Are you struggling with your English? No worries. At UM, you can practise English anywhere and anytime you want.
Honee Wang 王浩楠
Begin with Curiosity
‘Girls are emotion Ninja. Their favourite weapon is silent treatment. That’s their specialty dish,’ Honee Wang, a second-year student majoring in English Studies, was delivering his humourous speech in English. ‘My boyfriend pisses me off, so I won’t talk to him until he says sorry. But girls, for us guys silent treatment is not a punishment; that’s a freaking reward. Boys and girls think differently, especially while driving. We boys always want to drive faster, but you girls,’ he paused and made his lips ‘sexy’ with a red marker pen, ‘are just busy with a fast make-up.’
The whole class laughed. The audience voted him the funniest speaker in the Humourous Speech Contest, which was part of the English Festival. ‘He deserved the trophy,’ said Joshua Lee, the judge and senior instructor from the English Language Centre (ELC). ‘Honee did a good job in exaggerating his emotions. His stories were well-focused and his humour was self-deprecating. That kind of humour is safer as it doesn’t insult anyone.’
Joshua Lee 李重恩
A Contest beyond Humour
The contest was part of the ELC’s effort to promote the use of English on campus. Joshua was pleased that the students drew upon their own life experiences and came up with original ideas. The subjects of the participants’ speeches range from relationships to campus life to places they have travelled. However, the contest was not just about public speaking or English fluency.
‘Some of the speeches made us think deeper about different issues,’ said Joshua. ‘For example, one speaker discussed how women obsess about their weight, but she deconstructed it in a humorous way and ended with a positive message about being proud of who you are. It also gave students a chance to stretch their creativity and imagination.’
‘Being funny in English, or any other language for that matter, is difficult, especially if the language is not your mother tongue,’ said ELC Director Dr Evelyn Doman. ‘You have to know the logic of the language and figure out the context of the culture. I’d say humour is the last thing learners will acquire in learning a language.’
‘A lot of times when I go see a Hollywood movie, I think that it’s funny as I hear it in English and in my culture, but the audience reading the subtitles don’t think it’s funny because it’s over their heads or the humour is different in their culture,’ she said. ‘So I know who the “foreigners” are in a local movie theatre.’
英語中心冀透過英語節多元活動鼓勵學生活用英文， 這比賽背後不僅是演講技巧或英語水平的較量， 更講求學生以幽默方式表述對人生的感悟。
Joshua說： 「演講內容發人深思， 有學生笑中帶淚地探討現今社會對女性身材的看法，並帶出活得自信的正面訊息。這些話題有助學生思考。」
Dr Evelyn Doman (left) Evelyn Doman博士(左)
Motivating English Festival
Over ten workshops, including Jack-o-Lantern making and Crochet DIY, as well as several contests, were held during the three-day English Festival in October. The English Festival takes place twice a year, with the aim of improving students’ English.
‘It’s good to have extracurricular activities in which students feel comfortable using English,’ said Evelyn. ‘There are no grades given, no competition. They’re exposed to a friendly learning environment, where they feel they can make mistakes. That helps build their confidence in English.’
‘When students have a problem, they need to ask in English. So they have to think how to ask and learn to express themselves with the vocabulary they know in English. That’s how they develop their language skills,’ said Evelyn. Apart from the festival, the ELC Chatroom provides another opportunity for students to practice speaking English. ‘They can just walk in when they have time. We’re always here,’ she said.
一連三天的英語節一年舉行兩次， 有各式各樣的工作坊和節目， 如寫詩、自製飾物、詞彙挑戰等。E v e l y n說： 「這些課外活動讓學生在輕鬆環境中講英文，沒有老師在旁評分，也沒比賽壓力，令他們不怕犯錯大膽講，當碰上問題時須以英文發問，這樣學生就在不知不覺間提高英語能力。」此外，英語中心還設聊天室，讓學生隨時練習英語。
Joy Loi 呂巧藝
Find an English Buddy
The more you expose yourself to a language, the faster you progress in the language. That’s why Joy Loi, a second-year student majoring in Hospitality and Gaming Management, joined UM’s Buddy Programme last semester. It’s a volunteer-based programme that offers an opportunity to build one-on-one relationships with foreign exchange students.
‘I made many friends from the United States and Germany. We speak English whenever we meet because it’s our only common language,’ said Joy. ‘I wasn’t very good at daily English conversation, because I mainly focused on reading comprehension when I was in high school. So the programme also helped improve my spoken English.’
