English Teaching in Vietnam: Making a Difference

A placement which provided invaluable teaching experience and equipped me with skills transferable to any classroom across the world!

The Experiences of Kim Steinbeck, 14 weeks of Teaching

I travelled to Vietnam completely unaware of what a life enhancing, unforgettable experience I was about to embark on. My initial fears soon turned into excitement once I had met the amazing school teachers and charming students. Vietnam is one of the most vibrant places in the world and from the moment I stepped out of the airport and travelled through the bustling street on route to my accommodation, I knew this was going to be one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life.

In my role as teaching assistant, I was in control of what the students learnt and how they learnt it. I prepared the contents of the lessons, designed lesson plans and delivered the lessons. Although I was granted a wealth of responsibility and took a very hands on approach to my role, the coordinators were always there to guide me and assist with any questions. I taught a variety of topics over the course of three months. From fruits, travelling, music, art and love to basic communication in a bar, geography, science and global warming, you name it. I explained the meaning of “mortgage” and “NHS”, we wrote cooking recipes, played games like “Simon says” or “Charades”, enacted different scenarios from bars, restaurants and hotels or discussed the advantages of global citizenship. I ensured every lesson was varied, fun, enjoyable and never boring and I learned a lot of new things myself.

My relationship with every student was special, they recognised how hard I worked to deliver fun lessons and thanked me for it. I got to know so many amazing students who became really dear to my heart during my time teaching. Every single one of them was so warm, welcoming and eager to learn, it made teaching them very comfortable and successful and my work and efforts were highly appreciated. I felt like I made an actual difference by doing something that really matters.

Moreover, being able to interact with the participants is a huge opportunity for the students. It opens new doors and gives them new ideas and values. The students take so much from this class, I could see all of them improve and thrive over time and it made me really proud. During the lunch breaks, they would often ask me tons of questions, try to teach me some Vietnamese or make me eat the food they brought for us to try. The work we do as participants is so influential that some of the students said it was one of the most important jobs in the world and if they can, they would want to become helpers as well in the future. Many of the students made significant improvements in their English skills across the 3 months I was at the school which made me immensely proud.

I formed great friendships with the staff and other teaching assistants at the school, we often went out together for drinks, coffee or dinner. They showed me around the city, gave me a deeper insight into the Vietnamese culture and language and made me feel at home. I found some really genuine and inspiring people and also great friends in them.  Furthermore, the program helped me to grow personally. I became much more confident and open and teaching became easier and easier with every day. I now look forward to transferring my acquired teaching skills to a school once I return home.

All the experiences and friendships that I made, the influential work I did and values I was able to spread make me incredibly glad that I have made the decision to participate in Vietnam. Saying goodbye was hard, especially to the students who I had become so fond of over my 3 month placement.

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