The traveling teachers series is all about people who travel and you guessed it teach! Each interview features a different teacher, traveling to a different place, and teaching a unique group of students. So often we hear of people teaching abroad, but what is it really like? How do you find the opportunities? There are many questions surrounding traveling and teaching. Through this series, I hope you are inspired by the good work going on around the world, learn, and start to think about ways you can travel and teach abroad yourself.
This week I am excited to bring you a story about a teacher in Vietnam! I loved this interview because it is from an awesome travel blogger who is living in a country that is very high on my bucket list – Vietnam! Frances is a twenty-something Scottish lassie who, in 2016, embarked on the adventure of moving to Vietnam to teach English with her boyfriend David. A year and a half in and Vietnam still has a hold of their hearts. Together they blog about their experiences living in Vietnam and traveling around Asia at So The Adventure Begins. Here is her story of teaching abroad.
What inspired you to teach abroad?
I can’t pinpoint the exact time when I first came across the concept of teaching abroad, but I do remember still being at high school. I toyed with the idea for a long time (all throughout my senior years and university) and would regularly browse through volunteer websites offering the chance to teach in “__” for 1 month. But these trip were always out of my budget and didn’t seem to really give you much time to adapt to the destination, benefit the students lives and experience life in that country. So, I started looking into how I could have a similar experience without paying for one of these organized trips and realized I could make teaching English and living abroad a career – which is just the perfect combination for someone like me who is passionate and dreams of experiencing far off places.
How long have you been teaching and where?
I have been teaching English in Saigon, the largest city in Vietnam, for almost a year and a half now alongside my boyfriend.
Were any of your expenses covered with the teaching experience?
We have full time salary positions at our language schools, so the salary is the main benefit. We also get an accommodation allowance every month and got a bonus for completing our first year contract. The company we work for supported lots in obtaining all the correct visa and residency documents, and also set up our bank accounts for us.
How did you find the opportunity to teach abroad?
We found an advert for our current job in a Facebook group for recruiters to post about teaching jobs in Vietnam. From there it was simply a case of emailing CVs and doing a skype interview!
Have you been able to spend time traveling and exploring the country while teaching? Where have you been? What have you done?
We don’t have huge amounts of time off from work but we are lucky to have two consecutive days off every week which we tag a days holiday onto and go exploring. Since moving to Vietnam we have been able to experience a fair slice of its diversity, but also venture to nearby countries. So far we have visited Malaysia twice, Singapore twice, returned home for a wedding, spent Christmas in Cambodia and experienced Bali with family. On top of all these travels we have been able to save a substantial sum of money with which we plan on doing some long term traveling next year.
What are interactions with students like?
We work with children at our English language centre and they are so fun to spend time with. The majority want to learn English, and enjoy themselves a lot in class. The language barrier is very difficult with Vietnamese being a tonal language but as we teach immersive style English, we don’t have to be able to speak Vietnamese with our students. The majority of our colleagues have a high level of English too.
What was your favorite part of teaching abroad?
Our favorite things about teaching abroad has to be a toss up between the students and living in Vietnam. The children we teach are so lovely, they try their best and have great dreams that we are delighted to be helping them achieve. Vietnam is a country of delicious dishes, interesting customs, diverse and awe inspiring scenery and extremely inviting and friendly people. We couldn’t recommend it enough as a destination to teach abroad.
What is one piece of advice you have for someone who wants to teach abroad?
Don’t mull over the idea of teaching abroad too much, or you will never make the leap. Apply for jobs from home, then when you get offered a position that clicks with you, book your flight! Everything falls into place once you’ve made that first step.
You can follow Frances on her social media listed below. For more about Vietnam and other awesome destinations, make sure you check out her blog!
For more about the traveling teachers series, click here.