John Larrysson's Column: A Boy Who Hated School

There was a boy in England who was bored with school. He was just not interested in the things that were taught in school. So when he was old enough, he quit. Instead of continuing school, he got a job in a garage. He liked cars, so he wanted to work with cars. Of course at first he did not fix cars, he did the cleaning up for the qualified mechanic who did the actual fixing. This young man then studied in the evening taking an automotive mechanics course. Soon he was the qualified mechanic.

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Some car companies would not let him fix their cars, unless he passed an exam from their company. This is especially true of very expensive cars. So he studied by himself. He read the maintenance and repair manuals for many types of cars. He then took many tests from many different car companies. Some cars are very expensive. They have internationally famous names, like Lamborghini, Bugatti, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Bentley, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, Maserati and others. Not everyone is allowed to fix such cars and they need fixing often. Fancy cars are often fragile. He passed the required tests; then he was able to fix very expensive cars and he was offered a job in Hong Kong. After a few years he opened his own auto repair shop.

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Those cars cost twenty or thirty million Hong Kong dollars. He charged tens of thousands of dollars an hour to fix these cars. The owners paid! Just changing the oil for these fancy cars can cost more than one hundred thousand Hong Kong dollars and that is just an hour's work.

One day, about fifteen years ago, he told me that he had found a flat near the Peak on Hong Kong Island. It was much nicer than where he was living then. (near me) He said it only cost twenty million dollars. He thought that everyone has an extra twenty million dollars sitting around in their bank account. (Twenty million dollars! An extra twenty million dollars just sitting there! I should have studied cars instead of teaching and language.)

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Not everyone who fixes cars makes so much money. He studied hard after he got his first job and learned extra skills. He studied by himself, without help from teachers.

Learning Automotive Technology

The Vocational Training Council ( has a one-year Diploma of Automotive Technology. 

•    Students need to complete secondary six. 

•    They must pass an eyesight test. (Auto mechanics cannot be colour blind.) 

•    The classes are taught in Chinese, but some English is also needed.

The automotive maintenance and repair manuals from car companies are often bilingual. They are written in two or more languages. They are available in Italian and English or German and English or Korean and English or Japanese and English. Which languages would you choose to learn?

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Related article: What if You Fail the HKDSE?

by John Larrysson

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A native English speaker who has been teaching practical English in Hong Kong for over two decades.


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