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'Lattitude' in Hanoi 2014 2014-04-28

Twice a year Shane Vietnam provides training and guidance for a group of about 20 volunteers who are part of the Lattitude global volunteering program. These volunteers are primarily gap year students from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and The UK. The program is designed to provide schools and universities that would not normally be able to afford them with native English speakers to help out with the teaching.

So immediately after Tet (Vietnamese New Year) in early February I filled my bags with ESL books, materials and resources and was Hanoi bound. After a four hour delay the plane eventually decided to leave Ho Chi Minh City and after a short but pleasant flight I landed in Hanoi that much to my surprise was bitterly cold. I immediately wished I had substituted my training materials for warmer clothes. The sunny blue sky of HCMC was replaced with grey and a freezing wind that could only be described as evil.  

After checking into my hotel and preparing everything for the first day of training I got a good night sleep and was ready to see what this year’s crop of volunteers would be like. In the morning I headed to the training centre and was greeted by 24 volunteers who were eager to get started, even though some of them had found their way to a few of the local bars the night before. And from here we embarked on an intensive five day training course, in essence trying to compact a CELTA into a week, which at times can certainly prove challenging.

The course consists of teaching theory, lesson staging, error correction, teaching large classes, teaching young learners, pronunciation and phonics work among other things. Luckily for me the trainees were all enthusiastic and did their best to take on board the almost overwhelming amount of information and put it into practice in their TP they had to do at the end of each day.  

The days were long and tiring, but this did not deter the trainees from enjoying the amazing city that is Hanoi. After we finished each day they could be found exploring the beautiful lakes and wandering around the old town. Then as evening turned into night their interests turned from cultural to social and over a drink or two they formed strong friendships. Once or twice the socializing slightly impeded the early morning training sessions but they made up for it by staying later in the evenings.

As the week reached its close, their transformation from friendly young adults to confident and competent teachers was really quite remarkable. There were sad farewells as they got picked up on the Friday evening to go to their various placements that scanned the entirety of Vietnam.  

It was also time for me to head back South to continue the Cambridge exam preparation training Shane teachers were delivering to Vietnamese English teachers in the Southern provinces. I flew back exhausted but happy to see so many young people willing to volunteer their time to help out schools and universities in this fantastic developing country.

John McCartney
Director of Studies 
Shane English Centre Vietnam

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