Observations on TEFL Teaching Prospects in Hong Kong

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Observations on TEFL Teaching Prospects in Hong Kong

Unread postby pokedmund » 29 Jul 2010, 16:08

Ok, this is not a DEFINITIVE guide or complete truth about the TEFL prospects in Hong Kong, but it is only something which I have observed myself after being in Hong Kong for the last 2 months...so here goes.

Education requirements -

Most organisations do not specify the precise TEFL requirement needed, but I would go with a CELTA requirement (although I have seen some taking TEFL online certifications).

They do however like experience, especially with very young children (teaching experience of Phonetics seems to be massive plus) or with educating English for use in Business users (this also seems to be a big YES over here).

Job Prospects -

Allegedly, on the websites and newspapers, there are MANY English teaching jobs (included in this is an abundance of Native English teaching roles). Organisations range from Schools or many primary school tuition centres.

Working Conditions -

LONG! My working hours are 9am to 7pm, Wednesday to Sunday. And I can tell you now that Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days of the week! Long, busy, but time does seem to flow by quickly and if you like teaching, I don't think you will mind. The kids can be a real nightmare, but you learn tips and tricks in how to deal with them along the way.

Personal experience

I guess I need to make things clearer now. I am a BBC (British Born Chinese) and speak the language in Hong Kong (cantonese). I am a Medical Biology Graduate with a CELTA under my belt.

I came to Hong Kong in June and have found finding a Native English Teaching job very difficult to come by. Fortunatly, I am working, but not in my ideal English teaching role (working for Kumon teaching English). I'm not whinging about things being unfair or anything, but hoped that this would provide those out there who wanted to follow in my footsteps with a better understanding of what they were getting into. Points I would like to make:

Salary - You're looking at about HKD$7000 plus a month. Apparently, Schools offer better working conditions but tuition centres offer a much higher wage (allegedly starting at HKD$16,000 per month!).

When to apply? - As soon as possible. And I'm talking about February or March! I've more than likely learnt the hard way but hoping to apply for jobs in Hong Kong in May and get one with a month or two. All the good jobs will have been taken.

Education Requirements - As I've said before, the TEFL isn't 100% specified...but my personal opinion would be the CELTA.

Note - I have been informed by many close friends that as of 2010, a PGCE is a must for many schools in Hong Kong due to recent regulation changes to teach English in Hong Kong schools...which I found to be a real shame. Again, salaries for these schools can range from HKD$10,000 to HKD$16,000.

Other facts - I don't want to start any racial discrimination flamming, but to increase your chances of getting a job in Hong Kong, ONE way is to be as non-chinese as possible )please bear in mind one way).

Imagine the scenario. If you are a parent in Hong Kong and you are sending your child to a tuition centre to learn English, you expect the teacher to be someone who speaks English, and what better way to do that than by having a Teacher who looks as non-chinese as possible.

Now please don't get me wrong, I'm teaching English at the moment and have shocked (with a little satisfaction) some of the parents with my English as they were not expecting this and many parents have encouraged their children to speak only English with them (which I do anyway!). But the point I'm trying to make is that the HK employer who accepted me saw past the appearance for which, I am very grateful for. Many agencies do not see things this way, which I guess is unstandable in a way.

-------

So, a break down of my personal opinions about getting a Native English Job in HK:

1. - TEFL (I prefer a CELTA) AND a PGCE.
2. - Working Conditions are very long, but time flows by quickly during busy times and teaching is a real joy when you notice the students learning.
3. - Salary isn't so bad at an average of HKD$8000 per month, but bear in mind that the average rent in HK is about HKD$4000 for a single flat (bedroom, toilet, kitchen, living room = TINY), but living standards in HK are quite low and should be able to get by quite easily on the remaining wages.
4. - Your employments chances do increase if you are caucasian or non-Chinese. But it doesn't mean it is impossible for a Chinese person to get a English job in Hong Kong. It just requires more effort and greater networking!

Just my personal opinions! I'd love to hear yours! Hopefully, I can update this in the future with more about my experiences!
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Re: TEFL Teaching Prospects in Hong Kong

Unread postby kennichi » 07 Aug 2010, 22:04

Are you sure about point 4?

I'm landing in HK in 2-3 weeks time, to have a poke around for a few months or so. Though Taiwan and Thailand are looking better prospects TBH.

My prior experiences have been largely negative.

Two of my friends who have MAs and CELTAs (one even has the DELTA) can't get work simply because they prefer white faces above and beyond everything else. This has led to some ridiculous situations. Where I and them have found Russians and Polish people who have no qualifications (couldn't even string a sentence together) teaching in preference to a qualified Chinese person (who is treated like a 3rd class citizen).

