Teaching English to Vietnamese Children is Easy…Once You Know The Rules.

12 Apr

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Some of my students were mellow, some classes were shy, but not this one. This squealing dervish of 30 kids was so out of control that they had gone through 6 teachers in 3 months. When they met me, they met their match.


My tactic was to be louder, wilder and more rambunctious than the lot of them. Getting them to sit down and shut up was impossible.

I used their manic, fever pitched energy that had drove teachers running for the door and turned it on them, making them hokey pokey, Old McDonald and duck, duck, goose and dance to Kanye West until they were out of breath.

Then I held a package of double stuff Oreos aloft and shoved my faced with three in quick succession, groaning with epicurean delight. You could hear a pin drop.

“I will eat this whole bag of Oreos, I swear to god.”
I scarf another cookie, their eyes follow my hand from the bag to my mouth like obedient terriers, I had them in my thrall.

Once you know the rules, teaching crazed children is easy.

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6 Responses to “Teaching English to Vietnamese Children is Easy…Once You Know The Rules.”

  1. Nicky April 13, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    hey– ?, I’m trying to sort teaching in Vietnam next Jan or Feb and trying to figure out if I need an in-course TEFL or if I can wing it without one and find a decent job? Suggestions? Did you get your job on your own or did you go through an agency? Thanks.

  2. joshywashington April 13, 2010 at 5:16 am #

    Nicky! that all depends on how comfortable you are in rolling with the punches and living with the uncertainty of perilous adventure…or how easy you want to make it on yourself…

    I didn’t know i was going to teach English until I met group of expats drinking on a roof top bar in Saigon. I then set about getting a job.

    lemme say this

    if you want to work, you can. Anywhere. K?

    If you want to spend $1,200 on a TESOL course and get a 1 year placement with paid air fare…by all means. That is a great way to go about it and you will likely have a bloody blast.

    When I taught in 2007 there were over 400 language schools in Saigon and hundreds of thousands of potential private students. I bet there are blue eyes under those shades and that pretty much tells me that you would be hired at any numbers of schools.

    I liked being a free agent because i could move about if i wished, teach at multiple schools, quit a job without any hope of getting another…ect ect ect

    and i made as much money as most TESOL certified placement teachers.

    i think it comes down to the willingness to do it and the confidence to pull it off.

  3. Lola April 13, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    Aren’t they the cutest?!

    • joshywashington April 13, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

      they are! and they are the most frustrating when i run out of cookies and can no longer hold their attention! But whether i was having a blast ( have some great video) or pulling my hair out, they were always cute…

  4. Rồng Ngố April 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    Nice to know that you have tips to teach VNese kids. To me, a guy who have lived in Saigon for over 20 years (since I was born there, hehe), the VNese kids are the cutest but most mischievous ever. Sometimes, some naughtiest one play rough tricks on their teacher. Actually, they are lovely though. Have a great time with them! 🙂

  5. Vanessa November 2, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    Hey Joshy,
    Thank you so much for the inspirational message. I am currently teaching english in france and my students are pretty much my same age. I am 5ft tall but sassy and managed to pull off the whole “teaching-high-schoolers” thing last year. This year, all my classes are packed with willing, excited, and talented students, except one. And of course this particular class has no interest in english beyond 50cent and Bob Marley (not that he isn’t awesome!). Your in-your-face approach is exactly what I need to embody to get through to this bunch, so thank you for easing my anxiety and letting me know that this is not an impossible task!

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