Beth Gumm

Teach Enrich Empower

A Crazy, Chaotic and Exciting New Experience

I always knew I wanted to do something to help someone else, since being from England and graduating from Cardiff University is such a privilege, I just didn't know what. I thought maybe conservation or charity work, I'd never really considered teaching children because to be quite honest, in the UK I found them quite annoying!

Coming to Ho Chi Minh city has been a crazy, chaotic and exciting new experience and the children are little heartbreakers. I mainly teach children at public schools who don’t have the money to pay for their education and that makes my job even more satisfying, I’m helping those that don’t have the privileges I did. The desire to speak English by Vietnamese adults is so high and it’s so good to have the opportunity to give something back that I take for granted – speaking English!

So, in July I did the 120 hours TEFL course in Cheltenham which prepared me as much as possible for what was to come. It was a concise course, very detailed and marks were quickly returned for each module (this was important to me because I was couldn’t wait to get started!). A few months later I had my qualification and all I had to do was find a job and save some more money. The TEFL Academy helped me a lot with this and their advice has proved invaluable to me finding a job! Anyway, onto the fun stuff…

“I’m helping those that don’t have the privileges I did”

Don’t get me wrong, I felt the first week of lessons at Ngoc Hoi primary were wobbly and naturally I was nervous because I wanted to do my best. But the children were so welcoming, as was the principal and my Vietnamese teaching assistants. The students can be a naughty bunch at time – from ages 6 to 12 you’d expect nothing less. Easily distracted and always full of energy, but that’s what makes teaching them so much fun! Lessons are full of laughter and games, aside from the odd cheeky gesture from the little boy at the front and the stroppy little madam (sat on my knee in the photo) that doesn’t want to sit down when I’ve told her to and shakes her head when asked for the millionth time – she is very adorable! After all that, I still get hugs and millions of high fives after class, sometimes on my break I sit with the little madam and her friends while they teach me basic numbers in Vietnamese and play games on my iPhone. Not to mention my little fan club that follows me out of the school gate every day shouting ‘goodbye miss Beth!!’. They’re full of excitement, character and enthusiasm, what do you expect of a class of 40 primary school kids?

Moving to Ho Chi Minh city was something else. I’ve loved every second (minus the food poisoning from the Banh Mi, a street food baguette) although it was a mad change of pace considering I’m from the Cotswolds in England where my only neighbour is a field of cows one side and a field of sheep to the other! I’ve met some amazing people from all around the world here, as well as lovely Vietnamese men and women always happy to help me out whenever I need it. I’ve got myself a motorbike, an apartment with a friend and there’s a good solid group of us teachers all on the same page in life that are dying for a beer (or five) down by the river Saigon after a day’s work. We sit and chat about our days in the still hot sun and sometimes stretch out in a hammock then head off for Pho Bo (beef noodle soup, it’s amazing). To anyone that is considering teaching abroad, just do it! Home will always be home and it’s only a flight away if you want to go back – which, by the way, you won’t.

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