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Summer Peer-to-Peer English Tutoring Program 2005 - Essays

Here we put our collection of essays by both the tutors and the Hon Wah students sharing their experiences in the Chinglin Tutoring Program.

Add your essay to the collection by sending it to Program Coordinator Perry Yu at

Note on photos: You may click photos below to view the full images, if you are using the Microsoft Internet Explorer as browser. More photos of the Chinglin Tutoring Program 2005 at Maplewood Albums.

From the Student Tutors

We have essays by Jane, Sherwin. Marie, Tammy, Joanne, Daphne and Vivien. More to come....

From Hon Wah Students

We have a booklet of essays compiled and distributed at
program closing on August 18, 2005 - with contributions from 徐廣祥, 潘冰兵 (Ice), Julia, Pooh, Andy, Kevin, Yuki, 張國鐘, Jason, 邱家娜, 嚴文卿, Joyce, Thomas, and Fang:

Hon Wah Middle School on Ching Lin Terrace, Hong Kong. The summer tutoring program is named Chinglin Tutoring Program after the terrace. Chinglin 青蓮 means the Green Lotus, and sounds the same as Youth 青年 in Cantonese.

Peer Support - SCMP Young Post cover story August 29, 2005



It is hard to believe the 6-week peer to peer English Tutoring program has finally come to an end. I would like to express my gratitude to co-ordinators from Maplewood and teachers for Hon Wah for their support and advice, my team mates and of course Hon Wah students. Together we made everything possible.

This program is really different from what I used to do during my previous holidays. It is my first time spending so much time teaching students of my age from a totally different environment. At the beginning I was really nervous, worried about how the students will behave and how if I can cope with everything. Fortunately, the first day turned out very well, all the students showed hospitality to us "visitors" and we felt warmly welcomed.

Throughout this 6 week program, I experienced and learnt many things I haven't tried before. For my whole life I have been learning but I haven't tried to teach anyone and this program really, is a challenge for me. I had to do curriculum preparation before starting the day and sometimes even I myself got confused. I taught and learnt at the same time. When students raised some simple questions even we have to hesitate for a while before answering their questions. This tells us what we know is not enough, we are still learning from our mistakes. In this program there is also an exchange of different culture in the same place. Each one of us has a different background and from sharing our experience we can see what it is like in another community we are not used to.

I never regretted devoting so much time on this program. I learnt many things I could never experience at school and at home. I found out that being teacher is not an easy job. Being tutors we have the opportunity to organize everything ourselves from lesson curriculum, course duration to grouping and excursions with advice from co-ordinators of Maplewood and teachers from Hon Wah. Unless the matter is too hard for us to handle, we are encouraged to organize everything ourselves and be responsible to students in our own group. This trained us to be independent and solved all the problems ourselves. I had the opportunity to recruit most of our team members and organizing the team. Without each one of our team, this program can never be anymore successful.

One of the highlights of this program was that we went to watch "Charlie and the Chocolate factory" directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. We were all really excited. It was a brand new experience. I have never tried going out to watch a movie with 20 people. The movie turned out to be amazing and we had a really enjoyable time.

I really hope what we did this summer help. I know I didn't try my best to help them but I believe what they learn in this program will come to use in future. I am really glad that I came to this program, learnt so many things and met new friends. I hope all the Hon Wah students will try to grab hold of every single chance they have to improve their English even when we are away. Expose themselves more to the English medium, learning from everyday information. Try to listen more and speak more. I hope that we will have the chance to see each other again in future and I hope every student we taught will be more comfortable talking in English.

Finally a big well done to everyone, especially Jacky, Thomas and Cady! :D



About two months ago, during our Exeat, Jane suddenly asked me whether I was interested in joining an English tutoring summer programme with her, without thinking I nodded my head and promised to go. My initiative of joining this programme was to broaden my view so as to gain some working experience. However after nearly a month of tutoring, I realised that I did not only reach what I was aiming for, but I also achieved many unexpected things.

