Fifteen Jesuits from twelve different countries participated in this years Jesuit English Language Summer School (ELSS) at Campion Hall, Oxford, an annual course organized by the British Province for Jesuits who want to improve their English skills. The four week long course was offered at the pre-intermediate, intermediate and advanced level.
The ELSS is much more than a month of just learning English. The students are given the opportunity to get to know the British Jesuit province and have a taste of British culture, for which Oxford is the ideal setting. As the place of the oldest University in the English-speaking world, the many colleges and buildings of the city are full of historical interest.
This year’s cultural programme included a visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, seeing one of his plays in Oxford Castle, exploring numerous colleges and museums in Oxford, attending an Evensong in Christ Church, touring the Tower of London and visiting several other attractions. Presentations were given on Shakespeare’s life and work by Michael Kirwan SJ, the history of the Jesuits in Britain by Alan Harrison SJ and of the British Jesuit Province in general Dermot Preston SJ.
Teamwork was important throughout the course. The group of coordinators, which consisted of Appu Paul Anthony SJ, Alphonse Lepcha SJ and myself, worked in close cooperation with the participants. Those with a higher level of English weren’t only concerned with their own progress but also willing to take time and share their grasp of the language with those less advanced.
Trying to manage the balance between work and leisure, of working as a team and living together as a community was part of the overall experience. The students engaged in the various activities with much enthusiasm and generosity. The participant’s improvement in speech, understanding and writing from the first day to the end was a great motivation for themselves to continue working on their English as well as to learn other languages in the future.
Mikael Schink, SJ