English Language Centers Facing Shortages | Editorial.

Vietnams English industry is suffering from lack of good teachers and poor administration.

Why Do Some Centers have Staff Shortages?

You could be forgiven for thinking that in Vietnam we are still in the throws of lockdown because of the lack of ESL teachers in language centers. Surely they didn’t all pack up and went home during the pandemic?

Some independent education experts speculated that the recent problem affecting English language schools in Vietnam may be caused by the institutions’ delayed response to changes in the preferred teaching strategies of today’s students.

Independent specialists debated that while modern trends in foreign language learning are growing both in Vietnam and around the world, many Vietnamese English language centers appear to have fallen behind because they cannot adapt to the new waves of change.

Higher Costs Hitting Home.

The Apax Leaders affair, ( They were once well respected and have been around for roughly five years), is one of the most recent scandals involving an English language school.

The current situation highlights a number of issues that many other English-speaking locations are facing in the post-pandemic age. That is higher costs, especially office rent, and little increase in tuition fees from the students and parents.

A center’s rent could be hundreds of millions of dong (100 million dong is approximately $4,200 US), and the majority of landlords are unwilling to lower their rate. Also, the global market is searching for native foreign English teachers, but they are hard to come by as many have gone home during the pandemic and found other jobs. Money Conversion by “XE-Money Converter

Language School Closures.

Overall I would estimate that between 40% to 60 % of language schools have either closed or dramatically reduced their size. Many have stopped renting high-priced offices and moved to cheaper ones. They also used smaller spaces instead of large properties to save money. A lot of this happened while still passing on the higher charges in fees, understandably illegal.

Some companies share their offices with partners. They keep only some parts for teaching and sublet the rest for purposes other than teaching, although this is also not allowed by law.

Additionally, many married immigrants have established “schools” inside their homes that can significantly undercut such businesses with higher prices.

While other schools, like Apax, are allegedly going through “re-opening procedures,” it is unclear whether they will actually reopen. Will it be another case of “take the money and run”?

A Shortage Of Qualified English Teachers.

I have been living and working in Vietnam as an EFL teacher for the last 15 years and I have never seen it this bad before. The pandemic drove people out of the country and the non-slackening of visa or immigration rules has made Vietnam to be a less friendly entry point than some other countries.

Add to that the closures and fly-by-night practices of some schools and you have severely dented the reputation of many language schools in Vietnam.

There are a lot of online communities and Facebook groups that have seen continued publishing of unfulfilled jobs. This has led a lot of the English Centers to lower their standards and accept people with rudimentary English language skills. It is almost like stepping back 15 years to the less controlled environment that was still current then.

It is common to see 20 or 30 jobs for a teacher that can’t be filled. The English teachers who remain get bombarded with calls and offers to teach. At one stage I was getting 10 calls a week for different job offers. however, the offers all tend to be around the same hourly rate, more than likely due to the points raised here.

It’s Time to Relax Administrative procedures.

The need for foreign teachers has grown in the post-pandemic era in line with the rise in student enrollment, although there are significant administrative roadblocks.

Obtaining a work permit for a foreign national is currently quite challenging. This makes it difficult for many language schools to afford to hire enough foreign instructors. And the teachers that are coming through are from countries that were not in favor (For English Teachers) before. Like the Philippines and South Africa.

Regarding this situation, authorities should adopt flexible policies and expedite procedures. In this way, the teacher shortage issue might be quickly resolved.

Money or Education.

Vietnamese language schools frequently place more of an emphasis on business than on education. Quite frequently, I would witness parents barging into the centers and lamenting the abject failure of their child’s external exam. A consequence of the school’s policy of forcing students—whether or not they are prepared—through “the system.”

They 9The schools) simply want to increase the number of centers as soon as possible to achieve expansion. They spend money on marketing and increasing sales to attract as many learners as possible. The parents don’t see the rows of telemarketers calling potential students.

For most Vietnamese, if a school looks good with nice chairs, televisions, and all the latest equipment, it must be good. They don’t necessarily see the poor quality of the teachers behind the scenes.

