NET Teacher Survival Guide
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If you are reading this guide, you have probably been offered a job in Hong Kong. If so, we hope that the information in this guide will help to make your stay in the HKSAR as enjoyable and problem-free as possible. Adjusting to life and work abroad is not always easy and we know that many challenges lie ahead for you. However, the majority of NET teachers find their time here professionally and personally rewarding, and only a small proportion of NETs decided not to renew their contracts last year.
If you are reading this guide because you are considering working in Hong Kong, we hope that it will give you some idea of what to expect and of how to go about finding a post.
This wikibook is based upon a guide which is published with Content Writing Services the support of the Native English Speaking Teachers' association (NESTA), and which is provided free of charge to all new NETs. NESTA is an independent, non profit-making organization, which was founded in 1998 by NET teachers. It provides its members with professional support and advice, social activities and a forum for the education system in Hong Kong. NET teachers are under no obligation to join NESTA and NESTA does not make any claim to represent the opinions of all NET teachers in Hong Kong.
Things to consider before you come to work in Hong Kong
Finding a Teaching Job in Hong Kong
The Education Bureau recruits NETs on behalf of local schools annually. Usually, the recruitment exercise is announced in January on the EdB website and in the press, and applications must be submitted by the end of February. In the spring, interviews are held in Hong Kong and in a number of locations around the world. Details of terms and conditions for applicants, application forms and deployment guidelines for NET teachers in primary and secondary schools can all be found on the EdB. website. Some schools choose to carry out their own recruitment rather than accepting a NET from the EdB pool. Advertisements for such jobs can be found in the South China Morning Post throughout the year, but with the greatest number of vacancies being advertised in the spring.
Make sure that you have a very clear job description before you accept a job offer from a Hong Kong school. Ask about the number of classes you will have to teach, how many students there will be in each class, how many periods per week or cycle you will have to teach, whether you will teach oral classes or cover all skills with your students, whether you will teach alone or team teach, and what extra-curricular and administrative duties you will be expected to perform - especially duties outside of normal school hours. Ask about the level of English skills in the school; in a lower stream school many students are unable or unwilling to engage in English lessons led by a non-Cantonese speaker and this can pose discipline issues as well. You may be expected to perform duties during weekends and school holidays including the summer holiday. You may wish to negotiate with your principal to ensure that these duties fall close to the beginning or end of the holiday.
Working conditions differ vastly between schools. While some schools give teachers opportunities to be creative and engage their students in stimulating work, many others are very conservative and some NETs do not find their time in Hong Kong professionally rewarding. There is little or no chance for career advancement for a NET within the local system. Try to talk with the NET teacher you are replacing so that you have a realistic picture of what to expect. If the school you are applying to is unwilling to put you in touch with your predecessor, this may be a warning signal. However, you may be able to track down the current occupant of the post through the NET association website.
Hong Kong is a very crowded city and while many people find the lifestyle here exciting, you may also feel stressed or isolated.
Be prepared for culture shock. While Hong Kong promotes itself as 'Asia's World City' it is much less cosmopolitan and more segregated than, say, London or New York - or even Singapore. You may be surprised for example by how few people speak fluent English.
Pollution is a negative issue for many people who come to work in Hong Kong, and air quality has deteriorated in recent years. If you or your family members suffer from heart problems or respiratory illnesses, you should think carefully about the effect that Hong Kong's pollution may have on your health. Expat GPs and private hospitals charge high fees and although there is a public health system which is almost free,local doctors and hospitals may not provide the kind of care or facilities you might have come to expect elsewhere. The NET scheme medical fringe benefits ,and indeed, many local medical insurance schemes may not cover you adequately in the event of a major illness or medical emergency. Also many Western countries have a cutoff point beyond which they will no longer provide public health care to their expat citizens, so check these and the relevant tax considerations carefully.
LIFE IN HONG KONG
Where should I live and what will it cost me?
