A day in the life of a TEFL Teacher: Intern Insight Hanoi, Vietnam

Ever wondered what being a TEFL teacher is like? Well, wonder no more, as we’ve asked our Vietnam intern, Kerry, to give us an idea of what her day in Hanoi, Vietnam was like.

6.30 am

Your alarm wakes you, alerting you to the sound of scooter horns beeping, street sellers calling and cockerels crowing outside. It’s time for a cool shower, running through some last-minute lesson prep in your head as you go.

7am

Grab a cold, reviving ca phe sua da (Vietnamese Iced Coffee)  from the street seller outside your door for a quick caffeine fix before jumping into your chartered taxi with a few of your fellow interns. Laugh about the previous night’s activities, and share lesson pointers for the day ahead on your journey through the busy roads to your school. The city is already live and kicking around you!

i-to-i TEFL teacher classrrom in Hai Phong Vietnam

7.45am

It’s time for today’s first lesson! This session is grade 1, the smallest and most enthusiastic learners who are always really happy to see you. This lesson contains plenty of songs, chanting and repetition to drill in key learnings (perhaps aided by some sweets! You can never go wrong with sweets for grade 1).

11.30am

Time to relax after your three morning sessions. Grab a bowl of hot pho (noodle broth) sit on a tiny chair with the other teachers, cool off in the staff room over some lesson planning, or just grab the taxi home for a nap – this heat can be tiring!

2pm

Back to it! Now travel to another school campus, where you’ll spend an hour and a half’s lesson teaching grade 9 – teenagers, but who says they need to be stroppy? Plenty of rapport and keeping lesson topics current makes for a really engaging, rewarding class they’re sure to remember.

3.30pm

Fifteen minutes to yourself to grab a cool drink and go over some marking or planning.Street Traffic in Hanoi Vietnam

4.45pm

After another afternoon lesson learning about verbs and adverbs with grade 10 students, you’re ready to jump in that taxi back to your shared intern house and veg out in the communal area for a while! A bit of lesson planning for tomorrow, some quiet time to catch up on your favourite series on Netflix – a well earned rest from your busy day!

7.30pm

You and the other interns gather in the communal area to catch up on your days and take in the warm, bustling atmosphere of the city below.

8pm

Time to head out! Treat yourself to a cold, freshly brewed local beer (bia hoi) at the pub round the corner – so refreshing in this heat! Chat with the other interns, people watch and take in the atmosphere of lively, contained chaos that pervades the streets in Hanoi.

8.45pm

Tummies start rumbling, so head to the cheap restaurant across the street to gorge on noodles, hot soup, roasted meats and fresh fruit and veg – whatever takes your fancy.

9.30pm

The group have been talking about old films, so head back to the accommodation and stick one on before you all turn in for the night!Vietnam nighttime boat trip

11pm

Early to bed, early to rise… you know the rest. Another day in rocking Hanoi is waiting around the corner!

So, there we have it. Big thanks to Kerry for sharing her experiences with us.  A whole day in the life of a TEFL teacher in Hanoi, Vietnam revealed. Busy, fun-packed and fulfilling. If this sounds like something you’d be up for, then take a closer look at our Paid Vietnam TEFL Internship here:

https://www.i-to-i.com/teaching-internships/tefl-course-internship-vietnam.html

And don’t forget to download our guide for more info. Until the next Intern Insight article.

Vietnam i-to-i TEFL interns with lanterns

Dear Vietnam… I don’t think you have enough scooters

So it has all begun. After a torturous 24 hour journey, in which I nearly missed a flight resulting in my name being called over the airport intercom, I am finally here! I’m 3 days in and to say that the experience has been crazy would be an understatement. I wanted a change – a jolt to my system – yet Hanoi has been more of an electric shock than a jolt. However, despite my severe electrocution, this place is slowly growing on me. The more damp, narrow alleys I walk down, the more vibrantly coloured buildings I pass, the more coffee I drink and the more humility I see in the locals’ eyes, the broader my smile becomes.

Aerial view of flats in Hanoi, Vietnam

First impression of Vietnam: controlled chaos. I am SO glad I had a team of people to help and guide me as, if not, I’m pretty sure my face would be on the back of a milk carton right now. The entire team has been amazing and in all honesty, I can’t imagine doing any of it without them. They’ve settled me in, calmed my nerves and assured me that after orientation week, I’ll have more confidence in my teaching abilities. All is run from the comfort of our hotel, which is much more comfy and air conditioned (thank goodness!)  than what I was expecting. The whole place is swarmed with interns and so you’re never alone in the elevator or without someone to chat to. Meals have become a huge social event with lunch and dinner being served ‘family style’. This makes it so much easier to mingle with different people and to try get accustomed to everyone’s accents! You would never think that we’re all speaking English. It’s pretty clear that there’s still lots to learn and adjust to but I know that’ll come as this orientation week progresses.

 

So despite the fact that all is running smoothly and I’ve been assured that I won’t be a completely useless teacher, there is one activity  that has blown me away and that I know I will never be able to do – navigate a vehicle on the streets of Hanoi. Oh my sweet, lovely, baby Buddha! There are approximately 3.4 million scooters in the city of Hanoi and this becomes overwhelmingly apparent when you step outside. When gazing at a street the roads get continuously hit with one tsunami of scooters, mopeds and motorbikes after another. Some carrying a family of 5, some carrying a family of 5 and their dog, some carrying what seems like a year’s worth of toilet paper.

Crowds of motorbikes and mopeds on the street in Hanoi, Vietnam

 

It is frighteningly impressive. To add to this, the rules of the roads are more like loose guidelines. The streets buzz with the constant sound of honking and  hooting. From what I’ve gathered, all the noise is to notify other drivers that they’re riding beside them or want to pass, because clearly the use of review mirrors and indicators are too much of a bother. The most amazing thing however, is the fact that amongst the sea of horns, a driver knows if a honk or hoot is meant for them. It’s become very apparent that the Vietnamese simply have superior hearing. So as you can imagine, as a pedestrian, it is a harrowing experience trying to cross the road! I’m not exactly what one would call a spiritual person but I can’t help doing a couple of ‘Hail Marys’ before frantically running across. I think it’s fair to assume that in Vietnam, the chicken simply didn’t make it to the other side.

Flats in Hanoi, Vietnam

So to sum up these past few days: beautiful, sweaty, busy, eye-opening, exciting and humbling. As I fall asleep tonight to the soundtrack of the streets, I simply cannot wait to see what the rest of my time will have in store for me.