Pathways To Learning Hong Kong Registered School 566985 & 600733

John Whelpton
Latin, Greek and Classics teacher

Qualifications: Ph.D., M.A., DTEO

John graduated in classics (i.e. Latin and ancient Greek language and literature, ancient history and philosophy) from Trinity College, Oxford and then taught English as a volunteer college lecturer in Nepal for two years. After six and a half years in the British civil service, he returned to academic life to complete a Ph. D on 19th century Nepali politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies and also obtained a Diploma in the Teaching of English Overseas. Since 1987, he has been based in Hong Kong where he worked as a NET teacher and studied for an MA in Applied Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong. He now works almost exclusively as a Latin tutor with individual students or small groups. His experience with teenagers has mostly been in the preparation of candidates for the Cambridge IGCSE and for UK Common Entrance and Scholarship exams as well as for SAT but he has also done some teaching at higher levels. He has been with ITS since 2012 and is the founder and convenor of the Circulus Latinus Honcongensis (香港拉丁文 協會), which brings together Latin enthusiasts of all levels of proficiency. He has produced a wide range of learning materials, many of which can be freely accessed here.

On teaching:
I came into teaching because of an interest in learning, particularly languages and history, and also a wish to have a job that would make it easy for me experience life in different cultures. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm for my subject with others and teaching is the ultimate expression of that.

I have continued researching and publishing on Nepalese history and politics (my publications list is here) and I am an honorary research associate of the Catholic Studies Centre at CUHK and also a committee member of the Hong Kong Anthropological Society. I encourage students to see the parallels and differences between ancient Roman culture and those of other times and places. I believe that good teachers are continuous learners.

Admirable and inspirational people:
Difficult to say, but perhaps Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), the Italian Jesuit missionary who became a major figure in the late Ming Dynasty. Although I am not myself a practising Catholic, I greatly admire the way in which he adopted many aspects of Chinese culture himself whilst bringing Western knowledge to China and also the way in which he sought parallels between Chinese thought and Christianity rather than seeing it simply as something to condemn and replace. And, Professor Martin West (1937-2015), often regarded as the leading British classicist of his generation, whose lectures I attended as an undergraduate. As well as conventional editing of texts, he specialised in exploring the many links between classical Greek culture and its Middle Eastern background.

Top tip to younger self:
Not to hang on in a job once you realise you are not really suited to it. I should have got out of the civil service much earlier than I did.


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