Your most important consideration when choosing a flat will probably be how close it is to your school. The school day usually starts quite early in Hong Kong (often before 8 am) and this deters some people from commuting a long distance. That said, Hong Kong's public transport system can take you a long way quickly and cheaply as long as you don't mind the standing-room only crowds during the rush hour. Cars can be purchased very cheaply, but running costs such as petrol, insurance, road tax, parking and road tolls can make this quite expensive. However, the cost may be defrayed if you commute from a more pleasant, albeit isolated part of Hong Kong, (such as the New Territories or South Lantau) where rents can be as low as $7000 per month for roomier low-rise flats . Popular areas for expatriate residents in Hong Kong include the Mid-Levels of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Tong, Sai Kung in the Eastern New Territories, the Gold Coast near Tuen Mun in the Western New Territories, Discovery Park and other housing estates in Tsuen Wan, Discovery Bay on Lantau Island and parts of Shatin in the New Territories. Many people are attracted to these areas by the prospect of living in the company of other English speakers and of having access to international style shops and restaurants. However, Hong Kong is an increasingly cosmopolitan city and there are now few areas of Hong Kong where it is difficult to find goods and services to suit western tastes. The cost of living in an ex-pat enclave is usually higher than that of living in a more local area. While a traffic free, quiet location like Discovery Bay may appeal to a family with young children, many NETs complain that such areas lack the buzz of the city.
The vast majority of people in Hong Kong live in high-rise flats, and most expatriates coming to work in Hong Kong will find that the accommodation that they can afford to live in while they are here is considerably smaller than what they are used to.
Rental accommodation is expensive, and rents have been increasing very quickly over the past two years as many wealthy mainland Chinese have been speculating in the Hong Kong property market. For a 750 square foot three bedroom flat close to the MTR (underground express rail service) on Hong Kong Island you should expect to pay about $25,000 - $30,000 per month. Prices are considerably less in the New Territories, but the special allowance, currently $19,081, still may not be enough to cover your housing needs unless you are single and prepared to live in a very small flat in a less sought out district. The special allowance is reviewed every two years and is pegged to the government's estimates of average rental prices, but there has been concern that the mechanism which the government uses to calculate the allowance underestimates changes in rents and uses out of date statistics.
Many NETs, especially those who are single, choose to rent serviced hotel apartments during the first few months of their stay in Hong Kong. This can be a good option as hotels across the city offer long-term stay packages and once fringe costs such as electricity and gas bills are thrown into the equation, staying in a hotel is usually not much more expensive than renting. The hotel apartment option also gives you more time to look around for accommodation and find a place to rent that suits you. Because of these advantages, some hotels such as the Royal Plaza Hotel in Mong Kok and the Panda Hotel in Tsuen Wan previously became virtual NET colonies. Recently, however, prices for many serviced apartments and hotels have escalated in line with rental levels generally in Hong Kong. In addition, increased tourism has made it more profitable for hotels like the Panda Hotel in Tsuen Wan to suspend its practice of offering long term stay.
What's the procedure for renting a flat in Hong Kong?
Rental contracts in Hong Kong are usually for two years. The tenant must usually promise not to break the tenancy for the first twelve months and then during the second year of the tenancy he or she must give the landlord two months’ notice of any plans to move. Currently many landlords are selling their tenanted flats and as the tenancy laws have changed to reflect a more landlord friendly slant, you may find that you have to move flats several times over only a few years.It is worthwhile inspecting prospective flats carefully for defective plumbing, leaks, electrical problems and neighbourhood noise before signing a lease, as maintenance can be a fraught issue once you are in residence.
The start-up cost of renting a flat is high as the tenant has to pay the first month's rent in advance, pay half a month's commission to an estate agency and pay two month's deposit to the landlord. The deposit is refunded at the end of the contract without interest. Therefore if the monthly rent for an apartment were $12,000, the tenant would have to pay an initial lump sum of $42,000 before moving in.
A salary advance is promised to NETs in their contracts. This is intended to help them with the initial costs of renting a flat. However, occasionally in the past there have been administrative delays in the payment of this advance. To be on the safe side therefore, NETs should bring as much money with them as they anticipate they will need during their first month in Hong Kong.
How expensive is living in Hong Kong?
There is no simple answer to this question because the cost of living Hong Kong is so dependent upon the type of lifestyle that you expect to have while you are here. Many expatriates in Hong Kong dine exclusively at Western restaurants, take up golf, join a yacht club or spend their nights drinking in trendy areas like Lan Kwai Fong and then complain about how much it has all cost them. At the other end of the spectrum, it is certainly possible to buy your food from local markets, eat out at Chinese style cafes and spend very little money indeed (although you might miss out on the fun. For NETWIKS (NETS with kids) and those living in cheaper, more spacious flats further out of town, engaging a domestic helper or maid(currently c.$3,700 + costs per month) can make life much easier for expats working long hours.
