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英語教學先鋒﹣孫美英老師專訪 Interview with the English Teaching Legend: Miss Betty Suen 17/03/2010
 


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孫美英老師 ﹣ 除了作為中學部英文科科主任外,大家對這位在玫瑰崗服務超過三十三年的老師有多少認識呢?玫瑰崗舊生會希望各位能透過以下的專訪加深大家對孫老師的認識:

 

一位英語老師的誕生

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孫老師在一九七零年於聖嘉勒女書院畢業後便即獲威靈頓書院聘任為該校的英語科及歷史科老師,並在一九七三年取得教育文憑。後來在一九七五年當孫老師得知玫瑰崗學校中學部招聘老師後,孫老師決定向這所在無論在待遇和工作環璄上都比較優勝的學校申請教職。孫老師還記得當年是由當時的中學部校長謝天仁神父跟她面試的,在該次面試不久後孫美英老師正式獲我校聘任,亦開始了孫老師在玫瑰崗學校三十三年的教學生涯。

 

對於當時「初到貴境」的孫老師,玫瑰崗學校給她的第一個印象是一所在教學及學習環境上俱佳的學府,大部份學生都頗活潑好動。到今天孫老師仍一直跟她在玫瑰崗第一年的學生保持聯絡。孫老師還記得在七十年代校內總是充滿著濃烈的音樂氣氛,當時學校內有很多支由學生組成的樂隊,它們常各出奇謀為自己的樂隊爭取演出機會。

 

由於孫老師是一名天主教徙,所以初期她被安排任教英語和宗教兩科。雖然孫老師在玫瑰崗只是一名「新丁」,但在跟她同坐在當時三三九教員室的老師(包括蘇彩妍老師、劉連芳老師等)的幫助下,她很快便在這新工作環境適應下來。到今天孫老師仍十分感謝這批老師在那段日子給她的鼓勵和支持。亦因為當時李銳健老師的鼓勵下,她才會在其後到香港大學進修英語。在香港大學成功修畢三年英語學士學位後,孫老師很快便被學校晉升為中學部英語科系主任。

 

英語心得 

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在過往,玫瑰崗學校的畢業生常被外界認為英語能力較其他學校的畢業生強;然而,孫老師在過去的三十年親眼目睹本校學生的英語水平正不斷下降。作為英語科系主任多年,她認為這可能跟我校中學學生的「來源」可能有關。她說:「以前,我校的中一學生大部分都是由本校的小學畢業生直接升上來,所以他們的英語基礎一般都比較好和一致。」縱使近年間在我校教授英語面對愈來愈多困難和挑戰,但孫老師一直緊守崗位,堅持著她教授英語的四大原則:1)多閲讀 2)多書寫 3)多聆聽

及4) 多用英語會話。

 

教學難忘二、三事 

 

雖然玫瑰崗學校中學部在數年前被教統局要求要利用母語教授大部分學科,但孫美英老師依然都一直努力不懈為學生舉辦不同的英語活動和比賽(如英語閱讀計劃、英語週、班際英文歌唱比賽和朗誦比賽等),使校園內充滿學習英語的氣氛和機會。其實在孫老師正式退休前,她每年暑假均會利用難得的長假期跟她中五和中七的學生補課,協助他們準備來年的公開考試。

 

大家可能會好奇,在三十三年的教學生涯中孫老師可有教過一些令她難忘的學生。孫老師告訴筆者在芸芸門生中在二零零壹年中五畢業她任班主任的那班學生與她的感情最為特別。最大的原因是那班學生是她由他們從中一開始一直當他們的班主任直至他們中五畢業為止。在這那五年的朝夕相處,孫老師與那班學生建立了深厚的友誼和亦師亦友的關係。就算當孫美英老師在後期短暫離開玫瑰崗往中文大學作交流任職時,她依然給予這班學生英語功課,亦會替他們批改他們的英語文章。此外,孫老師更會為他們組織一些戶外活動,如遠足、戶外旅行、參觀博物館、在孫中山先生壽辰紀念日參觀中山文物徑等。值得一提的是他們在這些活動進行時,所有參加者均必須以英語交談,以鍛練他們的英語會話能力。最終,孫老師多年來為這批學生的付出亦得到回報,因為他們當中有不少在中七畢業後均獲香港大學錄取。

 

此外,在孫老師第一年在玫瑰崗學校任教的第一年時,有一位名叫Carlo Chan的學生曾經問過這位當年的「新」老師為何當上老師時,孫老師謙虚地說:「其實除了當老師,我也不知道可以幹什麼行業呢!」當時比一般中三學生成熟的Carlo便一本正經地對孫老師說:「其實不管妳做什麼事情或行業,我相信妳一定會做得很好的。」 而孫老師多年來把這段話一直牢牢的記著在心中。

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任教英語科那麼多年,其中有一件事確實令到孫老師感到自豪不已。話說雖然孫老師在大學時期曾經選修英語文學科,但一直以來我校的英語文學科均是由外藉老師負責任教的。可是,到一九九零年代初期某一年,當那位一直負責任教英語文學科的外藉老師因移民關係而要辭任玫瑰崗時,孫老師獲臨危受命,被通知她在暑假後要接替這名老師任教英語文學班。為了使這班中五會考班能提早適應她的教學,並且讓他們好好準備該科的中五會考,孫老師在那年的暑假期間為這班學生進行一系列的額外英語文學科補課。最後,在老師和學生的努力下,該班學生在當年會考的英語文學科合格率為百分之七十五,是之前一年的那班的三倍呢!

