CINDERELLA rocked rather than waltzed and when the Fairy Godmother heard 'Look behind you' she reached for her cellular phone. It was a topsy-turvy fairy tale. Walt Disney would have had to excuse some of the antics of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University students who strutted their stuff in the Studio Theatre to herald Christmas. Cinders' glass slipper was replaced by a drab boot and the pumpkin turned not into a stately carriage but an office chair tied to a balloon-festooned push-cart. And when the Fairy Godmother failed to do her tricks, she sought help in typical Hong Kong fashion - with her cellular phone. However, the magic for the actors, students at HKPU's English Language Study Centre, was not an illusion but a reality - enunciating English in front of an audience which was mostly English-speaking lecturers and their families. The centre is funded by the University and Polytechnic Grants Committee as part of a language enhancement programme. It aims to improve learners' confidence in spoken English and develop their independence through a guided, self-directed approach. The centre's director, Richard Farmer, joined in the fun by playing an ugly sister for the second consecutive year. 'Cinderella gave us ample opportunity to improve our English fluency because Cantonese was forbidden during practice,' Prince Charming, alias Welsney Tse Hon-chung, a second-year manufacturing engineering student, said. Tourism-management student Wing Wong Wing-yue, the bespectacled Cinders, said the staff had given them invaluable help by spending a whole week in rehearsals just correcting their pronunciation and intonation for the pantomime. Eugene Mo Ki-long, last year's handsome prince who played one of the ugly sisters, said practice at the centre meant he no longer had to translate English into Chinese every time he heard it.