The A to Z of an English Teacher in Hong Kong

By Anna Wing Bo Tso

A is for Alice in Wonderland, the very book I use every time I introduce lexical and syntactic ambiguity to my class.

B is for Business English, a topic that challenges my students and me.

C is for the confusion between countable and uncountable nouns many EFL beginners experience when learning English. 

D is for the disturbance late comers created for my lessons.

E is for the excitement when the semester ends.

F is for formality, the one thing that distinguishes “How do you do?”, “How are you?”, and “Hi!”.

G is for graduation congregation, the jolly day when ex-students come together again to take selfies.

H is for M. A. K. Halliday, the father of systemic functional linguistics.

I is for impeccable English, a silver dream of every Hong Kong students.

J is for jammed paper in the photocopier, the usual cause of my migraine.

K is for the tricky silent ‘k’ in words such as ‘knock’, ‘knight’, ‘knife’.

L is for literature, which most EFL teachers find difficult to bring into class. Perhaps we can start by introducing language arts?

M is for the multicultural backgrounds of learners, which look like a headache at the beginning but turn out to be source of all the fun we have in class.     

N is for nodding – students nod their heads when they follow the lecture, or fall asleep!

O is for the mysteriously missing letter ‘o’ in the American spelling of ‘colour’, ‘humour’, and ‘behaviour’.

P is for phonics, phonetics, and phonology, three terms that learners constantly mixed up.

Q is for quick learners – keep up the good work, guys!

R is for Received Pronunciation, the standard British accent that Hong Kongers (especially those who were born before 1997) feel familiar with.

S is for synonymy, one of the most useful lexical relations for expanding vocabulary.  

T is for the hot Chinese tea we enjoyed during the alumni party gathering last week.

U is for the unspeakable delight as students show appreciation to my lesson preparation.

V is for the ‘visitors’ who come to my class for teaching evaluation. They made me feel nervous.

W is for will power, without which I certainly won’t be able to finish grading heaps and heaps of compositions.

X is for “X”cellent support I received from the English teaching team. Thank you for being there every time I need your advice.

Y is of course for the year one students – I love them not because they are cute, but because of their positive learning attitude.  

Z is for zoom, how time passed by so quickly.