I'm looking for Guofei Ma

Karen   Monday, July 14, 2003, 01:24 GMT
I read on of your message saying that you have stuided in ESF Hong Kong. I want to get some information from you, would you mind to tell me more about your school life there? You attend the kindergarten, Primary & Secondary?
Guofei Ma   Monday, July 14, 2003, 22:43 GMT
I went to an international kindergarten and a British ESF primary school in Hong Kong. I immigrated to the United States after I completed my primary education.
Guofei Ma   Monday, July 14, 2003, 23:39 GMT
Whilst reading my posting, please keep in mind that I was a student who was always several levels ahead of my peers, since I did plenty of learning out of school and was able to solve simultaneous linear algebraic equations with four variables by age 8. (Sorry for the boasting, these facts are simply "for your information".)

In my opinion, Education in an ESF primary school was almost all time-wasting and no hard work. Though the ESF did employ good teachers who in turn employed good teaching methods, the curriculum was far too laid back and did not "push students forward", rather similar to primary education in the UK and US. More than half of the students in my Primary 4 (Grade 4 for Americans) class had not memorised their multiplication tables.

English class- We read stories and poems and did some creative writing; very few lessons in grammar, though I dare say our English was still much better than public school students'.

Maths class- We were still being taught arithmetic in Primary 5, when I had already been doing Algebra problems for a year and a half.

Science class- A form of playtime, that is, playing with balances, weights, circuits, and other elementary physics-related and electronics-related objects without learning any of the concepts behind the activities.

Projects- A lot of art work, creativity, and presentations on "topics". We advertised and marketed our own brands of chocolate, wrote poems and drew pictures based on stories we read, created our own family trees, wrote stories about Vikings, etc.

Physical Education- We played sports two days each week.

The Arts- We drew pictures in Art class and put on a drama production every year.

We did not learn Chinese or any foreign languages in school.

My teachers were helpful and caring but sometimes too much like parents. Who would care if I threw old notebooks and food into the rubbish bin in any school other than ESF's Shatin Junior School, where teachers would call me to their desk and tell me not to waste food or ask me to give them a good reason for throwing "products of my hard work" into the bin.

Boys- Most boys were cooperative in class but sometimes mischievous during playtime. One or two were outright nasty and mischievous. Almost all (excluding my own good self and one or two others) were sexist up to the day I left Hong Kong.

Girls- A few girls were friendly and hard-working. Some others were rather friendly but hated school. A number of girls were extremely nasty, malicious, and spiteful, and found nothing better to do than kicking me around and pouring glue into my pencil case. The vast majority were sexist in Primary 4 but most began to be friendlier with boys in Primary 5.

Attitude- Completely un-academic.

Uniform- Shatin Junior School's uniform was too informal for my tastes. We got open-collar red-and-white striped shirts and grey shorts. (I wanted to wear a more decent shirt, a tie, a blazer, and dress trousers.)
Fred   Monday, July 14, 2003, 23:57 GMT
Guofei Ma
I enjoyed reading your story. You were not boasting at all. You're great for a fourteen-year-old. Are you living in the USA now ?
chantal   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 00:04 GMT
Guofei Ma
What does ESF stand for ?
That school you attended must be very expensive. How much was the enrolment fee in US Dollars ? What kind of school do you attend now ? Are you still in Hong Kong ?
That's a shame you did not learn Chinese or any foreign languages. I'm sure you would have learnt French, German and Spanich very easily.
Guofei Ma   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 00:21 GMT
Hello to all:

1. ESF stands for "English Schools Foundation". The annual fee was around US$12000, which was actually quite reasonable for a foreign-run school in Hong Kong. After the summer holidays, I will be an eleventh-grade student at a public secondary school (or "high school" as it is called) in California but I've not lost my British accent and British spellings.

2. I said I didn't learn Chinese or foreign languages *in primary school*. I have always spoken Mandarin Chinese at home (both English and Mandarin Chinese are native languages to me) et j'ai étudié le français pour quatre années dans un collège et un lycée en Californie. I am currently beginning to study German on my own.
Karen   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 01:05 GMT
Hi Guofei Ma,

Thanks for your information on ESF. My friend's son (3 yr old) is studying in ESF Tsing Yi Kindergarten, perhaps you don't know this school, I think it's quite new. My friend likes it so much. People here boast too much about studying in International School.

My boss's daugther spent one year in ESF Primary School (I guess it's Kennedy? Correct me if I'm wrong) After one year, she has moved to Marymont. My boss does not like ESF at all and tell me lots of bad things about the school (similar to what you are telling me). My boss's wife is working in another international school and their comment for int'l schools are F-. They don't recommend anyone to study in int'l schools.

My colleague (he's American) son & daugther are studying in ESF. His daugther is only 14, but thinking to have sex with boy. He is worrying for her all the time.

Now, after reading your story, I will tell my friend to consider seriously.

Last question : I heard ESF has Mandarin lesson? Buy you are saying you did not have any Chinese lesson??
Guofei Ma   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 05:39 GMT
1. If you friend wants his/her son to move to the UK or US when he is older, ESF would not be a bad choice. At least ESF students speak better English than other Hong Kong residents and the ESF's curriculum for primary education is quite similar to primary education in America and Britain (where it is also very easy and laid back). I had no trouble at all transitioning from an ESF school to an American school. From a more generalised and westernised viewpoint than my previous stance, I would give ESF schools a B- mark.