Additionally, they open additional locations with the majority of their earnings. Therefore, it is uncertain whether they have qualified teachers, the ability to provide services, and the financial management skills to effectively manage for the future.

The Need for Change.

After the epidemic, learning habits shifted globally and in Vietnam, but many Vietnamese English centers do not appear to be adjusting to these changes.

Modern students do not fit the mold of traditional classes held in large, spacious venues.

These conventional approaches are too expensive, and the benefits they provide are not adequate compensation. According to what I have observed, this has caused a significant disparity between the investment and the enrollment of students during the post-pandemic period.

During the coronavirus epidemic, many students discovered the possibility to learn online and stopped attending traditional classes. And it was successful because it cut down on the students’ typically time-constrained commute time.

Final Thoughts.

For students of all ages, online courses have been made available in Vietnam by a number of significant English education providers, including the British Council and others.

Centers can choose how many online and offline units to offer based on the time that classes are offered, but they cannot continue to offer entirely offline courses as they do at the moment. With the combination of teachings, the schools will be able to return to the right side of the ledger book and, ideally, prioritize student instruction over monetary gains.

For English centers, it is now vital to integrate online and offline courses since otherwise, failing schools will keep opening and shutting all the time.

For more editorial content read “Marty Hoares” ” Vietnams ESL Sector, a Series of Disappointments

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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 be an ESL Teacher.

This will give you some things to think about if you want to become an ESL teacher.

So You Want To Be an ESL Teacher.

This is not the sort of career that you sit down when you are 12 o 13 and think, wow, I want to be an ESL teacher. But for whatever reason you have chosen to be an ESL teacher, this will show you how it can be done.

There are a few different ways you can become an ESL teacher as not all schools and not all countries demand that you have a University degree. And even those that require a degree can be pretty flexible in their approach to what degree is relevant. I have seen people with degrees in non-related topics that are accepted for a teaching job.

However, I will give you what is considered by most countries as needed for this position. And I will also show some alternatives to the traditional approach.

What is The Job About?

Being an ESL or EFL teacher can be an immensely satisfying job, but don’t expect the salary to be extraordinary. ( I will talk more about salaries soon.) ESL or English as a Second Language or EFL, or English as a Foreign Language are the acronyms you will become most used to seeing.

Teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) assist non-native English speakers in learning to speak, read, understand, and write the language. They may work at language academies, public or private schools, or out of their homes or the homes of their students, giving private lessons.

ESL Teachers Responsibilities.

The objective of an ESL instructor is to instruct and guide pupils who are learning English as a second language. ESL instructors frequently employ a real-world setting to help their students better understand the language’s intricacies. When interacting with pupils from other cultures.

ESL teachers need to be flexible, inventive, and attentive to the expected cultural variations. Teachers of English as a second language frequently serve as mentors, counselors, and liaisons for families and students who are just settling into a new location.

All grade levels (K–12) of students may be served by ESL teachers in the public school system. They frequently remove ESL students from the regular classroom and place them in a separate space where they can work with them in small groups or one-on-one to develop their English abilities. These small groups may include English language learners of various ages and grade levels who all require assistance with their language skills, depending on the size of the school.

This does not always happen. I have been in classes with 50 students that learn on a regular basis with limited resources. If nothing else, ESL teachers need to be flexible and able to think on their feet. It can be one of the most mentally challenging jobs out there. But when you have had a great day, you will feel like a “rock n roll” star.

But do not think all students who wish to learn English as a second language are K-12 or learn only through a private schooling system. As different as the student and their needs are, there are different ways to teach the student for their skill levels and age.

Who Will You Be Teaching?

One, amongst many, things I enjoy about teaching ESL is that after a while you can have a better choice of who you wish to teach. Depending on which schooling system and country you teach in will determine who you teach.

