- Winners in 2017 -
Winners of Discovery-enriched Curriculum Award in 2017
Undergraduate Champion (Individual)
WU Ting-wei
Department of Linguistics and Translation
An eye-tracking study of cognitive effort allocation across translation subtasks
Mission Statement:
To uncover the secrets of cognitive activities in the translation process.
What goes through translators’ minds when they are working on translation tasks? In the face of burgeoning demand for cross-language communication, an understanding of translators’ cognitive process is critical to developing a predictive model of translation and to designing appropriate machine aids for computer-aided translation. The aim of this project was to uncover the secrets of the translation process through an eye-tracking system and to discover how tranlsators distribute cognitive efforts amongst distinct subtasks.

Project Details:
Whilst translation studies have traditionally focused on a phenomenal description of translation practice and methodologies, the aims of this project were to elucidate how translation is carried out cognitively and to identify the patterns of translators’ distribution of cognitive effort to different subtasks. The project thus constitutes pioneering research on a significant topic that has received inadequate attention to date.

With the aid of a video-based eye-tracking system, an emerging research method enabling quantitative measurement of cognitive effort, the project empirically investigated patterns of attentional distribution and made a comparative estimation of the cognitive resources required by various subtasks, including, to list just a few, source text comprehension, target text production, parallel processing, and dictionary reading.

The project serves as a pilot study for future research. Its analyses, discussion of and reference to previous models, and research outcomes together offer a comprehensive overview of the translation process, thereby providing solid support and promising prospects for future research by CityU and the translation studies community. In addition, the findings not only have positive implications for the development of translation aids that better match the needs of translators, but also offer translation education an alternative perspective on translation practices.

Undergraduate Runner-up (Individual)
Department of Applied Social Sciences
I can have a colourful and fulfilling life with Bipolar I disorder!
Mission Statement:
To empower people with mental health problems to gain control of their lives.
People with mental illness are often labelled as ‘crazy’ and ‘disabled’. In fact, even though people diagnosed with mental illness may have ‘psychiatric disabilities’, they are not necessarily disabled. They are not crazy, either, but rather creative with their own strengths and potentials. They can develop their own ‘personal medicine’ (self-help strategies) and surmount the difficulties resulting from their illness. For instance, a person with bipolar disorder with whom I worked during my practicum is living a colourful and fulfilling life through the use of her artistic talent. I learnt from her that psychiatric medication and empathy are equally important to recovery, although medication can never replace empathy, that is, human care and concern.

Project Details:
Bipolar disorder I is a mental illness characterised by extreme mood swings between episodes of severe depression and mania that can seriously affect a person’s daily life. Many people hold the misconception that those with mental illness are ‘crazy’, ‘out of control’, ‘dangerous’, and ‘disabled’. However, this study showed that although such people may suffer from mental illness, they can still make use of their own abilities and strengths to cope with that illness and live successful and fulfilling lives.

A case in point is the girl with bipolar I disorder who uses her artistic talent to create artworks. Doing so helps to calm her emotions, relieve her stress, and instil the patience to accept and live with. Even beyond, it helps overcome her mental disorder, thereby improving her mental well-being and positively contributing to her recovery.

The results of this study offer hope to people with mental illness, their family members, and the professionals who work with them in mental health settings. It is essential that they recognise that mental illness is only part of an individual’s life, not his or her whole life. It is important to fully support them by not losing hope in their future and to provide them with empathy, understanding, and care. Moreover, one should encourage them, and facilitate his or her ability to create alternative stories to the story of their illness, through identifying and helping them to develop their potential by discovering their own ‘personal medicine’. People with mental illness also need our help in guiding them to make innovative use of their strengths to accomplish their recovery goals and fulfil their life aspirations. The most important thing is to let them know that they are not passive victims of their illness and that they cannot rely on psychiatric medication alone. Instead, they have the ability to surmount their mental disorders. They are the directors of their lives, and they can thrive and lead colourful lives despite their mental disorder diagnoses.

