Trying to figure out what to do was when I came across The TEFL Institute. I had no clue what it was, but the more I read, the more interested I became! Once I began researching the life TEFL teachers were living, I couldn’t stop thinking about it!
Tell us something about yourself. We’d love to know about your background. What inspired you to go abroad?
I went to university to study music and history with the goal of pursuing a master’s degree in education, but decided to take a break before doing so. That’s when I came upon The TEFL Institute while trying to figure out what to do. I didn’t know what it was at first, but the more I read, the more intrigued I became! I couldn’t stop thinking about TEFL teachers’ lives once I started investigating them! I was drawn to the notion of teaching and travelling, so I took the plunge and went for it!
What made you choose to do an internship in Vietnam with the TEFL Institute? Why South-East Asia?
The main reason I accepted an internship in the first place was to obtain teaching experience while also travelling. For numerous reasons, I chose Southeast Asia, specifically Vietnam. It’s a beautiful country with an incredible culture, and I’d never visited an Asian country before, so it felt like a natural fit. I could totally immerse myself in the life and culture of this emerging country, which still has many ancient and traditional aspects to life. Because Vietnam is not as ‘developed’ as western countries, I believed that I could help the students understand more about western culture and encourage them to seek studies and career opportunities outside of Vietnam, providing them with opportunities that they would not have had otherwise.
Do you feel our TEFL course prepared you for teaching in Vietnam?
Yes, the TEFL course I did with TEFL Ireland made me feel more than prepared to teach abroad. It was packed with all the information I needed to improve my own understanding of the English language and taught me all the necessary skills to feel confident and comfortable in the classroom. Everything I read was useful and it felt like no time was wasted.
Will you share a funny or cute story from your TEFL classroom?
I have lots of funny and cute stories from the classroom, but my favorite is when my students randomly ask me ‘what’s the craic teacher Lar?’ It’s hilarious having young Vietnamese students speaking like an Irish person!
What is one thing about the life of teaching abroad that you never expected? Our readers love to get the inside scoop!
I never anticipated to feel so at ease in the presence of such a large ex-pat community and so many Irish people. The amount of Irish people I encountered in Hanoi was incredible. It’s comforting to know you’re not alone in an unfamiliar country. However, you are not required to be surrounded by ex-pats if you so desire. I chose this path as I am young and want to spend time with people who are close to home.
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 did not expect the Vietnamese people to be so friendly and warm. They really help you feel at home. The second was the training and mentorship I received when working with different companies. Each company did their best to help us feel and be as prepared as possible. Finally, I did not expect to be able to travel around the country as much as I did. Every destination is extremely accessible and extremely affordable.
You were in Vietnam during the pandemic? Did you continue to teach English online?
Yes, in January 2020, I landed in Vietnam. Arriving in a foreign nation at this time was crazy, but everything worked out because we were teaching online. We received additional training for online teaching, which turned out to be less difficult than we had anticipated. I believe that starting our teaching careers online helped me strengthen my teaching abilities because if you can teach a class of non-English speaking pupils via a laptop screen, you are more than capable of teaching face-to-face. Students who refuse to turn on their cameras, on the other hand, can be stressful!
Now you are back in Ireland but planning to go back to Vietnam again, is that right?
Yes, I am back in Ireland now, but I have not been able to settle. I miss teaching and I miss the lifestyle I was living in Vietnam, so I am planning to go back this summer. It’s an incredible country and once it gets its claws into you, you cannot escape!
Any tips for future TEFL teachers? Why Vietnam is your favourite country?
Vietnam gets high marks from me. It’s a fantastic place for both new and experienced TEFL teachers. Within each organisation, there are fantastic work prospects and opportunities for advancement. It’s a wonderful country with wonderful people, brilliant students eager to learn, fantastic tourism spots, and delicious food! Every TEFL teacher should visit Vietnam!