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Published: June 30th 2010
It's been a long time since we blogged anything, so it seems like as good as time as any for an update.
We have been in Ho Chi Minh City for about 3 months now and everything has fallen into place. We have jobs, an apartment, have joined a gym and have spent many a weekend exploring the city and meeting people. A few friends from Haiphong have also moved down here too so our social life is taking off. All in all we are settling in well.
The search for the ideal teaching job
Finding jobs took a little longer than we expected. Well, not finding jobs exactly, but finding jobs we wanted to do. There is a lot of teaching work in Ho Chi Minh City, but not all of it is in good, well run schools with good conditions and facilities. There are a lot of cowboy outfits out there and we didn't want a job with one of those. After teaching for nearly 3 years, in 4 countries, we had very specific criteria of what we wanted in a job.
Back in February we interviewed at a school that offered exactly what we
wanted. The job sounded perfect. However, there wasn't going to be work until April at the earliest. That seemed a long time away so we continued looking. We started working at two different schools. One was very good but didn't offer enough hours. The other offered full time hours with great students but with lower pay and no resources. It was also a long way out of the centre of the city.
Then in April, the first school we interviewed at got back in touch and offered us two full time positions. So we accepted. We have been working there for 8 weeks now and it's really good. We are really happy with it. We teach students who are preparing to study abroad. The school is a partnership between IDP (kind of like the Australian version of the British Council) and a university in Sydney. So most students are being prepared to study in Australia.
The students study intensively for 5 week terms. They can either study for 20 hours a week for 5 weeks, or for 10 hours a week for 10 weeks. Our timetable changes every 5 weeks. We usually teach 2 or 3 classes over
that time: either 4 hours in the morning or the afternoon and/or 2 hours at night. It means you really get to know your students well and you only have one or two levels to prepare for. It's a complete contrast to last year when we taught all ages and levels from kindergarten to Upper Intermediate adults.
For the first 5 weeks we worked a split shift on Monday to Wednesday. A three day week! Excellent. It did mean three very intensive days - 4 hours in the morning and 2 hours at night with 6 hours in the middle to prepare, relax and eat. The morning class starts at 7.45am and the evening class finishes at 8.15pm so they are long days.
We are now on a different term and our timetables have changed. Kate still works Monday to Wednesday mornings and evenings and Kris works Wednesday to Friday mornings and evenings. So we both work 3 day weeks, just not together. It's not always a bad thing - it keeps us out of the pub on a Thursday....
The schools is incredibly well organised and well run and there is a lot of support. There
are well set out curriculum and additional material to introduce the students to academic English. At the moment we are teaching pre-intermediate and intermediate students. They focus on general English (using Cutting Edge, the book we taught from all last year too) with extra academic elements. After intermediate they student 4 more levels of more academic material. By the end they should be ready to study in an English speaking University.
So far it's looking like a good place to be and we're very happy to be settling in there.
If you want more information about teaching in Ho Chi Minh City, check out our other blog: What Kate and Kris Did
, and our teaching English information
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