Let’s look at a few alternatives. First, if you are teaching in a public school system for children you can expect to be teaching K-12 and everything that comes with it. The good and the not-so-good, depending on your outlook. Teaching younger children can be extremely rewarding but should be mixed up with games and a lesson plan that takes into account a reduced attention span for learning. Read more about “How to teach ESL to Kids

If you are teaching older children or teenagers in the public school system your approach will be different again. And you will also have a different curriculum if you are teaching in an academy. But teenagers need to be taught differently from children and adults. You can read more here. “How to Teach ESL To Teenagers”

And, age group-wise, adults will normally be taught in a private school or a private lesson situation. Some companies will also arrange for lessons to be conducted in-house or at a place that is suitable for everyone. I have even rented out rooms in coffee shops that can be used as a temporary classroom. You can read more about teaching adults here at “How to teach ESL to Adults.”

While you can change throughout your career as an ESL teacher, it is a lot better if you choose the age groups that you wish to teach first. But try a few lessons with each age group first. Because what you believe may happen in the classroom is probably different from what you will experience. Remember, a good teacher is a happy teacher.

What Qualifications Do You Need?

The 1990s and thereabouts have gone and so has the more laid-back approach to teaching ESL and EFL. In the days when you could jump off a plane in a foreign country, like Thailand or Vietnam, and start teaching English the following week have long gone.

These days most countries have a more stringent approach. But there are still some places that are open to a less rigorous educational background. Some of the Asian destinations are prime examples.

Ideally, you will have a 4-year bachelor’s degree that is teaching or linguistic focused. When you start applying for positions make sure you have transcripted copies of your degree ( and your other paperwork) as you do not wish to hand over any originals.

On top of your degree, you will need an English Teacher license. You will find most Universities are more than willing to provide a course that will give you an English teacher’s License. At the end of the day, employers will not differentiate between a university or private course.

Udemy, as per my side banner, provides TEFL teacher training courses. You can also find a little more information here in my post “ESL Teacher Training”

The advice I would give here is to look online at the country you have chosen to teach in and see what teacher training is offered. Only because most teacher training schools will have contacts with schools within their own country that may make getting a job easier and quicker

What can I make?

Most information as soon as it is posted is out of date. And when it comes to salaries it is, in my opinion, doubly so. However, I have used some information provided by The International TEFL academy to give you a quick rule of thumb.

I have been teaching in Vietnam now for 15 years and have 2 English schools. I have worked in private companies and public schools and have taught all levels of students.

Source; International TEFL Academy.

The amount that is shown here is an indication only of what you can make. If you are ambitious and have a passion for teaching your business will be exponentially better than the figures shown. Likewise, if you hate teaching and do minimum work your salary may be less. You can find more salary information here about “ESL salaries

Final Thoughts.

Teaching English overseas is a truly wonderful way to see the world and find out what people are like in their own country. The job itself is both challenging and rewarding. Without trying to sound cliched, you will be pulling your hair out one day and cursing your choice of jobs. The next day when things click you will feel like that rock star I talked about before.

Yes, you can make a great living if you are prepared to adjust to a different lifestyle and work while others are partying. And you will meet some great people. Teaching EFL in another country may mean that your new friends come and go. A lot of teachers use teaching EFL as a passport to travel the world, so while you meet a lot of new people, old friends become scarcer and scarcer.

In my opinion, the lifestyle of an ESL teacher is extremely rewarding and the positive input that you give to your students’ lives is second to none.


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.

Is Learning the Alphabet Still Important for ESL Students?

The Importance of the ABC.

Do you still think teaching the alphabet is worthwhile or just an excuse to fill in time in the classroom? Do you get sick of hearing the sing-song of the young students attempted at the ABC and then appalled when they can’t say it without singing?

I think the ABC is like the foundations of a house, if you have bad foundations your house is not structurally sound and it is the same for your younger and older students. Why is it important, let me explain.

Why is it important?

What is the alphabet, and why should our students learn it? The alphabet is nothing more than a set of letters and sounds. . The ABCs are the foundations of language exactly like the foundations of a house give the structural integrity to the whole house.

