Living in Vietnam.

Enjoying the Vietnamese Lifestyle.

What I want to write about today is a bit different from what I normally write about. But, it is one of the most important topics if you want to work or live in Vietnam for an extended period of time.

This article is not so much about what you can find in Vietnam or even what you should bring. But, it is about what you should leave at home.

Ethnocentrism and the Uneasy Traveller

According to the Oxford Dictionary “Ethnocentrism” is the ” evaluation of other cultures according to the preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of our own culture”

Before heading into the topic of a foreign teacher being fired (And what sparked this article) and the debate as to whether he should have been fired or not, I want to cover more on “moral codes” and what makes up “ethnocentricism”

Moral Codes and Cultural Differences.

Moral codes are a set of rules that show how a person should treat others and behave within society. They are learned through interactions with others in society by picking up behavioral standards within your cultural area.

Our moral codes are heavily dependent upon our culture. All these codes may cover aspects of our lives from how we act, how we dress, and how we treat others.

There are some moral codes that are regularly found throughout the world. These would be “though shall not kill” or “treat others as we would like to be treated”

However, each culture has its own idea as to what is right or wrong. These other aspects of moral codes are a direct reflection of the ethical thinking of that area.

Cultural Insensitivity in the Workplace.

I have been living and working in Vietnam for 16 years and I have seen a truckload of cultural insensitivity from both foreigners and Vietnamese. However, the thing to remember is that Vietnam is run by and for the Vietnamese and if we can understand that our life will be much easier.

I have often seen new foreign English teachers come to Vietnam with preconceived ideas telling the Vietnamese teachers how English should be taught. While some of the topics raised by the new teacher may be valid, they should take their time to find out how things are done. Losing “face” is still quite a big thing in Vietnam.

I remember talking to someone very high up in Sacom bank and we were discussing how banks (Being a capitalist entity) survived and thrived in Vietnam and how they dealt with the Government. The gentleman I was talking to gave me an example of how an idea that the bank has is introduced to the government.

First off the idea is planted within the government, at a lower “rank”, and allowed to percolate up to the top. Then a meeting between the bank and the government is organized during which the bank praises the government for its forward-thinking idea.

I’m not saying this is how teaching is, but it gives you some idea about the different approaches that need to be taken.

The Firing of a Foreign Teacher.

There was an incident very recently involving a foreign teacher, a security guard, students, and a Vietnamese teacher.

If it wasn’t so serious it would sound like the start of a bad joke. To start at the end, a foreign teacher was fired after a “scuffle” with a 65 year old security guard. The security guard was checking the names of students who were allowed to leave after the 4th lesson of the day.

At the school above, the 11th graders were allowed to leave as long as their names were on the guards’ list. The guard also checked the name tags of the students who were eligible to leave.

One of the 11th graders was wearing a jacket so the security guard could not see her name. When the security guard asked her to remove her jacket she refused and the guard started yelling at her. This is when the foreign teacher stepped in and pushed the guard over.

The “scuffle” then broke out after the guard was pushed over. Because of the violent acts carried out by both the teacher and guard the school board got together to discuss what should happen next.

The foreign teacher was allowed to continue teaching while the decision was being made about what was to be done with all parties. The head of the English department then asked the foreign teacher to refrain from posting anything on social media.

This seemingly didn’t go down well with the teacher who then started kicking the “teachers’ room” door and yelling at the head of the English Department. He was obviously fired at this stage. But to add one more piece of ludicrousness, the teacher then went onto social media and tried to get the students to defame the school. Trying to incite the students to rebellion.

Who does this guy think he is? he obviously has no regard for any other foreign teachers in Vietnam. Surprisingly there were some who supported this teacher. I did not see the whole story and did not get to talk to anyone firsthand about this, but I think just pushing the 65-year-old over would be grounds enough for dismissal alone. What do you think?

Final Thoughts.

If and when you come to Vietnam, please leave your preconceived ideas at home. We are guests in this lovely country and yes there are things that are different and they may not sit easily with us. However, if you can adapt to this culture (and there is not that much you need to adapt) you will have the time of your life.

Also, remember there are other foreigners and teachers who live here and we get “tarred by the same brush” if we do anything wrong. Vietnam is a very tolerant country, however, it doesn’t take much to influence the Vietnamese that we are insensitive to others feelings.

Thank you.


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.


Common Health Problems for the EFL Teacher.

Health Problems in the Classroom.

