The Native-speaking English Teacher (NET) Scheme provides every primary and secondary school in Hong Kong with an English teacher for whom English is the mother tongue. The principal objectives of the scheme are to enhance English language teaching and to increase students’ exposure to English as spoken by native speakers.
Working in partnership with local English language teachers, Primary NETs undertaking teaching duties to provide students with an authentic English learning environment, help develop school-based teaching strategies and curriculum materials and contribute to the professional development of fellow teachers.
The NET Scheme was introduced to support and strengthen English language learning and teaching by:
- developing innovative learning and teaching methods, materials, curricula and activities suited to the needs of local students
- providing an environment in which children can learn English and become more confident in using English for communication
- promoting the professional development of local teachers
- encouraging effective networking amongst schools
- disseminating good practices in language learning and teaching, through regional teacher development programmes, such as experience-sharing seminars and workshops
- working with local teachers to create opportunities for students to learn English through a range of different experiences
- supporting the English Panel
- providing advice on language learning and teaching and language resources
- assisting local teachers in organising activities using English, such as assemblies, singing, poetry reading, drama, play reading, verse-speaking, competitions, games and quizzes
Canossa School (Hong Kong) has two NET teachers, to ensure that every student has a NET lesson each week. Mr Ashley works with students in P.1, P.2, P.5 and P.6, while Ms Pienaar works with students in P.1, P.3, P.4 and P.6.
In Key Stage 1, which includes the P.1 to P.3 classes, the principal focus is on teaching the children to read effectively in English, through shared reading, big books, reading activities, word recognition and phonics. The main activity in class is shared reading. 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 familiarises the students with each story by talking about the characters, identifying the sentence structure, demonstrating expressive reading skills, eliciting ideas about the pictures and asks for predictions of possible outcomes for the story. New phonic sounds or blends of letters are identified and the children are encouraged to give examples of similar sounds. Songs are also used to reinforce ideas from the stories, enhance the students’ enjoyment of reading and increase their confidence.
Key Stage 2 lessons, covering P.4 to P.6, usually involve activities directly linked to the current theme of the English textbook. Teachers aim to enhance the theme by adapting sections of the textbook and encouraging the students to participate in a variety of oral activities. The purpose of these lessons is to enable the students to use English in a natural and authentic way. Every student is encouraged to participate fully in the activities and to make a contribution to the learning environment. Our aim is to increase the confidence of each student when speaking English.
Andrew Ashley, EDB NET Teacher
I’m now in my tenth year of teaching at Canossa School (Hong Kong). I can’t believe how fast time has gone – it must be because I enjoy teaching here so much! It’s a wonderful school to work in, thanks to the highly motivated, hard working students and the friendly and very experienced teaching staff.
Before joining Canossa, I taught courses and workshops in many different primary and secondary schools and in colleges for adult education. I enjoy teaching at all levels but teaching here has made me realise how rewarding it is to work with primary school students. It’s not always easy but it’s very stimulating to find ways of helping young learners to absorb a foreign language. Seeing students make progress is very exciting!
This year I’m teaching classes in four different years - P.1, P.2, P.5 and P.6. In P.1 and P.2 I read storybooks with the students, using the stories as an exciting and entertaining way of teaching language structures, vocabulary and pronunciation. I use what we read in the books to encourage students to talk about their own experience. Being able to talk confidently is very important! I also do a lot of work on phonics, to provide students with the building blocks they need for a strong command of spoken English.
Many of the lessons for P.5 and P.6 students focus on oral English, with the aim of encouraging students to communicate effectively and confidently. Exercises include reading aloud, answering questions about the readings, giving presentations and telling stories. Both years also do in-depth study of longer and more complex books, with a view to preparing them for their secondary school work.
I’m really looking forward to another year at Canossa. I know that it will be just as interesting and rewarding as the previous years.
Esti Pienaar, NET Teacher
This is my first year teaching at Canossa School. I was very lucky to spend some of my teacher training at Canossa last year, and was extremely impressed with the school and the students. They made me feel very welcome since the first day. Before coming to Canossa I worked as a Kindergarten teacher and in learning centres in Hong Kong. Prior to coming to Hong Kong I worked with many different cultures in corporate training in South Africa.
I am currently teaching P.1, P.3, P.4 and P.6 with lessons focusing on spoken English and reading. In P.1 and P.3 we read a variety of books; students are encouraged to read along and develop their confidence as proficient readers, including accurate pronunciation and fluency. A strong focus on phonics enables students to read difficult words and we have a lot of fun learning phonics songs!
P.4 and P.6 students are actively involved in a process of meaning and knowledge construction as opposed to passively receiving information. This interactive hands-on approach enables students to strengthen problem solving and critical thinking skills whilst working on communicating effectively in English. A focus on interview skills and higher level reading prepares students for secondary school and the exercises include individual and group presentations, reading aloud and regular discussions.
I am very excited to get to know all the students in Canossa School and I find great joy in spending time with them in the English room where we practice speaking in a fun and natural way. I am looking forward to cultivating a love for English with the students and seeing their confidence grow.