Lucy Ross-Millar

Teach Enrich Empower
JANUARY SALE 01/25/2022

Teaching in Vietnam

I started teaching at the school - on a quiet road, known for its dog meat cafes - in August. Armed with just a piece of chalk, a beat up CD player and the classroom blackboard behind me, the first day is one I'll never forget.

Teaching offers constant variety & is a fantastic way to absorb a new culture.

The heat was sweltering, the enormous fans on the ceiling blew my skirt up, and my shirt clung to my skin. Facing up to 40 seven-year-olds who could say just a handful of English words, was a surreal experience. 

I went to the wrong classroom several times. At break time I almost choked on dozens of tiny sticks floating in my tea in the teache’rs room, and pretty much no one in the school spoke English. (Luckily there was another western teacher at the school, who I became great friends with and loads nearby that gave me support). It was highly entertaining and felt strangely like I was watching someone else's life. 

I moved to Vietnam in July after completing a 120 hour combined TEFL course with The TEFL Academy. I booked a one way ticket to Hanoi and quit my job as a journalist for a daily newspaper in Cambridge, England. Itchy feet cannot be ignored, I was ready for adventure, keen to travel more and face new challenges and Cambridge was getting very old.

I had often considered teaching English abroad but felt like I would be abandoning my journalism career. In reality, if you can be a writer in England there's a good chance you can continue writing anywhere.

The decision has paid off. Life in Saigon is truly incredible. It's fast-paced, crazy and exciting. The traffic is insane, the food is wonderful and the history of Vietnam is an enormous treasure trove waiting to be explored with an open mind. The people are kind, welcoming and creative. They always want to make friends with foreigners and tend to ask for your number after just a few minutes of chatting. 

Teaching offers constant variety and is a fantastic way to absorb a new culture. Every day at Bach Dang Primary School is a surprise. Some days I am presented with colourful bracelets, beautiful drawings or handmade envelopes. Other days I find myself imitating animals, making strange noises or dancing and singing to ludicrous music like the Fox Song. Being an entertainer/actor/clown is a huge part of the job. 

Many of the children are a delight - excited, inquisitive and eager to learn. Some of them even gather to watch me as I plan my lessons at break time and a few try to watch me go to the toilet. But the captivation does not always transfer to the classroom.

Teaching can be exhausting and infuriating, but it can also be hugely rewarding, fun and full of indescribable highs. I would recommend it to anyone considering a new career path or just looking for a year doing something completely different. The TEFL Academy course arms you with a wealth of knowledge of various teaching methods and ideas for fun classroom activities, but no one truly learns how to teach until they stand at the front of a classroom. I still have a long way to go. 

I am not entirely sure what the future holds for me when I finish my contract, but one thing I can be sure of is that it will include more travel, more adventure and another teaching job in another new and exciting country!

Teaching offers constant variety & is a fantastic way to absorb a new culture.

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