I’ve had a few followers on social media reach out to me asking about my lifestyle. Asking me what teaching English in a foreign country is really like. Or how I managed to get a job and find a work-life balance. So I thought I’d share all those answers on this blog.
Here’s how the teaching English abroad has panned out so far.
From traveller to expat
For nearly 6 months I’ve been living and working in the same city in Vietnam. Until this week I hadn’t really ventured out of the city other than going on a 2-day tour of Halong Bay… Although I don’t know if you could call that travelling.
But seeing as it has been around 6 months I’m no longer going to call myself a traveller. Instead, for the time being, let’s stick to the term ‘expat’. I’m a working girl so I think it’s about time I took the upgrade.
If you’ve been following me on social media you’ll know that until this week I’d taken a break from the backpacker lifestyle. A break from hopping around from country to country, constantly learning (and forgetting) how to say hello, thank you and goodbye in several languages, jumping from hostel to hostel, complaining about how heavy my backpack is 24/7 and being forever confused with exchange rates. Although on the plus side to the thing about exchange rates, I’ve become a little bit better with money.
Life in Hanoi
Back to Hanoi… Although I’ve been stuck in one city, I haven’t stopped learning about different cultures, stepping into the unknown, meeting new people, making new friends and discovering new places. But like everything good and new it’s been pretty full on!
So I’ve got a job teaching English. I’ve settled into my second apartment in 3 months (we had a lot of insect/bug/creature problems with the previous place). I’ve learnt how to drive a motorbike. I’m learning how to cook. I’m back on the gym hype trying to get my bikini
How I started teaching English abroad
Before I started to travel I already thought about teaching English abroad for a part of my backpacking adventure. The plan was to spend 3-4 weeks teaching English in one of the countries I visited, either paid or voluntary. I wasn’t sure where I would go to teach but I kept the idea in mind. At the at the beginning of the year, I spoke to a few people about teaching.
Where to teach?
They immediately said go to Vietnam. They told me how friendly and welcoming the locals were, how nice the country was as a whole and what sold it to me the most… how
So when my phone got stolen from a bar in Thailand, I spent a week in a hostel completing assignments for a TEFL certificate. That’s short for ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’. Within 10 days I had completed the 120-hour online course. Not long after I received an email congratulating me on passing the course. It would have been easy for me to teach in Thailand, but I hadn’t come travelling to do that. I was itching to see the rest of SE Asia. So with my teaching English certificate in the bag. I continued my travels. Keeping the idea of teaching in the back of my mind.
My initial travel plan had mapped out that I’d be in Vietnam for April. So at the start of
How to find work as a teacher
If you’ve got a degree and a teaching certificate it’s really easy to find work out here. I’d say 80% easier than finding a decent paid job in England!
There are the usual job sites you can have a search through. You’ll be able to upload your CV and cover letter for prospective employers to review. But there are also other ways to find work too.
My last job was working as a Journalist in television. So for me coming into the teaching profession with no classroom experience seemed scary. Fortunately, there are several great Facebook pages such as Hanoi Massive Jobs and Hanoi English Teaching Jobs where you can post an ad about yourself looking for work.
It’s great because then employers can directly get in touch with you. I landed my first teaching job through the Hanoi Massive Jobs page so I highly recommend it.
A development in economy
By 2020, the British Council predict that 2 billion people will be speaking or learning English. The Ministry of Education
So what is teaching English abroad really like?
I’ll be honest with you, I initially only choose to teach in Vietnam for the money. But soon after starting the job I realised I didn’t want to leave. It’s not just the money that’s kept me here, it’s the children I teach, the warm kind and friendliness of the locals and the great friends I’ve met along the way.
I’m not going to lie, the age group can be challenging because you’ve got to have so much enthusiasm to keep the students engaged and interested. For many of them, it’s also their first time learning English, sitting in a classroom environment and even holding a pencil. So you’ve got to go at a pace which will make them feel comfortable in an environment that’s completely alien to them.
As the students are so young I’ve got a teaching assistant to help with translations.
Nevertheless, despite the challenges, the job is definitely worth it. When students come in not knowing the alphabet and leave your class being able to say, write and remember letters and words, it’s the best feeling.
Knowing you’ve had a helping hand to enhance their lives and giving the next generation skills that’ll help them succeed in life is incredibly rewarding.
The work-life balance
This has got to be the only job I’ve ever had where I’ve felt like I’ve had a work life balance. I only do around 25 hours a week, so that’s probably why, but it’s such a nice feeling to have proper time to yourself. Not having to spend your whole weekend getting ‘life admin’ done is the best feeling! I do work weekends but I’ve got a lot of free time during the week that it soon makes up for it.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows out here as my Instagram posts probably suggest most of the time. Like anything in life, things go wrong. And for me they have. I’ve encountered many problems and setbacks, but I’ve learnt how to deal with these and curb that anxiety. With the help of my roomie Amanda. In my next blog post we’ll be keeping it real and talking about the problems you don’t see us sharing on social media… SO KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED 👀
As always thanks for reading.
Current location: Blogging from the top deck of a bus from Sapa to Hanoi.