A teaching method that uses big story books and lively activities has led to significant improvements in the ability of primary students to learn English, according to research results released this week. The Integrated English Language Programme, developed by the Council of Early Childhood Education and Services (CESES) in 34 schools and funded by the Quality Education Fund, has resulted in higher achievements in reading, oral and writing skills. After two years, children were about six months ahead of others, and by Primary Three they could write 30 per cent more words and were more motivated, research by programme director Dr Ng Seok-moi found. The programme involves extensive teacher professional development, which was found to improve interactive teaching skills and promote collegiality. 'Children who were previously bored and afraid of traditional English lessons enjoyed English language learning,' said CESES director San San Ching. She sees the programme as a alternative to the NET scheme. 'We do very similar things to NETs: fun, drama and a more playful approach. But because we are Chinese we are able to implement it differently.' NETs could be valuable when they had both the expertise and could fit in with the local school culture. But Ms Ching said cultural differences and misunderstandings often prevented this. Chris Wardlaw, deputy secretary for education, said the programme was consistent with the curriculum, but went further with its teacher development. 'It's a great model for supporting teachers to change.' It will be discussed today at a seminar - The Integration and Best Practices in English Langauge Teaching and Learning - organised by the EMB and CESES, at Aldrich Bay Government School, Shau Kei Wan, 12.30pm-5.30pm.