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Pro's and Cons of living and teaching in Hong Kong
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YujiKaido



Joined: 10 Oct 2010
Posts: 49
Location: ? Hong Kong ?

PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 5:46 pm    Post subject: Pro's and Cons of living and teaching in Hong Kong Reply with quote

Hi I am looking for someone to help me make up my mind, So I am looking for someone who can give me some pros and cons of living and working in Hong kong. I have been reading through the forums this past year on what other posters have said and such but still undecided.

I have always wanted to teach in Japan, I can speak Japanese and have been there like 5 times to visit and study, but I have been having a growing interest in Hong Kong as I graduate next month and seriously considering Hong Kong if I have the opportunity to find a job there.

My first experience of Asian culture was Hong kong, back when I was younger I really was into bruce lee and watched alot of Jackie chan movies before my interest moved to Japan. I also like the way Cantonese sounds and it seems like a really interesting language to learn. Also have found a great church there in Hong Kong the vine that I would like to attend. I also like that Hong Kong is small and access to China is easy and I can visit other Asian countries like Japan and Korea that hold interest also for me. I visited there a month in December and really enjoyed it. I could enjoy lots of the things from Japan there as well.

Bit of background on my education it is a BA in General studies with concentration on East Asian studies, didn't have a degree for East Asia so I had to settle. I also have taught in Korea for 6 months and have some certificates from my time there. Working on finishing my 100 hour TEFL and considering Celta in Thailand in September for a month but worried that may leave me applying for jobs later in the year and may have even more trouble considering I have budget of a little over $5000 to do me until I can receive my first pay check.

I know its not much for starters and may have some trouble finding a job because I know its very competitive in Hong Kong but I am really serious about teaching English for a career and don't plan on returning to the states, but don't want to extend my stay here in the states any longer, dying to get out. So I thought I could work my way up in Hong Kong, I am really interested in teaching children so kindergarten or elementary school kids would work best for me. Then maybe thought about getting my PGDE at Hong Kong U like someone had posted about while I am teaching and then apply for Net Progamme after that and get better paying job.


Any opinions or suggestions would be appreciated.
Thank you
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champ



Joined: 28 Jul 2007
Posts: 89

PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:02 am    Post subject: HK Reply with quote

If you are coming to HK,Please do CELTA NOT TEFL.If you have PGCE,that would be icing on the cake.

TO find better jobs in HK school/ESF,you should have PGCE+B.Ed.What ever you do,don't spend money on TEFL.If you don't have a PGCE,you can do it in Macau(www.iium.edu.mo).I guess the course is evenings and the fee is MOP50000.

If you work in Macau at that point,you may get some discount.
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YujiKaido



Joined: 10 Oct 2010
Posts: 49
Location: ? Hong Kong ?

PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:17 am    Post subject: Re: HK Reply with quote

Yeah my ideal situation is to get a job in kindergarten then do CELTA when I get a month off or If I can't find any job in HK. Then do PGCE in my free time then apply for NET Job. I already spent money on my online TEFL course when I was teaching in Korea just never got around to finishing it. Thanks for the tips and suggestions
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champ



Joined: 28 Jul 2007
Posts: 89

PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 7:11 am    Post subject: Re: HK Reply with quote

If you plan to work in Kindergartens,CELTA-YL might be handy.
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sistercream



Joined: 18 Dec 2010
Posts: 487
Location: Pearl River Delta

PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First let me say that Hong Kong is my absolutely favorite city (state?) of any on the planet I have lived in or even visited, so I hope you won't think I'm trying to put you off coming Very Happy

It IS a competitive place, so I heartily second the suggestions to do CELTA and/or PGCE (or preferably PGDE).

With your current qualifications you would probably have to work your tail off in a language centre or one of the less reputable kindergartens (the sort that hire all year round rather than by academic year, i.a.). And do I assume from your screen name and the fact that you speak Japanese that you are ethnic Japanese? If so you will be at a disadvantage in applying for these kinds of jobs in that the great majority of employers at this level would much prefer to hire a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Russian who can hardly string an English paragraph together than a highly qualified and experienced native English speaker of Asian descent. I'm NOT saying you couldn't get a job; just that it would be totally unfairly more difficult.

With a PGCE / QKT or better the situation changes markedly as you become employable by "real" schools, which generally have much more concern for function over form.
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YujiKaido



Joined: 10 Oct 2010
Posts: 49
Location: ? Hong Kong ?

PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi thanks for the tips, first I am not Japanese, I am a white native english speaker, Wink I used to be really crazy for Japan hence the screen name. I still do really like Japan and Japanese culture, tv drama and music, but interested in Hong Kong more now.

What is the work like in kindergarten and language centers? , I had to work my butt off already when I was in Korea there was no curriculum , handled the classroom by myself and my co-teacher was more of a translator when she was there, never helped with class room management nor with lesson plans I had to make up outta my own ideas. Do you take more of head teacher role in Kindergartens or language centers I take it? I would like to find a a school with a curriculum to follow and/ or already lesson plans made.

