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Hong Kong English Teaching Q and A with Abel Buenconsejo
Written by: Abel Buenconsejo
Last Updated: July 19, 2021
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
What is your citizenship?
What city and state are you from?
San Diego, CA
How old are you?
What is your education level and background?
Have you traveled abroad in the past?
Some international travel with friends, family, business, etc.
If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?
Philippines, Taiwan, China, Cambodia, and Canada.
What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?
It's the only job that I can do well in and enjoy.
TEFL CLASS INFORMATION
Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?
Most teaching jobs in Hong Kong prefer tutors with this education, besides having a Bachelors degree in English. I picked International TEFL Academy for the great price for a high quality Online TEFL class.
Which TEFL certification course did you take?
How did you like the course?
I really enjoyed it. The staff are very caring, especially when I started lagging behind in my class. They were very flexible, unlike universities. Osa Relacion is a great teacher in my book.
How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?
My skill level is much higher for my current students which helps get more private lessons by word of mouth. It looks great on my resume but has not yet helped me in landing a full-time job in the public schools as they typically require a Bachelor's. I only have an Associate. I will only be able to work in small English learning centers in Hong Kong.
TEACHING ABROAD IN HONG KONG
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?
I am teaching English in Tsuen Wan and Yau Ma Tei in Hong Kong.
How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?
Going on 3 years now. If the economy in the U.S.A. is better, then I will move back.
How did you secure your English teaching job?
Word of mouth referrals by making my teaching more enjoyable to my students. In turn, they tell their parents, then the parents tell my employers.
What school, company, or program are you working for?
International Language Headquarters Limited and Standard A Language School
How did you get your work visa? If you didn't get a work visa, please elaborate on working under the table without a work visa.
I am on a dependent visa. My wife is a Hong Kong citizen, which allows me to get a Hong Kong I.D. card.
Tell us about your English teaching job!
During the first year, I worked part-time at three learning centers, then I cut it down to two since the third one promised me more work hours (which I did get). I ended up working up to 39 hours a week there. But the 2nd year, both learning centers became less busy, now I am only working about 10 hours a week at the most for both. The pay is $150 HongKong/hour on the first one and $119/hour on the 2nd one. I also tutor privately once a week for 1 1/2 hours for $200/week (adult student who works for the H.K. government).
The places I teach are learning centers, not a regular public school. My students vary from K3 through Adults and I use the teaching syllabus from the first learning center for both places. My vacation time is whenever I want, just as long as I give them an advance notice. I find that most Chinese adults just want to do social English conversation, since most speak only Cantonese in their daily life. They learn English in grade schools but they end up being weak on it since they don't use it every day.
How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?
My Hong Kong born wife found a place for us to live together. During my first year, we were living separately but just right across the street from each other. Now we have an itsy-bitsy 2 bedroom flat (they don't call them apartments here). The flats can be purchased, just like condos in the U.S.A. What we call 'bathrooms', they call it 'toilets', since most bathrooms don't have bathtubs (there are showers). You have to be earning a good income to be able to have the luxury of a bathtub in Hong Kong.
COUNTRY INFORMATION - FUN!
Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc. about your country:
Culture: I live in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong, where I have been tutoring English for the 3rd year now have a style of culture depending on where you are at.
Public Transportation: The public transportation is excellent, especially the MTR (electric trains)....no graffiti and the subways are clean! The taxis, although abundant, are expensive and some drivers take the long route.
Social Activities: For social activities, I have been hiking, bicycling and volunteering giving haircuts at convalescent hospitals to the elderly.......you are NOT supposed to trim men's eyebrows as part of the Chinese culture. I found out too late!
COUNTRY INFORMATION - MONEY
What are your monthly expenses?
Rent: The rent is high in Hong Kong, so we live in the less expensive area, Sham Shui Po (translation: Some So Poor). We pay $5,000 HK for a two-bedroom flat.
Food: Take-out is cheap ($18 HK....$2.33 U.S.A.). BBQ pork or steamed chicken, with veggie and rice, although not an American sized portion.
Social activities: Are mostly free, like hiking.
Transportation: Fee varies but cheap compared to owning a car. We have what we call an OCTOPUS CARD, like a credit card that you can re-load almost anywhere and use as cash by scanning it.
Communication: Phone bill, majority use sim cards that can be re-charged/re-filled at 7-11 stores.
How would you describe your standard of living?
In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?
Maybe $50,000 H.K/month ($6,493 U.S.A.).
ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE TEACHERS IN HONG KONG
Definitely come to Asia!!
Abel is from San Diego, CA. Abel took the ITA Online TEFL Course and moved overseas to teach English in Hong Kong with his wife.
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