The success of an English programme proved that students could learn and absorb the language much faster in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. The 'Hand in Hand' English Teaching Programme was jointly organised by the Rotary Club of Mid-Levels and Chinese International School (CIS). Students from Po Leung Kuk CFA No 1 Primary School and HKMLC Queen Maud Secondary School brushed up their English skills by taking part in the 10- session programme. The programme was taught by 12 CIS students, who took on the role of 'big brothers' and 'big sisters'. They received training from the British Council on how to teach English. Kitty Chan Hoi-yen, 12, from HKMLC Queen Maud Secondary School, said the atmosphere of the classes was very relaxed. 'We did not have to sit still in the classroom,' the Form One student said. 'Sometimes we watched videos, played games and had discussions.' Hoi-yen said the tutors were very nice and patient and encouraged them and let them learn at their own pace. She said her English had improved and the programme had stimulated her interest in learning the language. Her schoolmate Winnie Cheung Man-yi, 13, said the programme helped her build up confidence in speaking English. 'I think what makes the learning much more effective is that most of the tutors knew Cantonese,' the first former said. 'We were not supposed to speak Cantonese during class, but we used Cantonese when we did not know how to explain something in English. Then they would teach us to say it in English.' Man-yi said the programme helped to improve her listening, writing and grammar skills. Jennifer Leung Gin-ling, 16, was one of the 'big sisters'. It was her first time to be a language tutor. She said the English standard of the students was better than she had expected. 'I think their standard is quite high,' the year 12 student said. 'Their problem is lack of confidence. If they are brave enough to speak up, they can speak good English.' Another tutor, Freda Yuen Man-chong, 17, said local students had a limited vocabulary. She suggested reading English newspapers and watching English TV programmes as a solution.