Optimizing Interactions to Enhance English Competence for University Students as Global Learners: A Tale of Two Universities in Hong Kong

Paula HODGSON
Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
phodgson@hkbu.edu.hk

Juliana CHAU
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
juliana.chau@polyu.edu.hk

Abstract

English, as an international language, is the medium of instruction in most universities in Hong Kong, even though the majority of students are Chinese speakers. Having graduated from schools with either Chinese or English as the medium of instruction, Hong Kong's Chinese university students have had different opportunities interacting locally and some overseas, and this enables them to develop global perspectives. This study reports on how these students responded in English-mediated activities in two Hong Kong universities. The 45 students who took part in the study were arranged in ten focus group discussions to explore types of activity mediated in English for the purpose of learning. Each interview comprised two main parts: first, a paper-based survey aimed to solicit information about participants' English-mediated activities for the purpose of academic learning in their respective disciplines at university; second, a semi-structured focus group interview lasting about 60 minutes aimed to explore further the participants' survey responses. In this study, the authors explore the conditions that facilitate students' language-building opportunities and factors that may influence students' choice in English-mediated authentic learning environments. Interactions between local and non-local students who attend regular programme or exchange programme can happen formally and informally. Through course structure, these students can be arranged in groups by teaching faculty for classroom activities, such that students can extend their horizon with global awareness through the international language. Interactions between these students can be made possible through campus activities, overseas internship and exchange programmes experienced by local students.

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