XinChao (HELLO) TEFL Org! My story of travelling and teaching in Vietnam is one that might leave you thinking I work for the Vietnamese Department of Travel and Tourism! A country full of untouched, deep green scenery, classic nostalgic culture and inexpensive, healthy and fresh food. Vietnam truly is a wonder to live and work in.
My name is Michael, 28 years of age and I was born and raised in the world-famous West London area of Isleworth. Prior to moving to Da Nang, Vietnam, I had spent my time working as Retail Manager in London. I had two good friends living and working in Hanoi, so after some online conversations I discovered the outstanding benefits of doing this myself… it was time to go to Vietnam!
Prior to studying for the TEFL course I had a minimal teaching experience in music, a degree in Popular Music Performance and only a GCSE in English. The best thing about acquiring my TEFL qualification is that not only do I have a passport to unlock global financial opportunities but I am also a man in very popular demand – I have even had to be turning down well paid work due to how busy I am!
In February 2019, I landed in Hanoi at 0900 in the morning with an over-packed travellers backpack, a tourist visa, and a somewhat befuddled brain. I had never been anywhere in Asia before, so my first few days were quite a culture shock! I’ve had at least 20 years’ experience performing my laid-back “walking across the road” manoeuvre, but crossing the road was a whole new challenge in Vietnam. (It’s actually very easy after a couple of days.. Just.. WALK).
Watching locals on their motorbikes can be quite amusing. As we know, motorbikes don’t have a boot to carry things, but this doesn’t stop anyone acting as though there is one. I even once saw a man transporting another motorbike on a motorbike.
My first two months in Vietnam consisted of pure travelling I visited almost all the major areas. Hanoi, SaPa, Ninh Binh, Phong Nha, Hue, DaNang, Nha Trang, Dalat, Cat Tien, Saigon and the Mekong Delta. Each place has a very different feel as you go around, whether this the people, food, or the spoken accent. During my travels my favourite place was the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, this place is THE JUNGLE! It was an incredible setting for trekking, wild animals and bugs, cave swimming and cave exploring. It’s also home to the worlds’ biggest cave, the Son Doong cave!
A major benefit of Vietnam for Western folks is the shockingly low prices! General beer prices across the whole country is around 66p, although I have had a night out drinking 16p beer all night (… that was some hangover). Food is cheap as chips. Every morning I will walk to my local bakery and get a Banh Mi, a freshly made 8 inch baguette with a choice of anything I want in it (a bit like a subway). This will set me back a grand total of 24p.
After travelling the country I made my decision to settle in the city I fell in love with here on my travels, Da Nang. Da Nang is, quite simply, THE place to be! It’s modern but not tacky. I now live five minutes from a soft white sandy beach, a gigantic mountain, which I explore at least once every two weeks to spot a critically endangered species of monkey (two spottings so far!), and only one mile away from lots of cool outdoor bars where I meet many other expats and travellers!
Before I started teaching English in Vietnam, to say I was nervous was an understatement. I soon realised the majority of job opportunities here involve teaching children. The thought of controlling a class of twenty children was petrifying to me!
The first thing I did to settle my nervousness about this new challenge was to start teaching English online. Now, let me tell you… this job and lifestyle is incredible! Work stress? Setting an alarm for 6am? Wearing uncomfortable formal clothes? Dealing with irritating superiors? … I remember those days in London.
To earn my wage now I work on average just 4-5 hours a day in the evenings on an amazing and very rewarding English teaching phone app called PalFish. I am teaching 3-12 year olds one-on-one in China and I do it all through my phone set up on a tripod! The work I am doing is incredibly satisfying.
The job is very straight-forward as I am provided with all the lesson content I need. I often customise my lessons with my students with entertaining props such as my trademark Dominic the Duck, or perhaps even some morning stretches to get some energy in the early classes. I work directly on my phone or laptop, so this means if I need to and want to work on the go as I am travelling… I can! If I wanted to return to the UK I am completely eligible to take on the same job there too.
Working on PalFish really is a dream job. Not only is the pay GREAT but the flexibility is just too good to be true! I can open and close my schedule as and when I please. If I want a week off, that’s okay! If I need a morning off, that’s okay! If I want to work 7 days a week, that’s also okay!
The grass is definitely not greener on the other side anymore, I’ve found the greenest grass is in Vietnam whilst working on PalFish.
Thank you for reading my story, thank you TEFL Org, and thank you PalFish for my great life!