My sister was absolutely humiliated in 2009, PCGE, MA, CELTA, DELTA. They hired a fresh grad over her because they wanted a white face...

It is rather disheartening to look at all the meet the teachers pages and see a plethora of white face,
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Re: TEFL Teaching Prospects in Hong Kong

Unread postby pokedmund » 13 Aug 2010, 14:13

To be honest, I'm can't 100% guarantee on that point, but I do believe that it isn't IMPOSSIBLE to get a teaching job in Hong Kong if you are of oriental appearance.

You will need brillliant networking skills and to really stand out amongst the other, non-oriental candidates though. I think in a new country, one needs to understand how they see things and to take it from there. Maybe the fresh grad you were speaking about would have to work on a lower wage? Obviously, I'm still finding it impossible to find a job here (I have had two responses though...but just to confirm receipt of my letters!) but I'm going to keep trying.

Very disheartening, but no one said things were going to be easy (or this hard!)
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Re: TEFL Teaching Prospects in Hong Kong

Unread postby kennichi » 13 Aug 2010, 18:08

I don't get it, you're out of a job? As the initial post seemed to state you found a job?
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Re: TEFL Teaching Prospects in Hong Kong

Unread postby pokedmund » 14 Aug 2010, 18:19

Sorry, I meant that I'm working for kumon, teaching English but its not the teaching English job I was expecting or the teaching English job where I use all my celta knowledge. I'll edit my last post.

I guess when I say a "teaching English job" I refer to an actual classroom with 4-12 student being taught for an hour or more.

And as we speak, I've just had a response from a tuition centre! Wish me luck!
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Re: Observations on TEFL Teaching Prospects in Hong Kong

Unread postby kennichi » 18 Aug 2010, 17:09

Did you get it then?
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Re: Observations on TEFL Teaching Prospects in Hong Kong

Unread postby pokedmund » 20 Aug 2010, 16:19

I did!

I had an email from a tuition centre, regarding an application I made back in June. I refused to speak to them in Cantonese knowing the problems Cantonese speaking NETs seemed to have and this seemed to of confused the manager even more (as my CV does have a Cantonese surname).

Turned up for an (very informal) interview and was told that a suit wasn't really necessary (wish they'd told me before I walked around in a suit in the 35 degree heat!!!) and received a call on the bus home to say that they wanted to take me on!

Then came hours of haggling (seems to be the norm over in Hong Kong) over the wages, and I've been allegedly informed that I won't be able to obtain the same wages as a non-oriental looking NET working for them, but I was quite satisfied with what they offered me (makes you wonder how much they are paying the others then!)

I guess the only draw backs are the fact that i know I'm getting paid less because of what i look like, and working 45 hours a week, 6 days.

So it's possible to get a job (in the knowledge that you could potentially get better offers if you weren't oriental).
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Re: Observations on TEFL Teaching Prospects in Hong Kong

Unread postby kennichi » 20 Aug 2010, 18:27

Congrats, care to give me the name of that Kumon guy who gave you your first op? ;)

This is peeving me off badly as I'm just about to go do what you did and then I get a job offer in the UK... meh!
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Re: Observations on TEFL Teaching Prospects in Hong Kong

Unread postby HumourIsKey » 22 Aug 2010, 12:13

Interesting posts.

I was recently offered a post in Hong Kong for a school that run a programme built into the local carriculum i.e. they send us (the teachers) to teach young children in their own schools built into their normal school day. The salary on offer was 12,800HKD. Not bad right? I'm only 6 months experienced too, and with Trinity TESOL.

But at the 11th hour it all went wrong due to the Director being away sorting out new offices, whilst her second in charge carried on my application. There was miscommunication between those two and it ended with me being too late in getting immig papers back along with CRB etc. Although I actually hadn't. It was the 2nd in charge getting wires crossed. When Director came back she apologised for how everything went, but that NOW it raelly was too late. Gutted.

I still want to go to Hong Kong but cannot find the opportunities out there.

I wish you all the best in your new role, my advice would be to go around to some different langauge schools as you will definitely find someone who is NOT descriminatory. Also, I know that many schools out there are run by some Brits who would not shake a Chinese looking English speaker with British/ American/ Canadian accent. In some cases, your appearance would add advantage...although techncally it shouldn't as positive descrimination is the same as negative descrimination at the end of the day. But what I mean is that your heritage and apparent genetics will enthuse students psychologically i.e. "here is someone that looks chinese and look how well she speaks English...I could do that one day." Anyway, just my thoughts on the matter
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