If you live in a residential college, you probably spend most of your time in the college when you are not attending classes. The RCs are the main places where students live, dine, and participate in various activities. Currently, there are ten RCs at UM, which provide a language learning environment ungoverned by the clock. So how do you take advantage of the resources in the RCs to improve your English every day?
Practice Makes Perfect
Paehinto Woo from Ma Man Kei and Lo Pak Sam College (MMKLPSC) has been learning English since middle school, but he still has difficulty expressing himself in English. ‘In middle school, we only spoke English in class. After class, we mostly spoke Cantonese with our classmates. In other words, there wasn’t a good language learning environment. But things are different at UM,’ says Paehinto. ‘Our RC organises various kinds of activities to create opportunities for us to speak English. For example, we have movie screenings on a regular basis, and after we watch a movie, we would share our thoughts about the movie in English. At first, many students were too shy to open their mouths, but with practice, they gradually learned to express themselves accurately.’
The MMKLPSC attaches great importance to moral education and language skills. It holds English salon on a regular basis and encourages students to organise English speaking contests and other English-related activities. College Master De Bao Xu holds English Table every day during lunch time, in order to create an opportunity for students to chat in English while having lunch. College fellows, floor fellows, and sometimes even the college master would join the English Table and help students practice ‘sentence of the day’.
‘Let’s say a student takes an average of six courses in a semester, if the student lives in the RC for five days a week, then the amount of time she spends in the RC will be five to six times the amount of time she spends in the classroom. If she makes good use of these hours, works hard, and practices speaking English every day, her English is bound to get better and better over time,’ says Prof Xu.
Learn Real Life English with Exchange Students
Cheng Yu Tung College (CYTC) also attaches great importance to students’ English language skills. It holds English Table every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. The presence of exchange students from foreign countries provide local students with ample opportunities to learn real life English. Many fans of the English Table even invite teachers to eat pizzas and sing English songs with them in the KTV room in the RC. ‘Local students as well as exchange students whose English may or may not be English, will be able to improve their English and make more friends by participating in these activities,’ says College Master Chung Ling.
Serafina Xu from the CYTC likes to initiate conversations with exchange students from different countries in order to improve her English, and she finds these conversations have indeed helped her speak better English. ‘English expressions learned from real life situations are very practical. With daily practice, I have progressed quickly,’ she says.
Kevin Thompson, master of the Moon Chun Memorial College, is from the United Kingdom. Having a native English-speaker at the helm helps to create a good language learning ambience in the college. Mark Guo from Thompson’s RC says, ‘If you want to hold a decent conversation with Prof Thompson, you have to improve your listening skills and increase your vocabulary first.’