The Support Measures for Student Adaptation in English-medium Schools, which consist of several sets of support materials, are developed to help Secondary 1 students adapt to the English-medium learning environment when they are allocated to an English-medium school. The Chinese University of Hong Kong was commissioned by the Education and Manpower Bureau of the HKSAR to develop the support measures.
The support measures comprise six sets of materials, which are developed from the perspective of the teachers, the students, and the school.
The support measures should be used for classroom teaching purposes only. Teachers in Hong Kong may make adaptations to and/or reproduce the materials to suit the curriculum needs of individual schools. For more effective use of the materials, teachers are advised to read through the Overview of the Programme.
The project aims to develop support measures to help Secondary 1 students adapt to the English-medium learning environment in English-medium (EMI) schools. Through the support measures, it is hoped that students can be helped to:
In this project, language-across-the-curriculum (LAC) approach is stressed as it is believed that students’ language development can facilitate understanding and growth in other areas of learning and conversely, those areas of learning can provide real contexts for language growth. A range of support measures with multiple focuses for adaptation of S1 students in EMI schools are proposed from the perspectives of the school, the teacher and the students. Suggestions for schools to establish an English-rich environment are provided and teachers are helped to develop informed understanding of the role of language in learning. Strategies for both language and subject teachers to better integrate language and content are suggested. Self-access materials and summer bridging programmes are also developed. The various support measures involve the generation of the following six sets of materials:
1) Teaching Ideas for English Language Teachers in English-medium Schools
2) Teaching Ideas for Content Subject Teachers in English-medium Schools
3) Quick Recipes for EMI Classes
4) Summer Bridging Programme
5) Independent Learning Materials for Secondary 1 Students
6) Establishing an English-rich Environment in English-Medium Schools
The first three sets of materials are teacher-oriented – they aim to equip teachers with materials and strategies which can enhance their professional competence as EMI teachers and help them to cope with English-medium teaching especially at S1 level. The fourth and fifth items are language enrichment materials for S1 students who experience major adaptation problems in schools due to a change in the medium of instruction from Cantonese in primary school to English in secondary. The independent learning package, in particular, allows the less proficient S1 students to work at their own pace and to develop autonomy in learning. Finally, the last set of materials consists of a number of ideas which aim at helping schools to create a language-rich environment for their students to use English.
These support measures should not be seen as single one-off attempts to address the immediate needs of S1 students. Instead they are designed as a structured and comprehensive support programme with long-term, ongoing language enrichment and support measures which entail the collaboration of both English teachers and content subject teachers. The emphasis of the project is on language across the curriculum and on a collaborative approach, which should ultimately involve all teachers – both language and content subject teachers – in the school.
Description of the Materials
The six sets of materials represent a collection of good practices from many schools and some of the ideas may not necessarily be very new. Since different schools have different cultures and traditions, realistic goals should be set which take into account how much the school, the teachers and students can handle at one time. It is recommended that schools should start with those ideas or activities that are the most feasible at a particular stage, and build from there. In addition, it is important to remember that it requires both time and the coordinated effort of the school administrative personnel, the teachers and the students in order to build a common vision towards high standards of English proficiency and an excellent EMI learning and teaching environment.
As the name itself suggests, the materials are not textbook materials to be simply implemented in classes. Rather they constitute sets of suggestions and prompts for English language teachers as to how they may engage with content subject teachers and the demands of students learning content subjects through English. English language teachers can make use of the strategies suggested for greater integration of language and content. The ultimate goals of this part of the project are to provide English teachers with concrete ideas so as to help them support students’ learning in other subjects, and to help students acquire language skills.
In total, there are 16 chapters in the book. The first provides an introduction to a Language-across-the-curriculum (LAC) Approach. The second to fourth units cover suggestions in relation to the areas of teacher language in EMI schools, classroom language suitable for S1 teachers, and classroom language suitable for S1 students. The fifth to the twelfth units contain teaching ideas about activities which can enhance students’ listening, speaking, writing and reading skills, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary development and their abilities to conduct project work in English. The last four chapters address the following special issues: how to help students understand the instructions on test and examination papers, ways students can get more practice in English, resources for English teachers, and a Language-across-the-Curriculum (LAC) action plan as reference.
Specifically, the book suggests that English language teachers can help create a language-rich environment by introducing and teaching the language skills required in content subjects and reinforcing such skills from time to time in their English lessons so that the content-subject teachers can later consolidate these skills in their own lessons. For example, English teachers can introduce the idea of suffixes in the English lessons, and then History teachers introduce the new suffix ‘-ism’ or consolidate familiar suffixes like ‘-ion’ in rebellion.
Similar to the book titled Teaching Ideas for English Language Teachers in English-medium Schools, the materials in this book are not textbook materials to be simply implemented in classes. Rather they constitute sets of suggestions and prompts which characterize ways to marry certain English language principles with content subject teaching, taking into account relevant knowledge frameworks and structures. The goals of this book are to equip content subject teachers with strategies to teach language skills, to reinforce such skills in different subjects, to deliver lessons effectively in the medium of English, to design their own language activities to reinforce the teaching of content in their subject classroom, and to provide some subject-specific sample materials teachers can use.
