Students and Alumni

Dream Opportunity

WU Ching-man Karmen
Department of English

Having been a teacher for one year now, I am always grateful that I chose to work in the Summer Programme for Immersion in Communicative English (SPICE). I joined it when I studied for my bachelor’s degree in English Studies at the Department of English (EN), City University of Hong Kong. While knowledge is worthwhile, experience plays an equally important role in pursuing my dream. As an EN student, we have various opportunities to work for local and overseas NGOs and corporations for our internship and final-year project. In my last year in EN, I worked for Just Volunteers as a programme teacher for the newly developed SPICE programme.

I collaborated with other interns from the English Department and overseas volunteers from Britain to formulate plans for the programme. During the preparatory period, I was confused when we were asked to design a teaching programme from scratch. We did not even know about the kids’ English proficiency level until the start of the teaching period. Therefore, it was really tough for us to keep amending our lesson plans during the programme.

However, that is what it is like to be a teacher – being flexible and self-reflective in adjusting the lessons to cater for students’ diverse needs. I found myself even more determined and passionate to be a teacher since then. The programme also does not promote any traditional teaching or drilling in the classroom. Therefore, it was especially challenging for us with limited teaching experience to make our lessons fun and educational. With tremendous support and trust of the Department, Just Volunteers and the hosting schools, we succeeded in creating a joyous and meaningful summer and the first SPICE programme for the kids. Although the students’ English could not be greatly improved in only a few days, we did see improvements in their confidence in using the language.

After the first year, I was recruited to be the programme’s coordinator. Having reviewed the difficulties and challenges we experienced in the first year, I tried to make the programme more organised and educational. I coordinated with the EN interns and the British volunteers and liaised with over 20 different local schools to provide a fruitful programme for disadvantaged kids. SPICE has been extended from Tin Shui Wai to Kwai Chung, aiming to help more students from different districts. By organising inspiring activities in and outside the classroom, for example, with an international day in schools, field trips to country clubs, and visits to tourist areas, we not only helped the kids to learn English, but also passed onto them our intercultural knowledge and passion in English learning and teaching.

Over my three-year experience in SPICE, I have developed my collaboration skills and passion in teaching. I am also inspired to see the importance of motivating learners’ interests and fostering a caring environment that helps students to learn better. Without the opportunities and hands-on experience, I could never become an English teacher today. I hope that SPICE can continue benefiting future EN students and an increasing number of disadvantaged students from different parts of Hong Kong.