In between travelling the world and planning my next journey, I often dreamed up ideas of how I could fund my trips and ways of being able to travel forever. The idea to teach English abroad often popped up and I became increasingly curious to know more.
In 2012, I was living in New Zealand and the NZ dollar rose significantly against currencies worldwide, which opened up the opportunity to really consider making the leap and do a course to Teach English to speakers of Foreign Languages…
I invested time into researching which course would be best for teaching English abroad, where and why. I discovered that the varying course costs in New Zealand, Australia, USA, UK and Canada combined with the costs of living and average wage were comparatively high against the options for India, China, Asia and the East. A range of qualifications were on offer and of varying reputation and entry pre-requisites. These ranged from an intensive 1 week TEFL course (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), right through to the comprehensive 4 week CELTA program (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults).
I decided that to maximise my career opportunities and pay scale, I wanted a qualification that would be recognised worldwide. I searched for a recognised program endorsed by a reputable institute and the results led me to the CELTA program offered at Language Link in Hanoi, Vietnam. A short and simple process ensued; an online application, a Skype interview and pre-course assignment task and I was accepted. I paid my deposit, confirmed my acceptance, got on the plane to Vietnam and before I knew it, I was doing it!
Hanoi has a reputation as a bit of a haven for ex-pats looking for and living the dream. Renowned for its French colonial charm and cultured ancient history, set amongst beautiful parks and tree-lined boulevards, I envisioned myself studying in the Paris of the East quite easily. What I didn’t realise was how much this experience would touch my heart, make me lifelong friends and become one I would never, ever forget.
Studying abroad is a fantastic way to experience living in another country. Basing yourself in one place, and really living it, allows you to get involved in the local neighbourhood and community and develop a level of insight and understanding you won’t achieve if you’re just travelling through.
The course costs and living expenses are far less expensive than back home, whilst the direct experience of classroom practice and teaching experience from a non-native speaking country becomes an added bonus to your CV, as employers look for points of difference in your skill base. You also get to spend your free time exploring new and exotic horizons, eating incredible cuisine and learning how to combat crossing the Vietnamese streets amongst chaotic traffic (which in itself leads to a new level of self-esteem and confidence!)
It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Hanoi and she still holds my heart to this day. I never felt lonely in this vibrant, romantic metropolis that offered everything from chaos to calm. I found apartment rental cheap and easy to find, a big ex-pat community for socialising and ensuring any feelings of homesick were quickly washed away. Hanoi felt like home.
Café culture is strong here, with the best place to people watch, drink coffee and eat French fusion being Hoan Kiem Lake or one of the many terraced haunts in the Old Quarter.
This city has an enticing nightlife with clubs, bars and street life coming alive as the locals drink Bia Hoi (fresh beer) out of plastic cups on street corners while playing traditional games. Literature and history are high on the list of things on offer, with many museums, art galleries and temples rivalling other Asian cities. Perhaps one of the best things about Hanoi is the close proximity of stunning places to; the famous World-Heritage site Halong Bay and her cluster of thousands of islands allows an escape to water and beach beauty, or an overnight train to Sapa set in quintessential green terraced rice fields will give you a glimpse of rural Vietnam and witness the traditions of the colourful and kind Northern hill tribes of the Hmong and Red Dzao people.
To teach abroad, you don’t need to be a formally qualified teacher, but for better contractual perks and pay rates many employers have set requirements that include a TEFL or CELTA qualification, University Degree and experience of teaching at some level.
The benefit of studying for a CELTA qualification at a recognised and accredited institute is that they recruit for teachers on completion of each program intake. This can be advantageous for several reasons, as you already know the teachers, students, resources and facilities of the school.
Part of the program provides a comprehensive list of websites and resources to look for current vacancies, as well as tips and tricks on what to look for in securing a good job, what hours to expect, what working conditions to avoid and what demographic you will be teaching. This is particularly valuable if you are committing to longer term placements. Language Link Vietnam offers a rebate on your course fees if you take up a position with them, which was a great added bonus for the finances.
If you have a TEFL qualification then you can use the TEFL website. This is a great place to start as you know you’ll be going to a respected school or business, get paid and usually also get accommodation included in the deal!
If you want to experience Vietnam but don't think teaching is quite right for you then you can still experience Vietnam by volunteering. These packages are only for a short time, making it more feasible if you have a big round the world trip planned. Real Gap offer a great package to volunteer in a local school teaching English which can be booked through me. Or have a look at these other options working with children that I can book for you:
We can also book your tours around Vietnam, accommodation and day trips – just call us or request a quote by email. This fascinating country has so much to see and do, so if you only have a short amount of time, heading to Vietnam on a small group tour will ensure you don’t spend your precious time and days booking buses and finding cheap hotels, and ending up left hanging to see more. They offer a fantastic 15 day tour which takes in all the highlights of Vietnam for a first time visitor including Hanoi and Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh and the Mekong Delta, leaving the only decision making you need to do - how to have fun!