Essential Tech Tools for the ESL Classroom

There are tools we want and tools we need. these are the tools we need.

My Essential Tech Tools for the ESL Classroom.

After spending 15 years in Vietnam teaching, I have experienced a wide range of tech availability in the classroom.

I have seen everything from high-end whiteboards like the one above to classrooms with just a fan. One thing I have learned is to make sure you are prepared before you step into the classroom.

There are a range of situations and classroom environments that if you are not prepared, will keep your teaching skills below par.

And with only a small investment and pre-planning you can go from zero to hero for both your students and your employer.

Where are you Teaching?

Most opportunities for teachers in Vietnam are either in a public school, like primary or high school or in an after-hours private school.

Some will teach in a business environment, but that is not our focus today.

Public Schools

The public schools in Vietnam start early in the morning with classes starting around 7 am to 7.30 am. They will generally finish around 4.30. This sounds like a long day but the students and teachers normally have a 2-hour lunch break.

This will give the students and teachers time for a nap if needed. It is not uncommon to see students stretched out on a mat fast asleep after eating their lunch. You will also see teachers stretched out in their chairs catching up on some sleep, especially if they had a big night prior to the day’s class.

In most cases, the classes are made up of 45-minute intervals, sometimes with 2 periods of English back to back.

I had one school put together 4 x 45-minute lessons back-to-back. Challenging for both the students and the teacher. Luckily this is something that rarely happens anymore, at least for me.

One of the biggest challenges in public schools is the physical size of the classroom and the number of students in the classroom.

As teachers are used to 20 to 30 students in a western-style classroom. It should come as no surprise if you walk into a classroom of more than 50 students in Vietnam.

Public School Problems.

After reading this you probably understand the problems you are going to have in the classroom already. And I’m not talking about the crowd or behavioral control.

By keeping our focus on tech in the classroom the problems we see are the size and the noise in the classroom. Unless you have a decent microphone you will lose your voice by the end of the day.

You will want a microphone that provides a hands-free option, so you can use your hands for other classroom tasks.

Most schools will have WiFi but that does not mean you will have access to it immediately.

If you have planned a lesson that involves using a song or anything online you may have problems if you don’t have immediate Wifi access.

You can also read about, “What are some of the common problems of ESL teachers in the Classroom” in one of my other posts.

Private schools

Private English schools are run outside public school times and run through week-nights and on the weekends. The school’s teaching times will be early to late evenings, either 1.5 or 2 hours in length per class.

Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days with classes operating through the whole day. There will be 2 classes in the morning, one in the afternoon and 2 in the evening.

Schools will close over lunchtime from 11.30 and re-open mid-afternoon.

Generally speaking, your private schools will be better resourced and will have CD players, TVs with HDMI cables, and in some cases “IQ” boards, overhead projectors, and computers in the classroom.

I prefer not to rely on any school’s resources and now provide all my own. It saves teaching downtime, shows your professionalism and your lessons flow a lot more smoothly if pre-planned.

My Tech Tools.

Let me show you my essential tech tools for the ESL classroom in no particular order. And then I will show you how I use them and the alternatives you may need to consider if you can’t find the exact ones I use.

Aporo headset.

This is my favorite tech lifesaver. With classroom student sizes hovering around the 50s and the actual area being quite large, you don’t want to be straining your voice all day.

This wireless headset will give you good control of the level of your voice and the tone and clarity continue to amaze me.

The output of this microphone is 30 watts which always gives me “more than enough” power for my classroom needs.

What’s Provided.

It comes with 2 headsets and can be pre-charged the night before your next days class. A full charge needs 6 hours of charging time which will give you 8-13 hours of microphone time or 6-8 hours of music time.

The size of the unit is approximately 135mm lengthwise, 101mm width-wise, and a height of 37mm. This is a good size that gives you the option of leaving it on the desk or carrying it over your shoulder with the secure fabric strap.

The monaural “headset” is comfortable and covers 1 ear, leaving the other ear free.

Sony Bluetooth Speaker.

When you play songs or any audio in the classroom, you want the sound to be the best that you can get in a size that is convenient. I have a Sony SRS-XB43 which delivers 30 watts of clean and clear audio.

The model I have while still described as SRS-XB43 has different length width and height specifications than the newer models. I measured my speaker, and it is 30cm x 10cm x 10 cm. All other specs look the same, however, the image is slightly different than what is advertised on the Sony website.

New Sony Image.

The speaker is waterproof and washable. Even though there is only 1 speaker it can link with up to 100 other speakers, however, I have never tried this. It also has a great battery life which means you can use it for up to 24 hours or 14 hours in party mode.

Party mode involves tweeter lights, speaker lights, and a colorful bezel that flashes in the same rhythm as the music. You can also change the color of the bezel lights to suit your mood. I use this in the Private schools classroom in the evenings and the students love it.

Sony products tend to be a bit pricier but the quality is fantastic and if you don’t want classroom problems, this is a great choice. This comes with the standard Sony charger.

This has played without a skip for the last 2 years and I have been very happy with this product and strongly recommend it.

Samsung A12 Mobile phone.

Here is where I will get a lot of people disagreeing with me. Why Samsung? Why not Apple? Why a lower-end phone? 

First, why do I use an ‘Android” or any phone in the classroom? The answer is easy, I use “Google Drive” to store all my working material for the classroom. Whether it’s the “family and friends” books or songs or whatever resource the school is using on that day.