Our students must be able to recognize each letter, both in sequence and out of order, as well as the sounds associated with every letter, in order to become literate. Once your student has such understanding, he or she is well on their way to learning to read and write.

So, if we agree that learning the ABC’s and teaching the ABC’s are still important, how can we as teachers teach the alphabet effectively?

How to Teach The ABC’s.

This can be either a fun activity for your students or turn into one of the most boring lessons ever depending on your approach or teaching style.

Teachers can engage students in a variety of activities to help them learn the alphabet. Some of this learning may happen as a result of life experiences, things you know that can be fun and passed onto your students. Specific alphabet resources, such as puzzles and matching games, might provide additional learning opportunities.

Children will appreciate using specialized alphabet materials if they are simply one aspect of a larger literacy curriculum because they will know which experiences in the world they relate to. Children find learning the alphabet dull and useless only when it is taught in a restricted, linear,’skills-first’ manner.

This can happen, for example, if the teaching methodology consists of studying one letter each week for the entire school year, or writing one letter on a workbook page repeatedly each day. However, there is no necessity to learn the letters in this manner. These days, there are so many alternatives and better ways to do it.

Lessons for Teaching the Alphabet.

Students must learn to recognize and name the letters, both in and out of sequence, as well as the sounds associated with each letter, as the alphabet is the cornerstone of literacy.

Begin with the basics. Don’t attempt to teach all 26 letters at the same time. Simply do 5-6 letters at a time, allowing your pupils to see, hear, and experience the letter in a variety of ways.

Remember that children learn via all of their senses, so while books can be great, teach the ABCs using a variety of tactics and materials. Use ABC blocks, coloring pages, ABC mats, and even play dough to learn the alphabet.

The most crucial piece of advice is to have fun with it. Make it a game for your students, and they’ll enjoy learning with you.

Alphabet Teaching Resources.

As teachers, we are spoilt with the ever-increasing amount of resources we can use to teach the alphabet. In my 15 years of teaching ESL in Vietnam, there have never been so many different tools we can use. Mixing it up and making it fun is the name of the game. Here are a few of the many tools you can use. From apps to coloring pages, online games, PowerPoint, and a plethora of other tools, here are some of my favorites.


ABC Kids.

Children will enjoy learning phonics and the alphabet with ABC Kids, a free phonics and alphabet app. It includes a series of tracing games designed to help children recognize letter shapes, link them with phonic sounds, and apply their alphabet knowledge in entertaining matching activities.

By just following the arrows with their finger, any young student can learn English and the English alphabet. As kids complete tracing games, they can even “win” stickers and toys.

Online Games

British Council.

The British Council website has so much to offer, not just the alphabet. Here you can make your own flashcards or worksheets, listen to songs and so much more. A wonderful site put together by teaching professionals.

Websites for Worksheets.

LanternFish/ Bogglesworld.

One of my all-time favorites that I keep coming back to, even after 15 years I find things on this site that are new to me. Again, it offers so much more than your basic worksheets. Well worth a look and definitely a useful site.

These are just a few of the many websites and apps that you can use to keep your students interested and excited about learning. You can also look here at “Online Teachers Tools” for more ideas.

Teaching the Alphabet in the Classroom.

Before teaching the alphabet consider the age of the student. You would not teach adults the same way as teaching young learners. Teaching adults is in some ways easier as the motivation to learn has already been established by the student, otherwise they would not be in the classroom. Teaching adults is mainly making sure that the pronunciation is correct as I put the onus on learning the alphabet onto the adult student.

However with your younger student you must create the reason for learning and that reason will be “fun”. We have to make the learning experience fun and exciting for the students.

Also remember the attention span of the younger student is not very long so you need to have sets of, approximately, 10 minute maximum activities.

Techniques I Use to Teach the ABC.

For the very young student, kindergarten or pre-school, I will use as one tool an animal ABC song that you can find on YouTube. The Animal ABC Song.