Are children in Hong Kong well behaved? I had a little trouble with behavior when I taught 5&6 graders and didn't want to do anything.

What are some of the reason why you think its the best city state you visited or lived in the world?
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sistercream



Joined: 18 Dec 2010
Posts: 487
Location: Pearl River Delta

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What it's like to work in a kindergarten or a language centre depends very much on the boss: some are purely profit-making exercises with zero concern for any professional ethics or good teaching practice - you can easily end up working 50 hour weeks with only one week off in the year for an absolute pittance (yes, I've been stung...), or you can end up in a like-minded and supportive team where the boss actually knows a kid from a curriculum and you get regular school holidays off.

BTW, do NOT assume that every school that is church-affiliated incorporates Christian values - some are excellent, others have board chairmen and/ or principals who are petty-minded, slave-driving bureaucrats.

Kids behaviour is another area where the only honest answer is "it depends."

Why do I like HK so much? It's easy to make friends, both expat and local, it's a very safe place to live, excellent local transport system as well as being an international hub, it's easy to get out of the urban area to hiking trails, swimming beaches & other outdoor pursuits, easy access to English-language media, the civil service is both generally very civil and provides service without the need for palm-greasing - there's remarkably little red tape involved for foreigners living here anyway. Very good public health care, good consumer product availability, good food, low tax, freedom of speech. I even like the tiny apartments because it means less housework Smile It just has a real "buzz" to it that I haven't come across elsewhere.
The big downer for me is the pollution in winter (and whinging expats, but they're easily enough avoided once you know who they are).
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YujiKaido



Joined: 10 Oct 2010
Posts: 49
Location: ? Hong Kong ?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a lot for the info really appreciate it, yeah I like the idea of everything being there available to me without much travel. Here in the states I have to travel one of the bigger cities if I want anything from Asia and its still quite limited.

I guess I could face a good or bad boss anywhere I look be it Japan or Hong Kong. I actually had a bad first experience in Hong Kong but it was my fault, I was comparing everything to Japan. Hong Kong can stand on its own and I remember a lot of the things I did like about HK, the MTR, the food and goods available and how everything was just there at your finger tips to enjoy.

One of the things I had heard about was the pollution, and I would often hear people whinging when I was in Korea, I was one of them before I started to appreciate things for what they were. I actually fill strange when I have a big apartment here in the states, as my first time living on my own was in Japan in a tiny apartment and guesthouse I got used to it and now prefer it. So i don't think a tiny apartment will be a problem as long as it is clean.

Thanks sistercream I think if I get the opportunity to find a job in HK I will take it. Also one thing I have been running into is some jobs ask about expected salary, what should I put for expected salary given my limited experience 6 months and qualifications?

One last thing I am wondering about though, would it be recommended that I first get my CELTA in Thailand, I heard its the cheapest, and would applying for jobs later in the year make it more difficult to find a job than finding a job around August/September?

I mean would having CELTA make a big difference on pay for my first gig in HK? I have seen alot of places advertise at least one year experience and CELTA, so I am undecided if i should work for a year in HK, then get CELTA or do it before then get experience?
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sistercream



Joined: 18 Dec 2010
Posts: 487
Location: Pearl River Delta

PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You'll have a better chance at jobs in the more respectable kindergartens (or even possibly smaller primary schools) if you do CELTA first.

But if you think you can hack a language centre job for a year just to find your feet in HK, most of them don't seem to care about "proper" qualifications nearly as much as they do about having a white face on staff. If you decide to go this route, then I'd give the same advice I've given another recent poster - head out to the New Territories to live & work and you 'll be able to save some money.
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YujiKaido



Joined: 10 Oct 2010
Posts: 49
Location: ? Hong Kong ?

PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again for all the info and suggestions. Are MTR stations pretty close location wise to be able to walk everywhere and then take the MTR elsewhere or do you need to take a combination of bus and MTR to get around HK efficiently? I remember when I was in Shatin, I could walk to City One station with out no trouble just wondering if it was the same in the rest of HK.

I guess I will have to weigh the cost of taking the CELTA first or just going at it for a year, with my present experience.
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sistercream



Joined: 18 Dec 2010
Posts: 487
Location: Pearl River Delta

PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Plenty of places in Hong Kong are a several miles from an MTR station, but what a lot of people don't realise is that the local bus services ("big" buses, public and private minibuses) cover everywhere to within a block or two that the MTR doesn't cover, and the frequency is also very good. Isolated areas that only get 3 or 4 buses an hour complain loudly about the miserable service! There are also plenty of cross-country bus routes that can take you directly along a route that would take 2 or 3 train changes.
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RiverMystic



Joined: 13 Jan 2009
Posts: 1484

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not meaning to be a downer, but sisterscream is painting a rather Pollyanna image of HK which just doesn't translate into reality for many people, both local and expat. Since the thread is entitled the pros and cons of living and teaching in HK, it needs a bit of balance. You should understand the realities and challenges of living here, otherwise you wonít be prepared for them. So I will mention some of the less pleasant aspects of life in HK, and some of the negative developments that are of increasing concern for locals and expats alike.