Keeping one’s physical health together when teaching in the classroom and online is important, especially when doing remote instruction via a computer. But as a teacher, it’s crucial to look after your mental health as well. You will benefit from this as well as improve your teaching and student outcomes.

Being a teacher is such a demanding job. A teacher is continuously “on the go,” and if they are not careful, the students can quickly sap your energy on a regular basis. Many teachers feel exhausted and drained when they return home. Not physically fatigued, but mentally spent. A person will eventually start to feel mentally exhausted and “hit the wall”. As a result of this, you will undoubtedly be affected outside of the classroom as well.

Being an EFL or ESL teacher in a foreign country can also leave you open to feelings of “aloneness” and wondering how you can cope. Often there is no support structure in place and this can lead to harmful substance abuse situations.

Common Educator Health Problems.

Teachers are generally held in high regard because of the challenging work they do.

They have the responsibility of assisting students in learning and helping with intellectual development, from young children to adults and they are expected to adhere to rigid lesson plans. On top of that, they are not necessarily paid the greatest salary.

It may be necessary for them to attend class even though they are feeling under the weather, then stay up late to prepare for their upcoming class of students. All this contributes to various physical health problems and there are some health issues that are more likely to emerge in teachers.

Here are a few of the most prevalent physical health issues that instructors encounter.

Due to the physical demands of the profession, educators deal with a wide range of medical conditions, from back discomfort to vocal demands from speaking in large noisy classrooms and eye strain from the amount of reading done.

Most physical health problems can be solved by fixing the problems with the school administrators or dealing directly with doctors and related problems.

However, today we are going to be looking at stress and the problems related to protecting your mental health. And what we can do as individual teachers to help alleviate these problems, especially as ESL teachers.

Trying to Maintain Mental Health in the ESL Classroom.

The answer isn’t as straightforward as “taking a break” (although it can help momentarily), in my opinion, you should match your daily actions with your emotional beliefs. Make sure your actions and the topics you cover in your teaching are consistent with your beliefs.

The simple reality that many teachers are tearing out their hair because their ideals about teaching and learning don’t align with their teaching environment can cause a lot of mental tension and misery.

You only need to look at what is happening in the U.S.A at the moment with mass resignations reverberating throughout the teaching profession to understand the depths of despair in the education industry.  

More Options.

It can be challenging to seek the support you need to maintain your mental health when mixed with a culture of self-sacrifice and external pressures.

Without assistance, continuing is unsustainable, and eventually, something will break. This can make it difficult for you to manage your day-to-day workload at work, necessitating time off for treatment, and more.

How to avoid problems or relieve symptoms:

You have alternatives to handle pressures at work, depending on how severe they are for you. You can get the tools to handle this through talk therapy, support groups with other educators, mental wellness applications, and the usage of perks like an employee assistance program if these are available.

However, as I mentioned before, when you are in a foreign country with a lack of resources you will be struggling to find any type of support structure. Added to that, if you are in a country that has a large “party scene” you may find some teachers start abusing alcohol as a coping mechanism. This is something that should be avoided at all costs.

Simple Solutions.

There are some simple measures you can take that will help insulate you from some of the worse conditions of living in a foreign country where you may or may not be feeling homesick.

Before you leave for your new life in the country of your dreams check out the Facebook groups you can join and look for other activities you can do as well. At the same time, get your ideal lifestyle and employment worked out! It’s not as difficult as it may seem to select a work abroad program, especially if you prepare prior to traveling.

Another thing you may wish to do is to put together a selection of photos of friends and family to remind you of your support groups if and when you need them.

Surrounding yourself with things and people that remind you of home will help you to settle into your new country and new job more easily.

Join Clubs.

Most large cities in Vietnam have a good selection of clubs and groups that you can join and make friendships with people who have similar interests.

Learning the local language will not only help you develop new friendships it will also open new doors of understanding within your new country. 

After living in Vietnam for more than 15 years, the people I see who survive and thrive are those who immerse themselves in the culture and develop a strong network of friends.

For example, Expats in HCMC are an English-speaking community in Vietnam and are one of many groups available.

Final Words.

With the post-effects of covid still trickling through and with Christmas on the horizon I wanted to make people aware that it is OK to feel a bit down at times. 

You can do a few things that will help you cope if you are having problems. Remember you are not in it alone and there are a lot of people who can help, and not just professionally. It is just as important to be able to sit down with friends and discuss how you are feeling.

Christmas can be a time when you feel alone and isolated, so if you are feeling like that, I urge you to reach out and get in contact with someone to talk with. I am also here if you need a good listener.

