Hi from Hong Kong

By Iain MacDonald 2013-11-08• Hong Kong

Hello everybody,

As I’m sure you know I moved out to Hong Kong at the beginning of July to teach English for a year. Now that I’ve had time to settle and take in my new surroundings I thought it would be a good time to let you all know how I’m getting on.

My flight to Hong Kong had a short stopover in Zurich on a pleasant European Thursday evening but when I finally stepped foot outside Hong Kong International Airport it was an incredibly hot Friday afternoon – 33°C that day. I don’t think I was prepared for the heat but I was met by a friend Mike from home, who was just tutoring for the summer, and boarded a bus heading towards what would become my office. This was the first time I had seen just how busy Hong Kong is on the streets. From the air I had been mesmerised by all the different islands, how fascinating they all looked and how much I felt the desire to explore these tiny jade green peaks sprouting from the ocean. I thought it all looked like such a far away place; I remembered stories and pictures of the South China Seas from long ago and felt I was actually there. My impression from the bus however, was quite different, it seemed so modern, so busy and so familiar. It was clear what effect the British Empire had had on this tiny part of South East Asia: all the cars drove on the left, the signs looked identical to ones on the UK motorways using the fonts as well as using UK plugs for electricals.

I was thrown into teaching almost straight away. On Sunday morning, I had a couple of studio lessons – where students come to classrooms at the office – to get used to how they operate, but Sunday evening brought news that one of the freelance tutors was not available for a school project happening over the next couple of days. The project was at a catholic girls’ school about an hour’s taxi ride north of the office and this immersion of 6 hours teaching a day over the two days gave me confidence. I realised that my experiences being a Scout leader would help and maybe teaching wouldn’t be such a challenge.

The next week studio classes began properly and I got my (somewhat) regular set of students and began teaching the various courses I was assigned. They ranged from “Mastering Reading Skills” to “Storytelling and Poetry Reciting” and “Public Speaking and Debating”. I was also assigned to teach a course titled “Little Scientist” since my boss had been impressed with my engineering background. However, I discovered the night before my first lesson was due there were no materials prepared and would have to improvise almost the entire lesson. There have been a couple of instances like this where lesson materials have been missing but again I found my Scouting intuition coming in useful.

Hong Kong Harbour at Night

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