*Disclaimer: I have only taught English and taken the TEFL certification course in Vietnam, so this may or may not apply to those wishing to teach English in other countries.
One of the biggest decisions I had to make when deciding to teach English abroad, was whether I should take the online or in-person TEFL certification course. Now that I have finished the course and started teaching, I cannot recommend taking the in-person class enough. Not everyone’s situation is the same, but if you have the means to do so, it is well worth it. Here are some of the benefits of taking an in-person course in Vietnam:
Personally, I learn better in a classroom environment
This isn’t everyone, but it is me. I couldn’t tell you a lick of knowledge I retained from my online classes when attending university. I would skim through the information I needed to finish my assigned tasks and ignored the rest. I was even blessed with the amazing invention of Quizlet that helped me study even less for those classes than I already was (if you’re a university student in the United States, you know). Granted, maybe it would have been different if my online classes were even somewhat relevant to my area of study, but I have a strong sense it wouldn’t have made a difference. I am a visual, collaborative, and kinesthetic learner, which makes in-person classes far more beneficial for myself. I strongly recommend taking into consideration what type of learner you are before making the decision to take an in-person or online course. Having an instructor that I could meet face-to-face with when I was stressed or confused about the material made a world of difference. I also loved having classmates to learn from and bounce ideas off of. If you learn better individually, then maybe the online course would be a better fit for you – or maybe the in-person course would push you outside of your comfort zone, grow you, and help build up your confidence in teaching like it did for myself.
The people you meet
It’s scary enough moving to a new country, but even scarier to do it by yourself. Taking the TEFL course in Vietnam provided me with 37 other students who were in the same boat as myself. They welcomed me with open arms and there I made some of my best friends in Vietnam. A lot of the people I met through the course were similar minded as myself: wanting to grow, travel, meet new people, and learn about a different culture. They all come from different places and backgrounds, which was a breath of fresh air and I’ve learned so much from them. People aren’t lying when they say the TEFL course is intense. I have never been busier than I was those four weeks. Luckily, I was surrounded by people who constantly encouraged and refreshed me when I needed it the most. These are still people that I can count on to this day.
Getting familiar with a new place and culture
I found a lot of comfort in the fact that when I hopped off my plane in a foreign country there would be someone waiting to pick me up at the airport and take me to housing that was already provided for me. For the first month I didn’t have to worry about what area I’d want to live in, who my roommates would be, or how to even find a place to live in the first place. Instead, I got to spend that time meeting new people, exploring Saigon, and learning more about the Vietnamese culture. My friends from the course turned into my future roommates and after living in Ho Chi Minh for a few weeks, we then had a better idea of the type of area and amenities we desired in a home in Vietnam. There was no rush in finding a place to live or a job, which made the process a breeze for the most part.
I probably would have never stepped foot in Gò Vấp District if it wasn’t for the course
Okay, Gò Vấp isn’t for everyone. If you’re backpacking through Southeast Asia,
it probably isn’t on your list of stops. It’s kind of dirty, crowded, and not the most beautiful sight in Ho Chi Minh. It’s a more local Vietnamese area, which means being one of the few foreigners there, you get stared and pointed at more than one would like. ‘Hello’ is the extent most of the locals’ English there goes, which makes Google Translate and charades your best friend. Taking everything into mind, there still is always a special place in my heart for Gò Vấp District. I got to experience a more genuine Vietnamese way of life than I would have if I had lived in District 1 or 2 right off the bat. But really, let’s talk about the food – it is out of this world good! I have yet to find cheaper and better tasting food than I had in Gò Vấp. All of my favorite spots knew my order by the end of my stay and I spent less than $2-3 USD a day on meals. My daily sinh tố dâu (strawberry smoothie) cost 20,000 VND (~ $0.86 USD) and bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwich) was a merely 7,000 VND (~ $0.30 USD). Gò Vấp has so much charm and is unique from any other place I’ve been to in Ho Chi Minh, I couldn’t recommend a visit there enough.
It makes the job search process SO much easier
To start off, the TEFL course at AVSE requires their students to complete 8 hours of classroom observations and 12 hours of teaching practices. This helps when employers ask about your experience in teaching English as a second language, as well as getting a better understanding of the education system here in Vietnam (which is very different from that of the States). Many of the companies my classmates and I taught at while taking the course offered us jobs on the spot and AVSE helps you throughout the entire job search process. This is really just a huge shoutout to Jane at AVSE, because she works day in and out to ensure that all of the students find jobs when they graduate from the program. I really would not have found my amazing job without her help and I am eternally grateful. It made the entire process a lot less stressful than it would have been otherwise.
Those are just a few points as to why I would recommend taking the in-person course in Vietnam, but there are many more. Again, this may not be the best option for everyone, but if you are able to, go for it! If you have any questions about life in Vietnam, teaching English, or getting TEFL certified feel free to contact me!
Until next time,