Sarah J.

English language teacher
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Sarah J.
English and Related Literature
United Kingdom

My employment

English language teacher
Large business (250+ employees)

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A day in the life of a English language teacher in Vietnam

What I do

I teach 5 classes throughout the week, but also cover classes for other teachers. My schedule means I work throughout the whole weekend - which is tough, but all teachers are in the same boat. Each lesson is either 2 or 3 hours long and I spend a lot of time planning each one, but it gets easier the more you work. There are also monthly workshops to help us improve and try different teaching methods. I'm also involved in the local charity network - teaching English to street kids and former sex workers.

Skills I use and how I developed them

A BA in English is considered a relevant degree to teach English in Asia. Often your degree has to be 'relevant', especially in the higher paying schools.

Degree skills:
Working to a deadline, being able to pull out key details from a text quickly and as teaching is kind of like a big presentation, I finally understand how important it is to get into the habit of giving presentations in seminars.

Extracurricular skills:
Whilst at York I took some computer courses which were helpful. Getting involved in student magazines also helped me do something different and pursue my creative interests.

What I like most

I like the variety of adults and children that I teach. I love teaching in a foreign country and finding out about the people and the culture there. Every day is different and I enjoy coming up with new, creative and fun ways to teach English.

What I like least

The work load is tough and a lot of planning is required - which you are not paid for. Saying goodbye to my weekends has also been difficult - makes keeping in touch with those back home difficult.

What would I change? Better paid opportunities closer to home.

How I found out about the job

Personal contacts

The recruitment process

I filled out an application form in October 2012. I was then contacted at the start of November for a Skype interview at the end of December. I had to create a lesson plan and send along with other important documents. Shortly after the interview I was told a position was available and I would start in February.

My career history

In May 2012 I moved to Sydney where I took a 4 week course to gain my CELTA qualification in English Language teaching to adults. After passing this course I then worked in Sydney for a few months - working in different schools and tutoring privately a variety of students of all nationalities, ages and abilities. Using the money I had earnt from this I then travelled around New Zealand and Australia. I returned to the UK in December and got a job teaching English to young Learners and adults in Hanoi, Vietnam - where I am currently.

Courses taken since graduation


Where I hope to be in 5 years

I hope to continue teaching elsewhere in Asia for the next year or so then slowly head back to England. Ideally I would love to teach English in Berlin. I am also considering a Masters degree in the distant future.

My advice to students considering work

Pursue what you're genuinely interested in and go to as many of the career talks as you can - you never know, it might really interest you. York offers lots of courses too - like sign language or computer courses that really benefit you later on. But don't put too much pressure on yourself - only do something if you really want to, not because you're desperate to bulk up your CV.

My advice about working in my industry

Look into getting a CELTA rather than TEFL - provides you with more opportunities at more schools world wide.

Next steps...

If you like the look of Sarah’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Sarah a message to find out more about their career journey.

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