Nov 29, 2012

Vietnam - Expat English teachers – Becoming teachers in one month

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Many expats have entered the teaching profession without any relevant experience or formal pedagogical training, as all they need is a bachelor’s degree in any major and a teaching certificate that takes one month to complete, interviewees told Tuoitrenews.

A graduate in community and international development, American teacher S. Viets came to Ho Chi Minh City in October, 2011 to find a teaching job even though she did not have any previous experience.

Viets enrolled in a one-month course to get the internationally recognized CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) conferred by UK-based Cambridge University prior to her arrival.

“I attended the CELTA course in the U.S. at a cost of US$2,500,” she said. “I learned how to teach in the morning and practiced teaching in the afternoon.”

It took her a week to get a job as a teacher at a major local language center, Viets said.

“I applied, had two interviews, and gave them a lot of notarized documents like a police check from my country, my university degree, my CELTA qualification, among others,” the teacher recalled. “It’s fast.”

Leaving a graphic design position behind, V. Phan, a Vietnamese-American, landed in HCMC in 2010 after her parents suggested that she try teaching English in their home country.

Phan was quickly hired by a language center after attending an interview and teaching a one-hour demo class, besides providing paperwork that included documents similar to Viets’.

“It took you from a few days to three weeks before they got you onboard, depending on their schedules,” she said, adding “the demo class determines how much they’re going to offer you.”

Philip G., a British teacher, decided to switch to ESL over a year ago to add the skill to his personal resume.

“Prior to coming out to Vietnam, I did a variety of work in theatre – marketing, set/stage work, miscellaneous administration – and was once a personal assistant for a disabled man,” he admitted. “And before that my 'proper' career was in the travel industry.”

The Brit said he earned a CELTA certificate in the city and then landed a teaching job at a prestigious language center following a one-week selection process of interviews, demo classes, and paperwork.

Getting international certificates in Vietnam

It is now easier than ever for English-speaking expats to become teachers in Vietnam, as the CELTA certificate and its equivalents can be earned in-country.

Tin Mai, a Vietnamese-American teacher, said it cost him $1,500 to enroll in a four-week CELTA course run by a reputable language center in Ho Chi Minh City.

He added that the center reimburses 50 percent of the tuition if course-takers manage to become full-time teachers at the school within six months of the course’s completion.

The course also included theory and practice, with each enrollee having to teach at least four times in order to qualify for a diploma, Mai said.

Michael Tatarski, who spent almost two years teaching English at several city language centers, recalled getting his TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate from Language Corps, a U.S.-based teacher training course provider, for $2,000.

“The course lasted for one month, half of which was in Cambodia and the rest was in Ho Chi Minh City,” Tatarski said. “They brought in representatives from a major language center to provide us with job opportunities.”

Once enrolled in the same program, Phan said “the first two weeks was for theory and the rest for teaching practice at places arranged by the course provider.”

“Each practice class often lasts for an hour and a half, with students arranged by Language Corps,” she said. “I had some Vietnamese and culture lessons during the latter half as well.”

(To be continued)


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