Most people will fall between the two extremes. Prices have risen in Hong Kong over recent years, especially in the cost of food, fuel and eating out. Even so, meals in local restaurants are inexpensive compared with eating out in major cities in the west. With the exception of rent and of top-end luxury goods, most goods and services cost much less than they would in Britain and Europe and only slightly more than they would in Australia or North America. The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the US dollar, and as the US currency has fluctuated dramatically in recent years, so the cost of living has seemed to rise and fall considerably for visitors from overseas.
Be prepared to be asked, very directly, a lot of questions about your lifestyle, finances, holiday plans (for which you may subsequently be asked to seek permission from your Principal to leave Hong Kong) and other queries of a rather personal nature. The NET Special Allowance is one issue which has captured the attention of Hong Kongers. Such issues may not be considered as 'private' as they would in a Western country, but you may not find your colleagues as forthcoming about their own situations.It is probably wisest to keep your responses vague or non-committal in the interests of harmony and discretion.
Where can my kids go to school?
Local schools are not usually an attractive option for NETs because the majority of them teach in Cantonese and because even in English medium schools non-Chinese speaking students are few and far between and are consequently at a disadvantage. The Education Department publishes a list of English medium secondary schools that offer students another language option as an alternative to Chinese (usually French) and that encourage applications from non-Chinese speakers. However, these are almost all elite schools that are heavily over-subscribed, so last minute applications stand little chance of success, the exception being a very small number of state subsidized schools which cater primarily to the South Asian community but which are happy to offer places to students from other backgrounds. As the new senior secondary curriculum which is due to be introduced in 2008 will include Chinese Language as a compulsory subject, it is likely that even fewer non-Chinese speaking children will be able to study at local schools beyond that date.
Most expatriate parents of school age children opt to send them to fee paying independent International schools in the territory or to an English Schools’ Foundation school. The latter are partially subsidized by the government but still charge a fee. ESF and other international secondary schools typically charge fees of between $70,000-$120,000 per year, with places at ESF primary schools costing about $50,000 per year. Another option is to enroll your child in a Direct Subsidy Scheme school as although these schools receive government funding, they enjoy much greater freedom over the syllabus that they offer and the students that they can accept than other schools, and they charge lower fees than independent or ESF schools. Note, however, that the Hong Kong government is intent on reducing or eliminating much of its funding for these private kinds of school. NETS also complain about the application fee to seek a place, and the competition to secure a place over local students and those coming across the mainland border for schooling.
Be aware that the school year in Hong Kong runs from September to July. This may mean that children coming to Hong Kong from the southern hemisphere have to repeat part of the school year.
A less expensive option is distance learning, but this presents the problem of potentially leaving your child socially isolated in Hong Kong if you do not arrange enough compensatory outside activities such as clubs, etc. If your child is between the ages of 6 and 15 then home schooling is strictly speaking illegal although in practice the authorities turn a blind eye. There are an estimated 100+ school age students enrolled in various distance learning programmes, often those offered by Australia or America.
How much will I be paid?
Teachers' salaries in Hong Kong are based on the civil service master pay scale:
Teachers start on point 17. A teacher with a post-graduate teaching qualification, B. Ed or equivalent receives two salary points. No additional points are awarded for Masters degrees, PhDs or other higher degrees. Each year of continuous full-time service in a recognised school will qualify you for an additional salary point, but teaching in private tutorial schools does not count and you must be able to provide documentary proof of service. Primary NETs cannot proceed beyond point 30 on the pay scale, and secondary NETs do not proceed beyond point 33.
In addition, NETs employed on expatriate terms receive a special allowance, which is currently $20,989 per month. This allowance is to cover the costs of living overseas, and in particular the cost of renting accommodation. NETs are required to make a declaration that their primary family or social ties are outside of Hong Kong, and may be asked to provide evidence that this is the case, in order to be eligible for the allowance. NETs are also required to inform the EDB of any change in their personal circumstances that may affect their eligibility. NETs have married Hong Kong residents and have acquired Hong Kong permanent resident status without being disbarred from receiving the special allowance. However, it remains at the EDB's discretion how to determine whether a NET is eligible for this benefit. The special allowance is reviewed every year. The most important factor which the EDB considers in deciding what rate of special allowance to recommend to the government is whether the residential rental index has moved up or down; a movement of at least 10% is required to trigger the need for a change. In theory, the EDB recommends a rate of special allowance that would be equivalent to the average cost territory-wide of 70 sq. m. apartment. In practice, the allowance has not always kept pace with changes in market rents.
