Interview with Ashley Corbett, Vietnam Q & A

PERSONAL PROFILE

What is your name, age and nationality?

Hi! I’m Ashley Corbett. I’m 23 years old, and I’m from Canada.

What is your education level and background?

I have a Bachelor of Journalism and a TESOL certificate.

Have you travelled abroad previously, and if so where?

Yes! I studied abroad in France and travelled around Europe during that time.

What motivated you to teach abroad?

I wanted a challenging and completely new experience after I graduated from university. I didn’t have much money saved at the time, so I knew I would have to work abroad if I wanted to travel extensively.

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

I wanted to immerse myself in the experience as fully as possible. I also wanted to take advantage of my geographic location in Vietnam by traveling as much as possible. I think I have definitely succeeded in doing both of those things! I lived in a very Vietnamese area, and ate mostly local food. As for travel, I took a trip every month for a year and a half!

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

I applied with a friend.

Did you know anyone who had taught abroad before you?

No actually, I didn’t!

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

I was mainly concerned about culture shock, because I had never been to Asia before and I knew how completely different it would be from what I was used to in Canada. I was also a bit nervous about making friends.

TEFL PROGRAM INFORMATION

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

I didn’t know anyone who had taught abroad so I wanted to go abroad through a trustworthy agency that would help get me established. TEFL Heaven was very responsive when I first got in touch, and they made me feel really comfortable with the process.

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

I wanted to get adjusted to the country I was moving to before diving into the workforce. I also wanted to meet people in my course. Lastly, I wanted the practice of in-class teaching, and online TEFL courses don’t offer that.

Which TEFL program did you do?

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

What did you enjoy about your TEFL course?

I liked meeting the other teachers in training, it was a fun bonding experience for sure! And I enjoyed the in-class teaching hours.

How prepared did you feel for your teaching position?

I felt pretty prepared. I mean, teaching at every company is different so I did have to learn a lot at my job but I was glad to have the month long training course under my belt.

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

I taught in Vietnam for a year and a half. I actually JUST left and have relocated to Japan. Who knows, I might return to Vietnam in the future! I loved it there!

How did you secure your English teaching job?

I applied for it online, on the company’s websites. Most of Vietnam’s big language centers have this option for applicants.

What type of school or organisation do you work for? (i.e. language school/ public school etc.)

I worked for a language school.

What does a typical working week look like for you?

At language schools in Vietnam, the classes are taught during evenings and on weekends —

the hours are basically when students have free time! I worked about 25-30 hours a week. I taught a few 3-hour evening classes a week, and had 8-10 hour days on the weekend. It was a pretty strange work schedule but it was worth it, because I had so much free time during the week!

What age group or range do you teach?

I taught many age groups, from kids to teenagers to adults! The language center I worked at trained its teachers to work with all age groups, which I really enjoyed. But I know that most schools will have their teachers specialize in a specific age group.

What do you most enjoy about teaching your students?

Vietnamese students are very energetic and enthusiastic. Classroom management can sometimes be a challenge, but participation is always high!

How did you get your work visa?

I entered Vietnam on a tourist visa and got my work visa once I secured a job. My company helped me with the logistics, and they paid for it too!

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

There are many companies in Vietnam that provide housing to expats. In Ho Chi Minh City, I would recommend Terranova. I lived in a few different shared house apartments, but my accommodation with Terranova was by far the nicest. The house was a lovely, well-decorated and very clean space. I had a large, furnished bedroom, shared bathroom and shared roof terrace! I was lucky enough to become friends with my housemates as well.

COUNTRY INSIGHT

Food: Vietnam has an amazing culture of cheap street food! I adore Vietnamese food. Typically, it’s a lot of rice, soup, grilled meat, seafood and sandwiches. Eating in Vietnam is an awesome experience because it’s delicious and inexpensive, so you can order abundantly and not break the bank!

Transportation: The main method of transport in Vietnam is by motorbike! You can drive a motorbike, or take a motorbike taxi. You can also take car taxis, but they’re a little pricier. I rented a motorbike for $50 a month, and filled my gas tank a few times a week for $2. Driving a motorbike, especially at night, is a lot of fun.  Just be careful and wear a good helmet!

Places of interest: Vietnam is an incredible country to travel around in! It’s also very cheap for airfare, bus fare, accommodation, etc, and since most teaching jobs don’t require you to work more than 30 hours a week, it’s easy to travel during your free time. I lived in Ho Chi Minh City, which is the country’s biggest city. Other places of interest include: Hanoi, Hoi An, Da Nang, Ha Long Bay, Sapa, Hue, Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc Island and Ninh Binh.

Social/night life: I had a great social life in Ho Chi Minh City! There’s no shortage of bars and social events. The expat community there is huge, and I loved going to expat events such as pub quizzes, beer festivals, art events and live music shows. If you want to keep it local, socializing at Vietnamese spots is also lot of fun. You’ll probably meet some new Vietnamese friends there! In my experience, Vietnamese people are very friendly to foreigners.

What are your monthly expenses?

Rent: $400 per month

Food: $350-400 per month

Other bills: Included in the rent

Social life: $200-$500 per month

Transportation: About $60 per month

Phone: $6 per month

Other costs: Travel! But this totally depends on your own decisions. I typically took one trip a month, and spent anywhere from $100 to $1500. It depended where I went and what I did.

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

Oh absolutely! I lived very comfortably. I didn’t end up saving very much, but that’s because I prioritized travel and spent my extra money on vacations.

ADVICE FOR PROSPECTIVE ENGLISH TEACHERS

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

My advice would be to go for it! There’s only so much advice you can take and research you can do… at a certain point, if you’re interested, you need to just take the plunge and experience things for yourself. I would absolutely recommend teaching in Vietnam to someone who likes adventure and wants to get out of their comfort zone. The initial adjustment will be challenging, but once you get past that stage, it’s amazing! Plus, Vietnam is a great country for travel and it’s near to a lot of other countries. I think teaching in Vietnam is a good place for people who want to travel in their free time.

Did you find this helpful?

Insert your tweetable quote/phrase here

Click to Tweet

Leave a Comment: