Teach English in Vietnam: Interview with an Irish teacher Laurance
Tell us something about yourself. We’d love to know about your background? What inspired you to teach English in Vietnam?
I studied music and history in university with the intention to do a master’s in education but I decided to take a break before doing it. I tried to figure out what to do but then I came across The TEFL Institute of Ireland. 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! The idea to teach English in Vietnam and travel really appealed to me so I took the leap and went for it!
What made you choose to do an internship in Vietnam with the TEFL Institute of Ireland? Why South-East Asia?
The main reason I chose to do an internship in the first place was to gain teaching experience and to travel at the same time. I chose South-East Asia, particularly Vietnam for a number of reasons. It is a magnificent country with an unbelievable culture and I had never been to an Asian country before so it seemed like a perfect fit. I could fully immerse myself into the life and culture in this country which is only developing so it has a lot of old and traditional aspects to life there. Vietnam is not as ‘well-off’ as countries here in the west so I felt like I could help the students to learn more about western culture and push them to pursue study and work outside of Vietnam in order to give them experiences which they might not have had the chance to have if they did not have an adequate level of English.
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/cute/hilarious story from your TEFL classroom?
I have lots of funny and cute stories from the classroom but my favourite 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 English in Vietnam that you never expected? Our readers love to get the inside scoop!
I never expected the sense of home I would feel. I was surrounded by a large expat community and so many Irish people. I could not believe the amount of Irish people I met in Hanoi. It’s good to know that you’re not totally alone in a foreign country. But, you do not have to be surrounded by expats if you do not want to. I chose this way because I am young and wanted to be around people 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, I arrived in Vietnam in January 2020. It was a crazy time to arrive in a foreign country but everything was fine because we taught online during this period. We received extra training for online teaching which turned out to be not as bad as we expected. I think beginning our teaching journey online helped improve my teaching skills because if you can teach a class of non-English speaking students through a laptop screen then you are more than capable of teaching face-to-face. However, students refusing to turn on their cameras can be stressful haha.
Now you are back in Ireland but planning to go back to Vietnam again is that right?
Yes, I am back in Ireland at the moment but I have not been able to settle. I would like to teach English in Vietnam again, and I miss the lifestyle I was living in there 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?
I can not recommend Vietnam enough. It is a great place for new and experienced TEFL teachers. There are amazing job opportunities and great growth possibilities within each company. It is an amazing country with great people, fantastic students who want to learn, amazing tourist destinations and incredible food! Every TEFL teacher needs to experience Vietnam!