2. I am 14 years old and I have no thoughts or intentions other than those that are considered to be proper, even though I went to an ESF school and am currently studying in the United States, where adolescent sex and other immoralities are rampant. In my opinion, it all depends on the individual and not his/her education.

3. When I was in ESF's Shatin Junior School back four years ago, there were no Chinese lessons. Times have changed now and so may have the ESF's curriculum.
Karen   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 06:49 GMT
My friend will consider to send his son to study in USA for university, not for secondary school. My friend & his wife educated in US, they speak fluent English with HK accent. They talk to their son in English since he was few months old. They create an English envoirnment for his son, even for our gathering, we have to talk to him in English. And now, they realise the problem, his son refuses to learn/speak Chinese. If they continuous to let him study in ESF, I think he will lose his Chinese learning ability. My friend is a bit worry, and try to watch Chinese channel at home, his son always tell my friend, "Dad, I don't want to watch Chinese."

How did you manage your english ability while studying in Hong Kong? I believe your parents talk to you in Mandarin or English? Do you mind to tell me which int'l kindergarten you went?

Do you think you learned English from ESF?
Guofei Ma   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 21:31 GMT
1. I believe my solid foundation in English was built up at home, for my mother made me work on English exercise books even before I went to kindergarten and my father coached me in grammar. I have always spoken Mandarin Chinese with my mother. I used to speak English with my father, whose formerly good English grammar gradually worsened over the years, but now, we usually converse in Mandarin or Shanghainese.

2. I went to Wimbley, Nakura, and Yew Chung international kindergartens, in chronological order. In any country other than Hong Kong, Wimbley would have been a nursery school and classes there were basically playtime. There were a lot of British children in Nakura and my English accent and pronunciation improved after socialising with them. There is absolutely nothing worth mentioning about Yew Chung.

3. I didn't "learn English from ESF" but the activities we did in class and the conversations I had with my peers were beneficial to my English language skills. We tended to think in English instead of Chinese whilst most public school students tended to think in Chinese instead of English. As in Nakura, my English accent and pronunciation improved after socialising with my peers. I still talk with a British accent instead of a Hong Kong or American accent.
Guofei Ma   Tuesday, July 15, 2003, 23:33 GMT
Excuse the error: "Wembley Kindergarten", not "Wimbley".
Karen   Wednesday, July 16, 2003, 01:57 GMT
Guofei Ma,

You don't like Yew Chung? My friend's brother is a doctor, his daugthers are studying at Yew Chung. He said chosing a kindergarten is very important. He regrets that he sent the elder daugther to a local kindergarten for one year, where she did not learn any English. He is not happy with her accent. She joined Yew Chung from K2. The 2nd daugther study at Yew Chung from nursery and her accent is much better than her sister.

Any comment?

Nakura is in Japan, right?
Karen   Wednesday, July 16, 2003, 02:11 GMT
You never study in HK local schools, how do you know about their English is not up to standard? Do you have many local friends? I mean, not from international school?

I studied in a local school (although it is band one), I don't think our English is up to standard. I wonder, did I learn any English at school? After completed my F.5 education, my grammar is only upto present, future and past tense status. I have no idea when to use present perfect tense etc...

The English teachers in HK know nothing about phonetic and lingustic. (I learned all these things from internet & attend a private course) Local teachers know nothing about pronunication, I don't think they know how to pronunce A-Z.

However, some of my friends studied from St. XX St. XX (those top schools), in general, their English is much better.
Guofei Ma   Wednesday, July 16, 2003, 17:18 GMT
1. ESF students speak much better English than Yew Chung students and local school students. In my opinion, Yew Chung is 10 to 100 times worse than ESF.

2. Nakura is in Hong Kong and staffed mostly by Britons, Americans, and Australians. Don't be misled by the Japanese name. After all, La Salle College (in Kowloon) is not in France or run by French people.

3. A daughter of one of my mother's friends is a student at St. Paul Co-Educational. Her English is quite rotten. Other children of my parents' friends studying at local schools speak even worse English.
Karen   Thursday, July 17, 2003, 01:30 GMT
what's your comment for HK parents, how can they raise a bilingual children, the facts are:

1. many parents cannot afford to send their kids to international school.
2. many parents don't speak fluent English (or not well-educated)

Some parents are keen to send their children to international schools. They don't care about the academic system or reputation of the schools. Their final goal is : to learn English. My view is, International School is for English speaking children, not for local children to learn English. Do you agree?

Parents in HK are very concerned their kids' English, they spend lots of money to buy educational software/DVD. They believe by using those DVD, their children can speak fluent English. I remember I read a thread posted by a mom, she asked, "If we all speak Cantonese at home? can my son speak fluent English?" Very silly, isn't she? How can she expect her son can speak fluent English if no one speak English at home? Some silly moms are suggesting to hire a maid, and let the maid teaches his son to speak English. I totally against to ask your maid to educate children. If they are seriously thinking to educate their children, please please please spend more time to do reserach : PARENT is the best person (model) to teach their kids.

If the parents can speak fluent English (not perfect accent), do you think they should teach or speak English at home? like Singapore?