After I posted my last entry on the NS-teacher myth, two teachers wrote to me privately about their own NETs.
Interestingly, their experiences represent two opposite extremes. For one of them, the NET is like a God-send, who teaches well and helps with the school’s English curriculum in every possible way. For the other, well, shall I say the English Department of the school would be better off without him, for he has been conducting himself in a most irresponsible manner. The students’ learning progress is seriously undermined. But unlike local teachers, NETs are hired under a different system so that there is a lot of unclear area when it comes to personnel actions. The school is having a big headache wrestling with the situation.
As I said, there are good teachers, and there are bad teachers. In this regard, there must be bad local teachers as well. And I salute those good native English teachers who are making a lot of sacrifices in leaving their homeland and coming to Hong Kong to help with the English learning of our students. But it is also time we guarded against a blind faith in the superiority of native-speaker teachers, especially when it is accompanied by a blind eye to other important teacher factors.
As for the race issue which I mentioned in the last post, there may be signs that the situation is improving. I have two former student-teachers who were hired under NET terms when they looked for jobs. Both are ethnic Chinese. One was born in the Philippines and speaks English as one of her first languages. The other was born in China, spoke Putonghua as her mother-tongue, and later spent many years in Australia and became fully fluent in English.
Finally, I thank the teacher who sent me the link to this episode in Pearl Watch which was about the NET scheme: http://mytv.tvb.com/news/pearlreport/6045#page-1