By Laura Nalin
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I took on a job as a public school teacher in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It’s no surprise that classrooms around the world are varying; some come equipped with high-end technology, whereas others may not even have a chalkboard. After spending over two years teaching in South Korea’s ritzy Gangnam neighborhood, I was certain no classroom would ever be as well-equipped as my previous one. However, I have been pleasantly surprised this past school year. I teach in three different classrooms; there’s a benefit to having a variety, but there are definitely pros and cons to each different space.
Two of my classrooms are located at schools in District 1 and Binh Thanh, respectively. The schools are both what is known as “VIP schools,” so the students generally come from wealthy families. So if you’re interested in learning more about what classrooms around the world look like, here’s some insight into mine in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!
District 1 School:
This classroom is my absolute favorite. Not only is there a massive blackboard for games and activities, but there’s a smart TV located behind it which makes my life a lot easier. While it is admittedly a bit cramped due to the fact I teach 37 first-graders each day, there’s enough room for me to walk around and grade their papers as well as space to move things around if I want them to be a bit more active. The smart TV has been a game changer; I love to use it for PowerPoint presentations, examples of our book pages and educational songs and games.
The biggest perk of this classroom is the fact that I don’t have to bring in supplemental electronics to ensure the class runs smoothly. I bought my own fake portable JBL speaker at a local market here for about $20, so all I need to do is connect my iPhone to it and play the songs I need from a list I have on Spotify. It’s pretty stress-free!
Binh Thanh School:
I have a love-hate relationship with this classroom. Not only is it somewhat cramped, but there’s a massive interactive whiteboard where a chalkboard should be. While the massive piece of technology is great for media purposes, it’s not really ideal for proper instruction as I have to divide the class content onto the two smaller chalkboards. Although it is less than ideal, it could be worse!
A major benefit of this classroom is the surround sound system installed within. I love being able to plug the system into my work laptop, as I know the children are definitely able to hear the dialogue and words throughout the songs and videos. It’s also convenient as all I have to do is plug the cord into my iPhone and can play my songs from the Spotify playlists I’ve curated for the classroom.
Tan Binh School:
Out of the three, I actually like this classroom the best. Not only is it spacious and sunny, but I can wear my shoes inside and I don’t have to walk barefoot on the grimy floors. The media capabilities of this classroom are not as supreme as the other two, but for some reason that really does not bother me much.
I love the massive black board as it allows me to really showcase the lesson at the front and it’s perfect for games. Since the desks are pretty spread out, it’s a pretty great experience walking around and being able to squat down and chat with the kids while they’re completing worksheets; it’s nearly impossible to do this in the other two classrooms.
I know that classrooms around the world each have different capabilities and characteristics, but I feel pretty lucky to teach my brilliant little six year olds in such welcoming environments.
Laura is a 29-year-old serial expat who left the states in 2013 in search of a fresh perspective - a decision which opened more doors than she could’ve imagined. She’s a lover of mountains, spicy food, stand up comedy, and will never turn down a pizza. Laura is one of ITA's Writing & Content Ambassadors.
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- Learn More about ITA Ambassador, Laura Nalin
- Visit Vietnam Alumni Ambassador Corner
- Teach English in Vietnam: Country Profile
- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Fact Sheet
- Top 5 Things That Surprised Me About Living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Expert Tips on What to Pack for Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- You Know You're in Ho Chi Minh City When...
- Saigon Nightlife: A Personal Tour of the Top Drinking Spots in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- My Home Away from Home - Finding Housing in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam