School Profile

Ilona Franciszka Pochwyt



Me with a goat, in outback Australia


(This article was written by the editorial team of the SU Post in 2019 after an interview with Ms Pochwyt.)


Ms Pochwyt, our NET, joined PLHKS in 2008 and retired in 2019.



Can you tell us some of the differences between Hong Kong’s and Australia’s education systems?


I think the main difference is the obvious one – it’s less exam-oriented. It’s only in the last year or two of school that Australian students start preparing for public exams. There are more projects, more discussion, and students are more active. Students never sleep in class. When I tell friends in Australia about students sleeping, people don’t believe me. Obviously, Australian kids get a lot more rest! There’s also a much bigger emphasis on sport in Australian schools, and kids who are good at sport are often highly regarded. On the other hand, I think Hong Kong kids are more disciplined and often more polite in class!


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Travelling with my niece in Japan   End of year staff lunch


How long have you lived in Hong Kong?


By the time I leave, I’ll have been in Hong Kong for 16 years. Hong Kong has been very good to me!


Why did you come to Hong Kong to be an English teacher?


I came to Hong Kong for a change. I’d been in the same job for a long time in Australia, I’d just finished a master degree in Education, and I decided I wanted something different. I applied for various overseas jobs and Hong Kong was the first one I was accepted for.


As you’re going to retire this year, can you share some unforgettable moments in PLHKS with us?


I’ve been at this school for such a long time that there are many good memories. There have been lovely moments that I treasure working with individuals and small groups on speeches for various competitions. It’s an interesting process going from a simple idea to a finished product. Form One classes nearly always bring me joy as they’re fun and enthusiastic learners. There’ve also been many good moments with colleagues eating dim-sum and working late on various projects.


My niece's wedding in Australia

My best friend's garden in Australia


Did you learn some Cantonese from your colleagues or students?


No, it’s very difficult and I gave up after only a short time in Hong Kong. Sometimes I ask students what the word is for something, but when they say it, it never sounds clear. I’m a very bad language learner!


Is there a gap between the Hong Kong English level and Australian English level?


I think teaching is only hard when students aren’t interested. Otherwise, teaching in Hong Kong is easy as students are mostly polite and willing to work hard. Australia has a very high migrant population, so many, many people speak English as a second language. When you sit on a bus, you hear lots of different languages being spoken, with different accents, and maybe some errors. Because of these reasons, the English in Australia is pretty varied, and it’s not like everyone speaks perfect English. Of course though, proficiency in speaking and listening is much higher in Australia as people are using English every day to communicate.


Thank you very much, Ms Pochwyt, for talking to us.