of the activities typical of immersion camps are
conducive to significant decrease in language learning anxiety insofar as they are (or attempt to be), to put it in
Schumann’s (1975, p. 227) words, ‘[…] natural factors which will induce ego flexibility and lower inhibitions […]’.
All this appears to favor campers’ positive attitude toward learning and using the target language for communication,
which constitute another discourse theme emanating from the data, labelled here as motivation to study and
communicate in the target language (Wighting, Nisbet, & Tindall, 2005; Han & Lee, 2008; Ismail & Tahir, 2011;
Clementi, 2012; Seong, 2012; Shinohara, 2013; Asmara, Anwar, & Muhammad, 2016; You-Jin & Mun-Koo, 2016;
Aswad, 2017; Liu, Hu, & Peng, 2017; Shiratori, 2017; Wheeler, 2017; Noguchi, 2019; Zakaria, Mohamad, & Idris,
2019; Ketamon, Sudinpreda, Watcharajinda, Phayap, & Chanchayanon, 2020).
Development of aural and oral skills in the target language is also a theme that often emerges in these
publications (Wighting, Nisbet, & Tindall, 2005; Chang & Seong, 2010; Seong, 2012; Clementi, 2012; Chang &
Seong, 2015; Dolosic, Brantmeier, Strube, & Hogrebe, 2016; Liu, Hu, & Peng, 2017; Wheeler, 2017; Tragant,
Serrano, & Llanes, 2017; Manan, 2018; Mustakim & Ismail, 2018; Shin & Chun, 2018). Considering that exposition
to comprehensible input and communicative use of the target language are essential conditions for language learning
(Willis, 1996; Ellis, 2015), the escalation of these conditions can potentially enhance listening comprehension and
speaking fluency more expeditiously (Freed, Segalowitz, & Dewey, 2004). In one of the studies analyzed, involving
24 teenagers attending a French as a second language summer camp, and using a story telling task (Llanes & Muñoz,
2009), the researchers have identified significant increase of longest fluent run rate and words spoken per minute
(an increase of 29.9 and 22.6 words on average respectively) in the oral production of all the participants (Dolosic
et al., 2016).
Unsurprisingly, other discourse themes recurrently found in the data are broadening of cultural knowledge
and cultural awareness(Wighting, Nisbet, & Tindall, 2005; Feuer, 2009; Rugasken & Harris, 2009; Pieski, 2011;
Clementi, 2012; Dahl, Sethre-Hofstad, & Salomon, 2013; Shinohara, 2013; Chang & Seong, 2015; Richardson &
Kelderhouse, 2016; Liu, Hu, & Peng, 2017; Shiratori, 2017), i.e. the ability to perceive differences and similarities
between other people’s and one’s own culture
10
through a process that involves questioning and searching for
answers (Bakhtin, 1986). The plausibility of these themes appears to rest on the indissociability between language
and culture since the former constitutes an intrinsic dimension of the latter (Margolis, 2009; Mickan, 2013; Smith,
2013). Apparently, the translation of this relationship into cultural awareness can be achieved even with a small
number of campers during a short period of time as is demonstrated by Pieski (2011) in an assessment of the process
of intercultural sensitivity development of six teaching assistants in a four-week English language immersion camp
in Poland. Using an assessment measure known as Intercultural Development Inventory (Hammer, Bennett, &
Wiseman, 2003), she identified a slight increase in the level of intercultural sensitivity of the participants.
9
Language anxiety is used in this paper in the sense proposed by Piechurska-Kuciel (2011, p. 201): ‘[…] the unique feelings of
tension and apprehension experienced in the [second language acquisition] process in the classroom context, arising from the
necessity to learn and use a [foreign language] that has not been fully mastered’.
10
The notion of culture adopted in this paper is broad. As suggested by Hitotuzi (2016, p. 2695), it is ‘[…] an umbrella term
that encompasses all man-created things, be them tangible, as a house, or intangible, as a concept’.
