Teaching and Learning at The University of Hong Kong HKU

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We build. We innovate. We share. It is our team’s mission to support teachers in building useful learning resources and sharing knowledge with technology. One recent project is the enhancement of the Resources for Interpreting website (傳譯資源網), and the development of a mobile app “Newssary” instigated by Dr Eva Ng from the Translation Programme of the School of Chinese, Faculty of Arts. Dr Ng is also the recipient of Teaching Innovative Award for the University’s Teaching Excellence Awards in 2017.


The Interpreting Website
Funded by the Knowledge Exchange (KE) Office of HKU, this website provides free learning and training resources for anyone interested in interpreting. One star feature of the website is a glossary of bilingual Chinese-English terms on current affairs. It is a constantly udpated database of thousands of entries collected by students from the news over many years. This database is not only useful for professional interpreters, but also anyone interested in learning buzzwords in the news.


Website Enhancement
For all glossaries and databases, a user-friendly searching function is indispensable. The database now supports searching by Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. An intelligent search function has also been added recently. For example, if you input “appr h” in the search bar, it will prompt you with “Appreciate Hong Kong”. In other words, even if the input information does not correspond exactly with the entries in the database, you will still be prompted with possible matching items and related terms.

Our team further enriched the website by producing a video on what is interpreting. We also set up a server and advised Dr Ng’s team on website architecture and theme development.


The website received an overwhelmingly positive response from its users, ranging from academics, PhD candidates and members of the general public:

  • “[The website] has everything that an interpreter, or anyone who teaches interpreting, or anyone who wants to use it for client education would want.” – Professor Holly Mikkelson, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, USA
  • “It’s a wonderful contribution for today’s students and practitioners of interpreting and translation.” – Professor Claudia Angelelli, Heriot-Watt University, UK

In recognition for her contribution to the interpreting community, Dr Ng was awarded the Faculty Knowledge Exchange (KE) Awards in 2016.

The Mobile App
Furthering our effort in revolutionizing the website, we have successfully transformed the glossary into an app, “Newssary”, to increase the accessibility of this useful learning resource. One key feature of the app is game-based learning – it is not just a dictionary, but made interactive for users to learn new vocabulary items through games.

The app is now available on Apple Store and Google Play for FREE!

It is TELI’s mission to collaborate with teachers to create innovative e-learning resources. Interested? Contact us.

Further Reading


Guest blogger series: Chaak Ming LAU
Mr. Chaak Ming Lau is a Part-time Lecturer at the School of Chinese, The University of Hong Kong. Lau specializes in computational linguistics and is the developer of the CantoSounds platform.

Gamification is a powerful tool to motivate students to learn. One recent successful example is the CantoSounds project 1 initiated by a team of Cantonese teachers from the School of Chinese. It is a versatile gamification platform for exchange students who often lament that Cantonese is a difficult language to learn. The CantoSounds team reached out a helping hand by providing self-learning online resources and gamifying the learning experience. The CantoSounds platform has been used in CHIN9511 Cantonese as a Foreign Language I and is now open for public access.

Creating a Versatile Gamification Platform for Self-learning

Canto1The CantoSounds platform now has over hundreds of videos and sound samples, as well as interactive learning materials, quizzes, and games, freely accessible online anytime. These materials are designed for self-practising pronunciation and romanisation outside class time, allowing teachers and students to focus on communicative language learning activities in class.

The system was rolled out in late January 2016. Through the system, students can watch videos demonstrating the explanatory of initials, finals and tones, click on images to listen to individual words, and do a simple quiz to test their understanding. All these actions give students game points. As they gain more points through progressive learning, they will be promoted to higher levels (from Newbie to Expert!). Learning is further gamified through providing different questions in every quiz quest, with instant feedback.

Creating an online gamification platform is not as difficult as one may think. The platform was built on WordPress with leveraging third-party plugins. For instance, CantoSounds used MyCred for the point system and WP-Pro Quiz for quizzes. A simple mini-game was embedded from the Quizlet flashcard platform. Less tech-savvy teachers can also update online content using WordPress’ ready-made editor backend.

Providing Extra Incentives via Gamifying the Learning Process

The team tested the platform with students in the course. In order to give extra incentives to students, 1% of the participation score of the course was allocated to the game platform. One mark will be assigned to students if they reach the highest rank (Expert, 1000 points) on the platform. Usually a mere 1% score cannot really motivate students, but the combination of course incentive plus gaming elements did a wonderful job in motivating students to hit the highest rank – Out of the 66 students who signed up, an amazing number of students (20) reached the Expert rank. This shows that students were attracted to use the system. With gamification, we can provide students with an engaging and “sticky” learning experience. This, we believe, is the power of gamification.


Gamification is a powerful tool to reshape students’ learning experience and maximize learning outcome. It is not only useful in facilitating language teaching, but can also be used in other courses. If you are looking for ways to motivate students to learn, gamification may be one way to try out.


  • Barata, G., Gama, S., Jorge, J., & Gonçalves, D. (2013, October). Improving participation and learning with gamification. In Proceedings of the First International Conference on gameful design, research, and applications (pp. 10-17). ACM.
  • Conquering the 4Cs: Creating Engaging In-class Activities
  • DomíNguez, A., Saenz-De-Navarrete, J., De-Marcos, L., FernáNdez-Sanz, L., PagéS, C., & MartíNez-HerráIz, J. J. (2013). Gamifying learning experiences: Practical implications and outcomes. Computers & Education, 63, 380-392.
  • Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education. John Wiley & Sons.
  • MOOC: Gamification https://www.coursera.org/learn/gamification
1 The CantoSounds project is funded by the HKU Teaching Development Grant.

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