Tell us about your path to TEFL teaching. What helped you to make the decision to pursue an internship with Premier TEFL?
Having previous experience working with children and graduating with a degree in English, I felt that they went hand in hand in order to pursue becoming an EFL teacher. However, I also simply despised the idea of working in an office cubicle from 9 until 5 every day at the age of 21, I felt that traveling was a must while I am still young! A huge factor was the procrastinating of a career in the UK while still gaining invaluable experience, and Premier TEFL offered the full package when it came to launching my TEFL journey.
Vietnam is a long way from home in the UK, what made you choose Vietnam? Had you ever traveled that far from home before?
I had never left Europe, and the last time I traveled was in the summer of 2016, so this was definitely a huge leap for me! I had heard so much about Vietnam from friends and family, and each emphasized Vietnam’s amazing culture. From the incredibly friendly locals to the stunning scenery, Vietnam embodies a completely distinct, yet incredibly relaxed way of life.
How did your friends and family react to you traveling halfway around the globe?
I expressed my interest in traveling to Southeast Asia many times, and although my friends and family encouraged me, I don’t think they expected it to come into fruition. However, once the internship was booked, my friends and family were incredibly supportive and intrigued to see how my experience would unfold.
How was orientation in Hanoi? We hear it’s AMAZING!
The orientation week was everything I needed to settle into the country. It eased me into the culture as well as providing me with sufficient teacher training after completing my Online Course.
Although I shouldn’t say this, orientation week is essentially the internship’s equivalent of Fresher’s Week at university! It was an immense opportunity to meet new people and socialize, establishing friendships with those who you will be spending the majority of your time throughout the semester!
What two things about Vietnam would the average person not know?
- How reliant the language is on tones and accents – this has put into perspective how monotonous we sound in the UK! The fact that ‘mo’ can mean – ghost, but, tomb, horse, cheek, or young rice depending on accents reinforces my point!
- You can get beer here for as cheap as roughly 7,000 dong – 23p or 30 cents. Cheers!
What have you learned about yourself since moving to Vietnam?
That I am much more culturally adept than anticipated – although the first day may have exposed my nervousness, I have immersed myself within the culture to a degree I wouldn’t have expected. Embracing the culture with ease has displayed my ability to comfortably adapt to a new, foreign environment.
Tell us three things a future TEFL teacher in Vietnam should know before they go?
- The children are incredibly fond of foreign teachers. You will walk into a school as if you’re a singer walking onto a stage at a sold-out concert.
- There are mopeds everywhere, literally.
- The Vietnamese are some of the nicest people I have ever met! They are constantly smiling throughout the day and offering support at every opportunity!
What is the number one adventure/experience EVERYONE should have when they visit/move to Vietnam?
To travel the country as much as possible! While it’s important to familiarise yourself with your local area, there is always a location which is too near to allow yourself to miss. Whether it’s over the Tet Holiday to Da Nang or Hoi An over a one-hour flight, or a weekend visit to Ninh Binh on a two-hour train journey from Hanoi, there’s always something new to do nearby.
What’s next for Will? Travel, staying in Vietnam, teaching English in another country perhaps?
I am undecided whether I will stay in Vietnam. My plan was always to teach English as a Foreign Language in multiple countries, however, Vietnam may sway me from my return flight and tempt me with another semester. I have also considered China, Spain, and Romania. Whether they will be short-term summer camp contracts or a year-long stay, I want to experience a multitude of cultures this world offers before settling into a career back in the UK!