Life of a Teacher in Vietnam
I’ve now been teaching in Hanoi, Vietnam for over 7 months. Wow, sometimes I need to stop and remind myself how long it’s been. Somewhere along the way I adjusted to the fast-paced lifestyle of living in a big city. Hanoi is not like Minneapolis, where I’m from. Honestly, it could not be more different, but now I feel at home here. Overtime I’ve developed a routine that’s helped me adjust to life in Hanoi. Living abroad can be challenging at times, having a solid routine can help balance living in a foreign country.
In Hanoi, English Teachers generally work a pretty odd schedule. Student’s, just like in the United States, go to primary school during the week. The time they have for additional English lessons are during week nights and on the weekends. I from 6-8pm during the week on Tuesday through Thursday, work all day Saturday and Sunday, and have Monday and Friday off.
I’m given office hours on Wednesday and Thursday to create my lesson plans for the week. Not your typical schedule but overtime I’ve adjusted and grown to like it. I’m able to sleep in if I want or get an early start to the day to explore the city.
My typical Thursday routine usually starts off with me waking up around 9 am. I often meet up with some of the other teachers to play soccer in the morning. I then come back to my studio apartment, make a quick breakfast, then head to the gym to work-out. I have been fortunate to have a gym in walking distance from my place. It’s been so convenient to have a gym nearby and has helped me stay in great shape. After the gym I head home for a quick shower and then I’m off to the office. I always stop at a cafe next to my office to eat lunch before getting to work.
Beef Rolls, Potatoes, Rice, and Peanuts with a Milk Tea
I really enjoy my time in the office. I clock in at 1pm and am there tell 4:30. Office hours are a great way for me to connect with the other teachers. All teachers have office hours in one room but our days differ. Usually there is a handful of teachers in the office during a weekday. We often share ideas, activities and teaching strategies. It’s a great way to collaborate and help each other improve and refine our teaching abilities. There’s a bookshelf in the office that we all keep our textbooks we use to lesson plan. Our lesson plans are reviewed every month and is a large factor in determining our monthly bonus.
The company that I work for, Amslink, has teaching centers all across the city. The center that I’ve been placed at is in Linh Dam, a suburb that is way out in the city limits of Hanoi. This often makes for a pretty challenging drive during rush hours. I commute to Linh Dam by motorbike and usually arrive an hour before class giving me enough time to regain some energy after battling traffic with a Bahn Mi and a cup of tea.
Afterwards, I’m ready to get to work and clock-in at my center at 6pm. Classes are typically around 2 hours and I’m done by 6pm. My Thursday class is one of my favorites because of the students. They are always receptive to my activities and willing learners. They have a lot of enthusiastic and are energetic which makes for a fun teaching environment. I start class every day by going over the rules and homework. Then I led in with a warm-up game or activity to get the students motivated to learn. Course book work and writing/speaking activities I save for the second half of class.
Once done with class, I’m back on the road. I live in the Tay Ho district which is on the opposite side of the city. I typically stop at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant on my way home for a warm bowl of delicious Pho.
Thursday nights are a good night for me to go out with the other teachers. Having Friday’s off, I’m able to sleep-in and recover the next day so I can get ready for the weekend. Hanoi has a great night life and there’s always something to do. Another day done, I can relax and have some fun and enjoy the routine I’ve created for myself.