Joining the CELTA Elite
Trip Start Aug 23, 2011
5Trip End Jul 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
Madam Cuc 184 Ho Chi Minh City
Read my review - 4/5 stars
Read my review - 4/5 stars
A shock to the system
On the first morning, I felt overdressed in a shirt, trousers and tie as I walked through Saigon's backpacking district. My professional appearance obviously didn't impress the moto-taxi drivers and street vendors as they decided to leave me in peace for a change. I felt extremely nervous about the course and its unknown challenges. It was a long first day, which was a massive shock to the system after a lazy couple of months in the UK
My first time in the spotlight
I slept terribly and I was all over the place as I wandered to school for my first practice at teaching. The guinea pigs for our nine teaching practices (a total of 6 hours) were classes of 15 Vietnamese students, aged over 18 and of mixed gender. We took it in turn to teach a different level of students: elementary, pre-intermediate or intermediate. We didn't teach complete beginners, which is a whole different set of skills. As the students at this level have a background in learning English, most of the teaching involves using an appropriate level of English, images, setting different contexts and self-discovery to introduce new grammar and language. I felt better from the moment I met the students and I was reminded that Vietnamese students are awesome. They are extremely friendly, enthusiastic about learning and generally very curious. My first lesson included a true and false game about me, followed by the students preparing their own mix of accurate and inaccurate statements. They were able to quickly identify my false claims in the game, but I surprised them all by being able to count in Vietnamese. I really enjoyed it and the highlight was striking up a really good rapport with the students.
A hardcore routine
Days continued with teaching practices in the morning (I taught 40 minutes every other day) and input sessions in the afternoon
The lesson planning process grew much more intense, but my teaching continued to go well. Unfortunately this was at the expense of sleep, and I love sleep! Some nights people were getting very little sleep, my personal record was about 3 hours one night. I would either go to bed late, get up super early or both. We would often be in the building so long that it seemed to make more sense sleeping there and renting out my empty hotel room. It never quite got to that stage, the school security staff were too thorough in their night time searches.
Foosball, new friends and being unproductive
I had a great CELTA group and got on really well with my seventeen classmates. They were from all over the world, had a range of different ages and varied in levels of previous teaching experience. Everybody seemed to get along immediately, which was helped by being like-minded, with a good sense of humour and in a similar boat. An essential part of surviving the course was weekend fun with the CELTA gang. We would plan to spend the weekends getting through our massive workloads, but would instead spend the time getting to know each other whilst eating, drinking and becoming obsessed with the Foosball table and darts. These latter activities became my idea of exercise, which probably explains my recent gain in weight
We spent the weekends feeling a touch ill, but it helped to unwind and it is strange how soon we were all acting like we had known each other for years. Ultimately we all supported, amused and motivated each other during some very intense times.
The final stretch
Days flew by, the teaching continued to go well, assignments were submitted and weekends were a source of light relief (i.e. drinking). Finally after what seemed like a lifetime, I taught my ninth and final teaching practice (an hour long lesson) and sat down at the back of the room to observe another lesson. I was amazed by how far I had come as a teacher, but a little sad to think that it was all about to come to an end. I knew that people would leave Saigon shortly and that we would soon be thrust into new adventures. It had been only a month but I'd had a great time on the course and I learnt more than I ever thought was possible. That weekend we celebrated on quite a scale with karaoke and visiting various bars. I even got up and sang a few hits, which was difficult when the lyrics differed in places to the real versions of the songs (I was relatively sober at the time too)
The Next Challenge
I worked so hard to make it through and I'm very happy to have completed the course with a grade A result. I'm very grateful to ILA, the brilliant tutors and for meeting all my classmates. I would recommend the course to anyone.
The next adventure begins tomorrow when I start a new job! It is in Ho Chi Minh City at the RMIT (formerly the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) International University Vietnam with three of my fellow CELTA classmates. I'm going back to working for a University, although this time they’re letting me teach! Wish everybody involved plenty of luck!