Flashcards are another “oldie but goodie” tool to use. With flashcards, you can play a myriad of games. From placing them face down and getting students to find the correct letter. A flashcard version of the old ‘memory game

To make it more exciting place your students in teams. Boys verse girls always works well. Then place no more than 10 cards face down and call out one letter. Lets say you are using A to J, then you may call out A for example. Then each team has alternate turns in trying to find that letter. A point is scored for each letter “found”

You can also “tweak” this game by adding 2 sets of flashcards and the participants must match A with A, B with B etc. Be aware that this version can take longer so adjust your lesson times accordingly. Scoring remains the same.

4 Corners

A very simple game where you choose 4 flashcards or 4 letters in this case and place them in the corners of the room. You then call out 1 letter, and the last student to touch the card or stand within a set boundary must sit down and are “out” of the game.

You need a good size room and should be able to clear the floor of all chairs etc. This is a fast paced game and watch out that the students don’t push or accidentally hurt one another.

Guess the Card

Similar to the memory game, but rather than placing the cards face down you hold them against your chest. You can make this a lot of fun by kidding with the students as to what you have or not in your hand.

ABC animal/ ABC food/ ABC Country.

I use this not so much as a teaching tool but more as a task for remembering and introducing new words for the higher grades and older learners. By this I mean 10 to 12-year-olds.

Once again, I will split the class into 2 groups and points will be scored only when a student gets the answer wrong. For example, if A team gets the answer wrong, B team will collect the point.

If you try to give a point for all correct answers your back will be towards the class for far too long.

So if you choose ABC food, the teams must alternate in their answers with the correct responses being A- apple, B-banana, C- coconut, etc. I also put a time limit of 3 seconds for the answer and penalize any shout-outs.

I don’t prompt the alphabet and each person on the team must be able to both recite their ABC’s and find the correct name of food, animal, or country for their answer.

The students have a lot of fun with this game and it has become very popular and is a great way to get the students to remember their ABC’s.

ABC Listen and Write.

Two teams and points scored on the accuracy of the listening and writing skills.

All you need for this game is a sheet of paper for each student and a whiteboard the students can copy their work to.

The students are given a sheet of paper, preferably pre-drawn, with numbers from 1 to 7 in the corresponding columns. (as shown). The teacher then reads out any letter from A to Z and the students must copy in the correct column.

You might say, number 1 letter S, number 2 letter X, number 3 letter B, number 4 letter P, and so on. Once both teams ( As individuals) have written down all the letters from 1 to 7 you will choose one person to copy the letters to the board. They will get one point for each correct letter.

I have played this game with children as young as 7 who picked up the rules very quickly. You will need to do one game as an example first so your students understand.

This is a great listening skills game and it also reinforces letter recognition. You will find this helps students recognize some of the similar-sounding letters like P’s and B’s and S’s and X’s.

A popular game with great listening skill outcomes for the students.


There are so many ways you can teach the alphabet to make it interesting and fun. The above are only a few ways that I use for my students. Some of the best games are those you make up yourself. Never be scared to try something new because your students will respond positively to something that is fun.

And for the younger student change your activities frequently so they don’t get bored. It is a terrible feeling if you look around and see your students yawning.

And who am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching in Vietnam for 15 years and have my own school as well as placing students into private and public schools around Vietnam.

If you wish you can look at my Alphabet video by clicking on the YouTube button below. And if you wish to support my website, subscribe to my YouTube channel. It doesn’t cost you anything. Thanks.

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.


Teaching Phonics to ESL Students.

What is Phonics?

Phonics refers to the sounds of a language and includes how sounds are pronounced, how syllables or words are stressed, and intonation. If students learn early on what sounds each letter or combination of letters makes, it may help them improve their reading, listening, and speaking skills.

In a nutshell, phonics is the study of how to read and write in an alphabetic language. Students must study the relationship between sounds and letters in order to do so. Starting with individual letter sounds is simple, but things become more complicated when you realize that each vowel has two distinct sounds and that some letters can be combined to create new sounds.

Teaching Phonics.

