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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Getting my ESL teaching qualifications and preparing for Vietnam

And by preparing, I mean leaving lots of stuff to the last minute.

So where I left off, I was just about to start my CELTA course which I completed at the end of May ... now that was tough considering I was helping to organise a charity fundraiser at the same time. I learnt a lot about planning lessons and got to practice on a real life class. I am surprised by how little I understand grammar! I know more than enough to pass high school English and even enough for that journalism class I took at uni but the level non-native speakers need to learn this crazy language is another layer again! Consider for example why you would use 'would' instead of 'could' in certain situations. It is an innate skill and makes language super interesting but incredibly difficult to learn.

Before I picked CELTA, I checked online at ESL job boards in Vietnam and found that most jobs require you to have a degree (finally putting my 10 years of study to some use) and either Trinity TESOL or CELTA. They don't have the first qualification in Australia but there are no end to the possible online teaching English as a second language courses. Needless to say, most forums seem to indicate that the online courses lack the practical hours most language schools would like you to have and besides that, I wanted to do a 4 week intensive course where I could ask questions and meet people who were in the industry. I think I found that at the Melbourne Training Associates so I enrolled, paid the fee and rocked up to my first day with virtually no idea what to expect. I was not disappointed! I got to meet some amazing people, the tutors were so encouraging and I thought the course material was really targeted towards the kind of teaching I would be expected to perform. It really was an amazing experience and I feel like I could, walk into a job without too much difficulty.

The tutors sent me a job opening in Hanoi so I applied for it. About 24 hours later, I got an email from the language school asking me to perform a video interview. I have never done that before and it was a bit stressful because, unlike a phone interview, you are being asked questions by a pre recorded video of people. The questions aren't difficult but you can't ask them anything and there is no clarification either way. They asked me to sing a children's song which I did but I felt like I had been put on the spot. I really hope they didn't see my practice videos! Now I just have to wait and see if they like me. Fingers crossed.

While I was studying, I was also helping to organise a charity fundraiser for Operation Stitches called Red White Blue. It was a wine and cheese evening with a silent auction, raffle and live music all night. My job was to hustle businesses for donations of auction and raffle items, sponsorships etc., advertising and ticket sales, booking musicians and managing staff on the night. I found the venue, the Fitzroy town hall reading room and the council sponsored us so we only had to pay a fraction of the room hire. Everyone had an amazing time and we raised double our target for the charity which was fantastic! I love these kind of events because the generosity of people towards organisations doing good in the world is a wonderful thing.

At the same time, John and I were packing up our house, selling furniture and electrical stuff, storing those things that we never use but can't bare to throw away and breaking our lease before we planned to start our adventure. As soon as I finished my course, we had most of the house clear and we were staying with my bestie and her fiance and their dog Archer. Honey (my cat) was packed into the car with the last of our possessions less than three days later and we were off to Bundaberg to stay with my parents. In Bundy, we had an awesome time eating, drinking, hanging with my parents (and their massive TV), helping to paint the house and settling Honey into her new home (temporarily until we get home).

We found the bikes that my brother and I used to ride to school. My parents have not been looking after them so we had to fix them up a bit but we got them working. One of the locals asked if we had stolen them from the garbage tip but I think they were marginally better than walking and good training for the cycle trip we have planned for Vietnam. We cycled every other day for a week or two... not enough training for the distances we have planned but if we take it slow and enjoy the time outside it probably won't be too traumatic... I am so excited!

We are in Ho Chi Minh city now and I will tell you all about it in my next post.
Xox
Jane

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