In the upcoming months, I’ll be going into a bit more detail and helping you out in terms of how to get a job as an English teacher in Hong Kong, amongst other countries (such as Taiwan and South Korea). To start with though I have to say Hong Kong seriously needs Native English teachers and for a number of reasons. Here are my top five reasons why Hong Kong needs English teachers – well, native ones.
1. A High Turnover
It is known that a lot of native English teachers move to Hong Kong and work for a year or two and then leave. There is a high turnover of staff and therefore a constant need for new English teachers to replace the ones that have come and gone. I will detail this a lot more in future but basically you normally get a one year contract, after which the option to renew comes up.
2. Bad English
Hong Kong, possibly through no fault of its own suffers from bad English and is clearly behind the likes of Japan, Korea and Singapore when it comes to good use of English. I have noticed a mix of Chinese and English known as Chinglish cropping up. Common phrases are:
so so la – average
sleep la – go to bed
snake – snack
andenna – and then
ar ma – added on to any given English sentence for no reason
(these are just five off the top of my head – there are tons more examples!)
The bad English stretches from speech to spelling and writing, as you can see from this posts first photo, just a few days ago in Hong Kong I came across a sign saying “Merry Chirstmas” and the below photo taken today from a Christmas Card I received.
“beat wishes” and “happines”
I don’t blame Hong Kong for its bad English though, as it’s still streets ahead of its mirror cities of Macau and Shenzhen. They do make an effort to learn English here in Hong Kong, more so than foreigners do to learn Cantonese. There might be another reason why Hong Kong English isn’t entirely up to scratch however…
3. Philippeno and Indonesian Maids!
You might be wondering what this has to do with Hong Kong English but it’s become glaringly obvious to me that the (difficult to understand, culture wise) Philippeno and Indonesian Maid culture here that is widespread has a very bad effect on Hong Kong children’s learning of English. First of all, families and couples in Hong Kong lead busy lives and they really really believe that their work is the most important thing in their day (honestly! – in stark contrast to me – Working Wednesdays – Travel Writing. ) As a result, they have less free time to themselves (through a major fault of their own I have to add) and they often pay for a maid! Ridiculous as it sounds, this is true in Hong Kong. The majority of these maids are from Indonesia and the Philippines and they work for a low price. In addition they get free food and accomodation as well as a temporary Hong Kong ID card and valid working visa! They often have to look after the children in these families, taking them to school, changing them and bringing them home from school and even doing homework with them.
These Philippeno Maids often speak NO Cantonese and therefore they end up speaking to the children in a really bad English style of speaking. This includes slang and often US English terms and phrases, again here’s a few of them:
– ok baby
– honey don’t forget mama waiting for you
– where you go?
Not to mention mis-use of words, shortened sentences and made up words! So the effect of this on the children is very apparent (you notice this when you teach in Kindergartens particularly, and some local Primary Schools)
4. Hong Kong is Asia’s World City
Hong Kong is a global metropolis and business hub. It’s marketed as Asia’s World City and it’s skyscraping skyline is jammed full of office tower blocks. In order for Hong Kong and China to connect to the rest of the world in a business sense, what else would they need? Yes, of course a good grasp of the English language!
Last on this list but not least, Hong Kong’s history will tell it that learning English is a good thing. Once a British colony, and used for world trade, one of the major reasons for the wealth and development of “The Kong” was the ability to trade. Trading with places like England, Australia, Canada and USA. If it worked before and it works now, why change it? By default English should be a certain language for all business people in Hong Kong to know. It’s a city that wants to maintain the successful city culture that its history clearly shows.
More posts to follow in future on teaching English in Hong Kong.
Don’t Stop Living is a website dedicated to a lifestyle of travel. Work, at various points plays a major part in this journey…