Undergraduate Runner-up (Individual)
NG Wing-lam
Department of Applied Social Sciences
Reflective videography
Mission Statement:
To promote equal opportunities in education and the workplace for ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.
Ethnic minorities in Hong Kong are often disadvantaged, and little help is available to them. The interviews with ethnic minorities and reviews of news articles conducted in this project reveal that these individuals often lack educational support, which hinders both their school performance and job-seeking success. The project also identified two existing social enterprises that can potentially address these problems, namely, the Accelerated Language Programme (ALP) and Hong Kong TransLingual Services.

Project Details:
Ethnic minorities were chosen as the focus of this project because I rarely think about communities in Hong Kong beyond the Chinese community. This was a precious opportunity for me to explore the social problems that other communities face. I used a fast-forward drawing to present the problems that ethnic minorities face because I was inspired by drawing videos online. To obtain a realistic view of those problems, I adopted the research methods of interviews and online research. My research revealed that most ethnic minorities in Hong Kong face a language barrier that leads to their poor performance in school and limits their subsequent career opportunities. I identified two social enterprises that help address these problems. First, ALP teaches minorities the Chinese language using tailor-made language materials. Second, Hong Kong TransLingual Services offers translation services delivered by ethnic minority women.

Ethnic minorities as a group are largely ignored by Hong Kong society. Thus, the objective of this video project was to raise public awareness of the issues they are facing. In the long term, it is hoped that the video will increase the number of social enterprises targeting ethnic minorities and that more Hong Kong people will take action to help ethnic minorities.

Undergraduate Champion (Group)
CHEN Shiqi / JIN Xin / LAI King-on / LAW Yuen-sun / PANG Kin / TAM Chung-yan
Department of Applied Social Sciences
Utilising virtual reality to enhance English speech performance
Mission Statement:
To demonstrate that virtual reality can be used to improve second-language efficacy.
This study investigated the effects of a simulated virtual public speaking environment on second-language speech performance. The findings suggest that the virtual environment tested is capable of eliciting similar physiological, psychological, and behavioural responses as those to a real-life speaking environment amongst Cantonese-speaking undergraduates. They also show virtual reality to be a potential training tool for second-language learners to practise and enhance their speaking skills in a safe, flexible, and user-friendly environment.

Project Details:
Although virtual reality has been used as a language-learning aid for the last two decades, due to technological difficulties and cost, it has yet to gain popularity as a training tool in the general public. However, advances in virtual reality technology mean that the technology can now be used more easily by households and schools at a relatively low cost. This study looked into the possibility of implementing virtual reality as a simulated environment to enhance the efficacy of second-language training. In line with our expectations, the results indicated that a simulated public speaking environment can elicit the same amount of stress as speaking in front of a real audience. The results thus suggest that virtual reality can be used to improve second-language efficacy. Finally, with the accessibility of virtual reality technology on the rise, the findings of this study may benefit less financially advantaged families by furnishing their children with more opportunities to practise public speaking in a second language.

Undergraduate Runner-up (Group)
NGAI On-chi / WONG Lok-yan / WU Ching-yan
Department of Media and Communication
Department of Chinese and History
Department of English
Trust & Happiness: Kindergarten children and their parents
Mission Statement:
To create attachment-based activities that strengthen the parent-child relationship and cultivate trust between parents and children.
We designed a life-size board game allowing parents and their kindergarten-aged children to play together in a fairy-tale world. The themes and positive elements in the game tasks, and the gratitude journal that parents keep, are based on a positive psychology theory, PERMA, which stands for the five elements said to enhance psychological well-being: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. Our aim was to increase trust between parents and children and help both achieve a sense of accomplishment.

Project Details:
The Trust & Happiness project involves a self-designed life-size board game whose aim is to increase level of trust between parents and children progressively. Our initial target is kindergarten pupils and their parents, with the children conveying important messages to their parents, who are in the early stages of parenting. The board game includes tasks of varying levels of difficulty, some of which can be accomplished by kindergarteners on their own. It is hoped that the game will help parents understand the importance of not meddling excessively in their children’s lives.

Moreover, the team has designed a gratitude journal aimed at strengthening parents’ knowledge of positive psychology to help them  realise that over-interference in children’s lives, such as arranging too many interest classes or preschool playgroups, can only deprive children of happiness.