The night before I will prepare all my lessons and have them queued up ready for teaching. A little bit of preparation will make life so much easier in the classroom.

So why do I go for a lower-end Samsung for classroom use?. First and foremost, cost. The number of times either I, or someone else has bumped my phone and caused damage is not worth counting. Even with a slightly damaged phone, you can continue to work.

If I was to drop a $2,000 high-end phone my budget would be out the window for a month. However, if it was only $200-$300 I would not be so upset.


These are my essential tech classroom tools. Things that save my voice, my sanity and keep me on track in the classroom. There are a number of other optional tech tools I use in the classroom. Not the least is a sturdy laptop or iPad.

However, these tools cover the basics and keep on ticking over because of the quality of the products.

I recommend you invest in the bare minimum to keep your classroom effective and efficient.

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching in Vietnam for 15 years and have my own school in HoChiMinh City.

Mynah School

If you need any help as to where you can purchase these from, leave me a message and I will help you choose the correct product.

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Tips for Using Songs in the ESL Classroom.

Using Songs in The ESL Classroom.

Music can be used in English classes in a variety of ways. It provides numerous advantages for both the teacher and the pupils, including boosting memory and focus, stimulating learning, and, most significantly, making learning enjoyable.

Nothing makes a teacher happier than seeing their kids laugh and grin while they learn. Students are in the same boat. Students enjoy coming to class when they are taught in a pleasant and creative manner. Teachers can accomplish success with their pupils by incorporating music into the classroom.

It’s also worth noting that listening to music can assist learners to enhance and develop their general English skills. Let’s have a look at some of the approaches for using music to augment conventional English sessions.

Planning your Musical Lessons.

What is your learning focus?

Will the focus of your class be on vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, or a specific topic? Whatever your focus, keep in mind that there are no restrictions on what you can do with the song.

For example, you might utilize the song to demonstrate a specific verb tense or make use of the opportunity to examine the lyrics for any intriguing idioms.

What is the Age level of your learners?

Teaching songs to children, teenagers, and adults all require different approaches. If you’re a young learner’s teacher, you’ll most likely want to employ songs that are repetitious and simple to understand.

However, for teenagers, use current or recently released pop and rock tunes. My recommendation is to ask them ‘what’s popular.’ Use songs that are appealing to their age group.

Adult learners will be more receptive to different types of music as long as they perceive a learning reward.

Cultural Inappropriateness.

What are some of the things that are commonly considered inappropriate in the culture where you teach? Whatever you do, don’t utilize music only to satisfy your own cultural expectations. Consider your audience and their tastes; better yet, let them choose the tunes you play.

What classroom tech do you have?

There is no good preparing a fantastic musical lesson and arriving into the classroom to find you do not have the tech tools available to play your songs.

Some schools have limited resources so it is a wise idea to invest in a few basic classroom tech tools to help you with your lessons. I now record all my lessons on to my phone and playback through a wireless blue tooth speaker.

Tips for Using Songs in the Classroom.

Busy Teacher has a large range of free songs you can use in the classroom, click on the link to discover these resources.

The Young Learner.

Children have an inherent affinity towards music. You don’t need to persuade them that it will aid their learning. They will quickly respond and remember what is being taught. Here are some ideas for activities to do with children.

  • Use a variety of alphabet songs (not just the classic ABC) to help kids recall their letters in English.
  • Colors: Use a variety of color songs and rhythms to teach the colors.
  • Simple action songs that demand kids to stand up and move about should be taught. Consider traditional song-based birthday games like pass the parcel or musical chairs.
  • Children enjoy learning about animals through songs. Use songs like “Old McDonald had a Farm” and “There was an Old Lady who swallowed a fly” to teach animals and animal sounds.
  • Simple number songs, such as “there were ten in the bed, and the little one said, roll over, roll over,” will get your pupils up and moving.

Children are arguably the easiest to provide lessons to in a song setting as they are naturally receptive to listening and singing along.

The Teenage Learner.

Songs are an excellent listening exercise for teenagers. Songs also have the ability to tell stories and convey emotions. Music can help to establish the tone or modify the mood. You may start or close a class with a song, or create a whole course around it, its message, and the artist or band.

  • Print out the lyrics to the song for students and listen to the song a couple of times while students read along.
  • For older learners, rather than have them sing the song, rely on them listening only and getting hem to fill in a song close sheet. You may want the older student to fill in the word close before the listening activity and see how close they get.
  • After listening, encourage your students to discuss the song and share what language they were comfortable with and where they struggled.
  • Rewrite the Song
  1. Older ESL students will require a bigger challenge to put their language skills to the test. So consider trying to get them to rephrase the song into a story.
  2. The pupils will need to have a basic comprehension of the original song before moving on to the next stage.
  3. The pupils will then have to completely rewrite the song into a story.
    Many students would simply substitute well-known synonyms for keywords, while experienced students may completely rewrite the song into a story format.
  4. Make sure students present their work to the rest of the class.

Teenagers will know exactly what kind of music they like and don’t like! Ask them what they like and incorporate a variety of musical styles in your classes. you don’t want to lose them at the start of the lesson just by choosing the wrong song.

The Adult Learner.

You can use some of the same approaches to songs with Adults as you have done with the teenagers.

Do your stop-gap exercises and blank out the lyrics that you wish to focus on or get the adults to also rewrite the song. And you are only limited by your own imagination. Here are some other ideas that will provide a more meaningful experience for your students.

