A Week in the Life of an ESL Teacher

When I started looking into teaching abroad, it was hard to get a clear idea of how ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers spent their time and what it was that they did each week. Now, I can see why. Teaching schedules seem to vary a lot in Vietnam, but most teaching contracts are at private language centres and actual teaching hours fall on evenings and weekends. There are also hundreds of teaching jobs available online, where you can pick and choose your own schedule.

In terms of my work hours, my schedule has changed quite a bit since I started one year ago, due to other teachers leaving and more classes opening up. As I’m going to be in the UK over Christmas, I’ve also started to teach online. This allows me to continue to teach throughout December. Alongside this, I help the language centre out with their marketing, so my schedule is different to that of a full-time teacher. Here’s a glimpse into my week as an ESL Teacher.

Mondays

On Mondays I try to get through my weekly marketing tasks, from writing Facebook statuses, to updating the website and planning events. If the weather is good, I tend to go to the beach for a coffee and a swim. I often try to have Mondays free from teaching, but occasionally I’ll open a couple of online lessons. Teaching online has many benefits (for example, lessons only last 25 minutes and no preparation is required), but it also isn’t as reliable at working in a language centre as classes aren’t guaranteed. At the moment, I can’t see myself teaching exclusively online forever – as I enjoy the face-to-face interaction with students – but it works really well alongside my current schedule.   

Caitlin teaching English in Vietnam

Tuesdays

On Tuesday mornings and afternoons, I teach off-site at a local kindergarten. I find these lessons quite challenging, as the classes usually consist of 20-30 very young learners who just want to run around. Unlike my on-site lessons, the kindergarten classes range from 25 minutes to 45 minutes.

During the evenings, I teach a teen class at the language centre, which is the usual class length of 1.5 hours. I really enjoy teaching teenagers, as I can have more of a conversation with them and they tend to be more enthusiastic about learning due to being able to see the long-term benefits.

Wednesdays



I only have one class at the language centre on Wednesday evenings, so I tend to plan Thursday’s lessons in the morning. I often go out for a long lunch and a coffee too, before heading to a Zumba class and then to work (if I don’t have a marketing meeting). After work, I sometimes meet my friends at a local pub quiz.

Thursdays

Thursdays are my busiest days. I teach the same lessons as I do on Tuesdays, with an extra class at the language centre in-between. I start at 9am and don’t finish until 7:45pm so, despite having a long lunch break, I’m very glad that I have Fridays off!

Fridays

I tend to have a lazy morning on Fridays, before getting through some marketing tasks. Depending on the weather and what my friends are up to, I may go out for lunch, or to the beach. I try to make time for at least three workouts per week (something which was near impossible back in England), so I usually go to the gym on Fridays too.  On Friday evenings, I teach online from around 6pm – 8pm, depending on how many students book on.

Caitlin teaching kids English in Vietnam

Saturdays & Sundays

Recently I’ve been teaching online for an hour or so on Saturday and Sunday mornings, before doing something like a day trip to Danang. In the evenings, I’ll try to pick up some online lessons too. I used to teach at the language centre from 7:30am-5:45pm on Saturdays and occasionally they’ll ask me to cover classes, so I’m still getting used to having the weekends free!

There are thousands of other teachers out there with completely different weekly set-ups, but I hope my schedule provides you with further insight into how an ESL Teacher’s week can look. I’m really happy with the work/life balance that I have been able to create out here and I’m looking forward to what the future will bring.

Learn more about my decision to teach abroad, how I found a job and the commitment it takes to be an ESL Teacher in Vietnam.