You were fired- Deal with it.

After 8 years of working in the ESL industry, I have pretty much come across every type of teacher and human being, but I’m yet to hear one teacher who was, in their mind, fairly dismissed from their job position.

Schools or employers usually don’t fire people for no reason, that’s my experience. People who get fired in the ESL industry are like people who have car accidents ‘It wasn’t my fault’ they say. How can this be?

Some teachers like to think that they are Gods and can do as they please. Come to class late, arrive at school late, come to work still drunk, don’t bother to iron their clothes and the list goes on.

When will teachers in this industry realise that this is a job, they have to service paying customers and if they don’t they’re out? Do you think that’s unfair?

Mya Bar in Van Cao street – Review (updated March 2018)

Update 12th March 2018: There has been a lot of bad feedback about the owner’s business practices recently. I have been friendly with many of the staff over the last year and the following is a list of complaints from them:

  • The owner refuses to pay the staff overtime.
  • The staff do not receive the tips, kept by the owner.
  • Staff undergo a 3-day probationary period, which is unpaid.
  • They constantly receive fines from the owner.
  • Staff are not allowed a break to eat or drink.
  • Staff are paid a measly 15,000 VND/hour, well below the average.
  • They are regularly required to assist the owner with NO pay.

We approached the owner as concerned customers and he told us it was none of our business and if we don’t like it we can leave.

During the Lunar New Year holiday the owner added a 20% surcharge, however, customers weren’t advised and only discovered the 20% after receiving the bill.

This bar has certainly lost its mojo in the last 6 months and the owner’s true colours are shining through. I, for one, will not be returning.

Previous review:

I’ve been frequenting Mya bar now for about 6 months so I thought I’d give it a review.

As much as I like Mya Bar it comes with a long list of negatives. This review is based on my experiences after 6 months and is no way biased because of my friendship with the owner.

One of the most annoying things about this bar, as a long time patron, is the over-priced drinks and food. Beers and spirits here are more expensive than any other bar I’ve visited in Hai Phong. The food is quite average and again, well over-priced, 165,000 for a small pizza is western prices. Another issue here is they forever run-out of products. Beer, fruit and food are the main ones that are sometimes never in stock.

The big plus here is the staff, they are all very friendly and some speak English and they honestly do make the place. If it wasn’t for the staff of Mya I would never go there.

The owner is also a friend of mine and he is a nice guy, but he seriously needs to look at prices and start treating people fairly.

In and around Hai Phong

Hai Phong may not seem all that on first arrival. I mean coming from the vibrant, bustling city of Hanoi that never really sleeps, it might seem that the ‘Phong’ doesn’t really compare. However, after living here for over 4 months now, I can assure you that Hai Phong has a certain gripping charm and still has secrets and surprises that were still uncovering week on week.

Hai Phong is slightly more appealing to me due to the reduced overall size of the city. It’s still a busy city, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not as crazy and loud as Hanoi. Tourists are plentiful in the countries capital, however, it’s rare to see a westerner in Hai Phong. With this in mind, I think you get a more local and cultural feel of Vietnam this way. With people stopping you on the street to practice their English, shake your hand or pose for a selfie with you – you really feel like a celebrity sometimes.

There are so many funky coffee shops knocking around, it seems we discover more and more each week, from Memory café which sits on the edge of a lake and has a big swing you can relax on to Universal café which is 18 stories high and allows you to take in the buzz of the city from an elevated distance; there really is a café for everyone. And with that in mind, we have recently discovered a cat café with 15 local fluffy residents for all you feline lovers. We do enjoy our movies too, so there are a fair few movies theatres dotted around which show all of the latest blockbuster films and some of which have bowling alleys below if you don’t want your evening to come to an end.  The food also is second to none with many street food pop-ups a stone throw away from the DTLC campus, these are very cheap, very tasty and very large portions. There are also many authentic Vietnamese restaurants on pretty much every street and a fair few western food joints too if you do need a taste of home from time to time.

On days off we have travelled on our bikes to various locations to explore what Hai Phong’s nearest districts have to offer. Closest to home and a teacher favourite would have to be the rooftop hotel pool atop a ten story high hotel on Lach Tray Street, for 100,000 dong, equivalent to 4 pounds of the queens finest, you can relax on sunbeds and take in sights of the heart of the city and take a cool down if need be by jumping in the pool. Next, we have two popular destinations that are around 30 minutes away each. First, we have Do Son beach, that is a straight drive from the DTLC campus and perfect for a hot summer beach day. The second is Elephant mountain, a 45-minute trek to the top allows a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and rice paddies. A little further and you can find many temples, lakes and waterfalls depending on how much torture you want to put your bottoms under. During holidays, weekends and long weekends off we travel around a lot. Particularly enjoyable destinations include Cat Ba Island, Ninh Binh,  Halong Bay and Mai Chao.

If you’re quite sporty and active like myself then fear not, there are so many gyms you can join for varying prices too, dependent on what you’re looking for. Football is very popular over here and pitches are cheap and easy to rent out if you fancy a kickabout or a cheeky game of one bounce. Personally preferring to play volleyball or basketball I discovered that you could pay 3000 dong, equivalent to 12 pence, you can park your bike at the university sports park and the students are more than happy to let you join in which I have loved doing once or twice a week.