To my surprise, I did not only teach, but I learnt. I gained knowledge of a great deal from both my fellow tutors as well as my students. I discovered many usual or the Basic English points that I was never taught before. This did not only improve the students' English, but it also strengthened my English foundation as well. As for the students', I really admire their enthusiasms along with their conscientiousness. Being a student myself, I really have to learn from them - being more involved and more enthusiastic. As for myself, I am no longer the shy little girl, who cannot speak in public. As a substitute I became more confident when I talk in front of a lot of people and my communication skills improved by lengths as well.

After many hours of teaching, I finally understood being a teacher is not an easy thing. As this was my very first time in being an English teacher, I found it extremely challenging, but at the same time I enjoyed it very much. We encountered quite a lot of difficulties through out the programme. I found it even harder when the students' were too quiet and not interested in the things that we prepared. Sometimes it was quite frustrating when we could not come up with anything fun as well as useful to do. To be a teacher is not a simple occupation, which involves plenty mental training as well as physical ability - standing for hours!

One of the most valuable memory, I had from Ho Wah is definitely I made a bunch of new friends. The tutors and students both got along really well. Since we are all at the same age, I did not see myself as a tutor, but as a friend who shares her knowledge and experience with them. I believe this could make it easier to for the students to learn. At the same time, I made many new friends that I could talk to and fooled around.

Once there were only very few tutors presented, but with a very high attendance, therefore I came up with an activity - drama. Drama has always been one of my favourite subjects and I could make use of my knowledge in this class. This can encourage the students to speak as much English as possible and everyone has to participate in it.

Does not time fly? The three teaching weeks programme is coming to an end. In fact, I really enjoy teaching and appreciate all my students for being so kind to me. I know I had been a terrible teacher, but they never complained or anything, instead they suggested many alternative teaching methods. I am very grateful for such an opportunity and memorable experience. At the end, I would like to wish all my students best of luck.



When I heard about this program, I was filled with excitement. Gradually, excitement turned into concern, because I was afraid that I wasn't qualified to teach the Hon Wah students. I was scared that my English didn't meet the requirements. Although encouragements were given, I still had doubts.

It was a miracle that I passed the first day with the Hon Wah students with nothing whatsoever in my hands for them to do. That morning passed rather quickly, as I would have expected a lot more dead air and silent moments, but we managed to get them together and play some games. I realized that a few were yawning and paying little attention, particularly the one who was using his dictionary gadget most of the time by the corner. Nevertheless I did have fun. For the last hour, we were separated into small groups; I was assigned with Koey and Pooh. We started having small random conversations and at the same time, I was eavesdropping the other group's talk. I desperately needed more interesting questions to ask the students, because my only answers were only 'yes', 'no' and other simply words. Finally, the lesson was over. Thank god! From that day on, I learned that preparation for class is essential!

After hours of searching materials for the students at home, I was totally knackered, not only from walking some two hundred stairs, but also from keeping the students involved. Lessons went slightly smoother from that day on.

A challenging event: Tammy and I arrived that morning expecting everything would be like usual, but it turned out to my most memorable experience. After having waited for approximately fifteen minutes, no other tutors showed up, so we decided to watch an episode of 'Friends' to use up some of the time, hoping someone else would turn up. In the end, we had fourteen students waiting to be taught. The teaching was difficult, because many were not paying attention and listening. I can say that there was lack of control and discipline of the class, and I lost my patience. In the end, I couldn't resist the noise and behavior of some of the students. Out of the blue, I recalled that I asked my fellow peers to settle down and to give us some respect. The students were not focusing and are not to blame. My afterthoughts were that my teaching was a failure! However, it definitely was a huge challenge!

Overall, I've learned a lesson - always pay attention, try to chatter less in class, and be more polite and thankful to teachers.

Nevertheless the unsuccessful events of teaching, there were also many wonderful experiences, where tutors get challenged by students and vice versa, teaching materials students haven't learnt before and most importantly they were able to use it and understood it. The sense of accomplishment was indescribable.

I thank those who've tolerated my temper and annoying habits. I also thank Maplewood and Hon Wah Middle School as well as those who've given me a superb six weeks peer-to-peer tutoring experience. I wish Hon Wah students and my beloved peer tutors the best in their academic future.



Time flies and after 6 weeks of hard work and cooperation of the Hon Wah students and student tutors, this tutoring program has come to a marvellous end, along with buckets of tears (or not) and our much better understanding of each other.