When talking with other ESL/EFL teachers, phonics tends to be a forgotten subject. Phonics is being taught much less or not at all in conventional ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. As a result, deciding whether or not to utilize phonics with pupils learning English can be tricky.

Though much of English adheres to phonetic norms, the exceptions can appear to be more frequent at times. Do the disadvantages of phonics outweigh the advantages?

Is phonetics a superior technique to teach reading and pronunciation? Or will it do more harm than good to ESL students? If you’re having trouble answering the phonics question, here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of phonics to think about while you answer it for yourself.

Benefits of Phonics.

Like most learning and teaching styles there are pros and cons to phonics. Here are some to consider before teaching.


Students who are learning the English alphabet can benefit from phonics.

When learning English, Vietnamese students face an additional obstacle. The Vietnamese language is a tonal language with six distinct tones. Learning a new alphabet and the sounds that go with it can be tough for a Vietnamese ESL/EFL learner.

Phonics can be quite beneficial to these students. Students learn the sounds that each letter or combination of letters produces, which aids them in reading and pronouncing new words.


It can also help the students in spelling. Breaking down the components of a word into phonetically understandable sounds helps the students become better spellers. The student will recognize the sound as it corresponds to the letters.

Different Words.

Students who utilize phonics are generally better at pronouncing unknown or unfamiliar words. They will attempt the sounds that they have learned in relation to the letters that they see.


In the 15 years, I have been teaching in Vietnam I have seen the difference between those students who use phonics to sound out a word and those that don’t. If nothing else, the confidence attributed to the students who use phonics is much higher than those that don’t.

The Downside of Phonics.


ESL pupils who excel at phonics may develop into so-called false readers. When they encounter a written article, they may be able to read aloud and pronounce new and unfamiliar words with ease.

However, they may have problems with comprehension. They can read what is on the page and because it sounds ok they will be held to have understood what they read. But in reality, while they can pronounce the words correctly they have little understanding of what the word, phrase, or article means.

Extra Work.

You as the teacher must put in a lot of effort when teaching phonics. You must continually name and point out letter patterns in words, assisting your students in recognizing and remembering them. If you teach phonics, it will become a part of every day’s material, as well as each class. You’ll have to show your students the phonic breakdown of every new vocabulary word they acquire until they can do it on their own. And depending on age and skill level this may take from 1 to 2 years.

Your Choice.

For ESL students, phonics provides substantial benefits as well as drawbacks, and each instructor must determine whether or not to utilize it in the classroom. In the end, no single approach will be sufficient to teach your ESL students correct English usage.

The majority of ESL teachers, that I know, believe that a balanced approach is beneficial for their students. It’s up to you how you implement phonics into your classroom, or even if you want to. So, if you want to teach phonics, here we go.

Let’s Teach Phonics.

Teaching phonics to ESL students involves four steps. These can be broken down into, learning the letter sounds, learning to write letters, blending sounds, and segmenting sounds. Twinkl is a great resource and I have used them on numerous occasions.

Step 1:

Learning sounds. Students need to learn the sounds and the letters that match them, both uppercase and lowercase (it’s best to start with uppercase), as well as the sound that can be made by joining two letters together. I would recommend spending more time on similar sounds and letters. The letters ‘d’ and ‘b’ for example, can be hard for ESL students to learn.

Step 2:

Blending sounds. Once the students know the sounds that each letter makes, they need to know how to put these together to read words. So, they see the individual sounds ‘d’ ‘o’ and ‘g’, but they need to put those sounds together to read ‘dog.’ This can be really tricky for some students, and others will learn quicker than others.

Step 3:

Segmenting Sounds. This is the reverse of blending; students must learn to break down the words they hear into their individual sounds. They should hear the word ‘pig’ and break that down into the sound’s ‘p’ ‘ai’ and ‘g’. This is how students learn to spell.

Step 4:

Sight words. These are words that often appear in the English language (think ‘and’, ‘on’ or ‘it’). These are words that students should learn to recognize on sight. Mastering these will significantly speed up the progress of reading.


Source; Twinkl.