So here is a brief of summary of what goes on in Hai Phong and an idea of how you can spend your free time. I have loved my time here and I urge you to try some of the suggestions and get out in the city and explore yourself, you’ll be amazed at what you find!

 

Written by: Ryan Williams

Ryan Williams’ blog – DTLC

Since arriving I have loved my time here in Vietnam. From the hot weather, the friendly people, the vibrant bustling cities and the amazing selection of Asian cuisine. This country will appeal to anyone.

My time in Hai Phong has been amazing thus far, I teach around 20 hours a week and my lessons range from grade 1 up to adult classes at the language center. Each age of children has its joys and challenges but I enjoy my lessons and welcome the challenges nonetheless. Lessons here are very different to back home. For one, they start and end each lesson through the banging of a massive drum. The uniforms over here are all very similar, although some differ from school to school dependent on district. Unlike back in the UK the school system is also different in that they have primary, secondary and high school. With students having to stay in school until they are 18. The classes typically range from 40-60 kids, which may seem daunting at first but the bigger the classes I find that the more participation you receive and the more exciting the lesson. Team games for big classes also work pretty well as competition drives the games. I find over here that the children all appear very polite, with the classes standing as you enter a classroom, them wishing you a good morning or afternoon, asking how you are and also asking to leave a classroom if they need to. The work ethic of the children is also very impressive over here, the children have a strong desire to learn and work very hard in lessons, mostly. Schools over here also have unusual timings with children attending lessons from 7am-10am having a short interlude in between and then lessons commencing again from 12:30pm – 4:30pm. I’m really enjoying my time here and not looking forward to it coming to an end, it’s been an extremely challenging, rewarding, exciting and unforgettable time in my life and I would recommend it to anyone.

I would like to conclude by discussing the teaching assistants who are local, mostly university students with a strong English background. They have become our good friends over recent months and you really wouldn’t get anywhere without them. They help with classroom management and discipline if the class is too loud or certain individuals are disruptive and also provide translation if English instructions are unclear. They have been a joy to befriend and been a true aid in the classroom.

It’s more fun in Hai Phong!!

I’m in the third month of my TEFL Vietnam experience and I have decided to write a blog to shed some light on life, living, teaching and working in the city of Hai Phong.

I arrived in Hanoi City on the 7th January 2017 , wide eyed, excited yet also apprehensive and nervous about what the coming months would throw at me.

During my first week in Vietnam I was able to chat and socialise with fellow teachers as well as complete the final stage of my TEFL course, the i-to-i practical training.

By the second week I had now departed to the North Eastern port city, Hai Phong, where I would spend the next four and half months living and teaching for Dang Tuan Language Centre (DTLC).

Upon my arrival in Hai Phong, I instantly noticed the stark contrasts to Hanoi. Unlike the capital, Hai Phong felt more authentic – very few western/foreign people in the area. In Hai Phong, I noticed it was also far more difficult to get by trying to communicate with the locals. Thankfully, DTLC’s TA’s have held weekly Vietnamese lessons at the campus helping us in every day to day simple tasks such as ordering a Ca Phe Sua Dua or a Banh My, haggling with a street market seller or directing a lost taxi driver.

My first week teaching for DTLC was met with a whole array of different emotions: Excitement at the novelty of the new experience, nerves in the prospect of teaching the bigger classes – particularly the older kids and also stress at not knowing which classrooms to go to. Nonetheless, although the first week was challenging and a huge learning curve for me, once I had a few weeks of teaching under my belt I felt much more confident and accustomed.

In terms of Hai Phong as a location for teaching English abroad, I couldn’t think of anywhere better. The local people have been overwhelmingly welcoming, despite a language barrier. The DTLC campus is situated in a tranquil neighbourhood, yet it isn’t too far from the city centre and is close to a good amount of eating spots. Hai Phong is also an excellent location for weekend trips away, only and hour and a half bus ride to Hanoi and even less to Ha Long Bay. In addition, the beautiful Cat Ba island is just a mere 45 minute ferry trip away as well. So far, I have really enjoyed living here in Hai Phong.

I have experienced so much over the past three or so months and I can definitely say that my decision to teach English in Vietnam has been worth it. I now look forward to the remainder of my time in Hai Phong working for DTLC and am excited at what the future will bring.

Fat Foreign Uncle: Can he teach?

When I arrived at DTLC they were already using Super Minds which I think and many others think too that it is the best series of books on the market. To my surprise though, they weren’t using the ‘Presentation Plus’, actually, they didn’t know about it. Once I told them about it and showed them the benefits they immediately ordered all of them. Now that PP has been installed the students are enjoying the lessons even more. DTLC is also in the process of partnering with Cambridge University Press to access online homework, activities and games which the teacher can assign according to the unit being taught. 21st century teaching at its best!!

Fat foreign Uncle

The Vietnamese have nicknamed me ‘Ong Tay Beo’ or ‘Fat Foreign Uncle’. Not exactly the nickname I would have hoped for, but I’m assuming it’s more of a term of endearment 🙂

Here’s a link to more teachers working at the DTLC Language Center