  • Create a whole new verse of lyrics in the same mood and style as the ones before. You can do this I individually or in groups with your students. Then get each person or group to read them out. The remainder of the class can listen to the new lyrics.
  • A song usually gives you the singer’s point of view. Write a response from the perspective of the person about whom the song is being sung. It doesn’t have to be in lyric format.
  • Get the students to plan a music video for the song. They decide the setting, the people, and what happens in groups. After that, each group presents their concept to the rest of the class, and the students vote on which one is the best.
  • Role Play; Select a song that tells a tale or describes a relationship. Learners work in pairs or small groups after listening to the music to build a scene from the song, or even what happened before or after the story depicted in the song. Students could then perform their role-play in front of an audience.

Why Use Songs in the Classroom.

Language learning is aided by rhythm.

Students of all ages are naturally motivated to learn more efficiently when knowledge is provided rhythmically.

Consider your own experience as a student. Musical rhythms were most likely used to deliver stories, nursery rhymes, and even the alphabet.

Consider how difficult it would be to learn the alphabet with the letters jumbled up in a random order. Even as adults, we are considerably more likely to remember the words of a song than the contents of a speech we had just heard a few times. And this is because of the rhythm and melody.

Music has the ability to capture people’s attention.

Furthermore, few things capture the attention of ESL students like a great tune. During your lessons, you will inevitably have students that struggle to pay attention.

Additionally, kids may have a harder time understanding particular language elements that you give. You can assist your pupils by presenting linguistic topics in a more accessible manner utilizing ESL songs and music.

There are a few disadvantages to teaching with songs.

The songs can be;

  • be very fast for ESL learners;
  • contain slang or ungrammatical sentences
  • have difficult vocabulary that even upper intermediate students will not understand.

So please choose your songs carefully to be both age and skill relevant.

Final Thoughts.

In an ESL classroom, music can be used in a variety of ways. It is a readily available resource, and music can be used to teach a variety of skills.

Most teachers use music as a supplement, but it can also be used as a stand-alone unit, a lesson, or a part of your regular class activities.

Furthermore, there is a wide range of music to pick from that can assist you in conducting a number of fun activities in the ESL classroom.

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching ESL in Vietnam for over 15 years and have my own English school .

You can check out “Tet” in Vietnam on my YouTube channel below.

Tet in 2022

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Why Use Video in The ESL Classroom?

Using Video in the ESL Classroom.

Can you remember the 2 distinct feelings you felt, as a student, when a Video lesson was going to be taught?


The first one was when a TV and DVD unit was wheeled into the classroom. You felt like Christmas had come early and you weren’t going to have to sit through another boring book-based lesson today. That feeling of relief and excitement all mixed together with anticipation.


And the second one, where the teacher took out his movie recorder and placed it onto a tripod. You felt your stomach slowly moving southward while the nausea in your gut slowly moved north. It was like the double-edged sword of doom.

First off, you knew you were going to have to prepare a speech. And secondly, you were going to have to read it out in FRONT OF THE CLASS.

This article is going to cover both of these situations.

After 15 plus years of teaching ESL and EFL in Vietnam I have used, and still do, various techniques to make these lessons fun and rewarding for my students.

Below you will find some of the “advantages” and the “how to’s” of using or creating your video or vlogs. Whether they are short or long, aesthetic or on-point, there is something for everyone.

Pro Tip; Screencast-O-Matic is a great recording tool you can use to capture video for the classroom.

Watching and using Video in the Classroom.

When it comes to studying English, video is a fantastic tool. Your students will almost certainly respond well to the combination of sight and sound in cinematic harmony, regardless of their age.

Here are a few of the advantages of using video

  • This is normally more entertaining, than purely book-based learning, and can help make lessons enjoyable and memorable.
  • Video is ideal for visual learners or those who haven’t yet mastered the basics of reading and writing.
  • Using video gives the language context and helps students understand the subject by providing lengthier and more relevant visual background.
  • It’s also great for honing a variety of language skills other than speaking and listening. For example, You can drill down into certain grammatical points or even slang and other structures that ESL students find dificult to understand.
  • Short “YouTube” videos can be a great warm-up activity for your classroom or can be used as an intro for a lengthier video.

How to use video in the Classroom.

Using any tech in the classroom comes inherent with the standard tech risks, “will it work on the day”

Check Your Gear.
Arguably the most important thing to do before any lesson is to check your gear. Make sure where you are teaching has a strong internet connection and you have access to the password and are set up close to a power outlet.

Your laptop’s speaker will not be loud enough for even the smallest classroom. So invest in a blue tooth speaker that is both portable and loud enough so the sound can carry clearly all the way to the back of the classroom.

Vietnams public schools quite commonly have 40 students, so you need to be heard from the front of the class all the way to the back.

I also use an Aporro wireless blue tooth speaker that I connect up to my Sony SRS-XB41 blue tooth speaker. At 30 watts RMS it gives me enough power to project my voice all around the classroom.

This is a great tool for saving your voice after teaching all day in large classrooms.

Write a Lesson Plan.

If you don’t have a lesson plan, you’re not doing yourself or your pupils any favors. Prepare your pupils for what they will need to do before, during, and after the video.

Also, make sure it’s relevant to the lesson’s objectives. Always try to keep everything connected to the rest of the course and never just watch a video to pass the time.

You can find out more here about “how to design a lesson plan” This includes some free resources in helping your preparations.

Pre-Teach Difficult Vocabulary.

