An unprecedented territory-wide English Language Camp for Primary Four students resumes today after its debut last weekend. The two-day camp, established by the Education Department with $4 million funding from the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research, is aimed at helping primary school students overcome their psychological barrier to speaking English. It also provides an opportunity for senior secondary students to build up their leadership skills by acting as camp leaders. Each primary school involved last weekend was paired with a secondary school. About 420 international school students also took part to foster the English-speaking environment. With a theme centred on animals, the two-day programme included language games, songs, arts and crafts, story-telling, action rhymes and a talent show. 'We wanted to organise the day camps in primary schools because such activities are normally confined to the secondary sector,' said Gordon Leung Chung-tai, Principal Assistant Secretary for the Education and Manpower Bureau. The Education Department provided tools, ranging from education kits to specially designed uniforms bearing animal heads for camp leaders. Training sessions were offered to teachers, who in turn trained the secondary students to lead activities. The standing committee intended to involve 15,000 senior secondary students and 75,000 Primary Four students from all local schools. However, only about 11,000 students from 137 schools have taken part. Some schools questioned the effectiveness of a centralised English immersion activity and the capability of students from low-band secondary schools as camp leaders. The final turnout rate was also smaller than the original number of participating schools as some failed to find a 'partner' in the same district with which to pair up, according to Mr Leung, and some remain focused on their own English schemes. Mr Leung said that the camp programme, designed by Dr Joseph Hung Hin-wai, associate professor of English at Chinese University of Hong Kong, could be used by students of different standards. 'We deliberately kept the English simple and gave lots of room for teachers to control the pace and include additional activities,' he said. St Mary's Canossian College, for example, let its students act in role-playing exercises, a responsibility taken by international school students in most of the schools. Carmen Cheng Sin-ying, English teacher in charge of the programme, said five Form Four students received training by Dr Hung for this role. Mr Leung said the day camps were a pilot for future English-immersion schemes, and would be evaluated with a view to expanding the programmes to include other primary forms and longer camps.