LEARNING ENGLISH is not easy but one teacher draws on different approaches and his wealth of globetrotting experience to try and make it more fun and interesting. John Croft, a Briton, who started teaching English at senior secondary level at Lee Kau Yan Memorial School in February, makes use of his 25 years of experience gained from teaching around the world. Before he arrived in Hong Kong he had taught in the United Kingdom, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Malaysia, Brunei and Australia. Each country was special in its own way. For example, in Finland, the temperature would drop to minus 30 degrees Celsius sometimes. And Brunei was small, wealthy and 'different'. But Hong Kong is the biggest, most vibrant and dynamic city he has lived in so far, he says. 'Teaching here in Hong Kong is different from anywhere I have taught before,' Mr Croft says. 'It's a real culture shock.' He was surprised to find that although Hong Kong is a large international city with a strong British influence, students could not speak English well. 'My expectations were much higher, so it was me that had to adjust.' But he also noticed how ready the students were to learn and how hard they tried, given their exam-orientated syllabus. 'That was probably my biggest shock - how much is expected of them.' He is 'constantly amazed' at how many students were willing to participate in extra-curricular activities. 'They are like rubber balls; they keep bouncing back for more.' Mr Croft says Hong Kong students were similar to others around the world - they became motivated when something interested them in class. 'Language is a living thing and we drain the life out of it by being so exam-orientated.' During classes he compares sports, culture and the way of life in Hong Kong and Australia. He also encourages students to tell him about Hong Kong. He says he tries to involve students as much as possible. For example, he will pretend to be a tourist and ask students to interview him about his feelings towards Hong Kong. One of his sixth form students, Vera Chan Oi-ting, says she was initially worried about the language barrier, but found that Mr Croft uses many different approaches to capture the class' attention. 'My pronunciation has improved a lot,' she says. 'Sometimes he tells us his experiences and that opens our eyes and we are all amazed by his adventures.'