AN extra 4,200 places for an intensive English language course will be created for Form Six students at Chinese medium schools over the next three years by the Education Department with help from the $300 million Language Fund. The project is the most expensive among the 35 applications endorsed and announced yesterday. The Language Fund was one of the pledges in the Governor's policy address last year. The department got $34.18 million for seven of its 21 applications which were approved. It took the lion's share of the $54.42 million in the first payout which also covers projects Chinese and Putonghua. The Language Fund Advisory Committee (LFAC) said it supported the department's English course project because it could help encourage schools to switch to mother-tongue teaching. The four-week course introduced in the summer of last year aims to help students at Chinese-medium schools to upgrade the standard of English necessary to enter tertiary institutions. The LFAC has only agreed to cover $17.24 million for the expansion of the intensive English course over the next two years. The department has to find financial support for the third year. Asked why the department did not fund the project itself, acting director for Education, Elaine Chung Lai-kwok, said it had already spent $200 million this school year on language improvement programmes with higher priority. Ms Chung said the fund was open to the public and private sectors to apply for grants for projects which failed to find support. Other department plans approved included a $9.22 million project to organise 306 proficiency courses for more than 7,600 primary non-graduate teachers of English during the next three years and a $165,000 production of English teaching modules. There are five other approved projects on English including one by Chatteris Education Foundation to place 32 native English speaking youths in secondary schools to give local students the chance to learn and speak English outside the classroom. Among the 23 Chinese projects endorsed, the department is planning to use $4.9 million to develop a series of video tapes for the teaching of Chinese in primary schools and $188,000 to run advanced Putonghua courses on the mainland for 60 teachers. RTHK got $3.3 million to produce two television series on Cantonese and Putonghua and a Putonghua radio programme. There are four cross-language projects. One of them is a $1 million project by the Hong Kong Society for the Deaf to hold a language course for secondary school leavers with impaired hearing to enable them to meet the language requirement of tertiary education. The 35 projects were chosen from 177 applications from government departments, schools, tertiary institutions, educational and other bodies.