Interview with Sophie Pryce, Vietnam Q & A

PERSONAL PROFILE

What is your name, age and nationality?

My name is Sophie Pryce, I’m 25 years old and I’m British.

What is your education level and background?

I have a BA degree in Childhood and Youth Studies and also have a Masters qualification in Social Work. Before enrolling on to the TEFL course I worked for the council as a community engagement worker supporting children and families.

Have you travelled abroad previously, and if so where?

In 2013 I spent one month travelling around America which inspired me to get away more and see as much of the world as I could. I have since visited numerous countries in Europe on short breaks. In 2015, I spent 4 months travelling around South East Asia where I visited Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia.

What motivated you to teach abroad?

When I get asked this question I always think back to a time when I was travelling in Cambodia on an island called ‘Koh Rong’. I remember looking over the balcony of the hostel we were staying in and seeing a group of small children walking along the beach coming back from school with their English teacher. Observing the relationship between them and the excitement on the students faces as they clung onto his arms and legs as he tried to walk along the beach is something I will remember forever.

What did you want to personally achieve with this experience, and have you succeeded?

For me, when moving to another country I wanted to be able to emerge myself into the culture and be able to give something back. I had carried out some research before I decided to move to Vietnam about the government’s initiative to have as many young people in Vietnam speaking English Language by 2020. English language is so important for people here especially young people who want to go to university or to travel abroad to study. I have been here for nearly 2 months now and have already been able to empower children, young people and adults to learn English as a foreign language.

Did you apply for the program with a friend or on your own?

I applied for the programme with my boyfriend.

Did you know anyone who had taught abroad before you?

No. I am surprised I don’t as it is such a popular thing to do.

What were some of your concerns before you began teaching abroad?

One of my main concerns was how I could teach non-English speakers my language when I could not speak Vietnamese. This concern was felt by many and the content within the course prepares you for this. I soon realised after the 1st day on the course that this should not be a concern at all. Another concern was how I would be viewed by the students and also the local community here as a foreigner but, I have to be honest, I don’t think I have ever felt so welcome in another country in my life! I have been treated like royalty since the day I arrived here. The people in Vietnam love teachers because they know how important you are to their future.

TEFL PROGRAM INFORMATION

What made you decide to do a TEFL course and choose TEFL Heaven?

When I arrived back from South East Asia in 2015 I knew I wanted to start planning another trip, but my next trip I wanted to be something different than just traveling around for a few months. I began researching different things that you can do abroad and teaching was something that captured my attention straight away. I came across TEFL Heaven by chance and from reading the reviews online of other people’s experiences with the company I knew that it was reputable.

What made you choose a face-to-face TEFL course over other options?

I did look into an online TEFL course that I could have done back in the UK before deciding on where to travel to, however, I am so glad I did not choose this option. After completing the 4-week face-to-face TEFL course I realised how valuable it was and it could not have left me more prepared.

Which TEFL program did you do?

I completed the 4 week TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

What did you enjoy about your TEFL course?

I loved meeting new people and going through the experience with them. We were able to share ideas and experiences. The course was very engaging, it included a lot of group work tasks and activities, and the tutor was brilliant, very inspiring, with a wealth of experience.

How prepared did you feel for your  teaching position?

As part of the course you have hands on experiences of teaching Vietnamese students of all ages which I think is the best preparation you can get. You get hands on support over the 4 week course, which also continues afterwards when looking work and also when starting your teaching position.

How long have you been teaching in Vietnam and how long do you plan to stay?

I started my teaching job 1 week ago so I am still quite new to the role, but everything is going great so far. I am planning to stay in Vietnam for 1 year.

How did you secure your English teaching job?

Whilst on the course recruiters from different language centres around Vietnam come in to do a presentation about their school. You then have the opportunity to sign up for an interview and demo class with the school which I did. I successfully passed the interview and demo class and was offered a full time position.

What does a typical working week look like for you?

From Monday to Friday, classes run in the evening anytime from 6pm - 9.30pm. Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days where I teach numerous classes each day. I have Wednesday and Thursday’s off.

What age group or range to you teach?

I teach children from as little as 4 years old, right through to adults which I love! I love being able to experience teaching different age groups and it also keeps it exciting and new for me as a teacher.

What do you most enjoy about teaching your students?

I love the relationship that I have built with my students and how we share experiences during sessions. I am still new to this and new to this country so it is good to learn from them too!

How did you get your work visa?

The school that I am employed by sorted all of this out for me which was very helpful.

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like?

It is so easy to find a place to live here. I joined some expat housing groups on Facebook where apartments are listed everyday, and there are also numerous websites that you can take a look on. An agent who has a good level of English will come to view the apartment with you and discuss the contract which makes it very helpful.

COUNTRY INSIGHT

The people in Vietnam are so friendly and will do anything for you. They often offer you food and beer. The nightlife here is great as it is big for backpackers so there is always something going on down But Vien street. I was a little nervous at first about the food as I am a vegetarian, however I have had no trouble so far in finding food to eat. There are many vegetarian and vegan cafes around the city selling cheap meals.

What are your monthly expenses?

Rent: $600 (between 2 people)

Food: $50 - $70

Other bills: 0

Social life: $50 - $70

Transportation: 1,000,000 dong scooter rental around 45 USD

Phone: $10

Would you say you are able to live comfortably on your monthly salary?

Yes, definitely! If you are on an average salary here you should be able to save at least $600 a month.

ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS

What advice would you give someone thinking about teaching abroad, and would you recommend teaching English in Vietnam?

If you have been thinking about teaching English you should definitely take the step and do it. At first when you arrive in Vietnam it is a culture shock for the first few days as it completely different to back home, but you soon begin to take in the culture. I was really nervous about teaching as it is something that I have never done before but after a few classes you feel like you have done it forever. There is so much support around and you meet lots of people from around the world.

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