The Native-speaking English Teacher (NET) Scheme provides every primary and secondary school in Hong Kong with a mother tongue English teacher. The principal objectives of the scheme are to enhance English language teaching and to increase students’ exposure to English as spoken by native speakers.
Primary NETs work in partnership with local English language teachers to provide students with an authentic English learning environment. They also help to develop school-based teaching strategies and curriculum materials, and contribute to the professional development of fellow teachers.
NET teachers support and strengthen English language learning and teaching in a number of important ways, including:
A particularly important aspect of the NET teachers’ work in current circumstances is the development and preparation of online teaching materials for home-schooling when classes are suspended because of the threat of Covid-19. During the period of class suspension in the 2019-20 school year, the NETs prepared video lessons for each topic that they would otherwise have taught in the classroom. They also ran regular Zoom chatrooms for each school year, in which a range of books were read and discussed by the students. The NETs will do the same during the current school year, as required.
Our school has two NET teachers, to ensure that every student has a lesson with a native English speaker each week. This year Mr West is teaching students in P1, P2, P5 and P6, while Mr Ashley is working with students in P1, P3, P4 and P6.
The principal focus in Key Stage 1, which covers P1 to P3, is to teach the children to read effectively in English through shared reading, big books, reading skills, reading activities, word recognition and phonics. Shared reading in class is a key activity. All students use the same reader, initially introduced by the teacher, to learn new vocabulary, sentence structures and patterns, and other reading skills. The teacher introduces each story and familiarises the students with it by talking about the characters and identifying sentence structures. Expressive reading is demonstrated and the children are encouraged to predict possible outcomes for the story. New sounds are identified through the teaching of phonics and the children are taught how to create different sounds orally and express them in writing. Songs are used to reinforce both ideas from the stories and phonics learning. This approach makes reading an enjoyable activity and boosts the students' confidence.
Lessons for P4 to P6 students in Key Stage 2 frequently involve activities based on themes in the English textbooks used by each class. The NET teachers build on these themes by adapting sections of the textbook and encouraging the students to participate in a variety of oral activities. The objective is to enable the students to respond in English in a natural and authentic way and to increase their confidence. A significant recent development in our Key Stage 2 teaching has been the introduction of a school-based literacy curriculum, designed to help students read and write more effectively. Literacy curriculum modules have been created for each of the three years, with plans, materials and learning activities covering a wide range of topics. Teaching reading and writing through the new literacy curriculum is proving highly beneficial to students, who are able to produce clear, detailed and well-structured pieces of writing in different styles. Further information about the literacy curriculum can be found in the website section on English Curriculum.
Simon West NET Teacher
I’m very excited to begin teaching here as a Native English Teacher at Canossa School. Joining a school with an excellent reputation is really exciting and I can’t wait to meet my new students and help them to improve their English. I’m not new to Hong Kong as this will be my sixth year living and teaching here, I especially find teaching primary school level children rewarding. With children of this age we have a real chance to instill a life-long love of learning. My family and I moved here in 2015 and have two young children ourselves.
This year I will be teaching classes in four different year groups - P1, P2, P5 and P6 as well as taking part in a wide range of exciting extra-curricular activities like debate teams, Canossa TV, fun English days and storytelling sessions.
I’m very excited to bring my passion for reading, storytelling and children’s literature to the school as I believe that teaching children to become successful readers is one of the most important things we do in primary school. When children read widely and often not only does it help them access the curriculum more easily, which leads to improvement in literacy and across other subjects, they also explore their own understanding of the world and other cultures, travel to far-away imaginary places, make choices for themselves and shape their own identity.
I’d love to know more about the student’s passions and interests and am a very approachable teacher. A second language classroom must have a real buzz and excitement about it with students feeling safe, secure and confident to express themselves.
I am looking forward to meeting everyone here and getting to know you all better. I love to chat with students of all ages and play games with them. So, you can come and find me in the English room when you are free!
Andrew Ashley NET Teacher
In summer 2019, I celebrated my tenth anniversary at Canossa School (Hong Kong). Celebrated is definitely the correct word to use because I really enjoy teaching here. It’s a wonderful school to be part of, thanks to the highly motivated, hard-working students and the friendly and experienced teaching staff. I’m now happy to be starting my twelfth year here!
I’m teaching classes at four different levels this year - P1, P3, P4 and P6. In P1 and P3 I read storybooks with the students, using the stories as an exciting and entertaining way of teaching language structures, vocabulary and pronunciation. What we read in the books encourages students to talk about their own experience. Being able to talk confidently is very important! We also do a lot of work on phonics, covering different sounds, to provide students with the building blocks they need for a strong command of spoken English.
Many of the lessons for P4 and P6 students also focus on oral English, with the aim of encouraging students to communicate effectively and confidently. Students read aloud, answer questions, give presentations and tell stories. Students in both years also study three carefully chosen readers in depth. Especially in the case of P6, this helps to prepare the students for the work they will do at secondary school. An exciting aspect of teaching at this level is using our school-based literacy curriculum to help students improve their reading and writing skills. Each module in the literacy curriculum covers a different topic for students to learn about, and introduces a specific text type.
Prior to becoming a NET at Canossa, I taught in a number of primary and secondary schools and in adult education colleges. I enjoy teaching at all levels but my time here has taught me how rewarding it is to work with primary school students. It can be challenging but it’s also very stimulating to help young learners to absorb a foreign language and become confident in using it. Seeing students make progress is thrilling!
I know that this year at Canossa will be just as interesting and satisfying as my previous years here.