59
56 International Journal of Language and Literature, Vol. 8, No. 2, December 2020
Yet other recurring themes include vocabulary development (Asmara, Anwar, & Muhammad, 2016; Liu,
Hu, & Peng, 2017; Tragant, Serrano, & Llanes, 2017; Manan, 2018; Shin & Chun, 2018; Syahidah, Umasugi, &
Buamona, 2019), confidence in using the target language (Rugasken & Harris, 2009; Park, 2009; Chang & Seong,
2010; Ismail & Tahir, 2011; Clementi, 2012; Seong, 2012; Banwell & Sasaki, 2017; Shiratori, 2017; Liu, Hu, & Peng,
2017; Manan, 2018; Noguchi, 2019; Ketamon, et al., 2020) and broadening of social network (Wighting, Nisbet, &
Tindall, 2005; Clementi, 2012; Richardson & Kelderhouse, 2016; Ahn, 2016; Aswad, 2017; Liu, Hu, & Peng, 2017).
It appears that the necessity of verbal interaction created by the dynamics of living together and the informal
ambience in the campsite favors frequent experimentation with the target language in several dimensions, including
the lexical one. Additionally, as long as they develop a sense of belonging (Vaccaro, Daly-Cano, Newman, 2015),
campers may interact with their peers with a certain degree of confidence, which may increase as more positive
feedback on their sense of belonging is provided. It appears that this will happen faster or more consistently when
there is clear demonstration of acceptance, and when they manage to make more friends within the group of
campers. Having said that, beneath all the layers of attractiveness of language immersion camps, it is possible that
integrative and intrinsic motivations constitute the driving force influencing participants’ achievements in these
types of program (On motivation and language learning, see Clément, Dörnyei, & Noels, 1994; Noels, Clément, &
Pelletier, 1999; Dörnyei & Ryan, 2015; Dörnyei, Henry, & Muir, 2016). This presents itself as an interesting topic
for another study involving language immersion camps.
Summarizing, these are the eight most recurrent discourse themes identified through the systematic analysis
of discourses expressing beneficial effects of language immersion camp programs in the selected publications: (a)
decrease in language anxiety; (b) motivation to study and communicate in the target language; (c) development of aural and oral skills
in the target language; (d) broadening of cultural knowledge; (e) cultural awareness; (f) vocabulary development; (g) confidence in using
the target language; and (h) broadening of social network.
5. Methodology
5.1 Context, participants, instruments, and procedure
The three ELICs which are object of the study described in this paper, received financial support from the
Brazilian Ministry of Education through two programs that incentivize continuing and initial teacher education
across the country: Novos Talentos and Pibid,
11
respectively. The camps involved thirty EFLITE undergraduates,
eleven in-service EFL teachers from government-funded schools, seven faculty members from the Amazonian
University, thirteen Fulbright scholarship holders working as EFL teaching assistants at Brazilian universities in
different parts of the country (twelve from the United States and one from Argentina) and five Brazilian, one Russian
and three North American collaborators. Each one of the ELICs was held on a different property in the countryside
and varied in length of time from four days in the first edition to five and three days in the second and third editions.
Following McIntyre (2008), a participatory action research methodology was used to guide the ELICs program. As
the investigation aimed primarily at understanding the effects of the program on the campers it was decided that
data should be gathered through individual open-ended question interviews with twenty campers and four
professors from the EFLITE program at the Amazonian University, a focus group interview with campers, and
observation notes made by members of the organizing team for subsequent triangulation. Prior to each ELIC, the
participants were required to sign a consent statement which included information about the use of their images
and voices in research for educational purposes. Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was used to analyze and
interpret the individual and focus group interviews with campers (eleven men and nine women), the interviews with
the professors (one man and three women) and the observations notes. From the analysis, emerged some discourse
themes, which were subsequently compared with those previously identified through the systematic analysis of 32
publications on short-term domestic language immersion camps.
5.2 The ELICs activities
In terms of the strategies for the planning and implementation of the ELICs activities, there was a
substantial change from the first two (Table 1) to the last edition (Table 2). In the former, the activities were planned
and led by the groups of Fulbright teaching assistants, and in these two camps almost all the activities were done
outdoors. In the latter, the organizers decided that all the main activities should be carried out indoors and in the
form of workshops and talks. This measure was an attempt to prevent the level of camper distraction from the main
activities that the organizers had witnessed in the two previous editions of the program.
11
Both Novos Talentos and Pibid (the Institutional Grant Program for Teaching Initiation) are administered by the Coordination
for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Capes), a foundation within the Brazilian Ministry of Education
concerned with the quality of research and education at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the country.
