Two institutions offer their best in a joint degree programme in the language A NEW DEGREE programme in English Studies and Education jointly awarded by the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Institute of Education aims to help meet the growing demand for English language teachers in Hong Kong. The four-year undergraduate programme, which starts in September, is the first joint project between the two tertiary institutions since they signed a 'deep collaboration' agreement in teacher education last July. A major benefit of the new programme is that it offers an efficient means of combining the two streams of study, while also featuring an overseas study component and practical teaching experience. 'Students who might otherwise have gone into another field might be attracted to doing this degree,' said David Parker, professor of English and chair of the English department at Chinese University. 'We are hoping it will pull better students into secondary school English teaching.' The integrated programme provides a solid foundation in English language and literature, and strong educational knowledge and skills. Graduates receive a bachelor of arts (honours) degree and are eligible for registration as qualified English teachers in the territory's primary and secondary schools. Degree holders will be exempt from the government's English language proficiency test for teachers. 'The programme takes advantage of the complementary strengths of each institution,' said Professor Parker. 'HKIEd is strong in English language education and professional education studies, and teacher training; [Chinese University] is strong in subject knowledge: English studies - especially literature and culture - and general education.' Once they have completed the programme, students are expected to have an in-depth knowledge of English studies, strong professional knowledge and skill and a high level of proficiency in English. Students study at each institution for about two years and enjoy an extensive range of state-of-the-art teaching and learning facilities. The programme includes a 15-week overseas study component at a university in an English-speaking country and a supervised 12- to 14-week practical teaching stint at a secondary school in Hong Kong. The first, fifth, sixth and seventh terms will be spent under the jurisdiction of HKIEd, with the second, third, fourth and eighth terms at Chinese University. HKIEd courses include applied language studies, educational studies, English language teaching methodology, English language proficiency and general education. The overseas component, which takes place at the beginning of the third year, also comes under the HKIEd's purview. Wendy Lam, senior lecturer and programme leader of the English collaborative course at HKIEd, said: 'If these students are going to be English language teachers, it is a good idea to immerse them in an English-speaking culture abroad, not just to enhance their proficiency in the language but so that they can study alongside local students and increase their exposure to an international environment.' Students study at selected universities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand or Britain. They live with host families to get the maximum English language benefit from their experience. Chinese University's courses emphasise linguistics, culture and literature and include an introduction to world literature, children's literature, communication for English majors, phonetics and phonology, sociolinguistics and second-language acquisition. Professor Parker said: 'We believe that language is best acquired in the context of cultural knowledge, and that literature mediates cultural knowledge. The study of literature is a good way of helping students to think critically and creatively. It also helps them think from a different perspective. All of this helps to make students more thoughtful and generally cultivated, and better able to take a broader view of the world.' The September intake for the University Grants Committee-funded programme is limited to 40 students. Students have until May 29 to apply through the Joint University Programme Admission System. A minimum grade of D in the Hong Kong Advanced Supplementary Level Use of English is required.