Summer Programme for Immersion in Communicative English

This summer, thirteen students from the Department of English (EN) will plan, run, and assess the Summer Programme for Immersion in Communicative English (SPICE) in cooperation with the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. Under SPICE, six students from the University of Leeds will come to Hong Kong and teach English to over 200 disadvantaged children in Tin Shui Wai area for five weeks.

The idea of SPICE is to spend a few weeks with a group of children aged ten to twelve, doing fun things that make learning interesting. SPICE aims to enable participating children to benefit from a fun, communicative learning environment so that they see how useful English can be. Instead of always learning English in the classroom, they can start using it without feeling it is like a learning process. In comparison with the vast majority of children in Hong Kong, these children do not receive many opportunities for this type of communicative practice.

CityU's professor helps tackle the financial problem

There will be two groups, each with 100 children. The idea was created by Josephine CHESTERTON of Just Volunteers, a UK-based NGO. Josephine came up with the idea based upon a similar programme run by Mother's Choice a few years ago. It seemed like a great way to inspire some of the disadvantaged kids of Tin Shui Wai to learn English and to build up their confidence. She thought about it over the past two years but could not think of a way of making it work because she could not get anyone to pay for accommodation in Hong Kong for the native English-speaking volunteers. Then she was introduced to Dr John TSE of CityU, Associate Professor of the Department of Applied Social Sciences, who had the idea of seeking support from the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong. Once this problem was solved, the whole programme started falling into place.

Students from EN will take part in this programme for credit as their summer professional internship assignment. Planning will be done under the guidance of EN faculty members and the programme will be run by the interns (in the field) under the guidance of Just Volunteers. Students from the University of Leeds will come to Hong Kong for five weeks to help run the programme and provide the native English-speaker elements.

This year, there are children from at least nine Tin Shui Wai schools participating in SPICE. The programme is facilitated by the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong, which is providing both physical support and facilities, and Just Volunteers, which is providing the main coordination. In March 2015, a book sale was also organised by the CityU Staff Association to raise funds for SPICE. A total sum of HK$48,034 was raised.