PolyU: PolyU promotes English Across the Curriculum to support undergraduate students’ English language learning using interactive mobile apps

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is committed to enhancing the student learning experience through the adoption of innovative and interactive learning and teaching pedagogies. Addressing the issue that English teaching at Hong Kong tertiary institutions tends to be generic in nature, PolyU has led an English Across the Curriculum (EAC) initiative which integrates English language and subject content, to develop a mobile app that offers discipline-specific English support to undergraduate students from different disciplines in the writing of the capstone project that is part of their graduation requirements.

Spearheaded by PolyU, the EAC project is a joint-university initiative funded by the University Grants Committee. The project team also includes experienced and enthusiastic educators from City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (in alphabetical order).

Adopting an EAC approach to teaching and learning, the EAC team has brought together English language teachers and discipline academics in the development of an innovative and interactive mobile app called “Capstone Ninja”. The app delivers customised and discipline-focused English learning materials specific to the needs of students from different disciplines to help them solve the challenges often encountered in preparing a capstone project. “Capstone Ninja” also features functions enabling students to self-manage their project development status and a text-chat function to connect students with their supervisors. The app with its chat feature offers remote learning opportunities that have proved to be particularly important and effective during the COVID pandemic.

The EAC team has created 76 English learning modules for the mobile app, which have been accessed over 6,000 times by students and teaching staff from 21 departments across five local universities. An international EAC conference has also been organised in 2021 to promote an EAC approach to teaching and learning, attracting over 1,000 registrations from 48 countries. The “Capstone Ninja” mobile app won a Community Award in the 2020 Learning Technologist of the Year Awards organised by the Association for Learning Technology (UK) and was selected as a Finalist in the 2021 EdTech Cool Tool Awards from EdTech Digest.

PolyU recognises the far-reaching impact of EAC, and will continue to create valuable learning experiences and provide ongoing support to the enhancement of students’ language learning.

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