As an English learner, Joy has made her share of English mistakes, some of which she says she would remember for the rest of her life. ‘Once I wanted to share some snacks with my buddy but I mispronounced the word “snack” as “snake”, and this incident has become a running joke between us.’
外語學習原則之一是接觸越多， 進步越快。工商管理學院學生呂巧藝（ J o y ） 上學期參加了「好朋友計劃」，與外國交換生建立一對一的友誼。「我結識了很多美國和德國朋友，每次見面大家用英文溝通，因為這是彼此唯一共通語言。但當時我日常會話不太流利，因為高中時主要學習閱讀理解，因此這計劃令我英語表達進步很大。」
在學習語言上少不了犯錯，Joy也亦然。「有次跟友人分享零食， 卻把零食說錯成蛇， 既尷尬又好笑，畢生難忘，以後不再犯同樣的錯。」
Dr Chiu Man Yin 趙敏言博士
Commitment to English Project
Practicing speaking English is perhaps one of the fastest ways to improve one’s English skills. And that’s why Dr Chiu Man Yin, programme coordinator of BA in English Studies, requires his students to act out English plays, a teaching strategy he has been using since 1997 when he first taught the course Introduction to Literature.
‘A play text comes alive only when somebody speaks it. So it’ll be wonderful if I can get the students to act it out, to speak the lines on stage, rather than just read it at home. It works wonderfully because it’s a challenge,’ Dr Chiu said. ‘Most students didn’t think they could do it at first.
Students of the English Renaissance rehearse a play under the guidance of Prof Katrine Wong
Chiu often chooses a play with strong characters and good lines to make it easier for students to bring alive the dialogues instead of simply reciting mechanically. ‘That’s not rote memorisation. You remember the lines because you understand the context and emotions, and then you reproduce them in your own way. This kind of training is really helpful in language learning.’
Man指出：「只有把對白說出來， 才真正賦予劇本生命。與其在家裡閱讀， 倒不如走上台把角色演出來。這是一個挑戰，但正因如此，學生才會進步，」通常Man挑選的劇本，人物角色性格突出，對白精彩，這樣有助學生理解。「死記硬背是沒用的，只有瞭解箇中情境和角色情感，才能消化對白，再以自己方式演繹。此類訓練對語言學習大有幫助。」Man說。
Sindy Leong 梁倩盈
Express Yourself Concisely and Eloquently
Another project that helps immerse the students in the English language is intensive training in English debates. Sindy Leong, a fourth-year student of communication who has received the Best Debater Award in the Australasian Debating Championship, shares her experience in English learning. ‘In traditional classrooms, learning is predominantly a one-way process. We just sit and listen, rarely having the chance to speak up and practice spoken English. But in the debate training, we talk a lot and exchange views on what we’ve read in the newspaper, and all of this is done in English. It enhances not only our understanding of global current affairs but also our language ability,’ Sindy said.
When she joined the debating team, Sindy was told that English proficiency is a must and the skills to express herself concisely and eloquently was what she needed to master next. ‘I’m now capable of impressing the judges with humour and satire.’
另一活學英語的方法莫過於辯論訓練。傳播系四年級學生梁倩盈（ Sindy） 曾在澳大利西亞校際英語辯論賽奪最佳辯論員。「傳統的單向式教學，學生只能被動聆聽。但訓練時，大家只用英文討論報紙上讀到的東西。這樣不但多瞭解國際時事，更增強彼此的語言能力。」紥實的英語能力是辯論隊的基本要求，訓練重點是演辯技巧的豐富度， 務求在台上精準有力陳述觀點。Sindy說：「現在我已懂得用幽默式諷刺取悅評審。」
Workshops on English theatre 英語戲劇工作坊
All the courses at UM are delivered in English, except for the language courses in Chinese, Portuguese, German, and Japanese. For some freshmen who were used to having courses conducted in Chinese before they started college, it may take them a little longer to adapt to a new English-learning environment, but the effort will be worth it.
‘Let’s say you take a course in business, which is not really about English, if it is delivered in English, and you read the teaching material in English and answer the questions in English, all of those things reinforce your skills in English . Every course reinforces English proficiency,’ Dr Chiu said. ‘No matter what we study, we would find it more frustrating to learn complex ideas in a second language than in our mother tongue. But proper teaching methods will remove the language barriers.’
Source: MyUM Issue 53