Who is Kenneth Lau? And could Sean Connery sell foreign languages?

Kenneth Lau bus advertisment

Kenneth Lau is my ever-present shadow this winter because his face is plastered on seemingly one-quarter of all buses circulating in Hong Kong.

His coiffed hair paired with the black, blue and purple color scheme, originally caused me to subconsciously assume that he was in a Cantonese reality TV program, boy band or both.

Recently, I actually bothered to notice that the text of the advertisement says: 英文 (English). So something to do with English language courses.

Today I put my curiosity to rest by looking up “Kenneth Lau Intensive English” online. Despite Kenneth’s youthful looks, he heads up a team of English teachers and has his own flashy KennethLau.com website. His courses are provided through Hong Kong’s multi-branched Beacon College, which also offers Economics courses from these young rock stars:

(Source: screen shot from Beacon College website)

(Source: screen shot from Beacon College website)

Quite the glossy marketing strategy: use “Glamour Shots” of your youthful teaching staff to sell courses!

Makes me wonder if I would have taken high school Spanish more seriously had the courses been pitched to me like this:

Mock "Spanish by Sean" bus advertisement

(With a wink to Le cul entre les deux chaises for planting the term “spy craft” in my mind.)

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10 responses to “Who is Kenneth Lau? And could Sean Connery sell foreign languages?

  1. Oh wow, I’ve been seeing that guy everywhere too – I actually imagined him as some big, flashy Televangelist or similar. He’s an ENGLISH TEACHER?! Our school’s website advertising certainly doesn’t look as cool as that…! I wanna be plastered on a bus!

    • Ha! Televangelist! That’s one that hadn’t crossed my mind.

      I’ll keep an eye out for the two of you–the Kiwi hippie hipsters– plastered on the side of a bus!

  2. Not sure if you have read this on CNN Asia 😛

    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/BUSINESS/11/08/hong.kong.celebrity.tutors/index.html

    These tutors are like idols of some sort. I spent at least 3 years on many of these tutors just to try getting my grades up. I think the only good tutor I’ve ever had was from the English lesson. He was a middle aged man, and all I remember now is that I had those darn lessons on sunday morning. The pace from these tutors were so fast, i literally got choked…They really assume everyone understood everything already.

    • Thanks for the link! No, I hadn’t seen the CNN article about “celebrity tutors”! Very interesting.

      Fast paced tutoring on Sunday morning sounds horrid, but it seems like many, many Hong Kong families pay for lots of tutoring…

  3. Most of these are typical cram schools with the sole purpose of getting students passing entrance exams to colleges (even the banner on the bus say so) and usually emphasize on brute force memorization and repeating without much critical thinking. Definitely no place for leisure learning or improving language proficiency in general.

    I must say this one takes marketing and packaging to a new level with the rock star treatment. They even brag about having the most students among the competition.

    • Ah, now I get it: Beacon College is an exam cram tutoring school! That certainly explains why they have so many locations and spend so much on slick marketing. What a strange phenomenon. Thanks, as always, for the insights!

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