Teaching English In Hanoi – The Average Day In An International School In Vietnam

Posted on Posted in Southeast Asia, Travel Blogs, Vietnam

I remember the 4th grade

Vietnam is a strange place sometimes, however Shelly and I were determined to make teaching English in Hanoi, Vietnam work.  My most memorable year in early childhood schooling, was the 4th grade.  My teacher was Mrs. VanTine. She was a hottie from what I can remember. Although I really wasn't "into girls" yet,  she was young and I remember her being very nice. I remember social studies in particular and it was the first class I can remember liking.  Now, I am a 4th grade teacher and have been for 3 weeks.  The commute to our new job at Vietnam American International School (VAIS) is incredibly nice for Hanoi. Very little traffic and a leisurely cruise around scenic West Lake, is heaps better than the congested free-for-all we both endured while living in the old quarter.

 

 

First Day At School

Teaching English in Hanoi

The First Day

The first day I arrived, I thought I was going to be a TEFL/ESL teacher, teaching ESL lessons. When I met with the Principal, he told me there had been a change. He'd thought about it long and hard and decided to hire me as the 4th Grade Teacher instead of the ESL Teacher. The current 4th grade teacher was leaving in a week for the States due to some unfortunate health problems with her husband.  Shocked, surprised, and a feeling a little bait-and-switched, I agreed to observe and see how it goes. I met the kids, five Korean students and one from Saudi Arabia. I sat in the back of the class, putting my two cents in where I could and tried to figure out how I would teach 4th grade as Mrs. Bixler was going over subjects and predicates. AHHHHH predicates.. I think I know what those are.... but it has been quite awhile since I worked with them. Then she started talking about medians, modes and outliers in her math lesson. A little bit of anxiety crept in as I realized, I just might not be very well qualified to teach 4th grade, I was just an English Teacher!

Visions of the TV show "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader" nagged at my brain as I listened intently on the information I would need to spew back to the children on Friday when Mrs. Bixler would be gone. To make matters worse, I found out that she leaves at 12 noon on Friday and Parent Teacher conferences start at 1pm. No wonder she's leaving.  Ah well, I guess you need to roll with it sometimes. I did my best to simply get ready. Shelly encouraged me to not stress too much and do my best and things would be fine.  Teaching English in Hanoi is something that tested us both.

 

 

Brady's Kids

Teaching English in Hanoi
Teaching English in Hanoi
Teaching English in Hanoi

Brady's Classroom

I had my classroom setup in a horseshoe like configuration.  In the middle was the whiteboard which I didn't use with pens very often.  My desk was in the back of the room with a projector that I would setup with my computer and do most of my teaching from the back of the class.  This way I could keep an eye on the kids and was able to still see them and what I was teaching them.  They could also see the board and me.  It worked out really well.   In the morning, we always started the day with a warm-up.  At times it was dancing robots which was a k-pop video we would watch and the kids would dance along with it.  It was a great way to get them settled into the day.  We would then have current events.  

I would research some news story or current event and we would discuss it and share opinions on it.  This was a great way for the children to learn about the world they live in right now.  We generally spend a day doing two subjects.  In the morning we would do one subject, and the afternoon we would do another.  We all ate lunch in the cafeteria (free for us too) and we the only time we had as teachers to ourselves was during art, music, vietnamese, or gym class.  The rest of the day we worked together to learn English with an American School curriculum including US based text books.  It was all in English and the school had a strict English speaking only rule.  The kids would still speak to each other at times in Korean (most of my kids were Korean) and I would have to reprimand them

I setup a reward system for them and had Brady Bucks.  They were paper US bills that instead of presidents, had pictures of people from our school.  The 1 dollar bills had my picture, the 5's had the Assistant Principal, the 10s had the Principal and the 20s had the CEO/ Owner.  They would get bills for certain things they did right, and if they misbehaved, spoke Korean, or didn't turn in homework, they were docked money.  We used this system as a bank like system where they could take out money and use it for certain things.  This taught them to be responsible with their money.  If they each had 100 Brady Bucks each, they could have a pizza party with a movie in the afternoon on a Friday.  They learned to be wise with their money and save for something more valuable and also worked together to get each other up to the 100 dollars necessary to have the part.  Shelly did the same thing in her class. 

