So somebody let me become a teacher. Are you laughing right now?
This is terrifying for the following reasons:
1. I have severe stage fright which, unfortunately, still applies to small humans.
2. I'm not a teacher.
Our rough plan all along was to travel north up Vietnam and settle for a bit in Hanoi to teach. When friends said, what? how do you think you're going to teach Vietnamese children? I shrugged it off. Other people had done it.
But a few days ago, when I went in for a meeting with a language center and shortly after was told I had a class to teach in the afternoon, shit got really real. I was wholly unprepared for how long an hour can seem when you're standing in front of a group of rowdy children with no teaching experience and a half-assed lesson plan. A low point was when one of the girls yelled "I'm boreddddd!" after I suggested, out of desperation, that we sing the one song we had already sang 6 times.
Here's a few things I really quickly learned about teaching in Vietnam, only because I failed so miserably at the first go:
Bribery is a powerful, necessary tool. Handing out stickers as rewards will work in a pinch, but the day I brought in candy is the day I gained command of my classroom. My once loud, raucous group immediately fell silent and all politely raised their hands in one synchronized motion when they saw I was holding strawberry lollipops.
The children may know more English than you think. Before heading to our first class, our employer very seriously instructed us to use as few words as possible, saying they know very little english and that if we spoke too much it would only confuse them. When I got there I was horrified to find out they knew all their numbers (what I was supposed to be teaching) and their colors and they knew how to spell basically everything. I held up a yellow item and before even asking what color it was the boy in the front said "yellow, Y-E-L-L-O-W" while very dramatically rolling his eyes at me. Down the hall in Danny's classroom, one of his students said "easy peasy lemon squeezy!" in response to a question he asked. I mean...
The language center will probably be alarmingly unorganized. As in, they will give you a schedule that shows you have a class the following morning, but the part detailing which class and which lesson will be blank. Then you will call them and ask what you're supposed to teach, and they say they'll tell you in the morning. You will probably say but the class is at 9am? And they will tell you they'll send an email but, of course, you never receive one. This is when your ability to roll with the punches comes in handy. Tell me what it feels like to be able to do that.
The kids are really really cute. And they will be really excited to see you. Whether that's because you are a deviation from their usual lesson or because they are truly excited to learn english, it doesn't matter. They are HAPPY.
Also: when you see Danny next, please ask him how it happened that he found himself swapping pants (sorry, trousers) with someone from our language center at 8am the other morning before he was supposed to teach. It's amazing.