‘A common problem with English learning in Hong Kong is that people tend to memorize grammatical rules blindly without regard to application. Most students shy away from speaking for fear of making mistakes. To help students go further, our programmes therefore focus on functional English, putting language back in context.’
‘Wow, English Made Easy?’ Associate Professor of the School of Education and Languages Dr Danny Leung Chung-hong recalls the moment he was recognized when he stepped into the classroom after joining the OUHK in 2014. In the latest season of the popular RTHK educational show, he starred in the segments ‘Catch me if you can’ and ‘Pronouncing English this way’, playing a hilarious language coach named Dr D and teaching English pronunciation in a light-hearted way.
Going in front of the camera for each episode did not come easy, though. ‘I’m used to speaking spontaneously in class, but for filming you must memorize every single word and gesture from the script. And very often the same shot has to be taken several times to get all the angles.’ Luckily, he was not alone — as coordinator of an advisory board of four, he took turns with Dr Vanliza Chow, Dr April Liu and Ms Gladys Luk from the School’s English Team to review the scripts and proofread the subtitles, as well as stand by to answer English questions that might come up during shooting.
The name ‘Catch me if you can’ implies catching the gist of English usage. ‘A common problem with English learning in Hong Kong is that people tend to memorize grammatical rules blindly without regard to application,’ he observes. ‘Just like most of our students of English. Their English is actually not bad, only too bookish. Most students shy away from speaking for fear of making mistakes.’ To help students go further, the OUHK programmes therefore focus on functional English, putting language back in context. To create a favourable language environment, the English Team insist on speaking to their students only in English anywhere within campus. In addition, a three-week English Language and Culture Immersion Programme is organized for English students at the University of Warwick every summer.
Chatting away heartily in his cartoon-adorned office, Dr Leung half-jokingly calls talking his hobby. ‘I can’t stand formal lecturing.’ Instead he can be found roaming around the classroom, keeping students awake with visual aids and cracking a few jokes. He is happy to make an actor of himself in lecture halls and on media channels alike, all for the sake of promoting the learning of everyday English.