Re: Mr Billy YAU Wai Lok

I write to recommend Mr Yau Wai-lok very strongly for any full-time position teaching English in Hong Kong secondary schools.

I have known Mr Yau since early 2004 when he applied to study for the HKU Bachelor of Education in Language Education degree, of which I was programme director and responsible for admissions. My immediate concern was how a blind student would be able to carry out teaching practice, but the University has a non-discrimination policy and so I interviewed him with one of our special needs experts. We asked Billy how he thought he would be able to teach in a classroom of sighted students and were impressed that he had already begun to develop some ideas. He had a good HKASL Use of English grade (B) and so we admitted him. We got advice from experts in how our lecturers’ materials could best be delivered for Billy, and discussed his needs with lecturers and fellow-students. From then on I was amazed both at his progress through the degree courses and how rarely I was asked for further help. His results were usually near the top of the cohort and he graduated with a CGPA of 3.15 and Second Class Honours Division 1. Overall, he ranked 7th in the full cohort of 39 BEd(LangEd) students. I consider this a remarkable achievement, better than 80% of the able-bodied students.

At the end of Year 2 he was able to take part in the English language immersion programme that all trainee teachers are normally required to take overseas – in this case, 8 weeks at the Queensland University of Technology whilst staying with an Australian host family.

We planned his placements for teaching practice to provide a progression from the known to the unknown, beginning in Year 2 with the Ebenezer School for the Visually Impaired where he had done his own early schooling and he was teaching visually-impaired students, to Year 3 in St Paul’s College where he had done most of his secondary schooling and he was teaching sighted students, and then in Year 4 to a school he did not previously know: HKUGA College in Wong Chuk Hang. We felt this final year was an important step towards future employment: that he show himself able to teach in a regular Hong Kong secondary school. On the basis of his performance there, my colleagues felt able to award him the ‘licence to teach’ that a BEd represents.

I was one of the assessors of his Year 3 teaching practice at St Paul’s and was impressed at his use of student group leaders to keep him informed of what he couldn’t see, and his use of a keyboard to write on a screen in the way other teachers would use a blackboard – he didn’t need to be seated for this, he was able to walk around the class with the keyboard hanging from his neck and both hands free to use it. He had a very good-humoured relationship with the class, who were very responsive to the activities he planned for them. He plans very well for lessons and has a good command of English. Mr Yau is now in his second year of experience, mainly working with another teacher, and I believe it is time he was given a chance to work as a full-time teacher in his own right. He is fully qualified with the BEd(LangEd) and I’m sure with sensitivity to the situation, ways can be found to make this work for all concerned.

Yours sincerely
Dr David Bunton
Formerly of the Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong (1994-2009), including directorship of the BEd(LangEd) and BA&BEd(LangEd) programmes.