ETA4 - Volunteer and Teaching Program in Vietnam
82% Rating
(13 Reviews)

ETA4 - Volunteer and Teaching Program in Vietnam

Every year ETA4 sends groups of volunteers to Vietnam to teach English and promote academics, athletics, and the arts. We rely 100% on our volunteers to keep the mission of a more connected world alive. Each summer our volunteer projects are determined by people on the ground in Vietnam whose job it is to work with locals to identify immediate community needs as well as long term projects in which the volunteers will participate.

Our volunteer program in Vietnam is completely free. No program fees whatsoever. We only ask that participants pay their own airfare to and from Vietnam. Housing, food, and other necessary teaching materials will be provided for you during the program.

Locations
Asia » Vietnam
Length
1-3 Months
Salary / Benefits
See site for details.
Currency
USD
Other Locations
Hue

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Benefits
    73%
  • Support
    72%
  • Fun
    69%
  • Facilities
    73%
  • Safety
    75%

Program Reviews (13)

Default avatar
Alberto

Best decision ever

9/10

I’m a 26 year old Mexican, since I arrive here everything has been great, I live in a homestay and the family it’s realy nice they help me to improve my Japanese. In the school the professors are so funny and profesional the clases are not boring you enjoy learning. The staff it’s really helpful they helped me to get my train card so i didn’t spend more money the activities are realy interesting and the majority are free. I totally don’t regretted my decision and I want to do 6 more months.

How can this program be improved?

Change a little bit the trips and make more trips outside the Tokyo area

Default avatar
Tram
Female
24 years old
Vietnam
Other

A great trip, nice people, nice place.

9/10

It was so awesome being part of ETA4 for five weeks long, so much fun, sweetness and joy.

ETA4 Duc Linh 2014 – my first time for everything

It can be said that ETA4 Duc Linh 2014 is my first time for everything: first time for five weeks long living and doing and having fun together, everything: eating meals, doing the dishes, singing during dish washing; walking to the church where we taught, waiting for friends and running in heavy rains back to the hotel; we were happy, we were sad; first time for feeling happy because of being friends, being sisters and brothers with the super friendly kids. I still remember the first day we came, all the kids were already there at the church, just for welcoming us even though they could only stay for a while because of church; the last day when we were leaving, those kids were also there, at the church, some with red eyes, some with pens and notebooks, said goodbye. They were just so sweet.

Class routines:

Van, another volunteer and I taught the level B, grade 7. Our first day could be said that “fun and many surprises”. The kids were just like having known us for years and years. Some kids from other classes passed and greeted us “Hello”. Some came to us and asked us for names because we were new.

Every day, the morning classes started at 8 and lasted until 11. The afternoon classes were from 2 to 3.30 and after that, it was for outdoor activities such as swimming, basketball, frisbee, dodge ball or other games. Victor, the program leader and other volunteers, usually were in charge of gathering the kids and taught them how to play or we just also joined them for fun. We often merged two, three or more classes and let them compete with each other. Sometimes, instead of sports and games, we turned the music on, taught kids to sing and dance. The kids love such activities.

Every two weeks, it was time for a “Talent Show” night which I love the most in ETA4. The kids not only learn English in classes, in games and sports, they also have chance to build up confidence though music and showing off what they have learned from us because English songs would be preferable.

Besides, there was another night called “Movie Night” which were nights of Kungfu Panda, Up, Brave, Monster University…. I also love these nights. I would never forget the moments of seeing the excited faces of the kids, hearing their happy laughter or sharing them snacks while watching movies.

Volunteers’ routines

We, volunteers stayed in a hotel, where is only 10 minute walk to the church. Every weekday, we woke up around 7 a.m. or earlier and went to the church for breakfast and preparing copies, or just made sure we’re ready for morning classes. Lunch time was around 11 a.m. After the meals, we helped to do the dishes. Well, I can tell, to us, dish washing never gets bored because we were always in team even dish washing. From dish washing, there born a Broom Master, her job was sweeping and sweeping, there born a Pot Master (we called him Xoong in Vietnamese), you can leave any dirty pots for him, his job was to clean them.

Back to our meals, we were so lucky having a supper good cook. She was kind and nice to us since she often asked us about our favorite foods so that she could prepare for us….Ahh, I love her so much.
When dinner time was done, it was time for we could do anything we wanted. But normally, if it was not movie night or talent show night, we gathered in our “Big group”, sometimes to be fun we called it “Party Room” or “Ballroom”. It was time for all volunteers to sit down and get to know each other more. We watched movies, we played games, we sung, we celebrated birthday, we talked about anything love, friends, jobs… That was how the friendships were built.