60
Nilton Hitotuzi 55
Table 1. Main Activities in the First Two ELICs
Activity
Description
A version of The Mall Game
Clockwise, people telling their names and the name of an animal after
having repeated the previous people’s names plus the names of the
animals associated with them
American culture
Learning about American sports, folk dances and cuisine (making banana
nut bread)
Artwork on the beach
Campers creating works of art on the beach
Blind Man’s Bluff
Playing the Blind Man’s Bluff in a swimming pool
Bonfire storytelling
Campers sitting beside a bonfire and listening to other campers tell them
spooky stories
Complete the sentence
Campers starting a sentence and other campers being challenged to
complete it
Disco
Dancing
Drama time
Designing and acting out short skits
Forehead detective
Campers asking questions to other campers to find out the names on a
slip of paper stuck to their foreheads
Karaoke
Singing contest
Lit hour
Haiku writing based on campers’ perceptions of things around the property
Poem reading
Sport
Football, volleyball, kickball, frisbee, swimming, water polo
Treasure hunt
Finding hidden things around the property by following some clues
It is important to point out that in all three editions of the ELICs program, participants were served five
meals per day: breakfast at 7.00 a.m., snack at 9.00 a.m., lunch at noon, another snack at 3 p.m. and dinner at 7.30
p.m. Lights were out at 10:30 p.m. Many an interesting conversation about a variety of topics would occur during
these meals and right after lights were out. Therefore, these occasions constituted important additional time of
exposure to and practice of the target language.
Table 2. Main Activities in the Third ELIC
Activity
Description
Contests
Spelling Bee
Karaoke singing
Games
Getting to know each other
My secret mission
Call my bluff
Interactive talks
Until all have arrived
A brief history of Santarém
Challenges in initial teacher education
‘I speak English, but I am still me’ English language encounters in Alter
do Chão, Brazil
Improving English reading
A direct approach to learning English
Sport
Volleyball
Video watching
Educational video
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56 International Journal of Language and Literature, Vol. 8, No. 2, December 2020
Workshops
Nonviolent communication
Basics of English pronunciation
How to enjoy learning English
Classroom dynamics
Japanese abacus in a nutshell
6. Discourses of campers and EFLITE professors
A conservative estimate indicates that the participants of the three editions of the ELICs had at least 180
hours of exposure to the English language interposed with ample opportunities to generate their own output.
Considering that only 29 per cent of the total number of participants attended all three ELICs and that 40 per cent
of them attended two editions, on average, then, those who attended only one of the events (31 per cent) had 60
hours of exposure to the target language. Because not all participants attended all three editions of the immersion
program, the analysis of the data was carried out separately per event before the results of the study could be
determined.
From the systematic analysis of the individual interviews and focus group interviews emerged some
discourse themes that indicate positive effects of the ELICs on the campers in terms of aural-oral skills development
in English, motivation to study the language and broadening of their knowledge about the American culture. Some
of these effects are summarized in Figure 4 and exemplified in Figure 5 as the results of a self-assessment made by
the interviewed campers on how much the ELICs helped them to improve their listening comprehension and
speaking skills in English.
Figure 4. Self-assessment of ELICs Impact on Campers’ Listening Comprehension and Speaking Skills
Discourse theme
Excerpt from corpus
High level of improvement
in oral performance
“My English communication ability improved a lot, especially during stressful
situations when L2 speakers may have difficulties keeping a consistent and
correct grammar and sometimes word may escape from their minds, I've found
that, when these things happened to me, I was able to respond much more
effectively” (Carmen).
“The effective use of the English language became easier during classes,
especially in the oral presentations they needed to make” (Professor Alcântara).
High level of improvement
in listening comprehension
“Right after the activities, I was motivated because other people could
understand me, and I could understand them. This encouraged me to seek
individual conversations with native speakers” (Ricardo).
“At the very moment I left the camp, I could notice the change the immersion
camp made in my communication. I could hear clearly what native speakers
were saying” (Lúcio).
Figure 5. Discourse Themes about the ELICs Impact on Campers’ Aural/Oral Skills
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Nilton Hitotuzi 55
Because most of the campers in the sample made a highly positive self-evaluation of the contribution of
the ELICs to their oral/aural skills in English, their performance was double-checked. While complementary data
on the EFLITE undergraduates were obtained through observations made by their professors on their attitudes
toward the target language in the classroom at the Amazonian University after the events, the observation notes
made by members of the ELICs organizing team were used as an attempt to understand how the in-service EFL
teachers coped with the communicative demands of the immersion camps. As shown in Figure 6, the discourse
themes abstracted from the interviews with two
12
of their professors from the EFLITE program at the Amazonian
University appear to lend credence to the campers’ claims about the benefits of the ELICs to their listening
comprehension and oral performance in English. The observations made by the professors indicate that, after each
ELIC edition, the impact of the immersion on the students was felt immediately in the classroom across all subjects
that were taught in English. Besides showing higher levels of comprehension of oral input, they appeared to be
more motivated to use the language to communicate their ideas in the sessions and in other events and spaces at
the university. Moreover, the professors also noticed some gains in terms of the students’ knowledge of the
American culture and expansion of their English lexical repertoire.