Materials in this book contain examples from different subjects, such as mathematics, EPA, integrated science, history and geography. Examples and terms used are taken directly from subject content textbooks of S1 students. There are, in total, 15 chapters in this set of materials. The first provides an introduction to a Language-across-the-curriculum (LAC) Approach (similar to the previous book). The second to fourth units cover respectively suggestions in relation to the areas of teacher language in EMI schools, classroom language suitable for S1 teachers, and classroom language suitable for S1 students. The fifth to the tenth units contain teaching ideas for activities which could be used by content subject teachers to enhance students’ listening, speaking and reading skills, pronunciation, vocabulary development (e.g. word-formation, guessing meaning in context) and students’ abilities to conduct project work in English. The last five chapters address the following special issues: how to help students understand instructions on test and examination papers, how to help students answer examination questions, useful websites for content subject teachers, lesson plans for content subject teachers and some Language-across-the-Curriculum (LAC) action plans as reference.
Since covering the syllabus in content subjects is a major concern for many teachers and concepts like curriculum integration and curriculum tailoring may not have taken a firm hold in schools due to various constraints, it is hoped that the adoption of such materials by content subject teachers will help lessen the burden which they are already shouldering and at the same time, help facilitate the development of a language-rich environment. Specifically, content subject teachers can contribute by re-teaching the relevant language skills which have been taught by the English language teachers and introducing related skills and concepts in their lesson, thereby integrating language and content. Some particular suggestions in relation to explaining unfamiliar vocabulary include: teaching related forms, e.g. triangle vs triangular; teaching related concepts (e.g. government, law and order), highlighting words with multiple meanings (e.g. table, scale), and showing students how they can guess meaning in context.
Materials for this support measure serve as ‘quick recipes’ for helping S1 students adapt to EMI during their early lessons. The book is divided into two parts. The first involves suggested activities for early lessons in EMI for the following subjects: English, Mathematics, Geography, History, I.S., E.P.A., Computer Literacy, D & T, Home Economics (Cookery and Needlework), Art & Design, Music and P.E. These activities usually require students to work in pairs and groups, and are designed to help students to get to know their school subjects and their way around their new school and to build confidence in using everyday language in a fun and active manner. The second part of the book contains ideas for short activities for English language teachers and teachers of all subjects respectively. Specifically, the duties of the teachers at various stages of the activities are listed.
The materials in the Summer Bridging Programme aim to ease students’ transition from Chinese-medium primary schools to EMI secondary schools. They represent a collection of key ideas and activities from a number of bridging programmes which have been produced, trialled and revised in some local EMI schools. By sharing the best practice among schools, it is hoped that future resources can be used in the most efficient and effective manner to familiarize students with the school culture, to prepare them to have lessons conducted in English, to teach them the vocabulary for different subjects, to raise their confidence in using English, to enable them to use simple classroom language, and to develop critical thinking skills.
The content of these materials involves informal and fun activities, such as those which allow students to get to know their friends and teachers, learn about school rules, go on a treasure hunt to find out about the school environment, learn how to make announcements in English, prepare for pair or group work conducted in English, and explore the English language structures and vocabulary of different subjects.
This self-access language-enrichment package is developed with a view to allowing especially the less proficient S1 students to work at their own pace and to develop autonomy in learning English grammar. The materials contain a lot of practice activities. There are 10 units covering respectively the following aspects of the English grammar: basic English sentence patterns, parts of speech, simple present tense, simple past tense, present perfect tense, simple future tense, the passive voice (simple present tense), the passive voice (simple past tense), agreement between noun and verb, and prepositions.
Students’ language development requires support in a variety of ways. For most Hong Kong students, the school is the only place where English is learnt and spoken. Thus creating an English-rich environment within the school and maximizing the use and exposure to English is crucial for enabling students to learn their subject content through a second language, develop high levels of English proficiency, and fully benefit from an English-medium education.
The book is divided into five sections. The first addresses the importance of the whole school approach. The second describes the components involved in establishing an English-rich environment, including the school, the classroom, the teachers, the students, extra-curricular activities, special programmes, home-school co-operation and the community. The third suggests activities that the whole school can adopt, such as setting up an English corner, organising an English festival, drama activities, debates, solo and choral verse-speaking, an extensive reading scheme and an English award scheme. The fourth section targets specifically at the less proficient students by suggesting suitable activities, such as S1 lunchtime programme and Saturday morning programme. The last section contains suggested evaluation forms for activities taken.
Comments and suggestions on the support materials can be directed to the following address:
Review and Planning Section
Education Commission and Planning Division
Room 1138, 11/F, Wu Chung House
213, Queen’s Road East
Wanchai, Hong Kong
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org