If there are any specific language concerns with parts of the video, like difficult vocabulary, you will want to write these words on the board and pre-teach what they mean and how they’ are pronounced.

Another option is to read these words out and get the students to write them down. They have to spell the words correctly and give meanings for each word.

Depending on your time frame, you can also get the students to write an example sentence for each word.

Turn this into a game that you can keep flowing through the length of your lesson.

Keep it Clean and Culturally Appropriate.

For your younger student, everything must be “Micky Mouse”. Only use PG-rated content for younger kids and watch the video yourself in its entirety before your classroom public screening.

You must be aware of local culture and legislation whenever you use films in an ESL classroom. If you’re not sure if a video is appropriate, have a coworker preview it.

My Cultural Test.

When I first came to Vietnam to teach, I accepted a job a short distance away from the center of Saigon. It had a lovely mix of normally talkative students.

Yet that night the students shuffled in and sat down very quietly. Although they looked rather intensely at me. We had a new student that night who feigned being a slow learner. He sat quietly through the first half of the class and then disappeared at the start of the second period.

It was later my students told me that the “new student” was actually a policeman checking me out to see if I was saying the right thing. Or more importantly, was not saying anything I shouldn’t have re politics or culture.

Do a warm up Task.

You should have a warm-up task for your students to do. Give them a reason to watch the video carefully. Here are a couple of warm-up tasks that I use.

The “The” Game.

One task I use is to get the students to listen for one particular word. E.G. “The” is a good word because it is used often and scattered evenly throughout most articles.

It is also helpful if you have a written copy of the text you are listening to. If you wish to turn it into a game then whoever comes closest to the correct answer (Times ‘the’ is spoken) wins.

The Directors Cut.

Or, as another option, you can mute the sound and play the video. Get the students to work in teams and write the script for the visual content. Then get the students to act out the video.

Describe What Happens Next.

Another popular activity that uses students’ imagination and language skills is to guess what happens in the next scene. This can be done by simply pausing the video and asking the students to write down what they believe will happen next.

They can then use their writing to elaborate on what they believe will happen in next. Or you can make it more difficult by adding different scenarios to what is currently happening. E.G. If it was raining, how would it change things?

Video Recording in the Classroom.

The impactful learning that comes from watching yourself or listening to your own voice can best be attested by my remembrance of my father recording me when I was seven years old in Broadlands, New Zealand.

It was so different and so strange hearing my own voice that it is something I have never forgotten. The actual reason for recording has long been forgotten but such was its impact on me, it is something I have never forgotten.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

When I first started recording my students on video, I was much the same as everyone else and recorded the students’ reading out what they had written. The double-edged sword of unhappiness for the student.

It was informative and fun for everyone but the student who was actually doing the work. Yes, it showed the weaknesses of the student and was helpful in showing them how they could improve.

But it was still something the students didn’t look forward to.

So What Did I do.?

I became less possessive and let my students use the vlogging tools, not me. And what things did we do. Well, we put the learning experience firmly in the hands of the student and let them take control of their learning experiences.

If you don’t have expensive vlogging cameras or video recorders to pass around, the “smartphones” of today have enough functionality to be able to produce some “kick-ass: content.

Here are some of the things I have done with my students to make the lessons more exciting.

Book Reviews.

Instead of writing a book review, the students did a ” movie trailer” about the book in question. You can have 2 or 3 students participating in a review of one book. They can even ask pre-prepared questions to make it like a panel discussion.

Instructional Videos.

The students created how-to videos. They taught other students everything from how to do a Rubik cube in under 3 minutes to how to draw chickens.

Another great topic is video games where you can explain “how to beat the boss” or any other feature needing an explanation.

International Introductions.

Rather than doing the same old “introduce yourself” to other students in the classroom, we put together a video introduction to go to international schools in other countries.

You will find if you reach out to other schools they will happily become involved and it builds a reason to learn English.

Video Projects.

Instead of drawing a poster for the next project you do, why not practice English, and put a Video presentation together in its place.
Teaching Tip
: When putting together a video you can add the photographers’ name, scriptwriter’s name, and any other position and name you see as being relevant.

Parental Permission.

The school must obtain written parent permission to videotape when the video is for a purpose other than safety or classroom instruction. If the school is going to display video on a school website or other public medium, individual students should not be identified without parental consent.

Miller Nash

Source; Miller Nash (LLP)


Students become more involved and learn quicker when they are exposed to video information related to the topic in hand.

Using videos and video recordings dramatically boost remembering the lesson much like I remembered the recording of my voice by my father.

Also asking questions during both processes improves research, teamwork, organizational skills, and problem-solving abilities. These are the most important abilities to have when we enter adulthood.

Much like the brain is undergoing restructuring during the teenage and young adult years. Going from the links in the brain being multiple “streets” heading to the same destination to one large “superhighway” enhancing the brains ability to process information faster.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching ESL for over 15 years in Vietnam, and own an English school in Vietnam.

I love experiencing different cultures and enjoying their food as well as meeting new people. And I still have a passion for teaching students of all ages and levels.

You can look at my house in Vietnam here below by clicking on the YouTube button.

My House in Vietnam

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.


Places you must see in Vietnam.

My favorite “Must See’s” in Vietnam.

Whether you come for a holiday or like me an ex-pat who has lived in Vietnam for 15 years, there are myriads of places to see and adventures to experience. These are some of my favorite places I have visited and some of the experiences I have encountered.


Vietnam is almost the same area as New Zealand and could easily fit into the United States 25 times over, yet with nearly 100 million people and a spectacular landscape, there are a million things to do.

Here are some of my favorite spots to visit in Vietnam, ranging from jagged highlands in the north to tropical beaches in the south, and with a wealth of history and culture in between you will never be left bored.

And let’s not forget about the strong as superman coffee and cheap beer and amazing food.

A Little Background First.

I came to Vietnam over 15 years ago and it still feels like yesterday. The day-to-day life is funny, frustrating, complex but never boring.

I still remember stepping off the Vietnam Airlines plane where the seat felt like torture because it had a metal rod inserted in the middle of the chair. Vietnamese love a firm chair.

When I stepped off the plane in Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh city, the first thing I noticed was the smell. The people smelled cleaner and fresher somehow.

It wasn’t until some time later I realized this was because of the diet. To Vietnamese most foreigners smell like meat sacks.

The smell of the streets though is a different matter. Mixed in with the aromas of great food you will find the smells of rubbish, and worse affronting your nose. You will get used to it.

Off the Plane.

After catching a bus from the plane to the interior of the airport I had to get my bags to go to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

Hanoi is an amazing place, although I did have a guard point an automatic assault weapon at me when I climbed the steps of Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. My first of many out-of-the-ordinary experiences. I am sure he would have not shot me.

After a week in Hanoi, including “bia a hoi’ing” (Drinking homemade beer with the locals) it was off to Halong Bay and then so many other places that I have come to love. So let’s dive into my favorite spots.

My Favorite Spots in Vietnam.


The Old Quarter near Hoan Kiem Lake in Vietnam’s capital city is rich in history and culture. With market streets, a thriving nightlife, and some of the best Vietnamese food on the planet, this is the city’s tourism epicenter.

There’s a lot to see and do here, but the most important thing is to immerse yourself in Hanoi’s pulsing heart. Go bia a hoi’ing and eat on a plastic seat while slurping up a bowl of hot noodles and nodding furiously to other patrons.

The people in Hanoi are more reserved than those in the south but there is no animosity about the war years so you can relax and enjoy your “Pho”. It is nice that they are more reserved as it is not as much of an in-your-face city as Ho Chi Minh.

Halong Bay.

I took a taxi from Hanoi to Halong bay, which shows you how cheap taxis are in Vietnam. But that was 15 years ago, although the prices are still amazingly cheap.

This journey was an eye-opener as I had never seen a huge pig on the back of a motorbike before. Have I said this already, this country has great opportunities for the photographer in you?

Got to Halong bay and got on a Junk and sailed around the karst systems of Halong Bay, absolutely one of the wonders of the world.

Halong Bay is breathtakingly magnificent, and you can book overnight cruises that not only take you to the most remote regions of the Bay but also include activities such as kayaking or, if you’re like me, just sunbathing.

You may explore this gorgeous location on day trips, two-day trips, three-day trips, and even longer getaways.

Da Nang.

After the excesses of Hanoi and the overeating and sun baking in Halong Bay, it was nice to get to Da Nang. Da Nang was and still is a very touristy place but it has a nice underbelly of life once you get to know the area a bit more.

When I first went to Da Nang I stayed in a 5-star hotel and had a wonderful time. Since then, I have been back a few times and stayed in less expensive accommodation and probably have had more fun.

However, for your first trip, I would recommend a beachfront hotel with all the amenities. It worked for me.

Da Nang is Vietnam’s third-largest city, and it is the country’s commercial, tourism, and educational hub. Locals consider it to be the most worthwhile place to live in Vietnam, and many ex-pats consider it to be one of the best places to retire.

But, whatever the hype, it’s definitely worth visiting and, depending on your mood, partying in or just relaxing.

Hoi An.

The next stop was Hoi An and I had a great but expensive time. My fault entirely, the clothes are so cheap and you get them made to measure in 24 hours. I still have my silk nightgown.

My only unpleasant experience here was a young lady who tried to exchange foreign coins with me and got quite aggressive. So I gave her $5.00 and threw them into the water, I am sure she went swimming later.

Apart from that touristy event, yes it is a very tourist place now and charges just to get into some areas, you can have a great time.

Hoi An is noted for its celebrations, with the Full Moon Festival, held on the 14th of each lunar month. This is one of the most well-known nights before the full moon. During this time “Old Town” becomes much more festive, bustling, and magnificently decked with lighting.

And what I enjoyed the most was the floating lanterns next to the hotel I stayed in. I was told that Graeme Green also stayed in the same riverside hotel as me. So it was dinner on the patio with a bottle of red.

My Son.

Those who wish to make a day trip from Hoi An to other tourist attractions in the vicinity such as My Son will be blown away much like I was.

This place is old and amazing. When I visited I was told not to stray off the paths as some old bombs had still not been found or diffused. It certainly livened up the whole experience.

My Son is a photographer’s delight and you will be pleased you made the effort to get here. But if you don’t want hundreds of people in your pictures do what I did and get there early.

My Son History.

Between the 4th and 13th centuries, a unique civilization formed on the coast of modern-day Vietnam, with spiritual roots in Indian Hinduism.

The ruins of these spectacular towers and temples are built in a spectacular jungle setting and served as the Champa Kingdom’s religious and political capital for most of its existence.

Unfortunately, it was bombed by the Americans during the liberation of Vietnam from foreign aggressors, much like the Ukraine of today.

