Live with TEFL Heaven


LIVE with TEFL Heaven

I have not posted here for a while as being settled in Australia does not allow for very exciting stories… however just finished an interview with TEFL Heaven regarding teaching in Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam.

Check it out in the link above!

Teaching in South Korea- HalloweenHaloween in Korea


Teacher’s day in Vietnam

November 20th marked teachers day here in Vietnam. A day to celebrate all the teachers here in Vietnam. Public schools were off and all the schools had special events to mark the occasion. As we work in a language school things were done slightly differently and instead of having a party at school, the center they put on a massive party at a lovely restaurant in the city with all the Vietnamese teachers, foreign teachers and partners with the school. All the female teachers, including the foreigners wore the Vietnamese traditional dress called an Ao Dai. (Pronounced Ow Zai)  The whole evening was good fun and a chance for us all to interact and mix with each other outwith school.

Here are a few snaps from the evening.


The in’s and out’s of TEFL

I always get emails asking me about which Teaching certificate you should obtain when you go away to teach in far off lands, if you should even bother getting one, or if you should do it before or after university.

Thai Assembly

When you start to think about travelling by teaching English the certification you pick can have a massive impact on what countries you can go to. Whether you pick TEFL/TESOL/CELTA or in Andy’s case a Graduate Diploma in TESOL there are a few things you should be careful of and watch out for. Firstly it is best if you do this AFTER you have been to University for a number of reasons. A degree is necessary in most cases, even if it isn’t, many jobs will require you to have a degree in any field to be able to process your work permit. Also going away to teach for 6 months can often lead to a longer stay…. In my case 3 years and counting, getting a degree first takes the pressure off to return!

Foreign Teachers Thailand

Way’s to complete a certificate.

  • Choose a company which specializes in teaching abroad. I did my qualification with These companies are awesome if it is your first time living away from home as they will really look after you from beginning to end. All companies offer different benefits and I can only really comment on ETA. I was given help completing my certification, a week stay on an island in Thailand while finishing my training, help networking before I went so I had made friends before leaving the UK, my TEFL course AND a guaranteed job. The last one was very important to me, as a newbie, finding my way around the ESL job market can be tricky, not knowing what salary I should get, what benefits and what hours.
  • Going it alone- you can do your TEFL courses online at your own time and pace, however I would personally stay away from online courses, while they might give you your certification in teaching English, many countries will not accept an online course certificate. (I will explain later)
  • Doing a university/college course. This is how Andy obtained his certificate as he originally did the course when working towards his masters in Education. Meaning his course was 1 year-long!
  • Childrens day in Vietnam

    children’s day in Vietnam

Different types of certificates

  • TEFL– Teaching English as a Foreign Language- Most courses from the UK use TEFL one of the most common and easier types to get.
  • TESOL– Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages- you find this one mostly from American and Australian courses and is roughly the same as TEFL
  • CELTA– Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults– This is one the most expensive certificates and hardest ones, while some countries or companies prefer it (usually higher paying jobs) many companies are just fine with TEFL/TESOL. However if you are looking to make a career out of English Teaching then I would suggest you do this. When applying for jobs in Vietnam a few jobs required this and despite Andy being a qualified teacher with 7 years experience AND having a graduate diploma of TESOL they still wouldn’t accept him.
Haloween in Korea

Hallowe’en in Korea

What to look for in a certificate:

  • First and foremost- make sure your certificate is 100+ hours (ideally 120 hours +) some courses will only offer 20/50 hours, this is not a problem for some countries however can be a BIG problem if you want to try your hand in South Korea, Vietnam or Japan to name a few who will require you to have 100+ hour certificate. Think ahead- It might not be a problem for the country you are going to first but if you want to make a move after to somewhere else your certification holds a LOT of weight!
  • Try stay away from online courses. In many job adverts they will actually specify that they do not accept an online TEFL certification. Many jobs are looking for you to have your TEFL taught in a classroom environment. Again not all jobs! My TEFL is actually part online and part classroom and has given me some difficulties along the way…. Despite now having 2+ years teaching experience under my belt some positions would not accept my TEFL certification.
  • Choose one that is accredited world-wide… for obvious reasons!
  • Try get a course that offers some classroom experience. This isn’t always necessary but some jobs do require it. (even if you have experience they still want proof someone has evaluated you in a classroom situation) However even if it isn’t necessary, having time to teach in a classroom where someone will give you pointers after your lesson is very valuable and a good way to get over the nerves of standing in front of a class of expectant students!

English camp, Koh Chang, Thailand

Full-time teaching or internship?

