School-based English courses cater for student needs
I am writing in response to the letter headlined 'Explain cuts to senior students' intensive English courses' by John Tan (Education Post, January 20).
Two programmes, the Intensive English Language Programme (IELP) for Secondary Six and Seven students who have studied in Chinese and the Intensive English Course (IEC) for Secondary Six students taught in English, have been conducted since 1993 and 1996 respectively.
Both programmes aim to offer additional assistance to eligible sixth-form students to help them to improve their language and related study skills for tertiary education and work.
After a comprehensive review of the two programmes, the relevant working group proposed replacing them with a school-based intensive programme for both groups of students in the 2001-2002 school year and developing new learning packages to cater for a range of student abilities.
The school-based method has been recommended as the needs of the students can be catered for more effectively. The school-based Intensive English Programme has thus been introduced as an interim measure in the 2000-2001 school year to continue to help eligible Secondary Six and Seven students to learn English.
Two packages of teaching materials catering for students learning in Chinese or English will be provided by the Education Department in stages to help schools conduct the programme.
Some parts of the two packages have already been put on the Education Department's homepage. Schools have full flexibility and autonomy in their selection and adaptation of the course materials for teaching. This also encourages self-access learning by students.
The new Capacity Enhancement Grant (CEG) introduced this school year is meant to provide schools with the resources and flexibility to introduce school-based measures to develop the curriculum, enhance the language proficiency of students and cope with diverse student needs.
Schools may therefore choose to plan specific measures to help their students at Secondary Six and Seven level or other levels in learning English. With the development of a school-based English language curriculum, teachers who understand their students can develop materials and design programmes to best meet their students' needs.
Schools may also apply for a special grant to run the intensive programme for Secondary Six and Seven students in this school year if their CEG is fully used in other areas or for other target groups.
The new school-based intensive English programme will be reviewed with reference to the needs and format of extra assistance to be provided for students in the learning of English.
ANDREW C S POON
for Director of Education