Form One students had a chance to brush up their English skills in a pressure-free environment with a series of five-day camps at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Some 600 first formers from 30 schools took part in the 'English-speaking Summer Camps for Secondary One Students.' The camps, held from July 15 to August 2, were divided into three sessions, each involving 200 students and 30 instructors. Jointly organised by the Education Department's Advisory Inspectorate of English Section and the English Department of the Chinese University, the camps were aimed at giving shy students a chance to speak freely in English. A lot of effort was made to rid students of their fears of speaking English and to build up their confidence. Sincere Hui Sin-sze, 21, one of the instructors, said the students were urged to forget about grammatical errors and speak up. 'We conducted various activities in English, like dramas, games and singing,' said Sincere, an English undergraduate at the university. 'We tried to make them feel less conscious of their mistakes and encouraged them to speak up.' Another instructor, Daemian Greaves, said it was important for students to get used to speaking English. 'When some of the youngsters met me, they spoke to me in Cantonese, which I didn't understand,' said Daemian, who is English-Korean. 'Then they thought for a while and started speaking slowly to me in English.' Daemian, a student from Britain who is studying French as a second language, said he understood the difficulties in learning English. 'I can tell when the students are struggling because I've had similar experiences in learning French.' Paula Wong Fong-man, one of the participants, said it was difficult to speak English. 'It is very hard to think of complete sentences and I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to say,' said the first former of Kowloon True Light Middle School. Paula said her expatriate teachers had given her a lot of help with her English. However, Siu Chung-fun, prefers to be taught by Chinese teachers. 'It's easier to understand what they are teaching and to communicate with them.' Grace Chau Pui-yan, an English teacher at Po Leung Kuk No 1 W H Cheung College, said Hong Kong was a Chinese-speaking society and students had limited exposure to English.