Discourse theme
Excerpt from corpus
Vocabulary & cultural
knowledge expansion
“In addition to the ease with which they started interacting with one another in
English, I noticed how much they expanded their vocabulary and cultural
knowledge” (Professor Alcântara).
“The quality of the interactions was evident in their choice of words. You can only
choose words in a face-to-face conversation if you have them in your mind. And
some of them showed they had them to talk about different things, including
elements of the US culture” (Professor Siqueira).
Improvement in oral
performance
“The effective use of the English language became easier during classes, especially
in the oral presentations they needed to make” (Professor Alcântara).
“Maybe this is a kind of honeymoon effect, I don’t know… maybe they are still in
love with the immersion. But the truth is that they are indeed speaking more and
with less hesitation. It seems they are getting rid of their fear of making mistakes”
(Professor Siqueira).
Motivation to use the
target language
“The experience was so intense that the students wanted to continue speaking in
English all the time on their return to the classroom” (Professor Alcântara).
“Some of the participants are scholarship holders, and they meet almost every day
in PIBID’s room. I see them there almost every day and they are using English to
communicate with one another and the coordinators more often now. And I think
this is because they are still in the rhythm of the immersion. Will it last? I have no
idea” (Professor Siqueira).
Improvement in
listening
comprehension
“In addition, those students who participated in the experiment started to
understand more documentaries in English that served as support for the debates
in the classroom” (Professor Alcântara).
“No doubt the immersions have helped them to understand what they hear in
English. My lessons are almost always a 100% in English. They are a kind of 180-
minute-per-week immersion program. So, they have helped the students to
improve their listening comprehension skills too. But obviously the university’s
official English immersion program has played its part too” (Professor Siqueira).
Figure 6. EFLITE Professors’ Observations about ELICs After-Effects on their Students
12
One of the four professors from the EFLITE program who were interviewed, Professor Pereira, argued that she would not
comment on the immediate effects of the ELICs on her students who had joined these events because she had joined an edition
of the program herself, and thus she felt she might offer a biased view of their performance in English in connection with the
immersion camps. Another professor, Professor Sales, chose to focus her comments of the long-term effects of immersion
camps on EFLITE undergraduate students (See Box 2 in this paper).
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56 International Journal of Language and Literature, Vol. 8, No. 2, December 2020
Figure 7 summarizes the EFLITE undergraduates’ answers when they were asked why they thought that
they were resorting to English more often in their interactions in the classroom and elsewhere after the immersion
camps. In light of the themes that have emerged from this section of the interviews, a longitudinal study would
possibly clarify how long the sense of continuity, the easiness of speaking and the impregnation with the target language would
last, and their long-term effects on the campers’ fluency and proficiency in English. All that can be offered at this
time is a glimpse of what might emerge from interviews with former ELICs attendees that have become EFL
schoolteachers.
Discourse theme
Excerpt from corpus
Sense of continuity
“All I know is that I feel like talking in English with my mates and you. It’s
spontaneous, and it’s like I’m still there [at the campsite] playing, and
running, and doing all those funny things” (Tiago).
Easiness of utterance of
English words
“I’m not anxious anymore, and I’m not worried about the mistakes I make. I
focus on what I want to say. I think that makes me relax. […] I feel words
come easier now, and that makes me comfortable and relaxed” (Luzenira).
“It’s not so painful anymore. I’m starting to enjoy it. Yes, it’s easier now. I
don’t feel I’m dragging a super heavy iron ball when I’m speaking English
anymore. […] Not perfect, but OK now” (Antônio).
Impregnation with the target
language
“In a sense it was almost like brainwashing. After being exposed to and
using English for several days for about 17 hours a day… I had never done
this before… it was like I was wired. […] Now my brain still thinks I’m in
the immersion” (Breno).