 

接受新挑戰

 

多年來,孫美英老師一直沒有滿足於現狀,她經常找機會去找尋自己在其他方面的潛能。所以,在我校任教二十八年後,她向校監神父申請暫時離開她的教職數年,到中文大學參與一個名叫「學校伙伴計劃」的教學計劃。上述計劃的目的為協助香港不同中、小學改進它們英語科的課程內容和老師的教學方法。孫老師希望在此向范士豪校監神父致謝,感謝范神父當年支持她離校作不同嘗試的決定。其實當初孫老師亦對自己能否勝任這計劃是有點懷疑,尤其是她並沒有任教小學的經驗。另外,因為當時的工作需要,孫老師有時是需要在課室內觀察其他學校老師的授課,在課堂後與他們分享她對他們教學的觀察和意見,有時候她甚至需要在課堂期間作教學示範。大家可以想像到最初有好些老師會對上述的安排或許覺得有點尶尬,甚至對孫老師建議的教學方法抱著的懷疑的態度,但當後來那些老師嘗試採納孫老師的意見後的成果時,他們均對孫老師的教學心得臣服不已,深信不疑。

 

孫老師的英語教學心得其實很簡單,她會鼓勵學生們在課堂中的每一刻盡量以英語表達自己, 同時老師亦要周詳地計劃如何在課堂中使每名學生主動投入英語的學習。

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或許很多人會想:現在孫老師退下來,應該會有多一點時間讓自己多做一些自己喜歡的事吧。剛剛相反,現在的孫老師可能比以退休前還要忙碌呢。因為自正式退休後,孫老師在多間中學當代課老老師;她更開玩笑說她希望能在香港各區代課,好使她能透過在不同地區學校代課時能讓她有機會好好了解香港各區的特色。除了代課工作外,孫老師經常會跟另一批玫瑰崗的退休老師聚會,其中包括勞煥聲老師、李惠卿老師、林寶英老師、關錦玉老師等。除此以外,孫老師亦參加了了一個由一批退休老師、校長和公務員組成的閱讀分享會。

 

良言和寄語

 

雖然有好些老師會覺得我校學生有點過份活躍,但孫美英老師對我校學生的評語是他們大部份只是比較活潑和好奇而已。正因為這原因,孫老師寄語現在仍在我校任教的老師要對學生多加點耐性,將來他們一定會看到現在辛勤教導的成果的。

 

Interview with Ms Betty Suen

 

Apart from being the English Panel Head in Rosaryhill School for 33 years , do you think you really know much about Ms Betty Suen? We hope the interview below could help you to get to know Ms Suen better:

 

Birth of an English Teaching Legend 

 

Ms Suen started her teaching career as an English and History teacher in Wellington College after she graduated from St Claire’s Girls School in 1970. In  1973 she obtained the teaching certificate through the E-Services. In 1975, Ms Suen noticed a teaching vacancy in Rosaryhill School which offered a better remuneration package and teaching environment. Ms Suen still remembers that she was interviewed by our then Father Principal, Father Lionel Xavier, who offered her a teaching post soon after and that marked the beginning of her 33-year teaching career in RHS.

 

When Ms Betty Suen first joined RHS, her first impression of RHS was that the school campus provided a splendid teaching and learning environment. Most of the students were very outgoing at that time; at present she is still in touch with many of the students whom she taught in her first year in RHS. Ms Suen told us that during the 1970’s the school campus was always filled with strong music atmosphere; many student bands were formed and they always competed against each other for performing opportunities in various school events.

 

Due to Ms Suen’s Catholic background, she was first assigned to teach both Religious Studies and English subjects. Although she was new in RHS, it did not take Ms Suen very long to get used to the new environment. Her colleagues who were sitting in the same Teachers’ Room (Room 339) such as Ms Lily Lo, Ms So Choi Yin and Ms Cathy Lau were all very friendly and supportive and she enjoyed their company very much since they shared the same work ethics and passion towards their job. They supported and encouraged each other during that period and Ms Suen is still thankful for her former colleague, Ms Eliza Lee, who encouraged Ms Suen to take a part-time bachelor degree in the University of Hong Kong and soon after completing the course Ms Suen was promoted to be the Panel Head of the English Department.

 

Devoted English teacher

 

In the past, RHS’ graduates were always considered to be strong at English but Ms Suen told us that she witnessed the gradual deterioration of English standard among RHS students over the last three decades and she said it might be due to the source of our students. She said ‘In the past, most of the Form One students were always promoted directly from our Primary Section; therefore, their English foundation tended to be a bit stronger and more consistent.’ Despite the fact that teaching English became more and more challenging in the recent years, she never gave up her teaching principles. She always believed that the four key elements for learning English are 1) read 2) write 3) listen and 4) speak respectively.