Learning the importance of trust, and encouraging young children to accomplish tasks independently and believing that they are capable of doing so, are likely to strengthen relationships within the family. The broader result will be greater community harmony and, potentially, a shift in the learning atmosphere from a stress on cramming to more free plays. The team hopes to raise awareness of the stress that young schoolchildren are facing in Hong Kong.

Postgraduate Champion (Individual)
LI Tsz-kwan
Department of Linguistics and Translation
Chinese is a sexist language: A re-examination
Mission Statement:
To highlight the need to mind sexist language use in daily life.
As language affects thought, it is vital that we be aware of linguistic sexual discrimination. This project re-examines the claim that Chinese is a sexist language. It offers a comprehensive review of the linguistic images of men and women in the Chinese language and provides evidence to show that the language discriminates against women. The project raises awareness of sexist language use and the need to combat discrimination against women.

Project Details:
This project re-examines the claim that Chinese is a sexist language by analysing four of its features: characters, phrases, idioms and proverbs. The conclusions of prior research are often based on sexist language examples alone, whereas this project offers more significant and convincing results by analysing a large database of online and paper dictionaries. It also provides a more comprehensive review of linguistic images of men and women in Chinese. Whilst men are portrayed as pillars of families and society, women are seen as the ones responsible for taking care of household chores and children. Furthermore, there are comparatively more negative connotations of women than men in the language. As language affects thought, the way in which the Chinese language presents men and women influences the ways in which Chinese culture views the two sexes.

The project also validates the claim by combining and modifying two definitional approaches to sexist language. As the consequentialist and propositional approaches each has its own shortcomings, the project combines the two to formulate a new definition of sexist language, and shows Chinese to be a sexist language that discriminates against women.

The results of this project shed light on linguistic discrimination against women and have the potential to heighten sensitivity to sexist language use. It is believed that fighting against the sexual discrimination inherent in the Chinese language will help to create a more balanced and equitable society for both Chinese men and women.

Postgraduate Runner-up (Individual)
WONG Cheuk-kin
Department of Linguistics and Translation
Production and perception of Mandarin sibilants by Cantonese speakers
Mission Statement:
To show that learning Mandarin as a second language is not as simple as we think.
Cantonese speakers often find Mandarin sibilants (z c s, zh ch sh, j q x) difficult to distinguish and pronounce when learning Mandarin. A commonly asked question is whether learners’ first language, Cantonese, plays a role in Mandarin learning. To help Cantonese learners overcome the aforementioned difficulties, this project explored their production and perception of Mandarin sibilants and the influence of Cantonese on Mandarin learning.

Project Details:
The Mandarin sibilants z c s, zh ch sh, and j q x, which occur in the words 資疵思, 知吃師, and 雞七西, respectively, are often considered difficult sounds to be correctly distinguished and pronounced. In Cantonese, only one of these sibilant sets, namely, z c s, is found. To better understand what happens when Cantonese learners attempt these sounds, the project investigated the acoustic and perceptual characteristics of syllable-initial Mandarin sibilants.

To explore this interesting topic, the acoustic and perceptual data of eight Cantonese-speaking university students were collected. Acoustically, the participants’ pronunciation of test words containing Mandarin and Cantonese sibilants was analysed for their spectral properties. Perceptually, perceptual assessment and identification tests were used to obtain their perceptual characteristics.

In general, the Cantonese learners exhibited better performance in perception than in production, indicating a difference in competence between the production and perception of Mandarin sibilants. In production, approximately 70% of the test words were pronounced incorrectly or differently from the way in which a native Mandarin speaker would pronounce them. Also, the frication noise patterns of the Mandarin sibilants differed from those of their Cantonese counterparts. In perception, approximately 90% of the test words were identified correctly. The project results thus demonstrate that Cantonese learners make more errors in the articulation than perception of Mandarin sibilants and that Cantonese does not exert a significant influence on Mandarin learning.

In conclusion, the methodology employed in this project allowed an in-depth examination of the production and perception of Mandarin sibilants by Cantonese learners. The phonetic information collected can lay the foundation for the development of more effective and analytical methods of teaching and self-learning concerning how to distinguish and articulate these Mandarin sounds correctly.