Pathways To Learning Hong Kong Registered School 566985 & 600733

Sue Smith
Director of Exam Services, English teacher
Qualifications: M.Ed. (NTU), B.A. (Monash), G.Dip.Ed., G.Dip.App.Ling.

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Sue has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, with minors in Linguistics and Philosophy from Monash University. She also studied some History and some Politics during her undergraduate studies. She completed a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education with teaching specialities in English and History at Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University) and she has a Graduate Diploma in Applied Linguistics with a focus on English as a Second Language and a Master’s of Education – both also from Northern Territory University. Her dissertation for her Master’s was in Workplace Literacy. Sue has worked at international schools across Asia Pacific and has spent many years in Hong Kong. She has worked at ITS since our inception in 2005.

On becoming a teacher:
I became an English teacher for two reasons – because I love language and because being a teacher of English is in demand and can allow you to travel. And I was right – I’ve lived and worked in different places around the world, while still being able to do something I love – learning about and sharing language.

I love the interaction with young people. It is so refreshing to be able to teach young people and to develop a rapport with them through that process. Adolescents are interesting because they are forming their world views and shaping themselves for the future adults they will become. To be part of the process, by teaching an adolescent, is an honour.

Reading for pleasure is very important to me. I mostly read literary fiction but I am also happy to read other things – especially books about travel. I love to read Classics as well. I also read poetry and plays. I am interested in good journalism and I read a lot of news articles – mostly from the lifestyle section of a couple of quality newspapers. Seeing language used in all of these different ways is very inspirational and that also has an impact on my teaching.

I think to teach well you need to remember what it is to be a learner. In the last couple of years I have started learning Spanish. I love it as I see it is a type of puzzle to try and solve – how to use the components of this new language. Initially I thought I’d learn some Spanish so I could travel a bit in South America. But now my Spanish has started to improve, I am aiming to be able to read some famous writers who write in Spanish, in their own language. I have read a lot of these writers translated into English but I’d love to read them in the language they wrote in. Hopefully soon my language development in Spanish will be good enough so I can do this.

An admirable person:
It might sound like a bit of a cliché but I admire William Shakespeare. His is truly the voice of the previous millennia. Even people who haven’t read Shakespeare or seen his plays can probably quote some of the lines he wrote. His plays are still very popular and people go and see them when they are performed. His stories are universal and still have relevance for a modern audience. For a writer who died more than 500 years ago, that is an amazing feat. I wonder if there will be any modern writers who will survive the next 500 years in the way Shakespeare has.

An inspirational person:
I think female writers from the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century are inspirational. At a time when the voices of women were barely heard, there were some women who were able to write and leave their stories for future audiences. I am thinking of writers I love like Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and George Eliot (who ironically is still known by her male pseudonym) but there are others. There were also poets like Emily Dickenson and Christina Rossetti. These women are inspirational because to know the lives of women at a time in history when the novel was beginning to take shape, gives a modern reader some insight into the difficulties women faced and the ways they strove to overcome those difficulties.

Top tip tip younger self:
I would tell the secondary school –aged Sue to read more. I was a good reader in secondary school but I wish I had been able to read even more. There is so much to be learnt from reading. There will always be another book I’m hoping to get to and hoping to finish and the thought of not being able to read everything I want to is a bit alarming. If I’d done even more reading as a younger person, I believe that it would have been a positive for me in many ways.


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