In one or two previous posts I quoted international surveys which show that the general level of well-being amongst locals and expats in HK has fallen drastically in recent years (12th lowest happiness rating of 180 cities in China). I know many people who have come here and left in short time because they could not handle living here. Convenience and speed are valued above human connection and simple enjoyment of life. This can create an extreme sense of disconnection and alienation from people. Many workplaces mirror these values, with human beings being treated as cogs in a machine without respect for the needs or individual gifts and merits. This includes many, but not all, schools. Some schools are nice places to work. But you really need to select carefully, because if you donít you can end up in a really hellish place. Confucian hierchical values mean that workers have to kowtow to those senior to them, leading to all kinds of power abuses. As just one worst scenario example, one principal I used to work for loved to hold meetings on Friday evenings which ran till 7 or 8 pm (5 hours, no break). This included a two hour speech by the principal, with the staff being completely silent throughout the meeting - i.e. no staff/management interaction.

My wife was one of the people who was completely unable to stand HK. She found it impossible to even talk to people here, let alone make friends. She became deeply depressed and hated the place with a passion. I have to agree with her that HK is not a friendly city, and if you donít have social connections at work you will have to join some social activity, otherwise you will most likely be completely isolated. It is virtually impossible to make eye contact with people here, let alone communicate with them in public paces. People are obsessed with their mobile devices, and completely disinterested in all those around them. Commercialisation of virtually every facet of life is what defines HK above all else. This is equally true of education, which is completely commoditised.

In my opinion government policy has gone badly astray in recent years, creating an obsession with finances and financial security which is strangling the spirit of the place and its people (exacerbated by the insane dash for cash that is the meaning of life in the new China). The irony is that most people here are pretty poor and live in very poor housing, with the average HK household income being $18 000/month, while rents have skyrocketed. HK has the greatest wealth gap between rich and poor of any developed economy in the world, and the 12th worst of all regions on the planet, ten places lower even than Zimbabwe.

I suspect these problems will get worse in the years to come, and there will be increasing social unrest, as the property magnates that run the place have too much power and those in official power are unaccountable. Time will tell.
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ozman



Joined: 12 Jun 2004
Posts: 133
Location: HONG KONG

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are spot-on Rivermystic and I couldn't agree more.
I too know MANY MANY people who couldn't hack it here. Being part of the NET circle, the bulk of NETS only do one contract and then they leave.
The work culture is probably the worst aspect and the power hungry principals. I too have been in schools where I had to attend canto meetings until 9pm and 10pm Friday nights. Quite soul destroying.

And it's difficult to meet people as RM says as everyone is stressed and in a rush. More difficult too to access a lot of services etc. if you do not speak any Cantonese - particularly difficult at markets.

People stay to make money. I doubt many people would CHOOSE to be here if they could make the same in the own country and pay so little tax as we do here.
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sistercream



Joined: 18 Dec 2010
Posts: 487
Location: Pearl River Delta

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Equal time to the other side - fair 'nuff.

I guess a large part of people's attitude to this place depends on the attitudes of those you "fall in" with when you arrive. Maybe I'd have ended up miserable if my life here had started differently ... I did come initially in order to make money, but my colleagues (in an international school) were overwhelmingly positive about living in HK, and learning Cantonese gave me access to a whole different crowd of people from the (approaching generalisation alert!!) face-obsessed, foreign passport chasing, driven, type of English-speaking locals.
Most of my expat friends here are long-termers who are either already retired here, or heading that way.

As OP is a person of faith, and has already figured out they want to attend a fellowship that contains a good proportion of contented long-term expats, I reckon s/he has a better than average chance of experiencing HK as a good place to live, at least for a season.
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YujiKaido



Joined: 10 Oct 2010
Posts: 49
Location: ? Hong Kong ?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@sistercream and others, thanks for the pros and cons, Yeah I listened to the wrong people before I came to Hong Kong first time and had my mind made up I wouldn't like it before I even got there, so I could of had a great time but choose to believe someone's bias and negative opinion. I wish I wouldn't of listened to them and kept a good attitude, as it cost me a relationship with a girl there. I since have been looking back and have come to be fond of Hong Kong, and willing to give it the same chance I gave Japan and Korea, both countries which I love. I am sure I will love Hong Kong this time, because my attitude is different, and I already love the church there, been listening to the podcast and can't wait to be apart of it and the unique Chinese/ international culture there.

I am sure there will be problems and some things I will not like as their was when I was in Japan and Korea but I am really getting excited about it and finally made up my mind I will for sure go to HK if i am able to find decent job, don't mind working hard the first year and I heard from someone else on the board they will be offering CELTA online this September with in class teaching at a approved centre. So I am planning on signing up for that when it becomes available.

Thanks again for all your comments and opinions. One thing I have been wondering though some job posts ask for expected salary. Any suggestions on what I should put to remain competitive with my experience?
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