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My Hong Kong TESOL experience and my advice to newbies

My Hong Kong TESOL experience and my advice to newbies

Neil’s adventure in Hong Kong started after he took a 120 hour TESOL with Global English TESOL. Here he talks about his TEFL  journey so far and shares his advice with all those thinking of following in his footsteps:

My journey started after I graduated from university in England two years ago...
I worked in a church, where I gained experience in teaching and with young people. I married a lady from Hong Kong and we felt that at some point it would be good to live there for a while to get to know my wife’s family and culture. So around November 2018 we decided we would move over for the next academic year.

It seems relatively easy to get work teaching English in Hong Kong...
There is more work in an education centre where you can earn also more money. However, I wanted to work in a school for the experience and regular hours. It’s more difficult to find such posts but I was very fortunate to find a secondary school in the north near the border with China. I signed up with an agency who got me two interviews and I accepted the second. 

My teaching role is heavy…
In many other schools, you are often required to do more extra-curricular activities. I teach fourteen 80 minute speaking classes a week. I teach year 8, 9 and 12 in the UK system. The level is very low and it’s quite a challenge, but one that I am enjoying! 

Living costs here are a bit cheaper than the UK...
Rent is the exception which is very high. The wage I’m on as a teacher is good and means we can live quite comfortably (my wife has a part time job). We live in the New Territories in the north which is much cheaper than the bright lights of Hong Kong island.

I love Hong Kong, the food is great and people are friendly...
Everything is very convenient, there are lots of things to do and ways to meet people. It has felt like an adventure for me although there is a lot of western influence, too. One of the biggest challenges is that in school everything is in Cantonese, conversations, staff meetings etc. So it is very easy to miss something or not be in the know about lots of things. Sometimes students know more than me! 


I’m still a newbie but here's some things I'd advise for other new HK teachers...
Firstly, find out as much as you can when starting in your school; learning other teachers names, learn about the school, ask lots of questions. Secondly, it’s good to be prepared before you leave your home country; accommodation, bank account and job etc. Thirdly, I’ve found that learning a bit of the language, even only a few words, is really appreciated by people. It shows people that you care about their culture. And you’ll be surprised the friends you make! 

As I write the protests in Hong Kong have been going on for 4 months...
It is a sensitive subject and emotions are very high everywhere. It hasn’t affected my teaching much though, and HK still feels safe.


Thank you, Neil and we wish you every success in your teaching career.

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What’s next:

See the 120 hour Teach Hong Kong programme designed for prospective NET scheme applicants.
Read another Global English TESOL graduates story in I teach English in Hong Kong

  • Author: Louisa Walsh
  • Date: Monday 28th October 2019

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My Hong Kong TESOL experience and my advice to newbies