 

Although RHS was required by the Education Bureau to use Chinese as the main medium, Ms Betty Suen had made tremendous efforts to keep an English environment within the school campus, she launched various projects such as reading programme, English Week, inter-class English singing contests and choral speaking competitions. Moreover, before her retirement, every year Ms Suen always used all her long holidays on conducting additional English classes to help the Secondary 5 and Secondary 7 students to prepare for their public examinations.

 

Unforgettable Teaching Encounters 

 

When Ms Betty Suen was asked if she had any favorite student(s) during her 33-year teaching career, she said with no hesitation that the Secondary 5 class that graduated in 2001 was one of the most unforgettable groups as she nurtured them under her wings for five consecutive years from Secondary One to Five. During those five years Ms Suen became very close to this group of students and they developed a very strong bonding with each other and when she was being seconded in the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the later years, Ms Suen would still give English assignments to this class of students such as English reading and writing and Ms Suen still would mark their English. Furthermore, Ms Suen had also organized different kinds of activities such as hiking, picnic, visiting museums, exploring Sun Yat-Sen Historical Trail on Dr Sun Yat Sen’s birthday etc. It is worth noting that during such outing activities, every participant was required to speak in English only. Finally Ms Suen’s hard work was paid off as a great percentage of this class was admitted to the University of Hong Kong.

 

Although Ms Suen has encountered a number of unforgettable students over the years, one of her first students did say something which stuck firmly in her head for many than three decades. Carlo Chan, Ms Suen’s Form 3 student whom she taught in her first year, asked her one day ‘Why did you decide to become a teacher?’ Ms Suen replied him ‘I actually don’t know, maybe I just don’t know what other jobs I could do.’ Then Carlo, who was more mature than his peers, said to her ‘I believe no matter what you decide to do, you will do that matter well.’

 

Furthermore, Ms Suen also shared with us one of her biggest achievements in her teaching career. In the past, although Ms Suen had studied English literature at university, she had never taught the subject as it was always taught by other native English teachers. However, in early 1990’s Ms Suen was asked to take over the English literature class when the teacher in charge of the subject decided to immigrate overseas; in order to help that class of students to prepare properly for their HKCEE, she started conducting additional English literature classes during the summer holidays. Finally, the pass rate of the English Literature in HKCEE that year was 75%, which was triple of the previous year’s.

  

Seeking New Challenges

 

During her teaching career, Ms Betty Suen always kept exploring her potentials. After having worked as a teacher for almost 28 years, Ms Suen took a very surprising move. She decided to take a temporary leave from her teaching post to seek a new challenge in her career. She requested to be seconded to the Chinese University of Hong Kong to participate in a University and Schools Partnership Scheme. The scheme was set up for the purpose of assisting school and curriculum development. Ms Suen said that she was grateful to our Father Supervisor, Father Heras Francisco, for allowing her to leave her teaching duties for three years. When she first started this teacher training job, Ms Suen was not very confident especially the job required her to train primary school teachers while she had had no experience in primary school education. She was required to observe other teachers’ teaching in class and Ms Suen had to discuss her views about their teaching with those teachers after class. Sometimes Ms Suen even would have to demonstrate how to teach in class. In the beginning some of these teachers felt a little offended but eventually they all appreciated the assistance provided by the scheme and Ms Suen’s guidance especially when they saw improvements in their students’ performance.

 

Over her teaching for almost four decades, Ms Suen has developed her own teaching principles which are:

1)   Let them speak

2)   Engage them

3)   Think discourse

 

Ms Suen strongly believes that it was vital for the teachers to encourage students to vocalize the target language for at least 50% of the class time. Teachers should also come up with activities and tasks to keep all students occupied throughout the class.

 

A Retired Hero

  

Many people would think Ms Betty Suen should have more spare time for her own after her retirement, but actually her schedule is still quite full.  Since her retirement, she has constantly been asked to work as substitute teacher in different schools. Ms Suen joked that she would try to find substitute teaching opportunities in schools in all 18 districts so that she could take the opportunity to explore the different characteristics in these districts.

 

Apart from that, Ms Suen still meets up with other retired teachers, such as Ms Lee Wai Hing, Ms Elsie Kwan, Ms Belinda Lam and Ms Amy Lo, regularly for gatherings. Moreover, she has also joined a reading club which was organized by a group of retired teachers, school principals and former officers of the Education Bureau.

 

 

Sharing

 

Over the 33 years with RHS, Ms Betty Suen noticed that the majority of our school’s students tend to be of cheerful and curious character. Some teachers, on the other hand, might find some students a little ‘too active’. However, Ms Suen wishes to tell those who are still serving in RHS that they would definitely see rewards of their good work in the future if they could be more patient with the students. She believes that most of the students will eventually appreciate teachers’ efforts one day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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