Teaching English in Vietnam: Niamh's adventure

Teaching English in Vietnam: Niamh’s Adventure

Q: Could you tell us more about yourself? We would love to find out who are you & what drew you to teaching English abroad?

Hi, My name is Niamh, and I first considered teaching overseas after returning home after a seven-week trip through Central America. My friend had spent a year teaching in Costa Rica, and I thought it would be fun to do something similar after I graduated from college. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life after my final exams, but I knew I wanted to travel again. So I finished the TEFL course, spotted an internship opportunity in Vietnam, and applied immediately. Coming to Vietnam was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

Q: Could you tell us about your path to teaching English in Vietnam?

I had intended to teach English in Central America, but teaching English in Southeast Asia is far more common. I had never visited any Southeast Asian countries before, so I figured I could teach for six months in Vietnam and then travel throughout the region once the internship ended. Hopefully, by next year, I’ll have visited every country in Southeast Asia!

Q: Do you feel your TEFL Course prepared you well to teach abroad?

I liked how the TEFL course provided suggestions for how to set up your classroom for various activities. The TEFL course also provided me with a variety of game options based on the age of the children. Class sizes in Vietnam range from 40 to 60 children. So you can’t always set up the classroom as you’d like or play as many games as you’d like. However, I’ve learned to think on my feet and adapt the game to the class.

Q: Why did you decide to change your career path and start teaching?

So, I graduated from University in November 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences, but to be honest, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. I completed my TEFL training during the summer and decided there was no better time than this to come to Vietnam and teach English. It was also a technique for me to avoid making a decision on what I want to do for the rest of my life!!

Niamh Teaching TEFL in Vietnam

Q: Can you tell us more about your life in Vietnam? What was it like?

When I initially arrived, I was struck by how warm and welcoming everyone was. I initially thought Vietnam wasn’t for me. That there was no way I’d stay for another year, but as time went on, I grew to like the country. The way Vietnamese people drive was a culture shock, and their continual beeping took some getting accustomed to. When I return home in July, I suppose I’ll find it nearly too quiet!

Q: Did you get a chance to travel throughout Vietnam? And see any exciting places?

Because it was the Lunar New Year soon after we arrived, we spent a week in Danang and Hoi An. That was the longest time we’ve had off but we have tried to make the most of our weekends. We’ve recently visited Ninh Binh (twice since we loved it so much!), Sapa, Halong Bay, Cat Ba Island, and Mai Chau. Vietnam is a stunning country with a lot to offer. We’re headed to the south of Vietnam to check off some more things on our list now that we’ve done teaching for the summer.

Q: What will you do after the internship is finished?

So, now that my internship is complete, I’ve decided to return in September to teach for another year. I’m just not ready to leave this crazy place and the lovely kids yet!

In general, you don’t need a degree to teach English abroad or online. Our certification stands alone and you can get employment without pairing it with a degree. However, some TEFL employers do prefer their teachers to have a degree. More importantly, for some countries, it’s a visa requirement. This means you can’t obtain a work permit without a bachelor’s degree or higher. Some of these countries include China, Japan, UAE and Vietnam. 

Our advice is if you have your sights set on a certain country, look into the visa requirements first before putting time and effort into finding a job there. This will save you time and disappointment. If it’s a school preferability, and not a visa requirement, there’s sometimes some leeway. 

You do not need any prior teaching degrees or experience to teach abroad. Once you have your TEFL certificate, you can secure work as a TEFL teacher. A BA in Education would enhance your CV, but it’s not a necessity. Completing a TEFL course that includes teaching practice, like our Hybrid TEFL Courses, will also help your CV.

If you want to experience different cultures and see the world, teaching English abroad is for you. Not only will you get to explore new places, you’ll also meet new people and get the chance to make a difference to the lives of language learners. A TEFL certification lasts a lifetime. So, you can dip in and out of teaching abroad whenever you feel like it. 

It is not necessary to speak any other languages. You’ll be able to find a job and work comfortably without knowing the language spoken in your chosen country. Of course, it is always an advantage, even if it’s just the basics. We recommend learning a few phrases before you move abroad like hi, thank you, goodbye and sorry.

You’re never too old to gain new qualifications! Some TEFL employers do have age restrictions, but there are ample opportunities for more mature teachers. There are also the options to teach English from home as a private tutor or online tutor.

The accredited courses are the quickest way to get TEFL certified, and are accepted by schools and institutes worldwide. Choose from a 120, 180 or 240 hour accredited TEFL course depending on the level of training you require. 

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