If you are thinking of taking an internship or a full-time position have a good look at what you want.

  • Interns are generally paid very low however they do the same amount of work as a full-time teacher. The benefit of internships is you tend to be part of a big group giving you support of your new friends for the entire duration of your stay. Contacts also tend to be shorter.
  • Full time positions- you get paid a full salary (often much more than local teachers) and sometimes double that of interns as well as holidays and other benefits. However you will go it alone sometimes and have to make friends once you are at your school… no problem if you are outgoing!
Teaching English to Police Officers

Teaching English to Police Officers

Once you have your TEFL, what about getting a job?

If you have just graduated or looking to make the move to your next country there are many ways to get a good teaching position.

  • Internet– The internet is an amazing way to pick up teaching jobs these days, in fact it is how we scored our jobs in Vietnam and in South Korea. Try jobs websites like,,, to name a few.
  • Face to face– We did try this in Vietnam however I wasn’t a fan, however I have heard of people getting their jobs this way. Turning up in a country with a load of CV’s, smart dress and a good attitude can get you far.
  • Teaching placement agencies/recruiters– There are many agencies who will help you find a job before arriving in a country, especially for South Korea. These can be great but also beware and do your homework before accepting the jobs they offer.

Dress down day Thailand

Accepting a teaching position.

  • Do your homework!!! Before signing any contracts have a quick check on the internet for the kind of salary you should expect, hours and conditions. When in Thailand, the new teachers for the second semester almost signed their contract for 18,000bhat…. While the average foreign salary (including mine at the same school) was 30-32,000. They clarified this in time and it was put down to a ‘mistake’. However it never hurts to check out how much you should expect.
  • Research the area you will be living in, do you want to live in the city or the countryside? Many first time teachers expect to be placed within walking distance of a beach and spend their days sipping coconuts on the sand after school… this is not the norm!
  • Dress code- While most schools require you to be smart and in shirts and trousers everyday you need to check that there are no special requirements. For example in Thailand I had to wear beige on Monday, pink on Tuesday, and blue on Friday. This meant trying to find things in my size or get them sent over from the UK!
Student prizes, Vietnam

Student prizes, Vietnam

Picking a country

A very important decision when thinking about teaching away… you need to consider what you want to gain from the experience and what countries you are interested in living in.

  • If you are looking to save money- Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan or the middle East. Still plenty of culture but sometimes require experience.
  • If you are looking for experience/ first time away- Thailand, Vietnam, Europe the pay might be lower but the culture is amazing!
  • Check out the living conditions for certain countries. Andy and I were thinking of moving to the middle East, however living together would be impossible while we were unmarried.

Things to consider when teaching

  • Remember it is a job and you should treat it as seriously as any other job. For the local teachers it is their career so don’t think you can go and just mess around.
  • Be respectful- Remember you are in a different culture to your own, if they ask you to cover your shoulders then you should.
  • Be prepared!! Lessons do not always go according to plan something you planning might bomb spectacularly- always have back up activities on hand!
  • Keep an open mind- the more open you are to immersing yourself in a countries culture the more you will enjoy your experience.


Teaching abroad is an amazing way to travel the world, gain life experience and build your confidence… just do your research and get the most out of your experience!

Teachers of DTLC, Vietnam

Teachers of DTLC, Vietnam


Children’s Day, Vietnam

Like most of the countries in the world Vietnam celebrates Children’s day, a day to celebrate being a kid and where the adults make wishes and give presents to the children. In Vietnam children’s day is on the 1st of June which is extra special due to it being the first day of the school holidays. It is similar to ‘Wan Dek’ AKA Children’s day in Thailand.

Children's Day at DTLC

Children’s Day at DTLC



The new school we are working for, DTLC, held its own special children’s day party with the kids. As the world cup is just around the corner the party was world cup themed with different rooms for the kids to enjoy.

Music room

Music room with Teacher Jennie

Clearly all my singing of ‘Happy and you know it’ over the last month had impressed and I was assigned to the room teaching the children how to sing David Correy ‘The World Is Ours’ which is the world cup theme song. (see video below! Thankfully there are no videos of me singing it!) The other rooms had a magic show, sand colouring (making pictures with coloured sand) and penalty shoot out.  The day was also a good way for the school to advertise to new students and students from different schools were invited to take part in the day so there was also areas for enrollment.

