School wind-down

Winding down to the school year’s end on June 30, the work is easy.

Basically, turn up on time, keep the students quiet and (pre)occupied, collect your pay.

Keeping them occupied can mean setting a simple written assignment,or showing them a movie. Both mostly void having to move or talk – perfect!

After today, there are only three more days at the school before summer break.

New Kid on the Block

Monday morning and a pale new face belonging to a South African appears in the teachers’ room.

Chances are fair to middling that this isn’t good news for Yours Truly. That because the young and stick-thin chap is apparently a full-timer.

‘Apparently’ because he’s taken up a teachers’ room berth among the full-timers, who get their own dedicated work-stations. The lower ranks, such as myself, have to scramble for whatever berths are vacant.

To get full-time status, it’s almost certain that his contract runs into the new school term, beginning in early August. That makes him the fourth full-timer.

That’s the same complement as when I started. They covered most, but not all, English classes, but one of them didn’t return after January. Which all means that the Old Kid ( me ) might be for the ( chopping ) block.

You would think I could just ask directly about the arrangements for next term, but it’s not so simple.

Office politics mean other teachers’ employment details are a no-go zone. I learned this in Thailand after I was persuaded into revealing my wage to another English-speaking teacher, a native Italian. Turned out that I – as a native English speaker – was earning around 10% more than him, which didn’t go down well.

Also, teaching schedules are handed down from On High ( HR and principal ) , so it’s unlikely that anyone in the teachers’ room knows next term’s schedule.

I asked HR about work ongoing after the month-long July break, but they deflected with a promise to inform me as soon as there was news.

So, it’s time to brush up the CV, and start firing it out, just in case.

Meantime, I’ve almost recovered from the computer melt-down of a month ago, and more on that in another post. So time to brush off the cobwebs and start putting in some online teaching hours as insurance.

Back to School

I learned an hour ago that my school is back from next Monday, May 4th!

I’ll be teaching Monday – Friday, 8.30 a.m. to 11.45 a.m. You might think this is cause for celebration, and it is. But, the news comes with a large dollop of nerves.

Here’s why;

  • Rustiness

    It will have been more than three months since I last stood in front of a bunch of teenagers playing the role of teacher. Yes, I’ve been teaching online, but that’s a cakewalk compared.

  • Heat

    Hearsay, and a website, has it that air-conditioners won’t be allowed in classrooms. Covid-19, you understand. It’s coming up toward the middle of summer here, with temperatures feeling like mid-30s °C by late morning.

  • Covid-19 changes

    Students and teachers have to wear masks at all times, and keep a(n anti-) social distance of 1.5 metres. I expect there’ll also be rigorous washing of hands etc. All told, a different game to when I last played in January.

  • Moving

    Ramping up the pressure a little more, I’ve committed to moving apartments. I have to do it a day or two before school starts.

On the Other Hand

This is what I signed up for. I’ve done it before. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

Schools out ( forever? )

The news continues to get blacker from my non-job, as has again delayed a return for my students.

On Saturday came the news from the Head Teacher that my students wouldn’t be returning until March 9, if not March 16.

Which of course further stretches my finances. An expected payday March 7 ( for February ) won’t now happen, and it’s possible that the birdie will again not sh*t on April 7 ( for March ).

My problem is that I committed to another three months here by sending my passport off to extend again my Visa. Having told the company that I wanted a 3-month extension @ USD$225, it is too late to back-peddle.

So I either throw away that sizeable investment, or make the best of a bad situation. A second investment was buying the scooter, avoiding rental costs.

I’m considering emailing the school threatening to do a runner, and begging as tactfully as possible for some kind of retainer. Which isn’t part of my nominally part-time contract.

The alternative is the make the best of a tough situation, and optimise the hell out of everything. I have managed to finagle a deal with the hotel whereby they reduce rent down to 4.2m VND from 4.5m VND, a saving of about $NZD 20 / month. It all counts.

I’m doing my level best to reduce power usage in my room, and am learning which quality meats and foods are cheapest ( chicken, fish, eggs ).

I’m putting in hours working online, which will almost cover costs. But being limited to one online platform, and with no guarantee of bookings even when I make myself available, it’s no sure bet.

With all that, and my finances dribbling down nearer a fare home plus nothing, I’m getting a little nervous, if the truth be told.

Testing times.

Schools still out

School is now out until March , which will for me force some difficult decisions.

After doing everything possible so I am firing on all cylinders for the scheduled Monday 17th restart, the let-down came this afternoon from the school’s head teacher.

So I’m all dressed up, but with no place to go.  In one sense.

In another – the financial – it leaves me way too exposed for my liking.  No school hours worked in February means no wage from the school until April 7.