Living conditions

We were still happy living faraway home since we had Wi-fi here. We also had AC, grocery store where you can buy anything, toothbrush, washing powder, snacks, anything.

Honestly, I love the program because of people. The volunteers, the kids, the Father, the Brothers, the kids’ families and other local people, they were so much nice. We, volunteers, the kids, other people were happy since we wanted that. In fact there were still things not as good as expected, but I believe everyone from ETA4 Duc Linh 2014 agreed with me that we wanted to be happy and we in fact had a wonderful time there. Chi Trang, Linh, my big sisters, always ready to give you help. Victor encouraged anyone. I found that he always spoke English slow enough to let anyone that he knew they would understand him better when he does not speak fast. Dan, our youngest brother, love to eat, he always made everyone feel pleased since he liked jokes and helping people around. There are Van, Momo, Quynh, Lam, Hoang, Thanh … nice friends who I think I would to see them again this summer.

When I am writing this, I feel so happy that we made it, ETA4 Duc Linh last summer. I always look forward a chance of coming back.

I would love to recommend this program to my friends and you so if you have any more questions, do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected]

How can this program be improved?

It would be the number of the kids in one class. When it comes to a smaller class, the kids would receive enough care from volunteers and volunteers would help the kids better.

Default avatar
Van
Female
24 years old
Vietnam
Other

immensely rewarding experiences

9/10

My overall experience with ETA4 Duc Linh 2014 program was AWESOME. I taught a B-level class with around 40 students. They were super friendly and a bit naughty sometimes, but they are really no trouble. They came to me for questions and showed me around town. You should check out the small dam nearby and the rambutan gardens which were in season (the kids would definitely showed/drove you there on their bicycles^^) There were a couple of printers at the church to print out materials for students. The Father and Brothers were there willing to help us with anything, from printing to gathering the kids. I was so happy seeing them everyday, even when it rained heavily. It was summer in Vietnam, however, I felt like autumn in Duc Linh as it rained a lot which cooled down a little.

We volunteers (groups of 2-4) shared bedrooms in a motel which is within walking distance to the church and the market. It's very convenient. There's a pharmacist's right in front of the church where you can buy medicine. The chemist, she was very nice and helpful. She always greeted us with a smile, even offered us free med as she knew we were volunteers.

Classes started 8 am in the morning and lasted until 11 am. Afternoon classes were from 2 pm to around 3:30 pm then students were outside either to swim, play basketball or play dodge ball... Every weekday we woke up at around 7 and walked to the church to have breakfast at 7:30. Lunch time was right after we finished teaching. We left the church at 5 pm and had one hour to take a shower before having dinner at around 6 pm. It's funny that after having meals, we volunteers washed dishes together. This might sound a bit tiring, but it was actually really fun as we had sometime to chat about what happened in our class this morning, what's the plan for tomorrow's class. I missed those days... Oh and we also have Broom Master, Pot Master (Xoong-in Vietnamese), and many other Masters in our group. :)) Like many other volunteers, I found the food super duper delicious. There was barely any leftover on our tables for the dogs, so I thought they were quite furious. There's a girl in our group was in charge of taking photos of the meals we had and posted them on facebook :)). The cook was super kind as she usually asked us whether we had any dietary preferences so that she could prepared for us.

Well I think when it comes to work, especially voluntary work, you may experience some ups and downs. However, you are expected to work hard and make a real contribution - it is not just sitting around enjoying a different culture. In return, the experience you have and lessons you learn are valuable and unforgettable. You can befriend with people you've never met before and quickly bond after just a week :)). To be honest, before the trip I told myself that how I was gonna be fine surviving 5 weeks as I had read so many negative feedback. However, when I got there, it was actually not bad. We got Wi-fi, AC, grocery store nearby so you can buy anything you need.

But most importantly, as you are able to closely interact with the kids who are from different backgrounds. While you have breakfast ready every morning, many of your students have to head to the market and prepare breakfast for their younger brothers and sisters before coming to class... Talking to them will help you learn about their daily lives, many childhood games you haven't played in ages and their optimism for life and the future...

I hope to come back to Duc Linh this summer, and I am doing my best. Hope to see you there.

If you have any more questions, do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected]

Default avatar
Loc
Male
32 years old
Bakersfield
California State University- Bakersfield

Hue is a beautiful and peaceful city

10/10

I honestly love this program...this is coming from a person who have no prior experience in teaching, who knows he was not meant to be a teacher but yet fueled by friends who did this program before and how much they enjoyed it.I decided to do this program last summer, and it was the best decision I've made. I admit, when I first got to Hue, it was strange because I didn't know any one, but soon enough, that all changed. The environment is so friendly and welcoming. The people I was with was very open minded and friendly and we all got along so well. I personally love how ETA4 gave me the tools and the confident I needed to teach without having someone to look over my shoulder. This was great for me because I felt like I can learn from any mistakes I made and better myself the next day, at the end of the day, the students' interests always came before mine, even when I was sick, I didn't really want to take the time off because I knew some would drive pretty far just to sit in my class. I grew attached to them so much that I promised I would come back again next summer, and I fulfilled such promise. I recommended this to all of my friends, why? it's not just because the program is great, it's because I came back a better person from the things I have seen and learned from. I can go on and on, but i hate writing. If you guys have any questions regarding this program, I would love to talk to you via email or phone...but email me first [email protected]

Default avatar
anonymous
Female
24 years old
Los Angeles, CA
Other

nothing is ever as it seems

7/10

I'm going to be pretty blunt: if it weren't for the amazing people that miraculously were put into the same group as me (minus the program leader, Victor), I would not have enjoyed this trip at all. teaching was difficult, especially since I had no experience and the "teaching workshops" taught us nothing valuable to utilize in the program. my group basically had to fend for ourselves and suffer together. Victor lacked the ability to support and help us while we were in need and was unresponsive to our concerns. thank the Lord that Victor had enough sense in putting us volunteers in the same group because that was the only good thing about our trip: us being together and getting through it as a family.

the truth is, I'm surprised this program has lasted for 7 years considering Victor's unbelievable lack of leadership and communication skills. you may feel proud of yourself for actually getting through this program, but who knows if it's going to be worth it? your experience might even be worse than mine. good luck to you all.

Response from ETA4

Thank you for your comments! Whenever we have a new program in a new location, there are some difficulties to get through. I'm happy to know you got along so well with your fellow volunteers!

ETA4 is always looking for elements of the program to improve, and this year we will bestarting with revamping our volunteer recruitment process. Thank you for helping shape that - thanks to this group, we have a better idea of the types of volunteers we are looking for and how to prepare them for some of the challenges of living and working abroad.

ETA4 is always looking to improve the experience for both teachers and their students. Your feedback will be really helpful as we look forward to 2014 and beyond.

Thanks again! :)

Victor

Default avatar
lilianne
Female
24 years old
Los Angeles, California
University of California- San Diego

let's be real

5/10

DAY TO DAY EXPERIENCES:

wake up, breakfast, teach, lunch, coffee, nap, teach/play sports/dance, coffee/motel chilling, dinner, teach 1 adult at night, shower/chill/watchmovies, sleep. everyday for 4 weeks in Duc Linh. that's what most of our schedules looked like.

HIGHLIGHTS:

- my fellow teachers. I love every single teacher that was in my group. yes, all 6 of them. we were all forced to get to know each other on our own (because there are no team-building group activities whatsoever) and we all got along really well from the get-go. we became such a close-knit group of teachers that it really felt like we were all family. 99% of my support came from my fellow teachers and I probably wouldn't have been able to see the end of the program if it weren't for these people. sometimes, we'd work together by combining classes or having class competitions. we all learned from each other and now that I think about it, we're like a support group.

- my students. it took a really long time for me to enjoy teaching my students because 1) I'm not Vietnamese, so I don't speak or understand anything and 2) my students' English level was really, really low so we were all kind of stuck in this limbo. after my co-teacher and I realized the what strategies our best for our classes, everything went uphill from there. even though I had to teach more basic things than I had expected, I really love my students and they made my experience in Vietnam worthwhile. they made me realize that teaching can be fun and I think they also contributed to my growth as an individual and as an advocate for education equity. furthermore, the my relationship with my students became so great that my students took me out one weekend and on our last week, we had a party at one of their houses!

- the community. almost everyone in that small town were really welcoming and nice. families of our students would invite us over sometimes. if you didn't have enough money to pay for a bag of chips, they'd tell you to pay them back later. sometimes they'd stop by and give us fruits or cake.

- cafe sua da. Vietnamese iced coffee. need I say more? 2 cups a day, sometimes 3. in fact, our last night was 4 cups!