Penalty Shoot out room with Teacher Terry

Penalty Shoot out room with Teacher Terry

Photo shoot with 'Footballer' Andy

Photo shoot with ‘Footballer’ Andy

We arrived at 7.30am and got ourselves ready in our DTLC polo shirts… or in Andy’s case a tight Manchester United strip as he was the official mascot of the day!!! As the classes started to come in they rotated around the different rooms while all stopping to get a picture with ‘footballer Andy’. The class started with me giving the students ‘wishes’ such as good health, good studying, good test results etc. then went on to learn the song, even though they only have 30 minutes per class the kids were able to pick up the song very quickly!! You could hear the kids cheering from the penalty shoot out and magic show and then come down the stairs covered in coloured sand from the sand painting! My class finished a little early and allowed me to visit the magician which I have to admit had some quite impressive tricks…. Although some that were not quite so impressive and he was a bit more like a clown but the kids LOVED him!!

Magic Show

Magic Show

All in all it was a fun 4 hours and is a great reward to the students of DTLC for studying so hard throughout the year! It was a very different day to the Children’s day we experienced in Thailand but just as fun!! It also gave us a chance to get a picture of all the teachers together at DTLC!

Cutest picture of the day!

Cutest picture of the day!

Finishing at 12 pm we had a whole day to kill and decided that we should celebrate children’s day as well. We took the scooter down to the main street to the Hai Phong beer factory (our city is famous for its local beer) and met our Vietnamese friend Kevin who we met on the bus on the way to Hai Phong and got our first taste of drinking with the Vietnamese which also includes food (something we never knew and ate a huge lunch before hand!!)

Kevin’s girlfriend and I sipped our drinks but Andy had to do ‘the manly thing’ and keep up with Kevin who was able to knock back a pint in about 5 minutes…. one after the other in quick succession! Between four of us we had 20 glasses of beer… in an hour and a half, a plate of steamed vegetables (morning-glory) fried tofu and a kind of sausage dish which I can’t remember the name of! Andy and I haven’t been paid for almost 2 months now and we were dreading the bill… but when it came we were surprised to see that 3 dishes and 20 glasses of beer came to 190,000 dong ($10 or about £5!!!)  split that in two and it was the cheapest outing I have ever had as it worked out at 14p/$0.24 per beer!!!!

It was a great way to celebrate Children’s day and experience a wee bit of Vietnam!

Teacher Andrew

Teacher Andrew

Interview with

This week I was asked to be a featured blogger on and give an interview about my time living and working in South Korea as well as my experiences as an expat.

The site is a great way for new expats or expats travelling to a new country to get ‘in the know’ of the country and culture they are going into.

Check out the interview here at



Regional Guide Thailand- Phrae

Regional Guide Thailand- Phrae <- click here for the guide!

Phrae, North of Thailand

Phrae, North of Thailand

Andy came across this today, a regional guide I wrote for my home city, Phrae, when I was living in Thailand on which I thought would help other teachers in my position who also were getting cold feet about moving to this amazing place! Hard to believe it has been 3 years!

When I moved abroad for the first time to Thailand I could find nothing about the city I was being placed in other than it was famous for making blue shirts, teak houses and had rice fields! It made for a nervous journey especially as I was the only person on my course being placed int the North. I even tried to change city at one point a few weeks before I left the UK which would have changed how everything has worked out right down to meeting Andy, moving to Korea, Vietnam and Australia!

Some times you just have to go with the flow… if not research, and if you find no research then make some to help others!!

One of my smaller classes in Thailand

One of my smaller classes in Thailand

Moving on… again

So 10 months on we have finished up in korea and looking for our next adventure!

Korea might not have happened by choice, however it couldn’t have worked out better! We were incredibly lucky with our school and landed  a really sweet gig at Tree House with an awesome team and school. Korea gave us the chance to save some money, travel again and try some crazy things however 10 months was enough for us and despite being able to save so much money we have decided to go on one last big adventure and move to my 5th country (4th for Andy) before heading back  to Australia!

Before we make one last big move we have decided on a Europe trip to break things up…

It should go as follows…. ITALY– Rome, Naples, Pisa, Venice-  FRANCE– Paris- SPAIN– Barcelona and Madrid followed by 1/2 weeks in my home Scotland.

Although I have been to all bar 3 locations I am looking forward to exploring them with Andy who has never been before! Have to say Madrid is where I am most looking forward to as I get to see my brother again after 3 years apart and meet his lovely girlfriend for the first time.

I will be writing up as I go but will not be posting until I get home as I only have my tablet (Which can’t connect to my camera!) However you can see snippts in the instagram pictures to the right!

If you have any suggestions for the above cities please feel free to email me… Preferably off the tourist track!!!