Several language students at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have begun promoting wider use of English on campus through an informal group. Formed in February, the English Club, organised by seven first-year language and communications students, has so far held a variety of activities to encourage undergraduates to listen, learn and speak. William Chan Wai-yam, Andy Wong Ka-biu, Vincent Wong Ka- wai, Joey Chan Yuen-yee, Ella Miu Ka-man, Melody Man Jing- jing and Phoenix Ng Wai-har floated the idea for the club. Their initiative is supported by the English Language Centre at PolyU. Club chairman Man Jing-jing said: 'The club provides us with more facilities and resources to polish up our English. 'We want to provide students with more opportunities to use the language and enhance their English skills.' Since the 1997-98 academic year, English, Putonghua and written Chinese have been made compulsory subjects in all full- time programmes at PolyU. 'Besides speaking in English during lectures, students are willing to spend more time and effort to join English supplementary programmes or use the support services at the English Language Centre,' Ms Man said. The club has designed a Web page to encourage students to learn on-line. Another office- bearer of the club, Ms Miu, said students joining various activities got a chance to learn the subtleties and the peculiarities of the language by conversing with overseas students. Learning various idioms was interesting, she said. 'It's an enriching experience. We have made friends with them and learned some slang such as the '247', 'It's da bomb' and 'you're the man'. These gave us a better understanding about their particular culture.' Ms Miu said the group hoped to organise a song contest and other more informal gatherings with overseas students. The group said language students needed encouragement, or else they would lose interest. Picking up words at leisure was a better way of enriching one's vocabulary, the head of the group said. Students should watch English movies and listen to songs. 'When students encounter difficult phrases or words, they should refer to a dictionary or check with teachers,' Ms Man said. Vincent Wong, 20, suggested another way of picking up words and phrases. Watch Chinese television news first and then tune in to the English broadcast, he said. Another member of the group, William Chan, 21, said students should read English books associated with their hobbies. Anna Ho, who is the adviser to the group, said the golden rule of learning English was: read more, listen more. Language students should also pay attention to their mistakes. She said the club's purpose extended beyond the mere need to stimulate an interest in English. This informal group also allowed students to learn leadership and social skills by organising activities, she said.