Participants: UM’s English immersion programme has improved our English
The inaugural Summertime English: An Immersion Experience (STE), organised by the University of Macau’s (UM) English Language Centre (ELC), attracted more than 100 secondary school students from Macao and overseas. Some participants said the camp was fun and exciting and boosted their confidence when speaking English.
The five-day camp encouraged the use of English in day-to-day interactions through a series of creative activities both inside and outside the classroom. Cecilia Chio, from the Sacred Heart Canossian College (English Section), described the camp as a ‘very special’ experience. ‘For me, every day in the camp was so special. We were exposed to an English-friendly living environment and we learnt something new each day,’ she said. ‘I’ve improved my English a lot through participating in the various activities both inside and outside the classroom. We practised English through drawing, painting, performing drama, singing, and dancing. It was fun.’
Another student from Malaysia, Goh Jia Shen, was impressed by the different way of teaching he experienced in the camp. ‘The way of teaching and learning I experienced in the summer course was very different from what we experience in most Malaysian high schools. It went beyond the traditional way of teaching that involves teachers lecturing and students taking notes,’ he said. ‘The instructors arranged many interactive and fun activities for us to practise speaking English. The course provided a very good opportunity for us to learn how to communicate with people from different cultures.’
There were 100 local participants from 14 Chinese and English secondary schools in Macao, selected out of more than 250 applicants. ‘I would say that the students all came with different levels of English language proficiency,’ said Miranda Ma, one of the coordinators of the programme. ‘My goal for this programme was to help students strengthen their confidence in using English so that they could better express themselves and work with each other in the target language.’
The STE programme was led by a group of talented English language trainers from the United States. In addition to rich experience in language teaching, these language instructors are also accomplished arts practitioners in various fields, including painting, photography, and drama. The camp coordinators lived in the residential college with the students to help them practise English and review what they had learned during the day. Some UM students also served as camp leaders and played a positive role in encouraging the other participants to use English in everyday interactions. In the future, UM plans to expand the STE programme to benefit more local students.