Figure 7. EFLITE Undergraduates’ Explanations on their Attitude toward English after the ELICs
Box 1 shows the perceptions of an EFL in-service teacher about two of the three editions of the ELICs program
that she attended in her capacity as an EFLITE student. Expressing her desire to share with her students what she
has learned, the teacher recognizes the value of the experience to improve her English skills and to broaden her
knowledge of the culture of the native speakers who took part in the events. Incidentally, one can hardly miss in her
choice of words a streak of nostalgia and extreme gratitude for having joined the program. Nevertheless, not all the
views of the interviewees about the long-term effects of the ELICs on the campers’ fluency and proficiency in
English may be as positive as Mara’s.
Box 1. Perceptions of an EFL Schoolteacher on the Impacts of the ELICs Program
A glimpse of the other side of the spectrum is offered by a professor that is part of the EFLITE program
of the Amazonian University (Box 2). Besides cautioning against accepting grandiose claims about positive impacts
of short-term language immersion camp programs, these different perspectives underscore the need for a
longitudinal study to investigate the long-term impacts of this type of programs on participants’ communicative
abilities in and attitudes toward the target language.
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Nilton Hitotuzi 55
Box 2. Perceptions of an EFLITE Professor on the Long-term Impacts of the ELICs Program on
EFLITE Undergraduates
Resuming the perceptions of the immediate effects of the ELICs on campers, it appears that they were also
felt by the in-service teachers who joined the program. Figure 8 shows excerpts of comments made by some of the
teachers, and three discourse themes that emerged: (1) social network broadening, (3) high and rapid level of English
improvement and (3) confidence when speaking English.
Discourse theme
Excerpt from corpus
Social network broadening
High and rapid level of
English improvement
Confidence when speaking
English
“[The immersion] was amazing. I would say that it was the best experience
that I’ve had involving English language because I could… I could practice
the language; I could make new friends. And the main thing for me was that
I could improve my English ten times, you know. It was very… it was like a
boost in my English. I could improve very fast because I was… like
compelled, I was compelled to use the language all the time. I was compelled
to think in English. And my first dream in English was in the immersion
camp” (Zildo).
“From that moment, I started to think more about traveling to another
country and learn more English and sometimes when I talked with you and
[Fulbrighter] I really thought that I was able to do it. […] For real. It was my
first real test because […] I [had] to think in English in order to understand
and interact with people. It was the hardest part, but it was worth it”
(Selma).
“[…] and regarding listening, I think the immersions have helped me a lot,
mainly because the Americans talked to us, kept interacting with us all the
time […]. The games, the singing, the dramas… stories… all that helped me
speak more… […] Now, I feel I’m a lot more confident than before”
(Breno).
“It was a wonderful experience to me, because I had to force my brain to
remember of words that I studied in the classroom. I confess it was a big
challenge to me. In spite of that I realized how important it is to speak
another language mainly when you intend to follow an academic career. I
made friends there. […] talked to other English teachers. […] My English is
better now, I think. Listening, speaking… much better. At least, I’m more
confident when I use English now” (Gilma).
Figure 8. School Teachers’ Self-assessment of the Impacts of the ELICs
All the campers who volunteered for interview were also asked to describe in a few words what the ELICs
represented to them. From the twenty answers that were gathered, the prevailing discourse theme that emerged was
a depiction of the ELICs as an anxiety-free space where they could experiment spontaneously with the target
language and be immersed in it for a reasonably long period of time (Figure 9).
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56 International Journal of Language and Literature, Vol. 8, No. 2, December 2020
Discourse theme
Excerpt from corpus
An anxiety-free space to practice
the target language and be exposed
to it over a considerable stretch of
time
“It was an environment created by the professors and organizers full of
activities developed by the volunteers that helped the participants to
‘unwrap’ themselves, as well as stop being shy and worrying about
making mistakes. […] it was [my] first [experience] which mixed native
speakers with Brazilian speakers for more than 44 hours of practice,
mainly speaking and listening. Believe me or not, although I had some
good experience in English speaking practice before the event, there I
could […] communicate in English from the first hours in the morning
till late at night” (Valdo).
“They were events that provided me with a direct contact for many
hours with a foreign language, since with each new activity of the day,
my speaking would become much better; where I was able to use all
communicative skills: speaking, listening, understanding, writing, body
language all the time, a real dive into the detachment from my mother
tongue in bucolic locations through casual interactions” (Nelson).
