Two students have had their linguistic and musical talents rewarded with a free trip to France this summer. Ruby Wong Hiu-chun and Edward Yip Tsz-hin are both in their first year of an associate arts degree course in bilingual communication studies (French and English) at the Community College of the City University of Hong Kong. They entered a French writing competition organised by the French consulate-general in Hong Kong last month to celebrate French Speaking Day. Their task was to write lyrics in French to accompany a music piece of their choice. The lyrics had to include one of 10 French words set by the organisers. The duo, together with the other three winners, will take part in a week-long cultural exchange programme in France, where they will attend the Nice Jazz Festival and another music festival at La Rochelle. 'I have written lyrics in English and Chinese before but it was my first time writing in French,' says Ms Wong, who chose to write lyrics for a popular Japanese drama's theme song, Wishes. 'To me, the French language is very romantic, so I decided to write something about love. 'The story is about me missing my lover so much that it's like me wandering in a desert, not knowing where I am heading. Then, when he appears again, I feel so happy and the song goes something like 'you're my soul' and 'love you forever'.' Mr Yip, on the other hand, took a more downbeat approach with his lyrics, which were based on James Blunt's hit single You're Beautiful. 'I chose to write with the word 'masque' as I find many people are so fake and pretentious nowadays,' he says. 'Instead of 'you're beautiful', mine is 'je suis laid', meaning 'I am ugly'. It was my first time writing lyrics so it was quite a challenge for me.' Their efforts were praised by their teacher David Santandreu. 'It's not easy to write French lyrics as the lyrics must fit perfectly with the music. They have achieved that and also projected a French feel,' he says. Ms Wong and Mr Yip, both new to the language when the course started, say that their French has improved a lot because of the practical aspect of the course content. 'The content of the French class relates to daily life, such as shopping, dining and asking for directions. We both haven't learned French before but now, after only a few months, we can manage basic conversations,' says Mr Yip. Besides French classes, students take English language classes with a focus on business communication skills. They also need to learn Putonghua as part of their course. Mr Santandreu says there are good prospects for graduates, whether they want to continue their studies in France or work in French companies locally. 'There are more than 450 French companies in Hong Kong, so there is a wide range of employment possibilities for competent French speakers,' he says. 'And the French business presence in the Pearl River Delta and in China generally is set to increase. 'If they would like to study in France, they can apply for a second or even a third year of bachelor degree courses, depending on their French competence. The tuition fees for French universities are much cheaper than in Hong Kong.'