Spending your first Christmas away from family can present its own challenges and there are always people available to talk to. Don’t try to cope with any problems alone. As cliched as it sounds, a problem shared is a problem lessened.



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.

Best Gifts for an ESL Teacher

Thhis year let’s ask for the stars and we might hit the moon anyway. Tired of books for Christmas, let’s ask for laptops and see what happens.

Vietnamesl Amazon privacy policy
Associates Program

What You Wanted and What You Got.

We have all woken up on Christmas day at some stage and been totally underwhelmed by what we received. When you were wishing for a new bicycle and ended up with a pair of socks.

And it always started with the advent calendar. All the other kids were getting metal whistles and cool gifts and you ended up with a plastic “dummy”.

This Christmas is about Karma and will right some of the wrongs you have been dealt with over the years.

The Gifts You Always Wanted.

Here are some suggestions for gifts that are MUCH better than gift cards or socks if you have an English teacher on your gift list.

Alternatively, if you ARE an English teacher, you can leave this list open on your laptop for your students to “inadvertently” find. Or go and treat yourself. Isn’t it time you upgraded your laptop and added some speakers to play in the class?

There will be no judgments from this teacher.

Books, The teachers’ choice.

Teaching is a stressful profession, and reading for enjoyment can help you decompress by transporting you into a different world. This is why teachers adore books.

Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction if it is a captivating read you can be transported through time and space to a place where you can escape and explore.

Books are a teacher’s and student’s choice.

The World Book Company.

Since 1915, the World Book Corporation has dedicated itself to producing accurate, impartial, and trustworthy products that have regularly been rated as the finest in the education industry by teachers, librarians, and families.

The complete World Book Encyclopedia is the most recent and up-to-date print and online encyclopedia available thanks to the work of thousands of specialists.

From the 2017 World Book Encyclopedia’s 100th Anniversary Commemorative edition to intriguing new titles like Enigmas of History, Building Blocks of Science: Life Science, and Endangered Animals of the World, the titles cover a variety of topics and age groups.

There are various advertising campaigns every month, and they offer free shipping to consumers in the United States and Canada. You’ll come across information that will enlighten and enrich you.

The World Book company has everything from sports-related books to encyclopedias. A teacher’s dream and delight await all who hearken upon this voyage.

Or divest yourself of pretense of unselfishness and throw your head back and scream for your laptop.

Laptops for Legendary Teachers who Create.

And books are great, but let’s get real. These babies are for the hardworking teacher who crafts his lessons from scratch and demands the best. So if you want to reward yourself, These come strongly recommended.

Are you already dreaming of i9 Laptops? The Real Dream.

Asus Zenbook.

Maybe a bit of ASUS will spice things up for you…You can just watch or be part of the action for less than US$2,000.000.


Asus New Features.

There are a few features that make this laptop a standout and stand apart laptop. This laptop includes a secondary 3.5-inch OLED display on the lid in addition to the primary display in its usual location. This display may show various animations, notifications, battery life, date and time, and user-customizable text.

This laptop’s compliance with US Space System Command Standards (SMC-S-016A) and resistance to vibrations and extremely low or high temperatures are its other unique features. This device’s durability meets MIL-STD-810H specifications for toughness.

The ASUS ZenBook’s internal processor, the Intel Core i9-12900H, has 14 cores and 20 threads. The laptop’s integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics are available for graphics. A 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD and 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM are added to the potent processor.

It lacks a number pad because of size and space limitations. However, it does have a virtual number pad. It comes with 2 Thunderbolt 4 connections, a USB Type-A port, an HDMI and headphone jack, and an SD card reader.

A USB Type-A to RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet converter from Asus is also included in the box.

The ASUS ZenBook is currently available for purchase. The laptop costs $1,999 and has a metallic Titanium color. Words and numbers aside, it is ready for some heavy duty processing work

Apple Pro M2. Dream No. Two or No. One?

M1 or M2, 14″ or 16″

The M1 MacBook Air, M1 MacBook Pro, and M2 versions of those models have already been released, and their successors might not be too far away. Here is all the information you require for the upcoming release.

Despite rumors that the new laptops would be released soon, the prediction that the MacBook Pro with M2 Pro and Max CPU s would arrive in the fall of 2022 has been crushed.

New Macs are often introduced by Apple in November.

Next year will bring new Macs. Apple’s upcoming lineup of Macs “probably won’t ship until early next year,” according to Gurman. Gurman anticipates the first half of March 2023 as the timeframe.


