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PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 June, 2006, 12:00am

Schools need to realise NET scheme's goals

I completed two successful two-year contracts as a secondary NET from 1999 to 2003. Subsequently, I was employed by two other secondary schools in Hong Kong as a NET but was dismayed to find that I was expected to take on the full assignment of a local English teacher (including endless marking), in addition to the duties of a native English-speaking teacher.

My attempts to discuss my concerns about the heavy workload with my principals were summarily dismissed every time, so leave I did, eventually, exhausted both physically and mentally. I feel very frustrated that there seems to be no real recourse for improving one's working conditions as a NET.

If a NET is allowed (indeed encouraged) to introduce new teaching methodology and skills into his/her school as a complement to the school culture rather than just acting as a 'free' extra English teacher, courtesy of the Education and Manpower Bureau, then they will be able to make a significant contribution to English learning for Hong Kong students.

I would very much love to return to teaching English as a NET in Hong Kong under conditions that reflect the original mandate for the NET Scheme. The heavy marking load is always played down by English panel chairs and principals when interviewing prospective NETs.

I had never experienced so much stress as a teacher (beyond the healthy and acceptable amount) as during my past few years as a NET in Hong Kong. The NET Scheme should become more what it was really intended to be - an opportunity for Hong Kong students to improve their English skills in profoundly positive ways. This is not, of course, to take away from the efforts of hard-working local teachers but if native English-speaking teachers were not able to offer anything unique to Hong Kong students, then what is the purpose, I wonder, of the NET Scheme?


former secondary NET.

Foreigners hardest hit by UK boycotts

Anyone planning to go to the Britain for a better education can forget about it. One of the most important things about an overseas degree is that you graduate and be able to show prospective employers that you have taken all those exams and passed them. However, it does not seem to occur to the university lecturers that graduating on time is of any importance to their students, especially the overseas students, who are footing all their bills.

The Association of University Teachers in Britain went on strike at the expense of the graduates, jeopardising their futures. Their timing could not have been better, since all the final-year students were expecting to graduate this month or July.

Their boycott of assessments and examinations means that the Board of Examiners cannot determine which degree classification to give out, if any at all. I would empathise with them, but I'd prefer if they did not bargain at my expense.

What is the point of a graduation ceremony if you do not even know whether you will receive a degree or not?

Nobody has considered the fact that these overseas parents have been paying huge amounts of money for their children to study in Britain, and are now travelling all the way to see their child not officially admitted as an alumni of the university.

And their compensation? Oh if you want to you could come back in November for another graduation. And exactly who will pay for the airfare, accommodation, food, etc?


North Point

We need seatbelts now before a tragedy

We are alarmed by the fact that legislation in Hong Kong has not focused on the danger faced by children on school buses.

While I have tried to convince my child's school to install seatbelts on buses, the reply that we have received was that no legislation requires such seatbelts to be installed and the bus companies will not install seatbelts unless the law strictly requires them to do so.

It is unthinkable that our government needs a tragedy to happen before making laws to require seatbelts on school buses.


Happy Valley

Mastering English is not vital for success

There are other reasons besides those that David Graddol, an English language consultant, pointed out in 'English teachers 'must adapt to the language of change'' (Education Post, June 3) that English could be learnt in the context for communication with others who are not a native English speaker. Mr Graddol suggested that teaching English as a foreign language had failed a lot of learners whose attempts to speak English could never match those of native speakers.

His point is proven when we examine the standard of English taught in English-medium schools in Hong Kong. Most students struggle with the language, which hardly justifies the time and money spent on using English for their schooling.

The mainland translates many foreign books to keep abreast with the rest of the world without forfeiting the nation's identity so that business people, academics and others can excel without necessarily mastering English.