Incentive Bonus and Gratuity
A NET in his or her second two-year contract without a break in service receives an incentive bonus equivalent to 5% of base salary; a NET in his third or subsequent contract receives an incentive bonus equivalent to 10% of base salary.
Upon satisfactory completion of each contract, NETs receive a gratuity equivalent to 15% of base salary.
The allowance, bonus and gratuity all count as taxable income.
What about taxes? How much will I have to pay and when?
Salaries tax is charged in arrears on the income earned during a tax year. The tax year runs from April 1st to March 31st. Usually you will receive a tax return form from the Inland Revenue in May or June directly following the end of your first tax year in Hong Kong. Once you have sent back this return you will usually receive a tax demand a few weeks later but the tax will not usually be payable until a few months later. Tax is payable in two installments and, in addition to including the full tax payable for the completed tax year, your bill will include a provisional demand for the subsequent tax year. Thus a teacher who arrives in Hong Kong in August 2011 would normally receive his first tax demand in May or June 2012 and would not pay any tax until around January 2013. The top marginal rate of salaries tax in Hong Kong is 17% and the top average rate is 15%. However, the first $108,000 of income is tax-free and the next $105,000 of income is taxed at low marginal rates. There is also a tax exemption of $50,000 for each dependent child. As a result, only a very small proportion of tax-payers pay the full 15% tax rate.
The special allowance and the gratuity count as taxable income.
Tax Reserve Certificates: These can be accessed online at the Inland Revenue Department website. The basic idea is that you organise a direct debit for each month so that your tax will be covered and paid when it is due.
What's the MPF and how will it affect me?
In December 2000 the Mandatory Provident Fund regulations came into effect so now all employees in Hong Kong are required to pay 5% of their monthly income up to a maximum of $1,000 into a pension scheme. Their employers also contribute an amount equivalent to 5% of monthly income up to a maximum of $1,000 into this pension scheme. It is not possible to terminate the scheme and draw out the benefits from it until you retire at the age of 60 or permanently leave Hong Kong.
NET teachers who are not Hong Kong permanent residents and who can provide evidence that they are participating in a pension scheme in their home country are entitled to opt for exemption from the Mandatory Provident Fund. If you wish to be exempted from the scheme, you should inform your school office as soon as possible. As expatriate teachers have traditionally been paid a gratuity instead of receiving pension benefits, the Education and Manpower Bureau has decided that employers' contributions to NET teachers' MPFs should be deductible from their gratuities. Therefore, if you participate in the MPF then when you receive your gratuity at the end of two years service you will find that up to $1,000 per month will have been deducted from what you would have originally been entitled to. This money will have been paid into your pension fund and you will only become entitled to it when you leave Hong Kong permanently or when you retire. Some MPF investors (including NETs) complain that the financial institutions which manage the funds take too much away from investments in their charges, or that the financial return is poor.
On the positive side, the MPF contribution is not taxed unlike your gratuity. For example, after a 2 year contract your gratuity is $100,000HK. If you opted out of MPF, you would be taxed 17% on the entire $100,000 leaving you with $83,000. If you had opted into the MPF, $24,000 (24 months @ $1000 /month) will have been taken from the gratuity and put into your MPF account. This leaves you a taxable gratuity of $76,000: $63,080 after tax. Add on the MPF of $24,000 & you have $87,080 - $4,080 more than not being in the MPF. This doesn't include any return on the MPF during that time. Your $1000/month MPF contribution taken from your monthly salary is also untaxed. This saves you a further $4080 over those 2 years for a total of $8160 less in tax.
Finally, if you stay in Hong Kong long enough (7 years) and opt for permanent residency, you are then legally obliged to start paying into an MPF fund.
What about health insurance?
