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What to expect as a teacher in Hong Kong

Many teachers choose to teach in Hong Kong because it's got one foot in China and another foot in the west. A bustling and thriving city, Hong Kong has a selection of international schools and state school opportunities.

The cost of living and especially the cost of housing can be high in Hong Kong so make sure you do your sums if you are not given a housing allowance. Teaching in Hong Kong can be exciting and can open up many travel opportunities in the East, so make sure you can set aside the funds to enjoy it.

About Hong Kong

Language: English and Chinese
Population: 7 million

Hong Kong packs a lot of punch for its small size. Hong Kong lies on the Pearl River Delta on the Southeast coast of China. Hong Kong covers an area of just over 1,000 square kilometres, with its core hub being in Victoria Harbour, with surprisingly a large majority of Hong Kong being countryside. Formally a British Colony, the Chinese and British governments signed a joint declaration in 1984, giving Hong Kong back to China in 1 July 1997. However, Hong Kong is still slightly detached from mainland China in the fact that it became a special administrative region. Hong Kong has its own administrative control including financial, legal and educational systems.

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region encompasses Hong Kong Island as well as the other regions of Kowloon, Outlying Islands including the largest, Lantau, and New Territories giving it a land mass slightly larger than Singapore or Bahrain. It takes only about an hour and a half to get from one end of Hong Kong to the other.

Hong Kong is one of the world’s financial centres, with low taxation and free trade. It is a stable economy with strengths in banking, business and tourism.

Cantonese is the official language of Hong Kong, and English is the second official language. English, according to a 1996 census, is spoken by 3.1% of the population as an everyday language and 35% as a second language. Signs are usually in both English and Chinese.

Hong Kong has no official religion and a majority of residents claim no religious affiliation. Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of religious freedom, guaranteed by law. Of those having a religious affiliation, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confusianism are common. About 11% of the population are Christian, but there are also Sikh, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu communities.

Education System

Hong Kong's education system was based originally on that of England, and it is a bilingual system. In secondary schools bi-literate and trilingual (with Mandarin being the third language) proficiency is sought. The system consists of non-compulsory three year kindergarten, followed by primary, junior and senior school leading to an examination to receive the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education.

Teachers can work in state schools in Hong Kong through the NET programme, or in international schools.

Education is a big priority in Hong Kong and a large percentage of public funding is invested in it. In the top of the Pisa tests in 2009, which tests critical thinking in reading, maths and science, Hong Kong's students scored above most of the countries that participated, including the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland.

Climate

Hong Kong has a sub tropical climate with four distinct seasons.

Autumn (September to November) : There are pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. Many people regard these as the best months of the year to be in Hong Kong. The average temperature is 19 to 28 degrees C.

Winter (December to February): The winter is cool, dry and cloudy. The temperature on average is 12 to 20C.

Spring (March to May): Temperature and humidity rise but evenings can be cool. The average temperatures range from 17 to 26 C.

Summer (June to August): Summers are hot, humid and sunny. Occasional showers and thunderstorms are common. The average temperatures are 26 to 30 C. The temperature can exceed 31°C and high humidity levels can make it feel even hotter.

Eating and Drinking

Hong Kong has plenty to offer with over 11,000 restaurants and hundreds of bars and clubs. Dim Sum, Peking Duck and Hot Pot are only a small selection of Hong Kong's delicacies. Due to the many different nationalities in Hong Kong, you will also find many South East Asian, Indian, Chinese and Western restaurants and dishes so you will never be stuck for choice. There are also street and night markets where you can get yourself a cheap meal.

Things to do

Hong Kong has an amazing amount of variety packed into a small country. Whilst Hong Kong Island is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, the surrounding territories are filled with green space, hills and sea. Tourists to Hong Kong visit Disneyland and Ocean Park Aquapark, take a trip up to The Peak for magnificent city views, shop in the Ladies Market and Temple Street Night Market, and visit the Big Buddha and the Po Ling Monastery.

For active breaks, swim at the beaches, enjoy the city parks and visit the islands that make up Hong Kong to hike breath taking hills, lush forests and see eerie volcanic landscapes. For those who like the arts, Hong Kong offers theatre, music and dance performances, all-year round. Truly Hong Kong has something for everyone.

Transport

Hong Kong's public transport system is very good. It is clean and safe, and most of all, it is cheap. There are also plenty of taxis available for you to use, if you are lost or prefer to use them over public transport.

Currency

The local currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong dollar or HKD.

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