20 May 2018
Re: My personal adventure teaching English in Vietnam.
I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you my story about teaching English in Vietnam.
Before going to Asia I worked as an architect for two years in Namibia. I realized that this was not what I wanted to spend my time doing. I had heard about TEFL from friends and even though I had zero teaching experience, I enrolled in this TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City, to see what was what.
I took it upon myself to organise my flights and visas and found everything to be quite easy once I applied myself. Travelling is all about becoming independent.
I flew to Vietnam one week early to have some time to get to know the city. During this time I stayed in a hostel where I got free accommodation and food in exchange for planning and doing activities with young kids in the community to help them with their English. I also bought a motorbike from the owner of the hostel. After a few days of practise, I was able to drive clear across the city, through peak traffic, to the centre where I would do my TEFL course.
I quickly settled into my hotel room and met up with all the other people doing the course with me. From all over the world, people had come to try something new and we all had the same anxieties and questions, but also the same buzzing excitement of being in a strange new country!
After four weeks of in-class training, teaching practise and assignments, we all graduated and it was time for everyone to split up and go their own way. Some people stayed in Vietnam to teach, some went to neighbouring countries such as Cambodia. I was sad to say goodbye to so many new friends, but I still keep in contact with many of them.
With the help of the admin staff at the centre, I found a teaching position before I even graduated the course. So the minute I was done, I packed my bags again, loaded my now veteran motorbike and hit the road North to Quang Ngai City, Vietnam and my first English teaching job!
After a few days roadtripping on the bike I arrived in my new home and immediately hit the ground running. The staff and the school were so friendly and excited to have another foreigner as part of their team. I was one of six expat English teachers and everyone made me feel very welcome.
My students were the absolute best! I know all EFL teachers say that, but this time it's true. There wasn't one day when I begrudgingly dragged my feet to work; I loved teaching these kids! I watched them gain confidence as they learned more English; and I saw my own confidence grow as felt more comfortable in my role as teacher and mentor.
The first three months flew by and before I knew it, I was a confident and vibrant member of the team, teaching 25-30 hours per week and earning USD1400/month.
Living in a small city, my costs were very low. My accommodation was free and provided by my school. Food and other expenses are also very low and I ate as much delicious fried rice and noodle soup (phở) as I could.
Despite my over eating, I was able to save around USD4000 after six months of teaching. With my savings I travelled the to the North of Vietnam on my bike for a further 5 months. There are so many awesome places to go in South East Asia and Vietnam is great base from which to see them. Diving in the Philippines is on my bucket list for 2018, but who knows.
So whether you are a high-school graduate looking for gap year ideas, a university graduate looking for a new job or a wise old bean looking to kick your your retirement into a higher gear; there are teaching opportunities for everyone in Asia. It could be the best decision you ever make!