Throughout the program, I have had a lot of really pleasant surprises. The night before the program started, I was so excited but also so nervous that I could hardly sleep at all. What really worried me were any communication problems and not knowing how or what to teach. In the end, it turned out that all the students were much better in English than I thought they would be. They were also so helpful and friendly that I did not find it hard to talk to them at all.

The whole tutoring program went pretty smoothly without many problems. I think the only tedious time was when there was only me and Marie facing a group of 15 students, since all the other tutors were either on vacation or having a lesson themselves. But still, we managed to plan our time pretty well that lesson. We watched an hour of "Friends", when everyone had a lot of fun and laughter. After that, we did some grammar, proof-read and pronunciation exercises. The students behaved really well except at times the concentration level was dropping and we had to keep calling them back to the class. It was a tiring lesson but I think I have learnt a lot from it since I have finally managed to grasp some skills of being humorous in classes so as to keep students from getting bored.

Another memorable lesson was the one when we put the students into small groups and asked each group to perform a short scene with the given theme so as to get them talking. It seemed quite hard to get them started since they were all quite timid and I supposed they didn't want to make fools of themselves. However, after we discussed the theme together, out came some ideas of how the scene should be like. Therefore, we started rehearsing for it and they were just improving so quickly. When it came to performing the scene, we were all dazzled by their amazing drama skills and their ability to memorise so many lines in so short a time. Everyone was laughing his or her head off at the funny bits of the short scene. The atmosphere was relaxed and the students seemed to have overcome the stage fright problem and spoke every single word loud and clear, not afraid of making any possible mistakes.

After all those lessons, no one can miss noticing how hardworking everyone was. They were always willing to learn new and maybe difficult stuff and did not complain when we went over stuff that they have learnt but which some of them might not be very sure about. One thing that I can remember very clearly is that one time in the middle of a lesson, I told my students that they could have a 20 minute break and I was expecting them to be happy about it. Instead, they looked at me uncertainly and said, "I think a 5 minute break is enough for me." This was quite shocking at the time since I have never met anyone who was so willing to learn in my entire life.

One thing that I think not only me, but all the tutors have come to realise, is that how hard it is to be a tutor. Not only do we need to plan for the lessons, we also need to keep the spirit high all the time and try to be as encouraging as we can. These are things that I have never done before and I usually just start to panic whenever I encounter problems and ask for help from my parents who are always so protective of me. This is when the bond between the tutors is particularly important as we work together to try and solve the problems. This was a bit tough at first but as the program continues, we just got more and more used to it and at the end, it only takes us about a split second to try and figure out what to do next.

Finally, I just need to say a huge thank you to everyone, especially to the Hon Wah students for coming to the lessons and for cooperating so well. I look forward to seeing all of you soon.

Love for all,



This was my first tutoring programme as well as voluntary programme. Participating in this has definitely brightened up my summer, with the sense of satisfaction and some newly made friendships. I had never realised how successful you would feel when somebody understands what you had explained! Teaching is definitely the biggest challenge of all as I was totally inexperienced. It was not that I did not understand what I wanted to teach, but the problem was I could not put it into words. However, knowing 6 girls of my age were going through exactly the same problem I was facing helped a lot. We discussed about what we could do in lessons and help each other.

On the other hand, since most of the people reveal the hardship in teaching, the delight in making friends and also some joyful experiences they have gained during this programme, I would like to write something different: I have a little confession to make. I would like to focus on the two similar but a little different races from the same culture: students from Mainland China and students & tutors from Hong Kong. Before I joined this programme, I had never communicated with students who come from Mainland China. I had seen many TV programmes showing the two sometimes having conflicts and simply not mixing together. I also have to admit that me myself was affected at a certain extent, by the general misconception of Mainlanders being inferior to us Hong Kongers. During this programme, I actually proved the statement mentioned earlier a total scandal. Instead, I started building up the respect for their attitudes and spirits. All of us got on very well with no boundaries between us. It was fantastic.

