Global English TESOL graduate Nandi has been working in Hong Kong as an English Language Teaching Assistant in kindergarten, primary and secondary schools for the past 4 years.
Here she describes her experiences working through an agency at these various schools and speaks of her hopes of being employed as a NET (Native English Teacher) under the Hong Kong Bureau of Education’s (EDB) scheme – a competitive process leading to well-paid, prestigious English teaching roles in mainstream schools.
Hi Nandi. Can you describe who you have been working for most recently and the type of teaching you've been doing?
Hello, my name is Nandi from South Africa, I've been working through the agency, Eureka Language Services since my early days in Hong Kong, in kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. My first teaching experience here was in kindergarten, co-teaching students with local Chinese teachers. I was new to teaching classes of up to 56 students but luckily there were experienced teachers in all corners of the class to help manage the class. I taught phonics, reading and led play groups. I'm glad I taught kindergarten, I learned a lot of patience and went beyond teaching. In my previous primary school, I taught the PLPRW (Primary Literacy Programme -Reading/Writing) by the EDB. In this programme, students learn phonics, high-frequency words, chants, sequencing, and learn new vocabulary, all these through shared reading. I ran extracurricular lessons teaching creative writing, reading, and radio. I now work in a secondary school, after completing my PGCE.
Can you tell us about the Visa situation?
I’m permitted to work provided I have a valid work visa. My agent sponsors my work visa yearly. My wish has always been to have a longer work visa which would grant me and my family a longer stay in Hong Kong. A month before my visa expires, the agent prepares documents for me to sign and submit to the immigration office. If all goes well like it always has, my visa is ready for collection in three weeks.
You are applying to be a Native English Teacher (NET) through the Hong Kong Bureau of Education’s (EDB) scheme. The process is competitive – lots of paperwork and an intense interview. If you pass that, you still have to apply to schools for a job. Is it worth it?
A big yes is my answer. Firstly, I feel I do just as much as the EDB NET teacher in my school and I co-teach all my lessons with my school's NET. However, NETS get more involved in the school's planning, develop the curriculum more fully, attend workshops and get more training. So, the EDB NET's have an opportunity for development, and they earn far more than we assistants. They also enjoy housing benefits, longer contracts, travel benefits, medical and pension fund benefits.
Any tips on living in HK to prospective teachers?
It was all a bit of a culture shock at first: food, accommodation, budgeting, making friends, and communicating with locals. First, do your research, go on YouTube, join Facebook pages to make acquaintances and friends. Don’t be like me and lock yourself up the entire year. You need a team to set you off on the right foot in Hong Kong. I only started socializing in my second year in Hong Kong and met my husband. If I was out and about from the get-go, I would have met him earlier:)
Where are you in the NET application process?
I’ve just had my interview with the EDB to be a NET and await the results!
We wish you every success, Nandi. Thanks for sharing your story. Check out the video below for more information about our unique Teach Hong Kong programme with local teaching practice.
Discover the TESOL qualification Nandi took through Global English TESOL: Teach English in Hong Kong TESOL course, specifically designed to meet the Bureau of Education’s NET TESOL course criteria for primary level teaching.
Coming soon: all you need to know about applying for the NET Scheme Hong Kong.
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