A Day in the Life of a Post-Secondary CNET

Wondering what it's like to work in post-secondary education in Hong Kong? Never fear as our own Deveney Manuel is on hand to talk us through it...

It’s just gone 10am in the morning and when you’re working with post-secondary students in Hong Kong, this time of day can feel like an episode of The Walking Dead. Students scarcely have the energy to look up and say ‘hi’ after their all-night League of Legends sessions the previous evening. All things considered, it's fortunate that we have a canteen to prevent them trying to take a bite out of each other.

My campus in Kwun Tong is quite small compared to other institutions and I am stationed with one other CNET (Chatteris Native English Teacher). The CILL (Centre for Language Learning) is where you’ll find us both from 10:00 till 18:00 on a weekday. After signing the attendance register, I make myself some tea and my day begins. Slowly but surely.

From 10:15 till 12:30 you find three people in the CILL: the receptionist, the other CNET and I. As soon as lunch time hits (and the students finally wake up), the sound of tumbling jenga blocks fills the CILL. Two students find their way to the piano and play the iconic Harry Potter theme song. It’s a complete change in atmosphere and it’s the CNETs’ job to make sure all these students are speaking English, so me and my colleague roll up our sleeves and join in the conversations.

The smell of good food, or just food in general, can make any person happy. Here’s a pro tip: always have lunch with a student to avoid any miscommunication with the cashiers. I’ve had an incident where I showed them what I wanted and it ended up being the total opposite – rice instead of noodles and pork instead of beef- what a fateful day that was. After devouring my lunch I make my way back to the CILL to get cracking with our daily workshops.

A workshop is a lot like a lesson, except you’re given a lot more creative licence. Today, we’re sorting students into the houses from Harry Potter (we have a few Potter geeks on our campus), which is a lot of fun. Students take turns donning the sorting hat and you can tell that there’s a certain amount of fun and freedom that they don’t get in their more ‘formal’ lessons.

By the time 18:00 hits, it’s time to head back. I’m normally home at around 7pm, leaving plenty of the evening left to explore Hong Kong and sort out some dinner. Fortunately, I live in Mong Kok, where there’s always something happening and a new experience to try!

Post-secondary is definitely an experience as you never know what to expect. Each day brings a different challenge, and it is all the more enjoyable for it.


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