By the end of 2011 I had worked in 3 schools in Hong Kong as an English teacher. I always like to pick up extra work on my travels and I got the opportunity to work on Saturdays at a Primary School in Yuen Long. I like the charm of Yuen Long – I had already visited the town a few times – it’s a much quieter Hong Kong world when you venture out to the New Territories. You’re away from the hustle and bustle of the office blocks or the urban lifestyle. Today’s working Wednesdays focuses on working in Yuen Long.
I got into teaching English by chance I must admit. I had no real intention of doing it. My real strengths always belonged in writing and serving pints. But at a house party in Yuen Long at the end of August 2011, suddenly I found myself teaching in 3 schools simultaneously. I haven’t written about any of them yet and posts on the two kindergartens will follow, but first I was off for Saturday morning work in Yuen Long. And loving it. These were half days so I had the rest of the weekend to blog, relax, sightsee, eat and drink in Asia. A lifestyle of travel indeed.
How do you get a job teaching English in Hong Kong?
I’ll cover this more in detail at some point, but these are the top 3 things you need:
1. A valid working visa or at least be in the process of getting one.
2. English as your main language and “look Caucasian” (as racist as this sounds, it proves that we’re all like Suarez and Evra…)
3. Be enthusiastic and hard working.
The bottom line is if you are based in Hong Kong and have those three things, you will get a job teaching English – I have no doubt about that. I’d actually say points 2 and 3 are the most important. Enthusiasm goes a long way. Much more important than qualifications. I got a TEFL qualification in the end, but honestly it’s not one of the top 3 things.
How did I end up teaching English in Yuen Long?
It was a phone call from my (Monday to Friday job) boss asking if I wanted some extra Saturday work. As a rule in life I never turn down work (sometimes I delay it, but I NEVER say no). So I was straight in. Initially it was just for one day and just 3 lessons. But the school liked me, the kids liked me and I was always available to work, so I ended up doing all their Saturday classes from October 2011 to March 2012!! The money from that job alone covered my South Korea trip in December 2011. Got to love it!
What did the work entail?
I would arrive at the Primary School in Yuen Long at 8.45 am, get set up and plan the lessons then have my first lesson at 9am. I’d get a short break before the second lesson which began at 10.15am and again a short break before the third lesson which began at 11.30 am. By 12.45 pm I was clocked out and free to enjoy my weekend! (OK, with the exception of some private teaching to help fund my travels!)
9am – 10am – My first lesson was teaching phonics to P1 and P2 students. Their age group was 6-8. Their level of English was low, but their enthusiasm was high. There were also a few messers in this class whose names I won’t forget – Charles and Kenny! I wish them all the best n their future education and careers.
10.15am – 11.15am – My second lesson was teaching advanced phonics to P3 and P4 students. Their age group was 8 – 10. Their level of English was average and the girls were well behaved. A few of the boys sometimes refused to do their work though!
11.30am – 12.30pm – My third and final lesson was talking in detail to the older Primary School students and making sure they were ready for going to Secondary School. This included interview practice, advanced vocabulary and sentence structure. I always introduced fun and games too. This was the first lesson where I had to confiscate a mobile phone from a child. God, these kids are lucky!! When I was at school there was no mobile phone and no internet…
The big difference with this lesson was it was all boys, which was kind of cool as I think they liked me as some funny Northern Irish travel dude. When I told one of the kids I had been to Antarctica he was like “cool, I’ve been to Norway”. Yes he beat me to that one, and he was 10!! The age group of these children was 10 – 13. One of the guys was older and had been kept back a year.
Who Did I Work with in Yuen Long?
I ran the classes and lessons myself and was normally the only teacher there in the classroom. Though I had some awesome assistants helping out – Miss Doris and Miss Vicky. Both local Hong Kong girls. The teacher above me was Miss Keung, essentially my boss. There was also a native English teacher called Craig from South Africa and a guy from Peru, who despite speaking Spanish and Kechuan was also an English teacher.
As I did my last shift in Yuen Long on St. Patrick’s Day 2012 it was a nice memory for me. I loved working there, in a classroom overlooking a football stadium. These are the travel jobs and memories that inspire me. Thanks for dropping by Working Wednesdays today and checking out my travel blog. I’m just a passionate nomadic Northern Irishman, that’s all…safe travels.
Here are my videos from teaching English in Yuen Long:
First day teaching English in Yuen Long in 2011:
My Classroom in Yuen Long:
On St. Patrick’s Day 2012 working in Yuen Long:
At a barbecue in Yuen Long in August 2011, the day I met a guy who helped me set up a teaching job interview: