Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Friday, February 15, 2002

Hong Kong to Extend Native-speaking English Teacher Scheme to Primary Schools

The Hong Kong education authority announced Thursday that in the next school year, a project, named Native-speaking English Teacher Scheme, will be extended to all of the local public sector primary schools.


The Hong Kong education authority announced Thursday that in the next school year, a project, named Native-speaking English Teacher Scheme, will be extended to all of the local public sector primary schools.

The authority said in addition to enhancing students' English language proficiency and competency, the native-speaking English teachers also play a key role in supporting the professional development of other teachers within the English Panels and promoting the on-going review and development of the schools' primary English curriculum.

The vast majority of native-speaking English teachers also bring many new ideas to the schools in areas such as teaching and learning, the design and planning of the curriculum and formative assessment, according to the authority.

Since 1987, the Hong Kong government has encouraged secondary schools to employ native speakers as English teachers. In the 1998/99 school year, an enhanced Native-speaking English Teacher Scheme was introduced to provide all public sector secondary schools with native-speaking English teachers.

Funded by the Quality Education Fund, the Primary Schools English Development Project was launched in August, 2000 as a pilot initiative for the future Primary Native-speaking English Teacher Scheme. Under the project, 20 native-speaking English teachers and 20 seconded local English teachers are collaborating with English teachers in 40 participating primary schools.

The pilot scheme has been well-received in the 40 participating schools and has benefited students, teachers and the overall development of the English curriculum in the schools. TWGH Leo Tung-hai Lee Primary School in Tin Shui Wai is one of the participating schools where the tri-win situation has emerged.

The school's Principal Li Hon-kwong said, "The team teaching between the native-speaking English teachers and the local English teachers has been invaluable. I have been very pleased with the ways in which they have worked in partnership in the classroom."

"Their high expectations have enhanced the students' English language skills and supported class discipline. The time provided within the timetable for curriculum planning and classroom-based self evaluation has been particularly helpful. Overall, the students have been much more willing to use English," Li said.

"As the project has developed, it has been inspirational in meeting individual teachers' professional needs, particularly regarding experiential teaching and the use of big books. The English Panel as a whole has had invaluable experience of new thematic approaches to teaching and learning," Joy Wong, the school's English panel chair, said.

Trevor Daw, a native-speaking English teacher from Canada, said, "The local English teachers have been very helpful in making me aware of the general expectations of Hong Kong parents and teachers, as well as the learning needs of the students."

Daw added that English Panel members were very receptive to the professional development workshops he led on experiential learning, shared reading and group work.

Peggy Tang, a local English teacher, said: "I have greatly appreciated Trevor's ideas on formative assessment."

"We have also developed together many informal approaches to student learning, such as games and songs. This has greatly enhanced the children's understanding, confidence and self esteem in learning English," Tang added.

Trevor Higginbottom, manager of the Primary Schools English Development Project, said, "In August of this year, the pilot project will be replaced by the Primary Native-speaking English Teacher Scheme, which should be very exciting educational initiative."

"If the native-speaking English teachers are employed effectively in the participating schools, this scheme has the potential to play a significant role in enhancing the English language proficiency of our students and thereby in further promoting Hong Kong as a world class international city," Higginbottom concluded.

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