When I first arrived, a girl greeted me with a big grin on her face, saying that she came to Hong Kong from Chaozhou not long ago. At that moment, I just knew that I was stunned by her 100% fluent Cantonese without any accent. As I walked into the classroom and saw other students, I was even more stunned. I immediately spotted the difference between the class I just walked in and my class back in England. They were so enthusiastic about learning: some were reading through notes, some were doing exercises, some were even checking meanings of words using an electric dictionary... I could only picture my friends having morning gossip sessions before the start of the lesson. In classes, they showed respect for us though we were not qualified teachers and asked questions whenever they needed help. A girl was determined to remember the spellings and meanings of vocabulary she came across. She brought laughter and joy to the whole class. I could only see my friends trying to play tricks on the poor teacher during the chemistry lessons.

I witnessed how hardworking and kind they were. I must say the more I got to know them, the more self-conscious and small I felt. I have come up with the conclusion that if they had the chance to learn English in a full English environment earlier in their lives, they would have been even more superb.

Finally, I would like to thank Maplewood and Hon Wah Middle School for giving me this chance to do something so meaningful and fun; also to all the students, actually, my friends, for being so understanding and friendly. Though I won't be able to join next year as I am not coming back to Hong Kong, I hope tutors and students who attend this course would fully enjoy themselves. : )



Normally, I would be sleeping till at least 10 o'clock everyday during the holidays, but this summer has been very different. Having to wake up at 9 for a Monday and 8 for two other days has been a real challenge for me.

I remember it very well. It was the 14th of July (Thursday) when we (tutors) first gathered at the Maplewood office in Causeway Bay. I knew most of the people there: Jane, Tammy and Zie, there was only one unfamiliar face to me, Marie. We talked about what we expect and our aims of the program. We then had to plan our first session. I was expecting some detailed guidelines for us, but they never came. It was not easy to think of games to break the ice, but after a while, it was settled.

That Sunday night, I was getting a bit panicky. Our first lesson would be the day after that, and it just occurred to me that I should be planning my lesson. I've never done it before, I decided that maybe I should just talk to them for a while so that we could get to know each other better and it could be a practice for oral.

On Monday, I met Joanne for the first time, she's another tutor it's really nice knowing her. The first session was a lot to what I expected. We started with some games, but the students were not very keen on speaking in English, to me, they seemed unconfident about the idea of speaking it in front of us tutors. I found out that despite the fact that they avoided English, they were actually very enthusiastic, especially in the guessing games. They could guess what the answer was; they just didn't know it in English. We then picked our students out of a hatand I got Mandy and Yuki. A few minutes into our small group lesson, I've already got the impression that they're both very quiet. They tended to answer in Chinese, only give very short answers or simply nod. It was rather hard to make them speak, especially Yuki who was really quiet.

The lessons went by extremely quickly. I got used to the idea of having to plan lessons. It became some sort of routine. Every lesson, I would start helping them with their holiday exercises, then perhaps do some reading, some puzzle games and then some oral. I thought it went quite well, as I would branch off a bit when I'm talking to them or during activities to teach them a bit of grammar each time. Sometimes, we had video sessions and we even had an outing to the cinema to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was a great day for all of us. I have never been to the cinema with 20 other people; it was really cool! Everyone seemed to have enjoyed it and it was particularly interesting to see the students in mufti.

After all the lessons, I don't think that I've taught them a lot at all. I know that we've taught them a lot of vocabulary but I know that it would be hard for them to memorize it all. Perhaps it gave them a lot more opportunity to get in touch with English? Only they themselves would know how much they have benefited from this program. However, I am very glad to say that I can see the improvement in them. It was very encouraging to see them opening their mouths more and speaking up. I could tell that they were gaining confidence. That's what is important, to be brave enough to try and not to be afraid of getting it wrong. People do learn from their mistakes.

However, to me, improving the students' English was not the only important aspect of the program. It was also about experiencing teaching and making friends from a very different background to mine. I've never made so many good friends at the same time. Somehow, our group all seemed to fit in very well, the girls were the quiet ones and the guys were a lot more active. I was very surprised to see how keen they all have been in seeking to learn. They didn't let us down by ignoring us, there were always questions waiting to be answered by us. It is a really great feeling to know that we've helped them by simply answering their questions. After seeing each other 3 times a week for 3 hours each time for 5 weeks, we developed into more of friends than teacher and students. All of us became very close friends; it's been very fun spending time with them all! I feel that my sacrificing of my sleeping hours has not been wasted. This program is definitely worth joining!

