The Summer English Immersion Programme 2017, organised by the University of Macau (UM) Faculty of Arts and Humanities, has ended. The programme was designed to prepare incoming freshmen for English-medium education at UM. Participating students went through a four-week intensive training in an immersive English environment, living and communicating with native speakers on a daily basis. Students described the programme as fun and helpful, saying that it boosted their confidence in speaking English and helped them adapt to university life.
Participating students were required to stay on campus at night and received intensive training five days a week. In the morning, students received English language instruction from experienced UM instructors, focusing not only on the basics of English usage but also on task-based activities and collaborative projects. In the afternoon, students worked with both local and international Programme Assistants (PAs) in a small group setting to improve their speaking, reading, and listening skills. Afterwards, students joined the PAs for a variety of extracurricular activities, including sports, drama, dance, photography, and even yoga – all in English. In the evening, students reviewed what they had learned during the day and previewed the agenda for the upcoming morning.
A student named Wiki Cheong said the programme improved his English skills. ‘I like the morning session the most, because the lecturing of my instructor was very interesting and interactive,’ says Cheong. ‘Whoever spoke Chinese in his class would receive a yellow card and would have to perform for one minute at the end of the week. I got three yellow cards in the first week, so I performed for three minutes on the first weekend. I then made an effort to speak only English and thus received no cards afterwards.’
Another student Annie Ao said that the programme improved her spoken English, and she now feels more confident when communicating with English speakers. ‘I enjoyed talking with the international PAs,’ says Ao. ‘They don’t know Chinese, so I had to try my best to speak English. We not only talked in class but also on social media. They are like my friends teaching me English. I also learned more about the cultures of foreign countries from them.’
David Wray, a PA from Vancouver, Canada, said the most important consideration was to help the students feel comfortable about speaking English. ‘I would start my time with small games which could engage the students’ attention immediately and force them to react and speak in the very beginning,’ he says. ‘Sometimes, they didn’t react well at first, but they learned to be not afraid of making mistakes. They could just laugh about the mistakes and then start again. So I always told them to be positive, make mistakes, and have fun.’
This is the second time SEIP was held. This year, 14 instructors and 38 PAs participated in the programme.
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