The University of Macau’s (UM) Faculty of Arts and Humanities (FAH) organised an English summer camp for students from Kao Yip Middle School and the Affiliated School of UM, in collaboration with the two schools. The camp was designed by UM’s doctoral supervisors after their visits to the two schools, with the aim of creating an English learning environment that is different from a traditional classroom setting so as to boost the students’ confidence in speaking English. Participating students described the camp as fun and relaxing. They were encouraged to use everyday English phrases and expressions to communicate with native speakers during the six-day camp.
Earlier, the doctoral supervisors visited the two schools to learn more about how the English classes were conducted, the students’ level of English, and the teaching materials. They designed the camp after consulting the teachers from the two schools. With an emphasis on interaction and practice, the camp encouraged participants to learn and use English by completing real tasks in an immersion environment that boosted their confidence in speaking English.
Apart from two professional English language instructors, from the United Kingdom and the United States, respectively, there were also 20 young teaching assistants from different English-speaking countries who spoke English with the participants as friends and encouraged them to complete the themed English tasks and group reports. The teaching assistants spoke to the students both in class and during extracurricular activities and English Dining Table. These face-to-face interactions created more opportunities for students to communicate with native speakers, which not only helped them learn more about the different cultures of different countries, but also helped them overcome their fear of speaking English.
At the closing ceremony held today, students demonstrated what they had learned from the camp in the form of English public speaking, drama performance, and chorus singing. A student from the Affiliated School of UM said that he felt a little intimidated on the first day of the camp when an English teaching assistant greeted him with a ‘Hello’, and that was when he realised that he would have to speak English throughout the camp. He mentioned the various fun activities during the camp, adding that they were very different from the teaching activities in a traditional classroom setting. Another student from the same school said he felt very happy to have met the English teaching assistants from around the world, who introduced him to the different cultures of their countries. A female student from Kao Yip Middle School said the camp greatly boosted her confidence, and now she feels less nervous about talking to people in English. Her favourite part of the camp was the one-on-one conversations with the teaching assistants.
FAH Dean Hong Gang Jin is pleased to see the improvement the students have made through the camp. She encouraged them to continue using the words, grammar, and cultural knowledge learned in the camp, and keep their passion alive on the never-ending journey of English learning.
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