Teaching English Abroad in Vietnam

Teachers books for teaching ESL
Spread the love

There are certain ways that will make it easier for both the teacher to teach and the student to learn English as a second language. This will help you to understand more about teaching English in a foreign country.

How do students learn

Before we move into teaching styles and the methodology of teaching it is a good idea to reflect on how languages are learnt. If you can think when a baby is born it does not come forth into the world with a full range of vocabulary.

He or she spends the first years of life listening and absorbing the fundamentals of the language.

The first skill learnt is the Listening skill which is the foundation of all the other skills. ( I can quite often guess the nationality of the teacher because of the pronunciation of the student).

This is, arguably, the most important skill. The second skill in learning order is the speaking skill. Once the child has heard enough sounds, he or she will start putting together words and then phrases and sentences. The third and fourth skills are reading and writing and are higher learning skills.

And similarly to a baby learning a language this can be an effective guide in teaching English to an ESL (English as a second language) student. however, we do not have years to teach in the same way and time frame that a baby has to learn its native language.

Integrating the four skills can develop communicative competence because it focuses on the realistic communication, which is the main pursuit of teaching and learning in modern society

Teaching styles.   

You will ultimately find your own teaching style and classroom techniques as you develop as a teacher. some recognized styles of teaching T.P.R (Total physical response), The communicative approach, meaningful learning, and the old-fashioned rote learning. Most teachers will cherry-pick from the below teaching techniques to suit themselves.

You can find out more about teaching styles at the ” Australian Christian College

Total Physical Response.

T.P.R is a language acquisition method developed by psychology expert, Professor James Asher. TPR uses a combination of language and physical actions to engage students in the language learning process.

Total Physical Response has a lot of benefits, particularly for beginners and young learners.

  • The pairing of movement with language is innately associated with effective learning
  • Students actively use both the left and right sides of their brains
  • It works with both small and large groups
  • It sharpens students’ listening skills
  • Students are not required to speak until they are ready to, therefore creating a “safe zone” that greatly lowers inhibitions and stress
  • Students will appreciate the change of pace and potential for humor.
  • Kinaesthetic learners (who respond well to physical activities) and visual learners (who learn best with visual cues) will get a lot out of TPR.

The Communicative approach.

Teaching through language. A strong concentration on listening. It emphasizes interaction as both the means and ultimate goal of the study.

The communicative approach is based on the idea that learning a language successfully comes through having to communicate real meaning. When learners are involved in real communication, their natural strategies for language acquisition will be used, and this will allow them to learn to use the language.


Practicing question forms by asking learners to find out personal information about their colleagues is an example of the communicative approach, as it involves meaningful communication.

In the classroom

Classroom activities guided by the communicative approach are characterized by trying to produce meaningful and real communication, at all levels. As a result, there may be more emphasis on skills than systems, lessons are more learner-centered, and there may be some use of authentic materials.

Meaningful Learning

The concept or theory of meaningful learning is that learned information is completely understood and can now be used to make connections with other previously known knowledge, aiding in further understanding. Meaningful learning is often contrasted with rote learning, a method in which information is memorized sometimes without elements of understanding our relation to other objects or situations. Meaningful learning is to feel that all the pieces of a concept, idea, theory, formulae, or argument fit together.


Meaningful learning helps students achieve success in the classroom by:

  • Encouraging understanding, not memorization
  • Encouraging active learning techniques
  • Focusing on the outcome of the learning process
  • Relating new information to prior knowledge


The challenges associated with meaningful learning include:

  • Takes longer to achieve
  • Should be tailored for different types of learners

Some students may face challenges with meaningful learning, as it requires building off previous knowledge. This is where dedicated teachers and tutors can help ensure students understand concepts so that meaningful learning can continue to happen.

Rote Learning

Rote learning is a more traditional form of teaching. It is based on repetition until the students remember the words and phrases. Rote learning is defined as the memorization of information based on repetition.


There are some benefits of Rote Learning, including:

  • Ability to quickly recall basic facts
  • Helps develop foundational knowledge


The drawbacks of learning by memorization include:

  • Can be repetitive
  • Easy to lose focus
  • Doesn’t allow for a deeper understanding of a subject
  • Doesn’t encourage the use of social skills
  • No connection between new and previous knowledge
  • May result in a wrong impression or understanding a concept

While being able to quickly recall pieces of information is helpful, to understand information on a deeper level students must use a different method of learning.

It’s your move.

Students have different levels of interest and ability and learn in different ways. Auditory, kinesthetic, visual, etc. But if students “laugh and learn” the subject matter is more easily absorbed and retained.

There are many different ways of teaching and you will find the way that is most suitable and effective for yourself. One of the best ways to test if you are being effective is the engagement of the students.

When you are doing your teacher training you should be introduced to these different styles and hopefully given the chance to practice them. Just like anything, your teaching style and techniques will be perfected with practice.

Teaching On-Line / Schools that want teachers

Look at this post about schools that are looking for online teachers. On-Line Schools.

I also do placement of ESL teachers across 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.

2 thoughts on “Teaching English Abroad in Vietnam”

  1. These are all interesting teaching styles and it is important to know them because there are so many different kinds of learners. I was always a very visual and hands on learner and I am thankful that I had a teacher that knew this and took time out of her day to help me learn my way.

    1. To have a teacher that cares and understands you is half the battle won. I often tell my students that I will show them how to succeed but the rest of the equation is in their hands. It is a joint operation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *