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Teach English in Fanlou Zhen - Xuzhou Shi
To start off this essay, I'd like to make a statement that the points, stories and maybe advices that I will be telling in this documentary is solely based on my personal experience working for a ESL company here in Vietnam, specifically in its capital city, Hanoi, so it might not be applicable to everyone. And withour any further delay, I'd like to talk about what teaching ESL was/is like in Vietnam. I'm a native Vietnamese and I started studying ESL since the age of 6. And throughout my school life, from 1st grade all the way up to the end of highschool, all I could remember was the teachers weren't very creative in terms of teaching their students. They were, I guess you could use the term ''play by the book', they sticked to the content of the textbook and offered no extra activities or warmers to encourage their student to use English more in class. And most of the time, dare I say around 85% of the time of me being in school, the teachers would only use Vietnamese to teach English to us, and we would most of the time solely focusing on studying grammars and vocabularies. And I still remember that everytime I came to class, there would always be a new lesson needed to be learnt, little to no revision of past lessons, and they definitely didn't go into annunciation or pronunciation. So I was always bored and unmotivated because I didn't have the time to digest the knowledge. I remember I made a promise to myself that I would be an ESL teacher one day and change the way English should be taught to students. And in 2018 I had that chance. It was around early 2018 when an old friend of mine asked me if I wanted to work for an English center as a fulltime T.A. I was in between jobs at the time so I immediately said yes. Aside from the fact that I'd have a work contract, I wanted to put my English skills to use again and improve it even more. It was only for kindergarteners but I felt okay with it because prior to the job I hadn't had any teaching experience before, and I took it seriously. Before any class, I'd make sure that all the materials and the classroom itself were ready for the teacher and the students, I'd greet the kids with open arms, make sure that they've done their homework, ... But until about 02 months in, I noticed that the quality of the lessons that the teachers gave out, and sometimes the teacher themselves weren't up to par and you could tell that the students were bored. I'd talk about how easy it is for a foreigner to be an ESL teacher here but it's not the topic of this essay. But anyway, luckily for me, once a teacher of one of the classes that I assist called in sick suddenly and we couldn't find a replacement in time, so the center decided to let me teach the kids. I was nervous at first of course, but the fact that the kids knew me, were comfortable with me and liked me lessened that stress a little. After the class, the headmaster of the center called me in and decided that I'd be working as Class Manager as well, because he was impressed with how I did. This is when I felt like I truely contributed to the career. I still continued to attend to the classes that I had been assigned to in the begining because I volunteered to. I guess you could say that I grew fond of the kids that I taught. And now with being Class Manager, I got to evaluate them and also the teachers, I got to attend staff meetings and disscussions about how to improve the company's teaching quality and therefore its reputation as well. After looking at the teaching guide for the teachers I wasn't pleased at all. It was too generalized and random, so the teachers were having a hard time with their lesson plan and unqualified teachers were given free control of what they could teach. So I proposed to write a detailed background for the entire course for the students and would participate in planning the lessons with the teachers as well. I had them send me their lesson plan a day in advance and we would email back and forth about which part is good to go, which part needs more attention to, which part shouldn't be in the lesson just yet, ... By doing that, not only did I see a major improvements in the lesson, the student's behaviour, the parent's response, I also was able to diffrienciate the good teachers from the bad ones, the ones that were really passionate about their students and the unqualified ones, and with that I was able to keep the good ones and let go of the bad ones. Just because you're teaching kindergarteners doesn't mean that you don't have to take the job seriously and I was dead set on giving these kids a good foundation into English. And now, having finished the TEFL online course, I can definitely see now that there were moments back then where I wasn't correct in planning lessons, in managing the class, in ignoring some of the teacher's comments on how to improve a certain activity during the lesson. One of my weak points was and still is admitting that I'm wrong and the other person is right. But now I need to learn to do better and put aside my pride and put the students first if I were to continue teaching ESL again. All in all, being able to teach English was among one of the good things that I got to experience in life and just watching Vietnamese youth being exposed to English and/or the Western culture and be more open minded because of that makes me happy. And hopefully I'll get to be a proper English teacher again to keep the new generation of students be open minded and not be afraid of studying a different language.