PRINCH, a total immersion programme in Chinese language (Putonghua and Cantonese)
Founded in 2006, “PRINCH” is the short form for "Pragmatic Internship in China" and is a total immersion programme in Chinese language and culture. It allows intermediate and advanced Putonghua and Cantonese learners to practice what they have learned in class through a variety of activities in the target culture, an approach that has been recognized by professionals and highly recommended as a most effective means to cultivate pragmatic competence of language learners. Students will be assigned to small groups led by trained teaching assistants to explore different themes by visit. Themes may include arts and culture, history and traditions, government & policies, contemporary and folk culture etc. Students are expected to prepare and give oral presentation related to the visit which will then be assessed by the teaching assistants and/ or the lecturer.
Putonghua PRINCH was first held in 2006 summer. It is held in a selected mainland China city during the term break between Spring and Summer. The format will be a very intensive language and culture immersion which lasts for 7 to 14 consecutive days. Former destination includes Guangzhou (Southern China), Beijing (Northern China), Xi’an (North-western China) and Dali (South-western China). CUHK international undergraduate, postgraduate and exchange students, together with CLC's language study students and any non-CUHK/ CLC students are welcomed to join. Putonghua PRINCH has become a sponsored programme of the Ministry of Education in mainland China for CUHK local students since 2013 .
Cantonese PRINCH was first held in Hong Kong in Fall 2013 with the same education ideas as Putonghua PRINCH. Students will be assigned to small groups led by trained teaching assistants to explore different themes in Hong Kong by visit on alternate weeks. This Cantonese immersion programme is opened to non-Chinese speakers and Putonghua native speakers as long as their Cantonese proficiency has attained intermediate of advanced level.
Fundamentals and features
PRINCH is inspired by the thoughts outlined in the “Pragmatic Framework and its Role in Language Learning”（Wu, 2006, 2008） and designed by academic leaders in the Centre. It is further developed and adapted by the PRINCH team through actual practices throughout the years. The fundamentals of teaching and learning are namely:
1. Learning through application: to facilitate language learners’ immersion in socio-cultural contexts by means of assimilation and internalization of the Chinese language through real-life experiences.
2. Small group enhancement exercises: small group experiential learning in a ratio of no more than 1 local teacher to 5 students. Each small group is headed by a local teacher carefully selected by professionals ready to accommodate the students’ skill levels.
3. Task-based and oral proficiency oriented: the course has a clear goal of advancing the speaking proficiency of its students based on the language task in daily living being structured as the axis of the whole programme. Students will accordingly take the initiative to speak more and to consider accuracy and fluency in the speaking process. Although visitations and sightseeing are included in each theme, the learning outcome is judged upon the student’s performance on “what is spoken”, “how well it is spoken”, “appropriateness”, and not simply a recount of “what has been toured”.
The actual practice of PRINCH
The programme touches on a variety of themes such as folk custom, culture, history, business, education, arts, religion, civilian founded schools, local residences and modern living etc.
A trio of teaching modes is adopted to include language knowledge (big class), language activities (small class) and language practices (visits). Each session puts emphasis on applications and actual practices.
Assessment: thematic report of each activity, mid-term presentation and term-end presentation.
To ensure the programme is running smoothly and achieving targeted objectives, the CLC director heads a pilot team to the targeted city and gives training to the local teachers at the host school before the programme starts. In Hong Kong, a comprehensive briefing session is arranged for the participating students to familiarize themselves with the programme. All these initiatives help build a consensus and bridge expectation gaps for teaching and learning between teachers and students
The success of all previous PRINCH programmes is rooted in the whole-hearted dedication from all levels of administration and teaching staff in both the Centre and host schools. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to those who have worked hard and contributed to the PRINCH programme.