You will find a large range of resources online, with Twinkl being but one of many businesses that can help you as a teacher. I have done 2 posts about online teachers’ tools that will help in the classroom. “On-Line Teachers Tools”

And, “The Top 10 Websites for ESL Teachers”

MES English, which you will find in the above list has a comprehensive range of materials that cover phonics. They are one of my go-to’s for English worksheets, but there are many online to choose from.

Why It’s Important to Teach Phonics.

Phonics helps with pronunciation. Have you ever played the game, ship, sheep, or shop and seen the mystified looks on your students’ faces? Unless you have been taught phonics the sounds of these words to many students may sound the same.

The ship, sheep shop game is a listening game where you as the teacher start and you have to say the words, and the students write down what they have heard. It becomes more interesting when it becomes the student’s turn to be the “teacher”

Use words with the same vowel sounds but different consonant clusters.

There is a lot more to the game as you add the “extras”. For example, you may ask “where did you see the ship?” The students may mishear the question and answer, “I saw the ship on the farm”. Great for listening and comprehension.

And can be a lot of fun at the same time.


The purpose of learning English is for the learner to be able to effectively communicate with other people around the world in a meaningful and realistic way.

No matter what level your pupils are at, no matter how advanced or fluent they are, if they pronounce certain essential sounds incorrectly, other English speakers will misunderstand them. And that is where phonetics comes into play and what it is all about.

It is up to you as a teacher if you want to use Phonics as one of the tools in your arsenal of teaching weapons to help your students.

However, there are potential drawbacks as discussed, but in my opinion, it is yet another tool that can be used to help English literacy.

Who Am I?.

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching ESL/EFL for the past 15 years in Vietnam. I have traveled and worked extensively around this wonderful country and find myself still being amazed and frustrated, quite often at the same time.

Vietnamese students are generally hardworking and respectful to the teacher. And most schools are professional in the development of their students. However like anywhere there are always exceptions to the rule.

If you ever consider becoming an English teacher in Vietnam, leave me a message and I will help you achieve your goal.

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.

Technology Tools for the ESL Classroom | Part 2.

Technology for the ESL Classroom.

In my last post, I wrote about the “Essential Tools of the ESL Classroom” In a nutshell, those are tools that I would find hard to do without. Namely, my “Sony blue tooth speaker” with which I could play any recording loud enough for the class to hear, 30 watts RMS.

And also my trusty Aporo headset that saves my voice and stops me shouting in the public school classrooms of Vietnam. Where it is common to have 50 people in a classroom all talking and never being able to hear the “foreign teacher” another 30mwatt output piece of equipment, and protector of my voice.

And my Samsung phone where I store a lot of my lessons on “Google Drive”. Easy to use and I wouldn’t “cry” if my phone was accidentally dropped or misplaced. Unlike a past iPhone that cost me in excess of $1,500 US$. Not a happy day.

In my last post, I also provided information about class sizes and the types of schools, and problems you might come across.

So if you are interested in looking at that information, click on the link “Essential Tools of the ESL Classroom” above.

My Extra Tech.Tools for the ESL classroom.

This post is going to cover the other tools I have and some of the tools I wish I had. Our tech tools make our job so much easier in the classroom and can make it a better learning experience for the students. As well as making it more fun.

Tech Tools I have and Why?

Lenovo ideapad530s i7. Being able to access the various resources online has become vital no longer can you front up to the classroom and be expected to be taken seriously if you can not provide online resources. Also, with Covid still affecting our daily lives, we need to have the option of providing online teaching.

Here are some of the on-line resources I use.” My Top 10 Websites for ESL Teachers

If you aren’t getting the hours you need, you should look at the service you provide. Good services provided means a happy school and teacher.

The webcam and quality of the image on this computer is exceptional. I have now had this for over 18 months and still run it with 20 tabs open at a time. I have no complaints about the SSD storage and I feel it is as fast as the day I bought it.

The only thing I find disappointing is the battery life, as I have to start thinking about recharging after 4 hours. This may have something to do with the number of programs I run at the same time.

