What’s it Like Teaching EFL in a Kindergarten in Vietnam?
2019-03-11 Mark Crocker Alumni Experiences
Today I will be discussing teaching EFL in a kindergarten class in Vietnam. The main 3 points I will be talking about are the culture, school support and parent assistance. Just to give you some background, my name is Melanie and I am from Ohio, USA. I have over 10 years experience in the classroom. I started as a substitute teacher in Nevada and then decided to move abroad to Vietnam in 2013. Vietnam is where I had my first EFL experience of teaching kindergarten.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Melanie W.
Children are Motivated to Succeed
The first big difference I noticed in the school compared to the US was the culture and practices of the Vietnamese people. What I quickly learned was that in general the people were very friendly and driven by education. For example, most of the children in my class went to another class before regular school (8-4), then an afterschool program, and the parents still expected their kids to complete a full load of homework in the evening. I bring that up so you can have an understanding of the pressure on these very young students. Once the children were in the classroom, I observed the stress and the constant pushing of themselves to master English. So right away I focused on not only learning but also having fun so the children could be children and the lesson would naturally flow. Some of the activities involved were singing the alphabet, color matching games and relay races with colors/numbers/toys.
Also read: The Top 5 Places to Teach English in Vietnam
Memories of My First Day
So you are probably wondering, how did they understand me and what was the level of English when I entered the room? On my first day, I came into the room and the children were already seated. A local teaching assistant introduced me to the children as she was there to translate and help me with class management. As I introduced myself, all I saw were big beautiful eyes looking straight back at me and blinking. They knew no English, so of course I was nervous, but as the days and weeks moved on the students absorbed and retained everything that we went over in the class. Mainly because everyday I had a lesson plan written out and I knew the direction I was going in. We started with the alphabet song and we added something new everyday, but drilling and constantly going over the material covered as I learned from my training is what really did the trick.
The Importance of Practicing at Home
Again, this was my first experience and I found the text books and extra materials all amazingly useful, but the one thing I never asked or even thought about until I had my first teacher conference really surprised me. I went into the teacher conference with a translator and immediately noticed that every one of my parents spoke English well and I didn’t actually need the translator at all. So my question for every parent was “Do you speak English in the home” and every one said “No”. I was completely taken back. “Why?” All of the parents basically gave me the same answer. “I don’t want to teach my child the wrong thing to say.” I explained to every parent that speaking English in the home would help their child more than I could in the short time I spend with them. We can fix their mistakes in the classroom, but they are going to be more relaxed and comfortable at home and that will help the student absorb the material quicker. I requested that at least one parent speak English daily to their child in the home and the students as a whole improved 90% because of it.
The Benefits for Teachers and Students are Huge
Teaching EFL abroad has been such a rich experience, learning new cultures, understanding the value of education in other places and the importance of school/parent support. I love teaching and I am constantly learning new things. I also get to travel to many different places during my downtime. I believe this experience will be a wonderful asset for my students once I return back to the states for good.
For the best possible start to your English teaching career in Vietnam, why not complete your TEFL certification course at our training center in Ho Chi Minh City?
You can also get further information on living and working in Vietnam via our Vietnam Country Guide.
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