While teaching English in vibrant Hong Kong is popular, to get a prestigious, well-paid English teaching post in a secondary school is very competitive. To teach English at secondary level, you'll need to become a Native English Teacher (NET) and that means getting approval from the HK Education Bureau (EDB).
Global English TESOL trainee James Booth has jumped through all the necessary EDB hoops and is now a successful NET, teaching English to a variety of secondary school classes. We asked him more about the whole process.
Hi James. Please describe the NET process you went through.
The EDB has set recruitment criteria for secondary school NET jobs and ranks applications according to experience and skills. Applications for NETs open towards the end of the year.
You’ll need to be a native English speaker (or possess near-native English speaker competence) with a degree, an approved TEFL/TESOL and one years’ experience teaching English in a secondary school. Most applicants will have a PGCE or CertEd - not least because it is hard to get the secondary school teaching experience without one.
Personally, I have a PGCE, degree and a Global English TESOL qualification.
There are two ways to apply:
1. Applying through the EDB’s NET scheme involves passing an interview and written test. If successful, your CV goes into a pool of highly recommended candidates. This means schools looking for a NET may contact you for an interview.
2. Alternatively, you can apply directly to schools that are hiring. While the qualifying criteria is the same, schools that hire directly may be a bit more flexible in allowing you to complete your PGCE whilst working at the school.
If you apply through the NET scheme, the EDB handles all of the document checking. If schools hire directly, they will do the checking themselves.
What about pay, benefits and cost of living?
All NET scheme teachers are paid on a government grading scale and this is based on the number of years' teaching experience and qualifications held. A new teacher, with one years' experience can expect to start at around $HK31,750 (nearly £3k) per month. If you are highly qualified and have lots of teaching experience, the salary can be much higher.
Some NET teachers are also eligible to receive special allowances for rental payments and medical bills etc. It is possible to save on a teacher's salary in HK, and while rent is incredibly high in certain districts, it is much cheaper in others. The transport system in HK is really cheap and reliable, too.
Any other tips for prospective NET teachers?
If you are looking to teach in Hong Kong, I highly recommend taking Global English TESOL courses as they can help new teachers gain a better understanding in teaching English as a foreign language. Also, they are only one of a handful of providers that are recognised by the EDB.
Hong Kong is a vibrant city with plenty of teaching opportunities. There’s always something exciting to do in the city or somewhere to explore in the countryside, and many teachers love life here so much that they decide to stay and make it their second home. My teaching responsibilities are wide, but varied and very rewarding!
Thank you James and we wish you continued teaching success.
NET teacher James also works with an education company, Cicero which aims to engage and motivate students in English learning through different mediums such as technology and games. They are launching an inspiring writing competition for HK secondary students. Find out more here: https://cicero.com.hk
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