When I last visited they were still unsure as to how the construction and mortar were combined to make it as long-lasting as it is. Another lost art. And the photos I shot are still some of the best I have ever done.

Nha Trang.

Nha Trang nearly ruined me, and it was here that I famously lost an eyebrow. When you have to join a full group for breakfast with only one eyebrow, it doesn’t look good.

This place is much busier than some of the other southern beach towns, which means there is a lot more to see and do. The nightlife is vibrant, and adrenaline enthusiasts will enjoy a variety of extreme activities such as jet skiing, surfing, and even fly-boarding.

There’s a lot to do, so take it slowly.

During the holidays, Nha Trang is filled with local families on vacation as well as international visitors.

The water here is clean and clear for swimming, and with dedicated swimming areas and landscaped sunbathing areas, this makes it a terrific choice for restful days at the beach.

If you get tired of sunbathing, head north across the Xom Bong Bridge to the historic Po Nagar Cham Towers, which have been utilized as a place of prayer since at least the 7th century.

There is also an excellent museum dedicated to Alexandre Yersin’s work, who discovered the cause of the bubonic plague and built the Pasteur Institute in Nha Trang.

There was a lot to see and a lot to do, but now it was time to head even further south. Into the bowels of the wicked city and wonderful nightlife.

Ho Chi Minh City.

My home town, if you can call it that. Overcrowded, bustling, and smelly in good and bad ways. I love it. I have spent the majority of my time in Ho Chi Minh City and it is all the best of Vietnam and all the worst at the same time.

I live in a district called Go Vap and it is not foreigner-friendly but in nice ways. Most foreigners will not move from districts 1, 2, 7 and the surroundings but the blessing of moving further out is you get to understand the culture and see what real Vietnamese life is like.

So what is life like here? Interesting to say the least.

Ho Chi Minh City, originally Saigon, is the economic capital of Vietnam and the southern region’s major center.

HCMC’s dynamic cityscape, a freewheeling, global metropolis, brings old and modern Vietnam together in the smallest of areas, signifying the city’s past as well as its future.

The Notre Dame Cathedral, the city’s Central Post Office, and the Saigon Opera House are all located near Dong Khoi street. The more upmarket end of town.

‘Pham au Lau” is or was the famous or infamous, depending on your point of view, backpacker area of Ho Chi Minh City. In the past, it has been notorious for prostitutes, drugs, and petty crime. But also great nightlife and amazing experiences.

These days it is a sad area with most businesses being closed because of high rentals and no visitors. All thanks to Covid.

The Chinese neighborhood known as Chợ Lớn is still great for exploring on foot. Head for Bình Tây Market, a wholesale trading center, and Thiên Hậu Pagoda, a temple that pays homage to the sea goddess.

And if you come, it is always appreciated if you try to speak a few words of the local language. Correct or not you will get respect for the attempt. 


And there is so much more. If you come to Vietnam on holiday or for work take the time to explore the country and get to know some of the people and culture of this wonderful country.

Who am I?.

My name is Stephen and I have lived in Vietnam for 15 years and have my own school here as well as having an amazing Vietnamese family. I am also the author and owner of this website. I hope you have enjoyed this short article about Vietnam.

If you want to have a look at walking around Dong Khoi street and looking at the TET Flowers click on the YouTube button below.

TET 2022

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to teach ESL to Teenagers.

Teaching English to Teenagers.

You may believe that teaching ESL to teens is more challenging than teaching English to children or adults. Common preconceptions are that because they are going through changes in their life they are less willing to learn.

However, as an experienced EFL teacher of kids and teens, and adults in Vietnam, I don’t believe this to be true. Yes, you may have to work harder to gain the attention of pupils this age, but it is not hard work.

In this article, I’ll provide you with tips on how to teach teens ESL that have worked for me. Including unique teaching strategies, engagement methods, and much more, that will keep your students focused on learning throughout the year.

And, yes, It works in public schools as well where you may get 50 plus students to a class. You will not win them all over, but you can get the others involved to a degree that they want to learn and will keep the uninterested students quiet.

Before we dive into the tips, let’s get a bit of perspective on what is happening inside the teenage brain and how it might affect their learning processes.

Restructuring and remodeling the brain.

When children are young, their brains go through a major growth surge. Their brains are roughly 90-95 percent of adult size by the time they’re six. Although the early years are crucial for brain development, the brain still requires extensive restructuring before it can operate as an adult brain.

During adolescence, your child’s brain undergoes extensive restructuring, which lasts until they are in their mid-20s. Age, experience, and puberty hormone changes all influence brain development.

Inside the brain of a teenager

Adolescence is a time of enormous growth and development and restructuring of the teenage brain. New connections are being made and those less used are being pared away.

So the unused connections in your child’s thinking and processing region of the brain are ‘trimmed’ away. Other interconnections are strengthened at the same time. Based on the ‘use it or lose it’ premise, this is the brain’s approach to becoming more efficient.

Think of it like the brain turning several roads going to the same place as the brain restructures the roads to become one faster “superhighway”.

How does this affect learning behavior?

Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing in teenagers they are more likely than adults to rely on the amygdala to make decisions and solve issues. Emotions, impulses, hostility, and instinctual behavior are all linked to the amygdala.

Have you noticed that your student’s thinking and behavior appear to be quite mature at times, but then they act or think in irrational, impulsive, or emotional ways at other times?

These shifts and alterations are explained by the brain’s back-to-front growth, teenagers are functioning with brains that are still developing.

