James Surat

Teach Enrich Empower

James Surat - Teaching in Vietnam

At the age of 31, society says we should be settling down, buying a house and having kids, which at the time seemed a scary concept!

So before we wanted to commit to this we said let’s see the world and who knows, we could start a family or buy a house in another country.

Now that’s exciting! So with this in mind my girlfriend and I started studying a TEFL course, with The TEFL Academy. The course was great, two days of practical advice and ideas about teaching people whose first language isn’t English.

Many areas were discussed and enlightened by the professional tutor taking the class. Ideas and techniques for teaching I had never thought of; even being a qualified Art teacher in the UK, were demonstrated and role-played. Teaching English is very different but can be just as fun! After the informative two-day course, we were armed with the essentials to complete the online part of the course.

“There’s so much going on here and lots of job opportunities.”

We started while we were in the UK between working and trying to save some money, but completed it while on the go, travelling through India and Thailand. It’s so easy to do as it’s really accessible!

After a few months of travelling we found the country and the place we could see ourselves working and living in, which was Da Nang in central Vietnam. It’s a great city and a great country. There’s so much going on here and lots of job opportunities. Not just the kind you’d expect either: I teach English through Art in a kindergarten. We draw, paint, make sculptures and play games with music, reinforcing and teaching new English vocabulary.

Its great fun! I have never taught children that young before and was a little daunted at first, but with a little time it gets easier, and now it’s incredibly rewarding. I also teach adult Art classes to local professionals, helping them improve their conversational skills as we practice art. This is the other end of the spectrum from kindergarten but equally enjoyable and rewarding.

I share a six-bedroom villa with a pool and a garden. I do my adult classes in the garden or go on field trips with our paint brushes in hand! Art isn’t really taught here and if you combine it with English, there are a variety of people who are interested. I work 9.5-12 hours a week and that pays for everything; food is cheap and tasty, accommodation is so much cheaper than the UK, I have a beach on my doorstep which is lovely, and the mountains are a short drive away.

Da Nang is a great place full of friendly locals, travellers and expats who have ended up here. There are also jobs in resorts helping the staff learn English, as well as universities and loads of English language centres. You can even teach online, which you can do anywhere in the world! Most jobs are not 9-5 so you have to be flexible; a lot of English teaching can take place on evenings and at weekends, but there’s always something to do and places to see every day and night of the week! So don’t ever think it’s too late, just make the decision, sign yourself up and do the course, you won’t look back!

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