MYT: Q and A with Brandon Hurley - learn about teaching English in Asia (Vietnam)
Before hitting the road with this Europe tour and beyond - I had many friends travel to different corners of the world who I would constantly turn to for travel advice. I've had an old roommate live and work in Hong Kong, close friends of mine lived and taught English in China for a year and my sister has seen some amazing places with her studies abroad including her new life in New Zealand (see Out Beyond the Shore blog here). We're going to feature other world travelers on our blog as we continue to expand for various Q&A segments, inspirational adventures and travel blogs that have helped us tremendously to learn and grow into the travelers we are today. We're here to inspire you to get out on the open road, throw away conventional life and understand that the best office is the world. I'd like to introduce someone who has inspired me to travel and never stop exploring - Brandon Hurley and his adventures teaching English in Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia etc). Recently Brandon messaged me about potentially teaching English in the Southeast Asia region - he broke the area down really well for me, and I wanted to pass his insight along on teaching and living in another country.
Here's meet you there's first Q&A series featuring Brandon Hurley currently living, photographing and teaching in Vietnam. Be sure to check out his stellar travel photography over at his Instagram - click here to view his IG page.
First, in a few sentences, tell us a little about yourself - who are you, where are you living now? what are you doing for work?
My name is Brandon Hurley and I am currently living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I worked in a bar for the last 5 years and decided I needed a change of pace. At the moment, I am an English teacher at a language school here in the city. Looking back now, it's not much different from the bar job, everyone is always yelling, and you can never understand what they are trying to say.
MYT: Where did you teach abroad? How did you discover this opportunity?
BH: So far, I've only taught in Vietnam. I got my TESOL certification through a group called LanguageCorps (click thru for link). The training started in Cambodia, but our class branched out to the countries that they were teaching in after a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, Vietnam is one of the best countries for teaching English when it comes to flexibility and pay, so as much as I would want to teach somewhere else for the experience, it would be hard to leave this place knowing what I know now.
MYT: What was it like? What were some difficulties you faced? What did you like about it? and dislike?
BH: Having never taught a formal class before, it was intimidating at first, but after the first couple weeks you realize that it's YOUR class. You can teach them whatever you want as long as it "kind of" follows the book and they are learning English. All of my students have become familiar with the fist bump and answering the ever-popular "How are you?" question with "I'm chillin, and you?" The hardest part about the job has to be the teenagers and their behavior, but once you establish your class rules and create a style that incorporates a lot of activities, they aren't too bad. This job makes me look back and wish I would have studied harder in Spanish. These kids soak up the material so fast and have intelligent English conversations with you at a very young age, it inspires me to learn another language.
MYT: Would you do it again? Would you recommend your program to other Americans looking to teach english abroad? Specifically as you explained to me... What areas do u recommend people look at to teach in?
BH: I would definitely do this again. Teaching English has been one of the best things I've ever done with my life. People get stuck in comfortable habits and don't realize it until it's too late. For me, working in the bar was easy money for doing an easy job. If I didn't change something, I was going to open my eyes one day in my 40's and realize I was still working there because it was a comfortable habit. Taking this opportunity to come to another country, constantly be out of my comfort zone, and help students trying to pursue their future careers was a step I'm glad I took. As for recommending this to others, I think there is a country out there for everyone. In Vietnam this year, I've had friends visit who hated it here, I've seen teachers come and go in a 2 week period, and I've seen people hate their lives the whole time they were here. Some people will thrive in a poor, undeveloped country such as Cambodia, while some will be much better suited for Spain and Italy. It really depends on who you are as a person and what you're willing to adapt to. The good thing about it is that everyone wants to learn English! You can teach in Asia, Europe, South America, or even make a ton of money teaching at a compound in the Middle East. Whatever country you choose, I think it's important that everyone tries it for at least a year.
MYT: What did you learn about teaching English to others?
BH: I learned that you can teach someone a language very quickly. If you use the right methods, people can have a huge vocabulary in just a few weeks. I always thought it was based on translating the material to their language, but, in reality, it's the complete opposite. Instead of telling them what the word is, you show them, so they make the connection themselves. I've had over thirty five 12-week courses this year and have seen amazing progress in all of them by using this method.
MYT: Now, list 5 - 7 places you plan to visit in the next 5 years.
BH: Japan, China, South Korea, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Laos
MYT: Last Question - has this experience helped move you along professionally? If so, how?
BH: I have to wear dress clothes and a tie to work every day, and this is the 1st job I've ever had to do that. When I move on to the next chapter in my career, I'll be ready for that part....
Any other questions for Brandon on teaching abroad? Feel free to leave some additional questions in our comments section. ~MYT