Your contract entitles you to reimbursement of medical insurance of up to $1,400 per year if you are single or $5,400 per year if you are married. Hong Kong has a comprehensive public health system. Emergency treatment at accident and emergency wards, non-emergency hospital treatment and G.P. consultations carry only a nominal cost. However, while many people comment favourably on their experiences of Hong Kong's public hospitals, non-emergency patients at public hospitals and clinics sometimes have to wait a long time for treatment and some people have reservations about the standard of the public health service here. General wards are Spartan at best and hospital catering is extremely basic. It is however basically comparable to the UK's National Health Service and can be used as such, so if this type of service is acceptable to you then private medical insurance is not required at all.
When you take out health insurance in Hong Kong you should be careful to check how comprehensive the cover is since many policies will only cover the cost of certain types of treatment up to a fairly low limit and will have a large number of exclusions. In non-emergency cases it is also important to get an estimate from a hospital and to double check with your insurer that the treatment you intend to receive is covered before being admitted. Also, make sure you know how much the hospital charges for 'extras'. Some private hospitals in Hong Kong will even charge you for tissue paper!
Several NETs have complained that despite having insurance they were left seriously out of pocket after routine hospital treatment. This is an area where it is best to be forewarned and to exercise caution.
My spouse in coming to Hong Kong with me. Can they get a job here too?
Spouses and children are admitted to Hong Kong on a dependent visa. As of 15 May 2006, dependants of people on employment visas are allowed to work in Hong Kong without having to apply for a new visa (see Q5 of the Immigration Department's Visa FAQ's.)
If you wish to claim the passage allowance for your spouse or children, they will have to travel to and from Hong Kong within two months of your arrival and departure.
What can I do with my free time?
Hong Kong provides residents from overseas with a wide range of options to fill their free time, but some of these are expensive.
As Hong Kong is very mountainous and only 20% of the territory is built up, it provides fabulous opportunities for hiking and climbing. When the city is choking in smog it is always possible to get some fresh air by heading for the hills. Hong Kong's country parks have many trails to suit walkers of all levels of ability and also have barbecue pits, picnic areas and free campsites.
There are also many options for those who enjoy water-sports. Many of Hong Kong's beaches, particularly those near the city, are very crowded, but it is possible to find places in the New Territories where you can have miles of sand to yourself. It is also possible to try out windsurfing, canoeing or simply to club together with friends and hire a junk for a day.
Hong Kong has many cinemas that show the latest Hollywood releases and a small number of venues that show 'art-house' films. Cantonese and Mandarin language films are almost always subtitled in English but Japanese films are often only subtitled in Chinese so it's best to check before you buy your tickets.
The Hong Kong government has been striving for some time to improve the standing of the arts in the territory and while the range on offer is by no means comparable with London or New York there are still plenty of opportunities to see opera, ballet and classical music here. Look out for the following events: Fringe Festival (Jan); Arts Festival (Feb/ Mar); Le French May (May); Arts Carnival (July- Aug). Major productions of classical drama in English are less frequent, however, and it is often difficult to get tickets for cultural events unless you plan well in advance.
As for museums, Hong Kong isn't exactly comparable with London or Paris, but the local museums do have fairly frequent travelling exhibitions from major European and American museums and galleries. These can get very crowded and attract long queues. An annual museum pass ($100 for individuals; $200 for a family of four) is well worth getting as the pass includes general admission and all special exhibits, and also lets you avoid queuing for tickets when something big comes to town. Highlights in the permanent exhibits of local museums include the 'Hong Kong Story' at the History Museum and the hands on displays aimed at younger visitors at the Science Museum.
There are several major events in the cultural calendar in Hong Kong including the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens (March), the Salem Tennis Open (April) and the Folk Festival (November). Traditional Chinese festivals such as the Mid-Autumn Festival and Tuen Ng (the Dragon-Boat) Festival also provide opportunities for entertainment.
Eating out is one of the main attractions of the city as a variety of regional and international cuisine is represented by Hong Kong's many thousands of restaurants at prices to suit every budget (though prices have been going up recently). Tsim Sha Tsui, Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai also have pubs and night-clubs which stay open until very late. However, it is probably wisest to avoid the infamous go-go bars in the territory as many of these overcharge their customers.
For NETs with kids and those who are young at heart, annual passes to Hong Kong Disneyland (from $650) and Ocean Park (FROM $500) are well worth considering.
