Teaching Development Grants
Completed TDG Projects

Language Issues

Enhancing the Use of English at The University of Hong Kong


During a 10-month period, this project increased significantly the quantity and variety of English language learning/use activities throughout HKU with four specific goals: to support curriculum developments; to provide general English language enhancement; to increase opportunities for the use of English through socialisation; and to promote inclusivity and internationalisation through the use of English as a lingua franca. The provision of activities (up to 80 hours per week) was achieved through the deployment of four full-time native-speaking recent graduate students, given the title of English Teaching Assistants (ETA) who provided a range of workshops, discussions, one-to-one consultations and social activities in diverse locations, as well as involving themselves as advisors to student organisations such as Student Union clubs, residential colleges and non-affiliated student groups. User-feedback shows that the involvement of the ETAs was crucial to the success of the project. Goals 1 and 2, i.e. those relating directly to language improvement were overwhelmingly successful. Users joined such activities in large numbers and rated them highly. Activities related to English through socialisation (Goal 3) produced a loyal but small following. Attempts to promote integration and internationalisation (Goal 4) were occasionally successful but generally least well received.

Principal Investigator

Dr. D. Gardner, Centre for Applied English Studies, Faculty of Arts Contact

Project level

University-level project

Project Completion

August 2013


  • The most important deliverable of this project will be to define and develop a system for the effective use of ETAs in a way most beneficial to the students of HKU. Developing such a system is important because it can then be implemented beyond the period of the TDG if funding can be found from alternative sources.

    ETAs will also produce a body of learning materials to facilitate the learning activities they participate in. Such materials will be retained by CAES for continued use after the project through online provisions, our self-access centre and the Learning Commons.

  • Please contact Dr. D. Gardner of Centre for Applied English Studies via email (dgardner@hku.hk) if you are interested in obtaining more information on this project.