We also had various long term assignments such as our Mesopotamia and World History project which took weeks and was multi-tiered, 4th Grade Style was another project.  Another project was DaVinci's Parachute where we made a model of the design from DaVinci's drawings.  There was the rock project where we learned about the different types of rocks and went outside to collect, then came back in to wash and classify the rocks we had found.  We also went on a field trip to the Hanoi Citadel (a world heritage site)  

The children learned a lot about many things in my class. The parents were very happy with me as their teacher and the children respected me. Teaching English in Hanoi has been extremely fun! 

 

 

Shelly's Kids

Teaching English in Hanoi
Teaching English in Hanoi
Teaching English in Hanoi

Shelly's Classroom

I had my classroom setup in a horseshoe like configuration.  In the middle was the whiteboard which I didn't use with pens very often.  My desk was in the back of the room with a projector that I would setup with my computer and do most of my teaching from the back of the class.  This way I could keep an eye on the kids and was able to still see them and what I was teaching them.  They could also see the board and me.  It worked out really well.   In the morning, we always started the day with a warm-up.  At times it was dancing robots which was a k-pop video we would watch and the kids would dance along with it.  It was a great way to get them settled into the day.  We would then have current events.  

I would research some news story or current event and we would discuss it and share opinions on it.  This was a great way for the children to learn about the world they live in right now.  We generally spend a day doing two subjects.  In the morning we would do one subject, and the afternoon we would do another.  We all ate lunch in the cafeteria (free for us too) and we the only time we had as teachers to ourselves was during art, music, vietnamese, or gym class.  The rest of the day we worked together to learn English with an American School curriculum including US based text books.  It was all in English and the school had a strict English speaking only rule.  The kids would still speak to each other at times in Korean (most of my kids were Korean) and I would have to reprimand them

I setup a reward system for them and had Brady Bucks.  They were paper US bills that instead of presidents, had pictures of people from our school.  The 1 dollar bills had my picture, the 5's had the Assistant Principal, the 10s had the Principal and the 20s had the CEO/ Owner.  They would get bills for certain things they did right, and if they misbehaved, spoke Korean, or didn't turn in homework, they were docked money.  We used this system as a bank like system where they could take out money and use it for certain things.  This taught them to be responsible with their money.  If they each had 100 Brady Bucks each, they could have a pizza party with a movie in the afternoon on a Friday.  They learned to be wise with their money and save for something more valuable and also worked together to get each other up to the 100 dollars necessary to have the part.  Shelly did the same thing in her class. 

We also had various long term assignments such as our Mesopotamia and World History project which took weeks and was multi-tiered, 4th Grade Style was another project.  Another project was DaVinci's Parachute where we made a model of the design from DaVinci's drawings.  There was the rock project where we learned about the different types of rocks and went outside to collect, then came back in to wash and classify the rocks we had found.  We also went on a field trip to the Hanoi Citadel (a world heritage site)  

The children learned a lot about many things in my class. The parents were very happy with me as their teacher and the children respected me. 

 

 

Our Kids

Teaching English in Hanoi
Teaching English in Hanoi
Teaching English in Hanoi
Teaching English in Hanoi
Teaching English in Hanoi
Teaching English in Hanoi
Teaching English in Hanoi
Teaching English in Hanoi
Teaching English in Hanoi

Teaching English In Hanoi

 

Teaching English in Hanoi, at Vietnam American International School was not only challenging, but rewarding.  We really loved our kids and had a blast with them.  From the birthday parties to the pizza parties and Halloween Party we had, it was incredible to teach while having fun.  We had a lot of free reign to teach how we wanted and were able to really shape these children and make them better people.  In the process they made us better people and teachers.  We had an incredible opportunity to work in a foreign country that helped make us more than English teachers.  We were mentors and the kids looked up to us.  It wasn't always fun and games.  There were days we came home completely exhausted mentally and physically.  There were children with emotional issues in both classes and we learned how to deal with special needs children.  We learned how to organize and control a classroom.  This has been an amazing experience for both of us. 

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