What are my leave entitlements like?
Your contract will specify how many days of paid sick leave you will be entitled to; this will depend on the number of years of continuous service at your school that you have given. It is usual for employers to require a doctor's letter when two or more days of sick leave are taken. Some schools require it for a single day. Many schools are particularly strict about sick leave being taken immediately before of after holidays. If you take unpaid discretionary leave immediately before a school holiday, you will lose all the pay and benefits for the holiday period.
Expectant mothers who have been in continuous employment for at least nine months are entitled to ten weeks of maternity leave and must begin taking this leave between two and four weeks before their expected delivery date. There is no statutory paternity leave in Hong Kong.
At the end of each contract you will be entitled to terminal leave: your school cannot require you to perform duties outside of term time during that summer holiday. The EMB also advises schools to arrange mid-contract summer holiday duties for NETs in such a way that they will have at least four continuous weeks of holiday, but unfortunately not all schools follow this advice.
Your school is allowed to grant you up to two days of paid discretionary leave each year to attend to urgent personal business such as a birth or bereavement. Any personal leave above this two-day limit is unpaid and may even affect your entitlement to a pay increment at the end of the year. Obviously, two days' leave may be inadequate for a NET who is flying back to his or her home country in order to attend a funeral and NETs have been lobbying the EMB to be more flexible on this matter. Some school principals are more understanding than others when it comes to granting leave. Some even go as far as advising the NET to take sick leave in such circumstances in order to avoid losing pay. Schools in Hong Kong do not all 'break up' on the same day for holidays and their term dates can vary quite widely from school to school. Ask for the school calendar in English but be aware when booking fares that official school dates can change without much notice.
Can I take on a part-time job in my free time?
The Immigration Department only issues you a work visa for the specific job for which you come to Hong Kong, so if you want to take up part-time work you have to get permission from the immigration department first. You will also have to get permission from your principal and a letter from the part-time employer. Nonetheless, many have taken on duties such as adult education, exam marking and private tuition which have helped to enhance their professional development.
The Education System in Hong Kong and Your Role as a NET
Please proceed to next page:The Education System in Hong Kong and Your Role as a NET.
Recommended Websites and Wikipedia Pages for Language Students
A larger repository of links and samples of students' work can be found at Englishplace, a wiki which is maintained by the creator of this guide.
Grammar and Writing
Skillswise This site has a wide range of authentic situational exercises, quizzes and games to develop grammar, vocabulary, punctuation and writing skills. Should be particularly useful for junior forms.
Ambleside School, Cumbria An extraordinary site put together by students at a school in the Lake District - limerick and haiku generators, a silly story engine, exercises on easily confused words, homophones, comprehension and lots more. Fun stuff for junior students. The site also has links for many other subjects across the curriculum.
World English Website Grammar, vocabulary and comprehension practice, quizzes, games, writing guides, lists of the most common words in English, speaking and listening resources.
English Grammar Online An online resource with a lot of exercises similar in nature to Tensebusters.
Reading and Phonics
Starfall Online books for less confident readers, with animation and audio.
Created By Teachers Resources for early learners and remedial classes including basic vocabulary and sight-reading lists, flashcards, word searches and crosswords.
Usborne Quicklinks A directory of websites recommended by the educational publisher across the curriculum, including a number of sites for English language and literature.
Storyline-Online It's a great pleasure to have a story read out loud to you - especially by a talented actor! At this site, there is video-feed of actors and actresses reading from young people's storybooks, together with printable activities.
Living English The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's programme for elementary level English listening.
Listening and Multimedia
English Bites The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's programme for language learners with documentary and general interest videos,transcripts, glossaries, explanation of grammar and usage, tips and practice for speaking and writing.
Nexus Online video documentaries and transcripts for intermediate language learners.
Listening Lab Online Over 700 audio clips with slide shows, quizzes, songs, listening games and transcripts; a wide variety of regional accents; can be searched by level of difficulty.
Writing and Grammar
Sentence Sense This is a self-taught online guide to writing coherent sentences and organising ones ideas in writing.
Web English Teacher A very extensive directory of online resources –everything from elementary English to Shakespeare
Grammar Book More advanced grammar exercises.
Teaching English Activities and lesson plans.
