Laura McCullagh

Teach Enrich Empower

Teaching English in Vietnam

My name is Laura, I’m 22 years old and from Ireland. Six months ago, after completing my degree in Politics, International Relations and Sociology, I decided to pursue a new ambition of moving abroad to teach English.

Having a passion for working with children and travelling, teaching English seemed like the ideal job and I knew it was important to choose the right TEFL course. I put much research into this and The TEFL Academy was the perfect choice with classroom hours to gain teaching practice and insight and to give me confidence.  The TEFL Academy’s course was a clear and easy programme to follow, and I could tell they really cared about their students and their lives after the course. I began my TEFL course at the start of the summer of 2017 and the classroom course really inspired me and it was wonderful to meet like-minded people at the same stage in life. We also had an amazing teacher who inspired us all with her travel stories and gave us much insight into what was required as a teacher. We learned about classroom management and each stage of the lesson planning and teaching which I now use daily.

I now live in Ninh Binh in Vietnam and teach English full-time to children between the ages of 2 and 5 at a centre called SmartLearn. During the day we teach in a number of different public schools, where there are between 30 and 40 kids in the class. As a kindergarten teacher, I am sent out to two local kindergarten schools. We also have evening and weekend classes in our centre with children aged between 4 and 16 with average class sizes of 12 students.

“The TEFL Academy’s course was a clear and easy programme to follow.”

Ninh Binh is a small city, with a mostly Vietnamese population which had its challenges when I first moved here. However, the locals welcomed all of us with open arms and it quickly became my second home.

Teaching very young children is definitely a challenge as they don’t understand that I don’t speak Vietnamese. I have to just smile and nod a lot! I use body language when I am teaching as well as speaking at a slower pace which I have noticed is creeping more and more into my non-work life.

Despite the occasional gaps in communication, it is the most wonderful feeling to have children coming up to me at the end of the lesson and hugging me or giving me pictures they have drawn for me.

On one occasion in the public school, I walked into a class of about 35 6-year olds chanting and banging on the tables “Laura, Laura, Laura”. My teaching assistance didn’t approve but I felt like a celebrity. I’ve even been asked for my autograph several times.

Making the move to teach English abroad was the biggest and scariest decision I’ve ever had to make, but thanks to The TEFL Academy, I felt prepared and confident for whatever came to me. Every day is different, the challenges and cultural differences are endless, but there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a child grow and learn a completely foreign language.

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