Native English-speaking teachers a great help to students in schools

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 October, 2015, 4:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 October, 2015, 4:17pm

I refer to Kelly Yang's article ("Hong Kong should invest in training local teachers for better English, rather than relying on its outdated native speaker scheme", September 22).

I have taught in secondary schools for more than a decade, and agree with the need for lifelong learning.

I attended an exchange programme with English teachers from secondary schools on the mainland, and was surprised to learn that students there are so eager to learn English.

They communicated well with us in English, in an American accent. However, unlike their students, the mainland English teachers refused to conduct meetings with us in English.

I found the attitude of the students inspiring. The able ones met their private Caucasian English tutors after school.

I am not saying that all students need to turn to foreigners to learn English. I do believe that most English teachers in both Hong Kong and the mainland are capable. Kelly Yang is absolutely right when she says there must be more training for local English teachers and other subject teachers in English medium-of-instruction schools.

Yet, I do not see what is wrong with hiring teachers from overseas.

It would be to naive to believe that just having Caucasian faces on campus can boost students' English standards. Rather, we should consider how we make good use of this asset to upgrade language teaching.

Take the native English-speaking teacher (NET) in my school as an example. We do not merely ask him to conduct oral lessons. We also use his expertise in history and English literature to map out various programmes for cross-subject collaboration.

On top of this, he also has experience in different cultures. Of course, local teachers can have similar experience. But having a teacher who was been brought up in another country can open more windows to learn about the world.

All people, not just students, need lifelong learning and reading is crucial. I like Yang's examples of how different parties in society help children to read more.

This is also an issue that has been raised by the NET in my school with regard to the local education system. Yes, we local teachers need to have the knowledge to nurture the next generation. In order to achieve that goal of helping our students, I see no harm in us combining our efforts with those of our foreign colleagues.

Cecilia Chan, Quarry Bay