Frequently-asked Questions

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General Questions:

Statements - do you agree or disagree?


I'm nervous when I am speaking English. I am worried that I will make a mistake and other people will laugh at me.

No-one will laugh at you. Everybody makes mistakes when they are learning a language. English people make mistakes in their English too when they are tired or under stress. People are listening to try to understand your meaning, not to check on your grammar. For more help, come to CILL and look at our 'Functions Index' which tells you where to find materials on how to ask questions, say "No' politely etc. in English.

It's showing off to speak good English.

If you don't like speaking English because you feel that it is showing off in front of your classmates of friends, you have an attitude problem which will prevent you from learning efficiently. Which is more important to you, your friends' opinion or the benefits that good English can help you get, such as a good job with good pay? Don't let your friends' attitude hold you back from being successful. If your friends are embarrassed that you are more successful than them, they are not good friends.

If you would like to practise your English more privately, you can join the Speaking Assistance Program (SAP) and practise English with a small group of 2 to5 students and a teacher. For short one-to-one speaking practice you can talk to the CILL teacher.

I can't remember all the grammar and vocabulary I need, so I speak very slowly and I sound stupid.

Most foreigners are very patient with people trying to speak English, so don't worry. If you are practising speaking English with other Hong Kong people, don't worry about speed because they will be having difficulty remembering the meanings of the vocabulary and the grammar. Successful communication is more important than speed.

How Can I Learn English on the Internet?

Use the links on the CILL Home Page to go to the skill you want to study. You will find more information on how to study reading, writing, listening, speaking, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and things on your English courses.

Isn't Independent Language Learning a Western Idea and Not Suitable for Chinese Learners?

Although the present theory of independent language learning is a Western idea, Chinese scholars may have thought of it first, and the idea of independent learning is used in China now.

Chu Hsi (1130 - 1200 A.D.), said, "If you are in doubt, think it out for yourself. Do not depend on others for explanations. Suppose there was no-one you could ask, should you stop learning? If you could get rid of the habit of being dependent on others, you will make your advancement in your study."

The President of Shanghai University said "Since the pace of development of scientific research and cultural learning is too fast, it is quite impossible to complete the learning of a particular discipline within four years. Higher education should make full use of its four years to motivate a man into a scholar of initiative. Under this direction, the transmission of knowledge in the classrooms can be eliminated to those of the most crucial value and the core of required expertise only. It is only through this way that professional training can be completed within four years. Moreover, it is very likely to produce students of higher initiative in self-studying. The problem of knowledge aging can be tackled." (see Qian 1985: 23)

For more information on this issue, see Pierson, Herbert D. (1996) Learner Culture and learner autonomy in the Hong Kong Chinese Context. In Pemberton, Richard; et al.(1996) Taking Control: Autonomy in Language Learning Hong Kong, Hong Kong University Press, 49 - 58, and:
Qian W.C. (1985). Proceedings of the Siu Lien-ling Visiting Fellows Programme. Hong Kong: Chung Chi College


Last updated on: Wednesday, May 29, 2013