The prices for the current models are as follows. Despite some significant price increases, we don’t foresee any significant changes in the U.S. With the M2 makeover, Apple increased the cost of the base MacBook Air by $200, or 20 percent.

Final Thoughts.

Despite or maybe because everyone seems so serious this year, I have put together a couple of things that I would love to receive under the Christmas tree.

Sometimes Santa is better when he tries to be worse. They say “karma” is a b****. Well, this year I’m up for it and I hope you are too. My ‘karmic” balance involves a couple of hi-end laptops and I hope this can go somewhere in bringing a bit of balance in your life.

If these don’t tickle your fancy, send me an email and Include your righteous response with a plethora of your perfect presents. And I will see what Santa can do to provide some Santa treats.

Author: Stephen. Editor

Editor to VietnamESL, Kool Affiliate, and recently acquired Gardening-Guru, Stephen has worked in small business for the last twenty years. He has clocked up many hours, days weeks, and years in growing small businesses into large healthy ones.

 Stephen’s career highlights include establishing and running two English schools in H.C.M.C Vietnam. Conducting training for native English Teachers in Pleiku for the Ministry of Education of Vietnam (M.O.E).

And now helps people with their own dreams who wish to teach in Vietnam or live the nomadic lifestyle of the laptop warrior.


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

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 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.

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.

Lesson Plans for ESL students | Cooking in the Classroom.

Feed their stomachs then feed their brains.

As an ESL teacher, I am always looking for different ideas and ways to get my teaching ideas out there.

One of the joys of being a long-time ESL teacher is you are never stuck for an idea to use in the classroom. After 15 years I can walk into just about any classroom and have a fallback lesson plan. 

However, for me, it is not something I would want to do continually. To have an informative, fun, and interesting lesson you need prior preparation.

Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

You can only follow your student and teacher class books for so long until you need to mix things up a bit to keep your students and yourself motivated and your lessons fun and focused. 

In Vietnam, you will quite often see “Mum” walking down the street with a bowl of rice or other breakfast for her child. 

A slightly different attitude from where I was brought up. My mealtime option was, to eat it now or have it again for lunch.

So my amusement level was kicked into overdrive when I saw this, and I wondered if I could do something similar with my students?

No, not to chase my class down the road, but to get them to cook,( under my directions) and then sit around talk and eat.

It’s Time to Pre-Plan our Pre-Planning.

Pre-planning has not changed much over the years and it still comes down to these concepts for the classroom.

Lesson plans use a variety of tactics to engage students, measure progress, and encourage learning and understanding.

At the same time as keeping the students at the top of the teachers mind. It’s a time when teachers see all the teaching resources and consider how they’ll fit together to create a successful learning experience.

Teachers who plan lessons ahead of time arrive in the classroom each day fully prepared to explain new concepts and conduct important conversations, rather than winging it.

Without a lesson plan, students may lose concentration rapidly, and teachers may find themselves trying to figure out what to do next.

Getting the culinary vocabulary in order.

Decide on what you are going to teach, and what is your focus of the day. Don’t feel bound to teach just one thing, you may want to teach vocabulary first, followed up by the color, size, taste, smell, and feel/texture of their food. Students can share their work with the rest of the class.

When teaching ESL the points we want to cover are listening, speaking, reading, and writing, in that order. I try to cover at least 2 of these areas in every class. Listening is the first skill and you can find out more here at ” Listening Skills


And as unpopular as it is, I will try to cover at least one grammatical point along the way. I will do this by pre-reading some grammatical points.

For Example; Countable and Uncountable nouns and can we make uncountable nouns countable by adding a countable word before the “noun”.

  • A bottle of water. There are three bottles of water on the table.
  • A cup of tea. I want three cups of tea, please.
  • A bowl of rice. I often have a bowl of rice for dinner.
  • A bar of chocolate. Can I have a bar of chocolate,?
  • A piece of pizza. Here is a piece of pizza for you.
  • A jar of jam. How many jars of jam should I make?

There are many things you can cover when teaching “cooking in the Classroom” here is a great website that I have used on and off for years. ESL Kidstuff. They cater more to the younger student.

Or you may wish to have a look at a previous post that shows you my top 10 websites for anything from Vocabulary to videos, songs, and Language Learning. “My Top Ten Websites for ESL Teachers“.

Keep it Age Relevant.

I wouldn’t do a class 100% focused on cooking for kindergarten. However, I have done it for younger students with simpler recipes and no sharp utensils or plates and bowls that can be broken.

