03 March 2023

Teaching English in Hanoi after UEA

Freya TyrrellFreya Tyrrell studied BA History from 2014-2017 at UEA. After graduation, Freya travelled to Vietnam to teach English and has been there even since! Freya recently spoke to us about teaching abroad, studying history at UEA, and teaching online.



Being able to discuss and present ideas in seminars definitely helped build my confidence which plays a key role in being an ESL teacher.

What have you been up to since you graduated?

I graduated in the summer of 2017 and wasn't quite sure of what I wanted to do post graduation. I was toying with the idea of going travelling for a little bit when a friend had told me in passing about TEFL (Teaching English as a foreign language) qualifications. After doing some research, I became really interested in the idea of teaching in another country so applied for an internship where a company helped me find employment and accommodation in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was a 5 month contract where I would teach English and be placed in accommodation with other English teachers for the company. I travelled to Hanoi in January 2018, with the idea that it would be only be temporary, however I completely fell in love with teaching and have been teaching in Hanoi as an ESL teacher every since! 
I've been teaching for about 5 years now and being an ESL teacher has definitely given me a chance to explore different options within teaching. My main job is working in state schools across Hanoi, however since the COVID-19 pandemic, I began teaching online with a Taiwanese company. With this company I began as a teacher but have also begun to develop their lesson materials and have a significant role as a content creator for their social media platform.  

Tell me about your experiences studying at UEA. 

I found out about UEA from my high school who recommended the university to me. Originally, when I was beginning to apply, I wanted to study English. I attended an Open day at UEA and after watching a talk given by the English department, I decided to stay and listen to the History talk as well. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the talk, so much that I went home and changed everything, much to the chagrin of my Sixth Form teachers! 

Some of my best days on the course were in my second and third year. I was able to choose modules that I really enjoyed and had a passion about. It also really helped that the other members of the modules were equally as passionate and immersed in the studies. 

In your career what key tasks & skills are involved on a day-to-day basis, and what are/have been the most rewarding/challenging aspects?

As an ESL teacher, I often find that clear communication and patience is a big part of my job and are skills I've definitely had to hone over the past couple of years! The most rewarding part of my job is being able to watch the progression of my students from the beginning of the year to the end of the academic year and seeing how far they have come. A challenging aspect can be the language barrier, over the years I have found myself teaching younger grades (Year 1-3), where the ability in a class can range.

Has your degree influenced your career? 

Being able to discuss and present ideas in seminars definitely helped build my confidence which plays a key role in being an ESL teacher. 

What personal or professional achievement are you most proud of?

A personal achievement I am proud of is achieving a distinction qualification in my PGCEi. A professional achievement I am proud of is the content creating work I have done for my online teaching company, as it has expanded my experience of being a teacher and has provided other avenues I could possibly pursue within the education field. 

What were your experiences of Norwich as a city? 

I love Norwich so much! It was such a lovely city to live in as a student. I have such fond memories of being a student there, I miss wandering round the city centre and seeing all the local shops! 

Would you recommend studying at UEA? Why?

I'd definitely recommend studying at UEA, there's so much support and even in times when I was struggling, there was a real sense of community. I met some wonderful people who I still stay in touch with to this day. 

Is there any advice you would give to current students, wishing to follow a similar career path to you?

The advice I would give to anybody considering being an ESL teacher abroad, is to try to be as open as possible to new experiences! When I first arrived in Hanoi, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people in a similar situation as myself so was able to part of a great community. 

What is next for you?

Currently I'm still working as an ESL teacher in Hanoi but in January I will be leaving Hanoi to go travelling through Europe. I will still be teaching online and doing some freelancer work. 

Freya studied BA History at UEA.