Add to that the cost of rental, and renewing my Visa by March 1, and it starts to make less sense to stay here.

On the other hand, tickets back home aren’t cheap right now. And it’s unlikely the same Jackpot job will be waiting for me on my return.

So it may be just as well to hunker down and work my butt off online for a bit.

And yet, March in Whangarei is the best time….


School’s out…

“If there’s a war on, I’m sure someone will tell me.”

So C.S.Lewis once said, and I’d until yesterday mostly followed his fine attitude of wilful ignorance, a refusal to let the noise of the fray interfere with the signal of living.

That was when the head teacher at the school texted me to say the school was closed for the week because of the coronavirus.

As you see because you diligently followed the link above ( ahem ), the seventh case of the virus has now been confirmed in Vietnam.

Worse, its three main centres include Khanh Hoa province, whose capital is – you guessed it – Nha Trang.

Instead of today, school is now scheduled to start the new term February 10. So instead of standing in fronting of 20+ half-awake teens willing and eager students, I’ll be sitting on my arse.

But all is not lost. I have a couple of fallbacks, mostly earning some money online.

And then – just maybe – I might check the news once in a while.


I have a job starting Thursday January 2nd.

The school I turned down because the hours were too brutal got back to me with a part-time offer.

Fifteen hours a week – 10 sessions of 90 minutes, 5 days a week 0830 – 1145. The pay rate was too good to turn down.

Even better, the job ends January 17. After that I may be offered further weeks or months.

I’m happy about the short term, because it’s going to be a challenge doing such long sessions. And, more importantly, I’m having some success with online teaching.

I’m enjoying the flexibility, and the conversation with adults.

But meantime, I’ll make hay while the sun shines at the school.

In prep for that, I’m currently holed up in temporary digs dodging the madness of New Year’s revelry.


Snoop Doggy Dog & Job Jobby Jobs

[UPDATE 22-12-19, Timeline Nha Trang…]
This post has become cancerous, growing all over the place but doing nobody any good.

So here’s the latest: after jumping through all the circus hoops for one online outfit, I’m finally getting online teaching work!

Pay isn’t great, $10 US/ hr, but during the last 2 days I earned $85 sitting on my couch. The platform is Bibo Global, and it’s mainly giving lessons chatting to Japanese adults with pre-prepared material.

Of course, I haven’t been paid yet. But counting chickens ( the company is large, and I assume wouldn’t survive if it was a total scam ), if my booking rate continues as is, I should just be able to support myself from wherever.

Watch this space. Below is the cancer.

Continue reading “Snoop Doggy Dog & Job Jobby Jobs”

McJob Over

The job doors are revolving quickly at the moment.

One door, the McJob, has closed. Get this – the head teacher told me they needed a more ‘fun’ atmosphere at the school.

Perhaps it might be an idea to put something – anything – up on the bare concrete walls of the classrooms cells? Posters? Alphabets? World maps?

Another idea might be to fix the equipment; The rooms contain only piece of equipment – apart from whiteboard – a monitor, which in at least one room is broken. The air-conditioners in the rooms either didn’t work, or were turned off. With the result that many of the kids were dozing off by the end of the 40-minute lesson.

I could go on, but it no doubt already sounds like Sour Grapes. Let’s just say I’m not upset at being told that I would no longer be required.

Opportunities and Knocks

Meanwhile, another few opportunities are there. A university teacher I met via Facebook who needs IETLS tuition. And a full-time job opening at a Nha Trang school whose door I’m knocking on.

Plus I’ve been peddling madly exploring the huge market for online teaching. I’ve had a few knock-backs, but also a couple of green lights. If I can make that work, it’d be ideal long-term.

That caper is, for me, in its early days.


It’s work, Jim, but not as we know it.

I got a job at a Language Centre here in Nha Trang. It’s a McJob because;

  • Right now, it’s a zero-hour job. I’m basically on call. So far I’ve done 4 sessions on Sunday. I went for the interview on Saturday.
  • The working conditions aren’t great. The classrooms put me in mind of cells. Concrete walls and tiny. The equipment ( e.g. overhead monitors ) doesn’t always work.
  • The centre is chaotic, managed on the fly. The manager / head teacher couldn’t tell in advance which room I’d be in for one of the four sessions.
  • The pay is low by industry standards. About NZD $10.40 per 45-minute session.

But, it’s a start, and will go toward making the rent without having to further deplete savings.

The kids are a delight. Keen to learn, and sometimes with pretty good English. Ages 6 to about 12. So no horrible adolescents.

It’s all grist for the mill, teaching experience.

That all might change quickly, and I may get no further teaching hours.

I find that out tomorrow. I think.