If there is a chance for students to drop bowls, plates, etc, it will happen. Make sure you have replaced your “fine china” with plastic and you have a mop and rags on hand.

Keep it culturally appropriate and check for Allergies.

Some of the students in your classroom will have allergies or will be unable to eat certain foods due to religious or cultural restrictions. So consult with their parents and the school before making any final decisions about what you want to cook in class.

You may have to alter your plans, but it is well worth the effort if it means that everyone can fully participate and that there is no risk of anyone becoming ill or unable to consume the food.

Younger Students.

If you have decided to have fun with your younger students, well done. Most teachers will put this in the too-hard basket and revert to the book. However, it is not impossible or complicated to have a successful “cooking class”.

A little preparation will go a long way. Think about what you want to teach (Easy Vocabulary) and in a way that is the least messy. A simple “recipe ” to use for children is “fairy bread”

Fairy Bread.

You can have everything pre-prepared in your classroom or Kitchen. ( More on this soon). This is so simple that all you need is the bread, hundreds and thousands, and margarine or soft butter.

You can butter the bread, sprinkle on the hundreds and thousands and then “iconically” cut it into triangles for that perfect shape.

Teaching Goals for the younger student.

My major goal for the younger student is to develop and nurture the joy of wanting to learn. In this case, it happens to be ESL or English as a Second Language.

The secondary, although some say it’s the primary goal, is to increase the vocabulary and pronunciation skills of the young learner. But if you have instilled the joy of learning, vocabulary and pronunciation will be a breeze to teach.

Getting your student to talk and communicate in English is the ultimate outcome for the ESL Teacher.


There are many enjoyable songs about food and cooking that can be learned and sung. Make sure you have at least one of these for your class.

Songs make learning vocabulary for younger students much easier, especially if there is an amusing video to go along with it or funny gestures to follow in the classroom.

Here are some more…” Tips for Using Songs in The Classroom

Classroom or kitchen.

I count my blessings, as one of my schools is within a house. So I have ample room to bring out 15 to 20 chairs for my students to sit, watch and join in with the cooking experience.

And directly behind me, there is seating for up to 25 people with, the all-important, air conditioning.

So I am lucky to be able to provide a flexible environment where the students can learn. However, for those who do not have the same flexibility as me, you can still do a lot in the classroom.

My lesson Plan for Students in the Kitchen is as follows.

1. Vocabulary.

  • Food Nouns.
  • Food Utensil Nouns.
  • Food preparation verbs.

2. Food preparation Instructions.

  • Introduce the recipe and make sure the students understand the different terminology used in cooking.
  • Break the students up into groups and get them to perform the different activities needed to make a meal.
  • Don’t forget to get all the students to perform the more onerous tasks like washing the dishes and cleaning up.

3. Cook, Eat and Talk.

Discuss with the students what they found the hardest things to do. Turn the conversation into a general English-speaking free for all. Have a backup list of prepared questions that you can introduce to keep the conversation flowing.

Recipes; Use a recipe that is not too difficult. Or with words and phrases that may overwhelm the students. But I have certainly gone beyond “eggs on toast”. Introducing foreign food is a great way to stimulate conversation.

Basic Questions.

  • Do you like this meal?
  • Is there any part of the recipe you would change?
  • What are your favorite dishes?
  • Can you cook?
  • Who does most of the cooking in your house?

Add your own questions.

Example of Utensil Nouns.

Think outside the square (table). Food challenges in 2022.

Although not strictly within the category of cooking in the classroom, it does introduce another area for talking about food that could be used to start debates about the ethics of binge eating while there are people dying from starvation.

Like all lessons and lesson planning, we are only limited by our own imagination.


Laugh and learn.

When you’re in the middle of a classroom with “hundreds and thousands” ( The candy, not the students) rolling around the floor and your dog is greedily eating their 5th piece of bread, Relax.

Even if everything appears to be a train wreck, keep laughing and try to stay calm and enjoy yourself.

And you will probably be amazed at how much your students learned through that lesson.

They will remember it for a long time because they had so much fun even if it went off the rails a bit.

A great lesson is a lesson with a lot of laughter and learning!

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching ESL in Vietnam for over 15 years. It has given me equal measures of joy and frustrations, sometimes at the same time.

One thing it has never given me is boredom. If you are looking for a satisfying career in helping others attain their dreams, reach out to me and see if I can help you find a job in Vietnam or Thailand.

You can check me out on my YouTube channel 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.

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.

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.