TVB airs its skills in use of English

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 January, 2003, 12:00am

A pilot project led by the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (Scolar) to promote the use of television programmes as an English teaching and learning tool will go live on TVB Pearl and the Hong Kong Education City (HKEdCity) Web site early next month.

Workshops have been organised this week to introduce the project, English in the Air, to teachers and parents but concerns have been raised over the limited public promotion.

Starting February 5, youth reality series Road Scholars will hit the screens every Wednesday evening, followed by youth drama series Lizzie McGuire in April. Both will go without subtitles.

Learning materials for each episode will be uploaded on to the HKEdCity Web site at least one day beforehand. There will be preview sessions and games to help students better understand the episode and post-viewing live discussion and competitions.

The two programmes were chosen from a dozen youth programmes already in TVB's stock by teachers and students from five schools of different banding.

It is hoped that teachers will be able to devise similar materials around television programmes.

The project is supported with $1.5 million from the Language Fund. A review will be conducted around July.

Preparation for the project began last year, after Scolar's survey found that 36 per cent of student respondents had never or seldom watched English channels.

'Our primary aim is to get students to watch these programmes,' said Scolar secretary Subrina Chow Shun-yee. 'If they want more, they can go online.'

Dr Terence Lo Chi-hung from Polytechnic University's Department of English, who designed the learning materials, said the emphasis would be on fun rather than textbook English.

'We provide an alternative, not more of the same thing,' he said.

Letters will be sent to the one million HKEdCity subscribers next week. Parents will be reached through schools' Parents-Teachers Association. Posters will be put up in public libraries, town halls and government offices.

Teachers welcomed the project, but said promotional effort should be stepped up.

'The problem is, how do you motivate [students] to watch these programmes?' said one at a workshop in Tsuen Wan. 'If the project again benefits a small group of students from top schools, I would say, what a waste.'