These courses usually last from between two weeks to ten weeks during May to August and accommodation and food is usually provided as part of the package. Although the duration of the contracts are much shorter than the usual one-year terms in standard ESL teaching, the positions are often advertised more than six months in advance so be sure to start looking from November onwards.
There are opportunities in the USA, Canada, UK and western Europe (particularly in Spain, Italy and France) and the nature of the courses depends on the age, language proficiency level and background of the participants.
The majority of these short-term courses are not just about learning English in a classroom setting. They can involve sports, excursions, arts and crafts, and so on. It is therefore really useful if you have experience of teaching sports, music, drama or handicrafts. Because of the potentially dangerous nature of some of the courses it is really beneficial at the application stage if you have a First Aid certificate or lifeguard or coaching experience.
Needless to say, it is essential to emphasise any experience you have had of teaching similar age groups. For example, if you have primary school children in China then mention it on your application to work on a summer course for young learners.
You can apply to work at a summer school if you do not have much teaching experience but do hold a TEFL certificate. However, it is much better if you have already taught English as a foreign language for a year or two previously. For example, a typical teacher on a summer school in Italy might have spent the last twelve months teaching English in Thailand before returning to her home country of the United Kingdom. After the summer school her plan might be to return to Asia on a new year-long contract with a language centre.
If you are a very experienced teacher then look out for more senior roles which are often available. If you have some experience of leading a small team of teachers such as in the role of Director of Studies in a language learning centre then you are encouraged to apply for Activities Leader positions.
The examples given above are all paid (usually at an hourly rate) but there are also short-term volunteering opportunities in countries such as Nepal. If you are religious, you might also want to do further research on the many faith-based charitable organizations who arrange such programs.
The positions, whether paid or unpaid, are a great way to boost your CV with all of the activity-related experiences you will surely have. They are also an excellent option for those teachers who are undecided about where they would like to teach for the following year. You can also make a lot of contacts so that the opportunity is there to return a year later, possibly in a more senior position.