Rhetoric and Composition: This is a very in depth but clear and straightforward guide to how to plan, draft, organise and review your writing. Lots of helpful tips and exercises. Especially helpful for argumentative writing and for students who nhave to write analytical compositions for other subjects.
University College London Internet Grammar This site offers a formal analysis of English grammar and a wide range of exercises on identifying parts of speech, subject and object, verb form, aspect and voice, clauses, etc. Perhaps dry and technical, but should be useful for senior students seeking to polish their grammar, or even for teachers who could use it to look up clear explanations for grammar rules.
Linguarama Postscript Magazine Online resources with a focus on English for business and the world of work - particularly useful for senior students.
Cambridge Learners' DictionaryThis has to be the best online dictionary available. It provides examples of usage from the corpus, all words derived from any root words that you enter, collocations and set phrases, pronunciation, differences between American, British and Australian usage and many other features.
Idioms Dictionary of idioms with examples of usage in context from literary works.
Crossword Dictionary Use it to search for words with the same sequence of letters
Puzzlemaker Build your own printable crossword puzzles.
Linguist List Includes "ask a linguist" discussion board.
Recommended Pages for Senior Literature
Folger Library The US Shakespeare library has a large portfolio of lesson plans.
Bardware Lots of useful links for Shakespeare students.
Clicknotes Shakespeare Navigable texts of several plays including Hamlet and Twelfth Night, with extensive notes and commentary.
Shakespeare's Globe See how Shakespeare plays are still being performed in a replica of the original open-air Globe Theatre and read rehearsal notes from recent productions.
Royal Shakespeare Company Educational resources from one of the world's most prestigious theatre companies.
Hamlet Haven An extensive collection of extracts from academic texts on every aspect of Hamlet, from every conceivable critical perspective.
Shakespeare Insults 'Thou art a stinking pigeon-livered maggot-pie!'
Online Writing Guide Includes guidelines on how to make notes and plan and draft literary analysis essays
Rhetoric and Composition Wikibook Guide to writing analytical humanities essays.
Aspirations English Literature A Level Resources for practical criticism, close reading of poetry and Shakespeare.
Poets Exhaustive resources on poetry and poets.
Poetry Please Poetry on the radio - an archive of webcasts of actors reading poems requested by the audience of this popular BBC Radio 4 programme.
Poetry Foundation The archives of poetry accompanied by refreshingly unpretentious discussion of poets' backgrounds and of the themes and style of their work are terrific. There's also featured essays about how to write, about the difference between poetry and doggerel verse, about why poetry is still relevant to everyday people's lives, about children's poetry... and lots, lots more.
Poetry Magic Resource centre for the theory and craft of writing poetry.
Wandering Minstrels A poem a day by e-mail service. Get a poem sent to your inbox every day accompanied by critical commentary - for free. The commentaries are insightful and entertaining, and the choices of poems range from canonical classics to contemporary song lyrics - from Keats to Cole Porter. There's a big archive, too.
American Poems Large archives of poems and discussion boards - some users' comments are helpful but some are rather trivial.
Chaucer4All Lots of stuff on Geoffrey Chaucer including video and audio recordings of the Tales retold as hip-hop raps.
Brit Lit Downloadable short stories, activities, worksheets and lesson plans.
Short Stories Web An archive of classic and contemporary short stories together with teachers' notes, study questions, online games and activities.
Internet Movie Data Base Resources on films.
Speech and Drama
American Rhetoric A database of famous speeches from politicians and Hollywood actors, audio and video files, transcripts and analysis of the use of rhetorical devices.
Audio Bible Speech festival participants taking part in bible reading can log on and listen to an actor reading their passage.
Free Online Books of Oral Activities - Games, Situational Task-Based Activities, Role Plays, Drama, Rubrics for Self Assessment. Lots of stuff!
Hong Kong Toastmasters A social club for people who are interested in public speaking, Toastmasters also organises public speaking workshops for schools.
The English Speaking Union A registered charity, this organisation promotes the wider use of English. Organises talks, language clinics, poetry readings and debates.
Theatre Garoupa Word Up - performance poetry recitals and workshops. For more details, contact email@example.com
Hong Kong Schools' Drama Festival Rules and regulations and an archive of winning scripts.
Community Theatre Discussion Board Articles, tips for actors and directors, scripts and discussion boards.