Today we’re talking to Éadaoin, a true TEFL expert who’s currently teaching in Vietnam after completing her Anglo-TEFL scholarship!
1. TELL US ABOUT YOUR PATH TO TEACHING ABROAD—DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU’D END UP IN VIETNAM?
I graduated with a BA in World Languages and studied French and Italian. I got my first experience of teaching abroad while on an Erasmus work placement in Italy. I wanted to try something different, but I never expected to end up in Vietnam. I wasn’t sure how to go about moving all the way to the other side of the world, so doing an internship seemed like a good opportunity to have some support and at the same time, start a new adventure.
2. TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF! WE’D LOVE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND, WHAT DREW YOU TO TEACHING ABROAD, AND MORE.
As I said, I studied languages at University and previously taught abroad in Italy. I decided I wanted to do a TEFL course to give me more employment opportunities, and last summer I did the TEFL scholarship in Romania with Premier TEFL and Angloville. After I gained my TEFL qualification, I began working with refugees in Ireland.
Meeting these wonderful people from all over the world helped me realise first of all how much I love teaching, and second of all, how easy a TEFL certificate makes it to meet new people and learn about unfamiliar cultures. It was a very rewarding experience and helped me make the decision to come to Vietnam.
3. HAVE YOU WORKED AT THE SAME COMPANY/LOCATION/SCHOOL YOUR ENTIRE STINT AS AN ENGLISH TEACHER IN VIETNAM?
I am working for a language centre in Hai Phong. I have 2 classes a week in the centre, and the rest of my classes are in various High Schools throughout the city.
4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AGE-GROUP TO WORK WITH AND WHY? WOULD YOU CONSIDER TEACHING OTHER AGE GROUPS?
I am mainly working with High school students at the moment. At first, it was a little bit out of my comfort zone, but 2 months in now and I’ve really started enjoying it. I would definitely consider working with younger students, as I think their progress can often be more noticeable.
5. WHAT WAS THE MOST HELPFUL PORTION OF YOUR TEFL CERTIFICATE EXPERIENCE? DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU DRAW FROM YOUR COURSE EXPERIENCES REGULARLY IN THE CLASSROOM? WARMERS AND FILLERS!
I can’t stress this enough, some of the ideas for games and activities have been really practical in the classroom. When you need to get to know your students, fill up some class time, or even make something like grammar seem fun, these games are a saviour.
6. WHAT WERE THREE THINGS ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE IN VIETNAM THAT YOU DID NOT ANTICIPATE? (THIS HELPS FUTURE TEACHERS PREPARING FOR A TRIP THERE TO FEEL MORE READY!)
I actually think the best thing is not to overthink anything. I was really relaxed about coming over because I knew no matter how much I prepared myself, unexpected things would happen either way. I didn’t anticipate missing home comforts like tea or my favourite chocolate as I had it in my head that I would do my best to eat local and try new things. Which I have done, but sometimes after a long day, all you want is your go-to comfort food. So definitely bring a couple of things from home that you think you might need.
I didn’t anticipate the language barrier being so easy to overcome with a couple of words of Vietnamese and a lot of gestures and body language. Things like menus or bus schedules can seem a bit intimidating at first, but a few weeks in you’ll become familiar with enough to get you by.
7. WHAT IS ONE THING ABOUT THE LIFE OF TEACHING ABROAD THAT YOU NEVER EXPECTED/WEREN’T PREPARED FOR? OUR READERS LOVE TO GET THE INSIDE SCOOP!
The social life ? I’ve had a better social life in 2 months here than in 4 years of uni. You meet great people, you work hard and play hard, and the salary compared to the cost of living really does allow you to enjoy yourself and have fun. Whether it’s karaoke or a weekend trip somewhere, I find I’m really making the most of my life off.
8. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE AS A TEACHER ABROAD?
I was playing games with a high school class that involved them writing on a piece of paper “I am ______ today because ______” and swapping with other students and writing it on the board. When the game ended I looked on the board and one student had written: “I am happy today because this class has you.” It was one of those moments when you really feel like you’ve made a good life decision.
9. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE ON THE FENCE ABOUT WHETHER TO TEACH ABROAD OR NOT?
Just do it. If it doesn’t work out, you’re only ever a flight away from home. But the reward out ways the risk. The friendships, the travelling opportunities and the work experience really make it worthwhile.
Thanks for sharing your story from Vietnam, Éadaoin!