The Impact on learning.

The mix of your student’s developing brain and culture has an impact on how he or she acts, thinks, and feels. Your students’ favorite activities and skills, for example, may become ‘hard-wired’ in the brain.

So consider the variety of activities and experiences your student enjoys, such as music, sports, study, languages, and video games. And build them into your lessons.

Now let’s Dive in with some tips.


Learn as much as you can about your students.

Getting to know your teenage students on a more personal level will pay off in your classroom. When you initially meet your pupils, take the time to learn about their interests, hobbies, abilities, and even dislikes.

Then use this knowledge by incorporating it into your teaching. Students are considerably more likely to be interested in a lesson that is relevant to them than in one that is irrelevant to them.

You can begin with an introduction lesson, in which you introduce yourself and the topic you want your pupils to discuss. Name, age, family, hobbies, and sports, for example. Keep things light and breezy at this stage.

Try to remember the student’s name. In large classes it is difficult, but if you get your students to write on a sticker you can then save it and apply it to a desk layout of the classroom. Asking someone by name is always better than saying ” Can you tell me..”

Set Rules and Routines.

You want a lively classroom, but your kids must understand the rules. Teenagers will test the limits, but if you have established ground rules, you can help your class return to a more productive state.

Also, give your students a predictable and pleasant learning environment, as well as a natural “flow” to your session.

Your session should follow the same format, whether it is a warm-up, homework review, new subject presentation, or lesson practice. It is your decision how you want to format your classroom activities, but keep it lively and interesting.

Allowing students to build routines will assist them in understanding what is going on during a class and maintaining their focus during learning.

However, occasionally shake things up and break away from the routine by introducing a fun new exercise or activity.

Teach to the Students Level.

However much you will complain to the staff or owner, your class will have students at different levels of learning. Some will be faster and some will be slower.

Please don’t think this means the slower students are less intelligent, it may mean your teaching style is not correct for them.

Remember that pupils, especially teens, will work at varying levels of difficulty. When you give a group of teens identical work, some will find it challenging, while others will become bored due to how simple it is.

As a result, it’s critical to vary your approach so that everyone in the class may learn to their full potential. Also, you may need to prepare different types of lessons for the same class.

This does not necessarily mean a lot of extra work, it might just mean asking a different complexity of questions.

Make use of the amygdala.

Obviously, your pupils will not be able to pick and choose what they learn in each class. However, incorporating choice into their learning can help teenagers become more engaged students.

Give your students a few options to pick from if you assign a speaking task. This empowers teenagers to take control of their work.

And if it is a listening task, you can liven it up by including the students’ names in listening exercises. Don’t your ears perk up when you hear your name?

Some of my best lessons for listening are when I totally change the script and include “funny references” to eating or going to school etc. And including the students’ names. Just be careful it is culturally appropriate.

Writing tasks are exactly the same, just don’t forget the sequence for learning different English skills

Use Rewards.

Who doesn’t like to be rewarded for a job well done, your students are no exception.

Using rewards are a great way to enforce both the classroom rules and encourage your teenage students to learn.

While younger children might like to be rewarded by helping the teacher and receiving a smiley-face sticker, you’ll need a different approach when teaching young adults.

I have done things like taking the students out for pizza or ordering in if they have completed certain tasks. In a public school, you can still use the same idea as long as you do it in the classroom.

Bring snacks, throw a party and play music. You will capture the love of your student if you go above and beyond most of the other ESL teachers out there.

Play Games.

When selecting classroom games and activities for teaching ESL to teenagers, it’s critical to select advanced games so that the teens don’t feel like you are treating them like a child.

The following are a couple of fun games I play and you can use with your adolescent students to make your lessons enjoyable.

The Directions game.

This game is great for teaching directions, as well as prepositions of place and movement, and it’s a fun lesson supplement. To play, arrive a few minutes early to reorganize the classroom furnishings into a maze.

Students work in couples to guide their blindfolded teammates through the maze. Clear directions must be given by the guides.

The guides can say things like “turn left”, “crouch”, “crawl” and so much more. Be inventive and make it fun, but not too difficult for the skill level of your class.

Not only is it informative it is a lot of fun that will have your students laughing while learning.

Reverse Charades

Reverse charades is a popular guessing game that may be played in a school of any size. To win a point the teams must act out the phrase or word on the board. If the selected team member gets the word or phrase correct that team wins the point.

This is a more classroom-inclusive way of playing the traditional charades game. i love this game because it involves everyone.

I have found in Asia, pitting the boys against the girls works extremely well. Remember the puberty changes, they are all trying to impress both their friends and the opposite sex.

An easy way to set this up and still have control of the activity is by putting 2 chairs with the backs facing the board and the rest of the team members standing in front of them trying to explain with body language what is written on the board.

The teacher is the ultimate arbiter of all disputes arising, or points will be discounted.

You can find more games for teenagers at ESL Kids Games For Teens.


Remember to use materials that are relevant to the students’ lives, develop individual bonds with students, design active and engaging lessons, and allow time for fun when teaching teens ESL in Asia, online, or anywhere else in the world.

Keep in mind where adolescent ESL students are in their mental and academic development. They need to be academically challenged and appreciated as individuals to develop their love of learning. Be the teacher you loved as a student.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching EFL in Vietnam for over 15 years and have my own school. I am also the author of this article and owner of this website.

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to Teach ESL to Kids.

This will help you teach ESL to the younger students and make life easier for you.