“A place that was fundamental to my learning, simply because the
activities we did there had the power to integrate all of the participants.
From these activities the relationship between everyone began to flow.
So, we were led to enjoy the English language in all its aspects for a
period of time that most of us hadn’t experienced before” (Ricardo).
“The Immersion Camp is certainly one of the few but important
attempts to promote English communication for the students from the
western side of Pará; […] we were in an environment where we would
hear only English and speak only in English, using authentic material
and listening to real English-speaking people who managed everything
really well. And we all managed to speak more freely and loosely
because of the constant exposure” (Álvaro).
Figure 9. An ELIC
in a nutshell
for many of the Campers
For a few campers, however, neither the integrating power of the activities as reported by Ricardo, nor
the bucolic locations of the camps and the casual interactions as described by Nelson were enough to
immediately undo possibly years of monitoring all sorts of target language mistakes and treating them as foes. This
is clearly seen in an excerpt of Mara’s account of her experience as a participant of the ELICs program: “I tried to
make the most of every moment during the camping days, but at times I felt insecure about my orality, I was always
afraid of not being understood (Box 1).
The observation notes made by members of the organizing team were also important for understanding
how the three editions of the ELICs program impacted the campers. The discourse themes abstracted from them
support the views of most interviewees mostly in terms of learning about the American culture, exploiting
opportunities to practice the target language and their state of mind in doing so, as shown in Figure 10.
Finally, it is worth noting that all the excerpts from the observation notes and transcriptions of the
interviews with campers shared in this paper constitute an endorsement to the organicity of the relationship between
Experiential Learning and Social Constructivism, and to the value of these theoretical perspectives in the educative
process. Notwithstanding the fact that the results presented here have emerged from a single and local study, and
thus are only supportive of the positive effects of the three ELICs on the pre- and in-service EFL teachers who
joined them, their contribution to expanding the frontiers of knowledge in the area of additional language learning
seems plausible for, as it will be demonstrated in the following section, researchers around the world are still
investigating the impacts of language immersion camp programs on the development of learners’ communicative
competence and performance at different levels of language education. So, if, on the one hand, we have to “[…]
learn to satisfy ourselves with only local sense making when doing research, as suggested by Sfard (2008, p. 44), on
the other hand, for the “deeper understanding” they can provide (Creswell, 2015, p. 44), a multitude of local cases
have the potential to help researchers make sense of phenomena in a global scale.
66
Nilton Hitotuzi 55
Discourse theme
Excerpt from corpus
Social networking
Anxiety-free practice of the
target language
Commitment to developing
language skills
Broadening of cultural
knowledge
Vocabulary and aural-oral
skills improvement
“Since they set foot on the campsite until they got off the bus when they
went back to the city, they were eating, sleeping and breathing English. They
were loud. And you could see they were having a great time, free from the
pressure of the classroom, not afraid of making mistakes, making friends,
learning about the American culture. I noticed that some of them would
enjoy talking more with the Americans than with their peers. But others
would talk just with anyone around them. […] having to write haiku and
short play scripts seems to be helping them develop cultural awareness and
learn new words too. […] [name of a student] started shy […] I think she’s
getting into the swing of things [...] she seems more confident (talkative?)
now” (Lyn).
“In the immersion that took place at [campsite name], it was interesting to
see how the participants, often shy at first, let themselves get involved and
interact with their mates, meet new people and participate in the proposed
activities using English. Each one within the limits of their capability, some
with more and others with less resourcefulness, but relaxed and committed
to “improve”, develop the ability to speak, listen, read and reflect when
participating in the proposed activities” (Professor Pereira).
“[…] I think just being here is awesome because everyone I’ve interacted
with is speaking English. […] I think everyone that’s participating is
definitely learning. I think the good thing about having these activities is that
you not only talk about English, but you also learn the culture of the United
States. Certain sayings, and the way of life” (Brian).
“They developed activities which some of the participants were experiencing
for the first time. And they practiced English as they went through the daily
routine in the camp, not as they study it at school. Listening and speaking
skills were the most practiced, and I could notice myself that as you use only
the target language for communication, your brain becomes conditioned and
that’s when the immersion phenomenon kicks in. […] we were also
immersed in the culture by participating in events such as Halloween and
roasting marshmallows around the campfire in a conversation circle always
using the target language casually” (Heitor).
