Upon first arriving in Hanoi, I was working for a language center called Washington Language Center (formerly known as Washington ETC). It is a small center on Vo Thi Sau in Hai Ba Trung District and I had sorted out the placement prior to coming to Hanoi.
When I first started there was only one other foreign teacher working there aside from me, although I think this has now changed.
My employers, were very welcoming and helpful. If I had any queries about anything to do with my stay in Vietnam, they were always very ready to help. Despite being completely thrown in at the deep end with my classes being recorded and projected onto the big TV screen in the entrance lobby Washington Language Center was still a pretty good place to start my first ESL Teaching job, it was a great learning experience.
My “training” before being let loose in a classroom was merely a couple of observations of a couple of classes. My first class was one of 5 and 6 year olds for 90 minutes, with the children only being allowed one 5 minute break half way through. They were expected to sit at the table for the entire duration, behave well and participate in a structured lesson, which provided no real play time and the class was too small. I received many young students of this age, with each class averaging 22 students. There were no assistants to help so I sometimes had to ask the receptionist staff to help me regain classroom control, by speaking to them in their native language. This request would usually receive a rolling eyed response.
Over the next few weeks I found that I bond well with children from 8 years old and up,though my teen class was rather difficult as one might expect from a class of 13 year old girls who definitely do not want to be studying on a Saturday morning. My Director clearly realised this and my schedule eventually consisted mainly of 8 to 12 year olds, and I loved it.
Working at Washington Language Center gave me a lot of confidence within teaching and I definitely thank them for giving me that experience.
I chose to leave the company when they suddenly, last-minute, retracted their agreement to give me my annual holiday leave despite having put in the request and it being granted months before. This sudden change of heart was due to “lots of new classes starting”. They did offer me an alternative – to cut my contract short (losing my bonus) and sign a new contract with no bonus and no guaranteed hours to commence when I returned. This new contract also required that I work solely for them, not even to teach privately away from the company.
At the time I had no choice, as my mum was arriving over the following week, so I agreed in order to maintain my job. When I collected my pay at the end of the month, they decided to tell me that they would hold onto my bonus from the previous contract until I had completed the new one!
It was then I decided to look elsewhere and got my next job at Language Link