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：
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
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。
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.
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.