Figure 10. Insights into Campers’ Attitudes toward the Target Language at the Campsites
7. Resonance with voices from other immersion programs
The study reported in this paper sought to answer a central and a sub-question, namely:
(a) How did the three editions of the ELICs program affect the schoolteachers and undergraduate students who joined them
regarding interpersonal communicative skills development, cultural knowledge, cultural awareness, and motivation to
study the target language?
(b) How does the answer to the central question compare to those resulting from similar studies found in online publications?
The answer to the central question was obtained from the perceptions of the stakeholders involved, i.e.
campers, members of the ELICs organizing team and professors from the Amazonian University that promoted
the events. The systematic analysis of their perceptions has produced eighteen most frequent discourse themes
expressing benefits from participating in the immersion camps. Due to certain commonalities among these initial
themes, some of them were condensed, and the final number was reduced to seven discourse themes as shown in
Table 3.
Table 3. Synthesis of most Frequent Discourse Themes
Initial themes
Final themes
Motivation to use the target language
Commitment to developing language skills
Motivation to study and use the target language
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56 International Journal of Language and Literature, Vol. 8, No. 2, December 2020
A sense of continuity
A sense of continuity
Impregnation with the target language
Impregnation with the target language
Anxiety-free space to practice and be exposed to
the target language over a considerable stretch of
time
Anxiety-free practice of the target language
Anxiety-free practice of the target language
Cultural knowledge expansion
Broadening of cultural knowledge
Broadening of cultural knowledge
Vocabulary expansion
Improvement of oral performance
Improvement of listening comprehension
Easiness of utterance of English words
High and rapid level of English improvement
Confidence when speaking English
Vocabulary improvement
Aural-oral skills improvement
Vocabulary and aural-oral skills improvement
Broadening of social network
Social networking
Broadening of social network
The answer to the sub-question was obtained by comparing the final discourse themes in Table 3 with the
eight most recurrent ones obtained from the examination of 32 publications on short-term language immersion
camp programs implemented in countries where the target language is not the national language. The discourses
that have emerged from the analysis of the perceptions of stakeholders in the study described here resonate with
those of both participants and researchers in the publications examined. This is better demonstrated in Table 4.
Table 4. Comparison of Main Discourse Themes in Studies on Language Immersion Camp Programs
Themes in previous publications
Themes in current study
Motivation to study and communicate in the
target language (Wighting, Nisbet, &Tindall, 2005;
Han & Lee, 2008; Ismail & Tahir, 2011; Clementi,
2012; Seong, 2012; Shinohara, 2013; Asmara,
Anwar, & Muhammad, 2016; You-Jin & Mun-
Koo, 2016; Aswad, 2017; Liu, Hu, & Peng, 2017;
Shiratori, 2017; Wheeler, 2017; Noguchi, 2019;
Zakaria, Mohamad, & Idris, 2019; Ketamon, et al.,
2020)
Motivation to study and use the target language
A sense of continuity
Impregnation with the target language
Decrease in language anxiety (Wighting, Nisbet, &
Tindall, 2005; Trottier, 2006; Han & Lee, 2008;
Feuer, 2009; Seong, 2012; Ahn, 2016; Banwell &
Sasaki, 2017; Liu, Hu, & Peng, 2017; Shiratori,
2017; Noguchi, 2019; Syahidah, Umasugi, &
Buamona, 2019; Zakaria, Mohamad, & Idris,
2019)
Anxiety-free practice of the target language
Broadening of cultural knowledge (Wighting,
Nisbet, & Tindall, 2005; Feuer, 2009; Rugasken &
Harris, 2009; Pieski, 2011; Clementi, 2012;
Shinohara, 2013; Dahl, Sethre-Hofstad, &
Salomon, 2013; Chang & Seong, 2015; Richardson
& Kelderhouse, 2016; Liu, Hu, & Peng, 2017;
Shiratori, 2017)
Broadening of cultural knowledge
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Nilton Hitotuzi 55
Cultural awareness (Wighting, Nisbet, & Tindall,
2005; Feuer, 2009; Rugasken & Harris, 2009;
Pieski, 2011; Clementi, 2012; Shinohara, 2013;
Dahl, Sethre-Hofstad, & Salomon, 2013; Chang &
Seong, 2015; Richardson & Kelderhouse, 2016;
Liu, Han, & Peng, 2017; Shiratori, 2017)
Development of aural and oral skills in the target
language (Wighting, Nisbet, & Tindall, 2005;
Chang & Seong, 2010; Clementi, 2012; Seong,
2012; Chang & Seong, 2015; Dolosic et al., 2016;
Liu, Hu, & Peng, 2017; Tragant, Serrano, &
Llanes, 2017; Wheeler, 2017; Manan, 2018;
Mustakim & Ismail, 2018; Shin & Chun, 2018)
Vocabulary and aural-oral skills improvement
Vocabulary development (Asmara, Anwar, &