One lesson I've learnt from this program is that teaching is not easy I've always moaned about boring lessons, but I never realized how hard it is to actually keep the students' attention and to try to be more fun and interesting. I think I would appreciate teachers more in the future and be more enthusiastic in lessons. As to our students, I want to say that, if you think you can, you can! Dream it, wish it, do it! If you want to be good at English, you can be, as long as you work harder and keep in touch with it even outside lessons. It's important that you try to listen more, read more and speak more of the language. None of you are bad at all; we all believe that you have the potential of being good at English and gaining a good mark in the subject in CE. I hope that none of you would let any chances of improving your English slip out of your hands after this program. It would be very helpful for you to keep on reading English books, watching English TV programs or even just to speak to each other in English.

This program has definitely been memorable. I feel like I've had the most meaningful and productive holidays this summer.I will miss all of the students and the tutors a lot! Keep in touch, everybody, and good luck!


(Read also: Daphne's xanga entry, August 22, 2005, on the tutoring program.)


This teaching experience was even better than I expected it to be. Before I started this program, I can already foresee that this is going to be an unforgettable adventure, but just how remarkable that this is going to be is simply unimaginable. But no matter how great this tutoring program is, it was inevitable that there will be problems and set backs along the way.

Our first major problem came up just on the second day. When my group turned up for the second lesson, we found out that three of our students, who each said that they will be there for the whole of the program, were missing. When we asked the remaining students about their whereabouts, they said that they quit because they felt that it was too difficult and that they are finding it hard to keep up. Of course, when we heard this shocking news, we were all concerned that we are not teaching properly. But to our relief, it turns out that the remaining class felt that it wasn't too difficult to follow what we are saying. Since we simply cannot go knocking on the absent student's door, we were forced to let them go.

But even though there were major bumps on the road, I personally felt that I received a lot from the program. For one, I now can fully appreciate all the hard work that my teachers go into in order to teach a class well. And they must have a harder time than we did, since everyone in the program is eager to learn, and the same thing just cannot be said for my school. So in short, this program has made me into a more mature person as I no longer 'wage a war against teachers' but instead, realize all the effort they put into teaching a student.

For another thing, you must understand that I have never been to a local school before, not as a student, not as a teacher, and never even been there for a school fair or open day. So you must see that I'm ignorant to the last degree about local schools. Well, now that I have been to one I must say first of all that I just realize how lucky my school is to have such good facilities. But that aside, I can really tell that the students here are truly enthusiastic about their school and about learning in general. So this insight into a local school has really been a catalyst to my community awareness.

This program in general has been wonderful, as it allows the tutors to try something new, productive, and fun at the same time. We all got the chance to meet new people and I, for one, will never forget this experience as it has been truly remarkable.

But with the good comes the bad. While the program in general has been great, I must say that there wasn't enough support for the tutors in the beginning. Although I understand that the program is supposed to train our confidence and hone our teaching skills, it must be understood that in the beginning, no one knew just how to start. Even though I realize that it is essential that it is us who should do the work in the end, it would have been helpful if we have more specific guidelines on what to teach them, instead of a vague idea that we are supposed to improve their English. While it is understandable that each student has a different expectation of the program and each student wishes to improve a different area of English, it would have been a lot easier if we had had more specific ideas on how, and what, to teach them.

However, I realize that this is still a valuable experience and that I would not trade it for anything in the world. So I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Maplewood, Chinglin and to everyone in Hon Wah. I know how hard it is to make all of this happen. And to Sheryl, Julia, Benny, Jason, Andy, Camilla, Ice, 'Durian', Sally (who sadly left us in the middle of the program). Good luck on your oncoming exams! By simply believing in yourselves is half the exam done! So start believing in yourselves!




More Chinglin tutors in action: (click photos to see full images)


Peer tutors find that help cuts both ways, SCMP, Hong Kong, September 24, 2005 - commentary on peer tutoring and its benefits by Perry Yu, Maplewood coordinator

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