The “Brushing Up Your English” activities created a campus-wide English learning environment at the Macao Polytechnic Institute (“MPI”) to enhance the students’ proficiency in the language. This series of activities, which was the fruitful outcome of a collaboration between the Student Affairs Office and the MPI-BELL Centre of English (the “Centre”), included an exam preparation course, an Easter party, a singing contest, a social interaction course, writing workshops, lunch gatherings and movie nights. Well received among the undergraduates, the activities not only brushed up their English but also further lightened the joyful campus atmosphere.
The “English Writing Clinic” aimed at improving the students’ writing skills and encouraged them to write more and better in English. Ms. Chou, one of the many students who often queued up outside the “clinic” to consult the Centre’s teaching assistants from the United States of America for advice on their English assignments and other academic writings, said that the assistants were friendly and efficient in reviewing their written work, and delivered on the spot practical tips and personalised advice in respect of the students' English essays and compositions, helping them write more accurately and competently.
The “IELTS Preparation Course” provided focused, exam-oriented preparation for those students who intended to take the English proficiency test and allowed them to practise in advance their reading, writing, listening and speaking. One student, Mr. Leong, said that since he would further his study in an English-speaking country after graduation, an IELTS certificate, which is recognised worldwide as evidence of one’s proficiency in English, is important for aspiring postgraduate students like him. The test scores, he added, could also reflect where his strengths and weaknesses lie, and if necessary, he would make timely improvement accordingly. Taught by the Centre’s trainer who was an experienced IELTS examiner, the course helped build up Mr. Leong’s confidence in passing the test with flying colours.
The “Film Club” increased the students’ exposure to everyday English through watching popular English movies during the extracurricular hours and augmented the enjoyment of learning the language. Mark, one of the Centre’s assistants, who has taught English at different countries, believes that watching English movies or TV shows is an effective way to learn the language in that students can jot down the contents which they do not comprehend for subsequent consultation with their professors or the dictionary, and review at leisure the on-screen dialogues which they have come across for better understanding. Ms. Chan, who always attended the “Film Club” sessions, said that the movies shown this semester were excellent, especially “The Departed”, “The Bucket List”, “Big Fish” and “Babel”, and that it was great fun watching films with her fellow schoolmates. Now, she has developed the habit of watching English movies and TV shows in her spare time, continuously deepening her understanding and familiarity of spoken English.
Before the “English Easter Party” took place, the students were introduced to highly recommended English books and encouraged to do extracurricular reading, so that they would further develop their interest and expand their knowledge in English literature. In the party which followed, the students mingled with each other and played together various interesting, Easter-themed games, which had been designed to bolster their confidence in communicating and networking in English. One student, Mr. Yip, said that he met students from other disciplines at the party and in its convivial, informal atmosphere quickly made friends with them, with whom he chatted and laughed heartily. Having such new friends as his English buddies, Mr. Yip was confident that his speaking and listening skills would improve a lot in no time.
“Best English Performance”, an award newly added to the “I Play My Music” Singing Competition, was created to foster and popularise the culture of listening to English songs and to improve the students’ pronunciation and English proficiency through singing. Ana, one of the students from Lusophone countries and a contestant in the competition, said that she likes singing very much and singing English songs has helped her get accustomed to the English vowels and consonants and heighten her awareness of the lingual niceties. In her opinion, there is no better, happier way to learn the language than singing.
The “Effective Presentation” course, run by the Centre’s foreign trainers with English as the medium of instruction, served the dual purposes of strengthening the students’ public speaking skills and assisting them in better preparing for the final-year projects. One student, Ms. Lio, said that she gained from the course practical, personalised feedback which was directed at improving her presentation techniques and style. Besides, and to her pleasant surprise, Ms. Lio noticed that after completing the course her reading comprehension skill became much better by analysing and deliberating the data and materials for presentation.
“Studying Abroad and Socialising in English”, a course run by the Centre’s foreign trainers, helped the students get ready for short-term study tours and overseas postgraduate study by adapting to academic exchanges and social interactions in English. One student, Mr. Leong, said that the course was composed of interactive activities and real-life scenarios in which the students could practise speaking with native English speakers in different contexts, making them comfortable and confident in living and studying in an English-speaking country.
The “English Lunch Gatherings” offered weekly opportunities for the Taipa Hostel students, who live off-campus, to engage in English conversations during lunchtime. Organised by the Centre’s teaching assistant from the United States of America and becoming very popular among the students, the gatherings aimed to raise their interest in topics of current affairs in English and further improve their oral skills. As one could observe at the lunch gatherings, the hostel students were actively communicating and interacting with each other. As a result, their ability of socialising in English was considerably enhanced, so was the compassion for each other and the cohesion among them.
To reward their continuous and active participation in the above activities, the students were provided with an opportunity to take the Cambridge English – BEC Vantage Exam, an internationally recognised English proficiency test. As the co-organisers of the “Brushing Up Your English” series jointly stated, there is as always a strong and excellent academic and teaching team of English at MPI and the team members, each with his or her own advantage, have been promoting English learning on campus in an all-round manner and by infusing it into the extracurricular activities. Their concerted efforts have resulted in a campus-wide English learning environment conducive to elevating the students’ academic and everyday English standards and laying a solid language foundation for study and careers in future.View gallery