Teaching English to Kids.

Teaching any subject to kids can be challenging and teaching English to non-native English speakers can be a daunting endeavor and has its own particular problems. And not just because of class size or skill level of the students.

You’ll need a lot of patience, particularly because every child learns differently and at a different pace.

Teaching ESL to youngsters, on the other hand, is also extremely fulfilling. Remember that youngsters have limited attention spans and that teaching them requires patience as well as a sense of fun and humor.

Here are a few tips that will make it easier for you in the classroom.

My Top Ten Tips for the Kids ESL Classroom.

Make use of visuals

Images are excellent for aiding learning. A child may not realize that the term “book” means “book,” but they are aware of what a book looks like. 

Children will be able to deepen their understanding by integrating text and graphics. There are many places online you can get flashcards (Or make your own) that makes learning easier. 

Furthermore, photos and posters provide color to your classroom, making it more interesting and conducive to learning.

Keep it simple.

This is one of the most crucial steps in teaching English to children. Simple words will allow your students to gain their knowledge, which you can then build on. 

These may include phrases like “sit down,” “put your pencils down,” and “open your books,” among others. Keep your wording succinct, informative, and easy to comprehend. 

And don’t forget to teach the fundamentals, such as “may I have some water?” and “may I use the restroom?”

You will want to check to see if they comprehend the short instructions you’ll use in class after teaching them. 

Keep it lighthearted.

Encourage your kids to practice and use the language you’ve taught them by utilizing a variety of activities. Incorporate your pupils’ hobbies as well, so they are motivated to study!

Furthermore, nothing is more tedious for the pupils to read from a textbook and complete drab worksheets with a lot of text and no visuals. When it comes to teaching basic English, be creative and use colorful worksheets.

Making learning interesting in the classroom is simple and does not imply just playing games or acting the fool. 

There is a plethora of entertaining instructional tools available to promote ESL learning, including a variety of games and activities that drive language growth in novel ways.

More on games can be found in my piece “How to Engage Your EFL Student.”

Mix things up a little.

When children are only taught in one way, they rapidly get disinterested and bored. You may cover a variety of learning types while also making your lessons engaging and fascinating by employing multiple learning formats.

We understand that creating all of these materials takes time, but here is a list of my “top 10 websites for ESL teachers” that will make your job easier.

Use Technology in the classroom.

Using resources like Powerpoint and other technology is an important method to involve children in a class. 

There are a multitude of apps, interactive games, and platforms available for teachers to employ in their classes, including these I have listed under ” Technology in the classroom“.

Get them talking.

Overuse of Teacher talk is something I see a lot with novice ESL teachers.  Your job is to get the student to talk, not for you to continually talk.

However, there must be some content focused on listening as the listening skill is the first and arguably most important skill to learn. 

It will be tough for children to initiate English discussions if they are just at a basic level. That means it’s up to you to keep them talking and improve their communication abilities. 

To keep children involved in the language, ask them questions while they work or finish activities.

Sing songs.

Songs are a terrific method to get kids interested in learning and can also aid with memory recall. 

Remember that annoying ” ABC ” song that all the ESL kids sing and you just can’t get out of your head? 

For your students, this works in exactly the same way. Memorizing songs can be a great way to help children remember vocabulary.

Use Real-Life objects.

This is especially effective when discussing themes like food, clothing, the home, or anything else where you have easily available materials to support learning.

Bring some food or plates, cups, forks, etc. to class if you wish to improve your student’s food and utensil vocabulary. Check to see if your kids can select the proper utensil or food item that you layout.  

If you want to focus on clothes vocabulary, take a trip to your wardrobe and pull out some clothes to show. You can also invest a little money and do classroom dress-ups. 

This type of interactive learning is ideal for children since it is more engaging than out-of-context learning.

Practice makes perfect.

You can’t expect your students to understand things straight away.  You should give a range of examples and give your students plenty of time to practice what you’ve just taught them. then check for understanding.

When teaching beginners English, this usually entails drilling the students (but not for too long), followed by individual or group practice. Make sure the kids know it’s okay to make mistakes during practice so they don’t feel pressured to get it right the first time.

Use positive reinforcement.

Another key aspect of teaching English to young students is to provide positive feedback. If someone gives an incorrect answer, give them encouraging feedback and correct them. 

Never make a student feel embarrassed in front of the entire class. Because if you do they will turn off and learn to hate studying English. Instead, attempt to establish a welcoming environment in the classroom by frequently complimenting your students, even if they make mistakes.

When teaching English to beginners, for example, if they get the term right but mispronounce it, say something like, “Okay, good!” and then repeat the word with the correct pronunciation so that the student is not embarrassed and the rest of the class hears the correct pronunciation.


For both novice and veteran ESL teachers, teaching English to children can be a lot of fun. Although preparing content for teaching English to beginners may seem difficult at first, you will quickly become accustomed to it. 

It’s also quite satisfying when your kids want to talk to you outside of class to tell you about their accomplishments. It’s incredible to watch them progress from having no skills to being able to communicate in basic English!

Following these suggestions will help you gain the respect of both your students and their parents. 

Continue to praise your kids so that they do not become disheartened when they make mistakes. Praise will assist them in being self-assured learners who are not intimidated by a foreign language. Be the teacher you always looked up to.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching in Vietnam for over 15 years and have my own small school. I am also the author of this article and owner of this website. You can check me out on YouTube below.

Post Covid

My School in Vietnam

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.