Sony RX100V11 Camera. My camera is used for recording the students in the classroom and playing it back to them so they can learn from interacting with the camera and how they sound and the problems they have when they speak.

Go Pro Hero 4. I use this small Go Pro cube for the same reasons as above but generally for the younger students or in a more robust environment where something more delicate could get damaged.

Canon Laser Printer. This is used for worksheets, gap fills, or any exercise not found in the book that is being used for the class. I also use it for any relevant text or image games that are relevant to the lesson. This is one of the tech tools on my upgrade wish list.

My Schools Tech.

Overhead Projector and Smart screen. and Televisions and DVDs are the tech tools that come standard in my schools classroom, however with the use of other technology, these are becoming outdated and not used as much anymore.

The televisions and DVDs will not be replaced, but overhead projectors that work in with computers and smart screens are becoming more common in the classroom. Well, at least mine.

Tech Tools I would like, and Why?

Go Pro Hero 10 creator edition.

I would like this as an all-in-one vlogging unit I can use to record both students and classroom activities or to replay or upload to YouTube or my website. A simple to use all-in-one unit that is ready off the shelf.

Canon wireless printer.

As a busy teacher who does not have time to rely on schools that do not have the equipment or will not provide it, I prefer utilizing my own gear. And I want to move to wireless as the time taken in hooking up a cable between laptop and printer is wasted time. Also, being able to print directly from a mobile phone will be a big time saver.

Don’t Lose Focus.

Having all these gadgets and tools are great, but they will not automatically make you a better teacher. Your style of teaching, the fun you bring into the classroom, and the quality and skills you provide to your students are still the most important thing.

What you do in the classroom is much more important than what you bring into the classroom. These tools are here to help make life easier for you and ultimately provide a better platform for the student to learn.

Most ESL students are still worried about their listening and speaking activities and there is a lot you can do without using tech. Have a look at my post “How to improve English Speaking Skills” You don’t need a lot of tech to make a worthwhile class, but to make a class more worthwhile it can be of great help.

It’s how you teach, at the end of the day, not what you use. Here are some words on teaching styles that, in my opinion, are more important than most of the other resources talked about here today. We just need to prioritize our classroom content.

Teaching Styles

As you gain experience as a teacher, you will create your own teaching style and classroom practices. T.P.R (Total physical reaction), communicative method, meaningful learning, and old-fashioned rote learning are some well-known teaching styles. Most teachers will pick and choose from the instructional techniques listed below to fit their needs.

Total Physical Response

Professor James Asher, a psychology expert, invented T.P.R, a language acquisition approach. TPR engages students in the language learning process by combining words and physical actions.

The Communicative Method.

The communicative approach is founded on the premise that the most effective way to learn a language is to have to express genuine meaning. Learners’ natural language acquisition mechanisms will be applied when they are engaged in genuine communication, allowing them to learn to use the language.

Meaningful Learning.

Meaningful learning is the feeling that all the parts of a concept, idea, theory, equations, or argument come together to make learning meaningful. Meaningful learning is frequently contrasted with rote learning, which involves memorizing knowledge without considering our relationship to other objects or events.

Rote Learning.

Rote Learning is a more conventional method of instruction. It is centered on students repeating the words and phrases until they recall them. Rote learning is the process of memorizing knowledge through repetition.

So use your teaching style and the methods in planning lessons to accommodate the introduction of technology that will put you firmly in the drivers seat.

You can find out more about teaching styles in my post ” Teaching English Abroad in Vietnam“.


After teaching for 15 years across various schools and regions, I have come to the conclusion that a little money spent saves me more in the long run. And it provides a more seamless environment for teaching in the classroom. I control the flow of the class whether it is in my own school a public school or another private school

My name is Stephen and I have worked in Vietnam for over 15 years. I have my own school and also provide ESL teachers to those schools that need quality.

Affiliate and privacy policy

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.

Essential Tech Tools for the ESL Classroom

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 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 being 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.


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.