Dr. WONG, Ho-put, Jonathan

CLC Best Teacher Award 2013-14

Head, Putonghua Programme Division, Continuing Education Section


What challenges did you encounter after moving in HK from mainland China since childhood?

I was born in Qingdao and my ancestral home is Fujian. My whole family moved to Hong Kong and I studied from secondary one in Hong Kong. I was being called Ah Chaan 1. I experienced struggle and change in my identity and language. For example, upon arrival in HK, I had wished not to be able to speak Minnan dialect. Until the time when I studied Japanese as minor in the university, I had discovered that Minnan dialect has most of the pronunciation in Japanese. I was delighted that I got the edge. That was a meaningful adventure in my recollection.


Being a graduate of Business Administration, why have you become a teacher?

It was my aspiration since childhood to become a teacher like my father. Yet, my parents had gone through the Cultural Revolution and the tragic outcome of some teachers had brought them lingering fear. So, my mother changed my enrolment preference, from Chinese language, fine arts and biology into marketing, accountancy and general business management respectively. After my graduation, however, I entered into the teaching profession by chance and completed my fond dream since childhood.


You were an exchange student for 1 year. Any impressive story?

At the end of my year 3 study, I went to Tokyo and studied as an exchange student in Asia University. I worked as a waiter in some Japanese pubs (Izakaya) and went to Hokkaido for homestay in summer. After I returned to Tokyo, the host of the homestay (a Japanese mother) sent me an air-ticket inviting me to spend the New Year vacation in her house for one month. Apart from practicing Japanese, I could taste fully a frosty winter at -30 (I had no childhood recollection of the winter in Qingdao anymore). After getting married, I revisited that mama and she also came to HK to see me. It is interesting to see that, the mama started to learn English after our acquaintance and she is now able to do basic social conversation. During the CLCs 50th anniversary, Prof. Ambrose KING, the former president of CUHK, has given CLC an inscription On the Path of Language and Culture. That theme struck a deep chord in me and was exactly the description of my personal experience.


What inspired you in your Ed.D study?

My doctoral dissertation was about formulaic sequences (FS) in students oral tests. Research findings could be used in teaching and eventually combined learning and work together. My master thesis was about vocabulary acquisition and memory. The research focused on how graphic impact on the memorization of vocabulary and this research direction was also inspired by my actual teaching. I regarded combining research interest and work a healthy interaction.


What is the satisfaction in working on academic administration?

My first time taking administration responsibility was in 1999. Throughout the decades as a division head, I am delighted to walk together with some new teachers who had zero experience and see them shine. Tried my best to solve problems for students in need is another source of my satisfaction.


Being a 3-time winner of the CLC Best Teacher Award 2, what do you think about the special quality needed for a good teacher?

First, I would like to thank the director of the Centre who has given me the opportunities, and to my fellow colleagues who are supportive. Receiving the award does not implied that I am qualified to give good teacher a definition. I just want to share my personal thoughts (mainly from the angle of administration and my understanding of the students): firstly, team spirit and good character. They are indispensable to relate harmoniously with most of the students, colleagues, superiors and subordinates. Secondly, is to love the job. The other requirement will be the understanding of the need of the students and to adapt the teaching based on their level. Regarding the interaction with students, I am still learning how to arouse students motivation; to kindle their interest in learning; to strictly spur them to work hard without hurting their faces and self-esteem.


Someone said that one can self-learn a language and single-private class is even better. What is your viewpoint?

To self-learn a language, apart from motivation and self-discipline, you have to consider whether you have the other favorable factors. For example, whether you are living in a Chinese family and having a spouse who is a Chinese, and the sole language used at home is Chinese and not the other foreign languages. If that is the case, self-learning of daily oral conversation is certainly easier. However, even if you own the conditions above, but you want to advance your reading and writing skill to a level of good comprehension of TV news and newspaper, or to discuss professional content, I am afraid that only professionally trained teachers can teach you. I met students who self-learned elementary level and came to our school. They mentioned that they faced a bottle-neck in self-learning and could not advance anymore. They wanted to follow a curriculum and to learn progressively.


Single-private class may not exactly reap good learning outcomes. It is because in the actual operation, the teacher will usually accommodate the student (usually deceleration instead of acceleration). The pace of a school curriculum is basically fixed and to learn systematically will give one healthy pressure which is favorable to learning.


What is your most unforgettable profession-related social service?

I have been a voluntary instructor in the Hong Kong Mandarin Society for more than twenty years and now I am the president of the society. Back in forty some years, the founding member of this society was a group of Hong Kong local students who wanted to sustain their Mandarin learning after the end of their programmes. A few ones persisted to support the young members even until today! Many senior members dedicated not only their money, but also their energy and time in helping new members. This is very touching indeed. Apart from serving as an examiner for Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, I had also been the consultant of the Putonghua programme in Radio Television Hong Kong (mainly to edit scripts and monitor the on-site video recording). I appeared as a programme host as well. Monitoring the recording process was unforgettable and tough. It was because the programme recording was often done in midnight and overnight. I could deeply feel the hardship and stress an actor had.


How did you spend your spare time?

I havent got much spare time as my work is busy. During weekend, I would treasure my time with my family and to go to church. The 2-hour commuting between home and school is what I treated as spare time. I would correct test papers, read books and newspapers, and daydreaming too. Occasionally during lunchtime, I played shuttlecock with my students and to train their oral skill. I am also very interested in the area of mind-map and attended relevant courses. I have been regularly thinking on how to apply it in my teaching.




Special thanks to Ms. Dolly WEI, Teaching Assistant and Miss. HO Cheuk Yan, student from the School of Communication and Journalism in assisting the interview production.





1      Ah Chaan is originated from a well-known Hong Kong TV drama in the late 70s. It was the name of a new immigrant from mainland China featured in the drama. The name had been eventually used as a contemptuous term or ethnic slur for some years against the new immigrants from mainland China.


2   Dr. Wong was the recipient of CLC Best Teacher Award in academic year 2001-02, 2007-08 and 2013-14 respectively. According to the regulations of the Centre, a teacher can at most receive the award for 3 times.





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