Muhammad, 2016; Liu, Hu, & Peng, 2017;
Tragant, Serrano, & Llanes, 2017; Manan, 2018;
Shin & Chun, 2018; Syahidah, Umasugi, &
Buamona, 2019)
Confidence in using the target language (Park,
2009; Rugasken & Harris, 2009; Chang & Seong,
2010; Ismail & Tahir, 2011; Clementi, 2012;
Seong, 2012; Banwell & Sasaki, 2017; Liu, Hu, &
Peng, 2017; Manan, 2018; Noguchi, 2019;
Ketamon, et al., 2020)
Broadening of social network (Wighting, Nisbet,
& Tindall, 2005; Clementi, 2012; Ahn, 2016;
Richardson & Kelderhouse, 2016; Liu, Hu, &
Peng, 2017)
Broadening of social network
There are two gaps in the left column and one in the right column of Table 4 because the discourse themes
a sense of continuity and impregnation with the target language were not found the literature revised, and cultural awareness
was not among the discourse themes abstracted from the speeches of the stakeholders in the current study. The
absence of the two themes in the literature might be explained by the type of questions asked of the participants in
the studies examined. In the current study, they were asked a specific question that elicited their perceptions of the
immediate effects of the immersion camps on their interlanguage: How did you perceive your English communication ability
immediately after the immersion camp(s)? Were this question asked of the participants in the studies reviewed, similar
discourse themes might have emerged. To account for the gap in the right column of the table, one might
hypothesize that, concerning the question of culture, the perception of the participants in the current study was
limited to the accumulation of knowledge about the culture associated with the language in which they were
immersed. A more plausible hypothesis might be that they simply did not have the language to express ideas that
could be thematized as cultural awareness the lack of adequate language to express one’s understanding of reality
is a well-documented phenomenon (Dreyfus, 1999; Thomas, 2006; Stinson, Bidwell, Powell, & Thurman, 2008).
Irrespective of the gaps in Table 4, one can say that there is a high degree of resonance between the
discourse themes found in the publications reviewed and those identified in this study. It is assumed, therefore,
that such resonances can be taken as consistent face-valid evidence of the positive effects of this type of program
on participants; and that, by extension, these results reinforce the long-standing notion that language immersion
programs are effective ways of providing additional language education (Fortune & Tedick, 2003). Accordingly, they
may constitute a genuine alternative mode of instruction to be considered when planning a pedagogic intervention
aiming to improve students’ fluency and proficiency in a given target language, to help them broaden their
knowledge of the culture associated with it and to become culturally conscientious citizens of the world.
8. Final remarks
Essentially, from the standpoint of the stakeholders, these camps have shown the power of experiential
learning and social constructivism to help the campers develop skills in the target language, to expand their lexical
repertoire, to exchange cultural knowledge and to broaden their social network. They have also shown that learning
is an unescapable outcome when the learner takes the center stage. Another important conclusion is that the
Amazonian University promoting the ELICs appears to be in the right track toward helping stop the big wheel that
contributes to facts and beliefs about the unteachability and unlearnability of English in state schools in many parts of
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56 International Journal of Language and Literature, Vol. 8, No. 2, December 2020
Brazil. Finally, the comparison of discourse themes emerging from this study with those from other studies on
short-term language immersion camp programs in similar settings has demonstrated a high degree of resonance
between them, which seems to reiterate the potential of these programs for effective additional language education.
These similarities in discourse also endorse the theory that intensive target language comprehensible input and oral
production can promote language learning.
Having said that, it is important to point out that, for some, short-term language immersion camps may not
have a significant impact in their attitudes toward and abilities in the target language as suggested by Professor Sales
(Box 2). Additionally, despite the positive appreciations on the part of most ELICs stakeholders, the results of this
study are not sufficiently robust. More reliable results could be obtained by means of adequately pre- and post-
testing the campers in all the aspects that could conclusively provide an answer to the central research question.
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