- there's this ice cream man who sells ice cream for like 25 cents and it's one of the best things in Duc Linh! it tastes even better when you double fist!

CHALLENGES:

- all the teachers in this new location had no experience in teaching and we were all basically just thrown into it with no support or guidance whatsoever. there is no formal orientation or training that takes place. you literally have to do everything on your own. the only kind of "training" that takes place is one that is done through Google Hangout before going to Vietnam, where you're given a fat curriculum folder and the rest is up to you. it may sound like a good idea for volunteers to make their own lessons and run their classes as they like, but for those of us who were new to this, especially in a place where the learning level isn't as advanced as the program is used to, it was one of the biggest setbacks of the program in Duc Linh this summer. it took about 2 weeks for all the teachers to finally understand the needs of our students and what is the best approach to maximize their English learning with the time that we had left. I think that this time could've been used more productively if the right steps had been taken by the program director at the start of the program because in the end, the students lost 2 weeks of what could have been English learning as teachers struggled to understand how to best serve their needs.

- the challenge mentioned above wouldn't have been prolonged if the program director had listened to the concerns of the teachers and actually did something about it. at the end of the first week, the teachers called for a meeting (yes, the teachers did) with the director (who never checked in with us at all) to share our concerns about our students and the difficulty we are all facing as teachers. the program director said he would hold more curriculum meetings and that he would meet each teacher individually to see what next steps should be taken. unfortunately, he didn't do any of those things, actually, he didn't even make an effort and I think that says a lot. the person who founded this program and has been running this program for 7 years now let his own volunteers down to the point where we all realized we couldn't even rely on him for support. ultimately, we had no confidence in him and we stopped asking him for advice, for materials, for anything at all, like there was no longer a relationship between the volunteers and the program director. this created a lot of tension, but the program director never addressed this tension himself and instead became passive aggressive and just started avoiding us.

- what's unique about these kinds of programs is that we're teaching in a place away from home, somewhere far and somewhere we all may have a chance to explore after teaching or on the weekends. unfortunately, because the program was in such a small and rural town, the teachers were very limited in what they could do for fun. there was not a single time that we were able to eat out because there was no where to eat. the only shopping we did was for snacks like chips and cookies. "town" was too far away for anyone to get there by foot and since we don't know how to drive motorbikes, we spent 50% of our time at the church (we taught here, ate here, played sports here, etc.) and spent the other 50% of our time in our motels. the town is so small that everyone knew where we stayed and we'd get spontaneous visits at our motel room at night. at first, you appreciate being in a small, rural place but for five weeks, it becomes really hard to do when you don't have the chance to do something different for once, especially in a beautiful place like Vietnam.

- for some reason, there wasn't enough money in the program so the teachers couldn't really ask for materials for our classes and we were forced to just wing it and make due with whatever we had.

- the motel we stayed at was pretty janky but at least it was ridiculously close to the church. our "mattress" was so uncomfortable, I don't even think it was a mattress. you should probably never ever step into the restroom barefoot. the motel owners only give ONE BLANKET per bed. sharing gets awkward sometimes. also, had to hand wash our own laundry because it costs $2.50 per load and only the motel owner gets to dictate what counts as a load so sometimes she'll split your load into 3 and charge you $7.50. there was a rat in our room. a wasp was building its nest and laying eggs in one of our restrooms. geckos mate at night in your room. you live out of your suitcase the whole time.

TIP:

- fundraise for your plane ticket. it's totally possible if you're not lazy.

- there is no full-proof way to prevent mosquito bites. so, the best you can do is find the proper medication for it, like having anti-histamines so they're not itchy and swollen and make sure you have some sort of ointment for it

- there is no such thing as too much toilet paper. you should probably go to costco and buy a pack and bring it with you to Vietnam because in almost all of the places I went to in Vietnam, there was no toilet paper.

- nothing is ever as it seems so either expect the worse or expect nothing at all. this is the theme of Vietnam 2k13 in Duc Linh. and I say it again, nothing. is EVER. as it seems.

- if they still have the same program director, don't do it. I've never seen such poor leadership skills in my life (and trust me, I've worked with some pretty poor leaders). if trang (his girlfriend who seriously and whole-heartedly did all the things he was supposed to, but didn't do) is the new program director, then definitely do it because she is so kind and supportive. she will always listen to you and will always check in with you and provide you with constructive feedback that's actually useful towards your teaching. she puts her all into this program and really does her best not only to make sure everyone is happy and okay, but also that the students are having a great time too. and that's the kind of leader you need.

Response from ETA4

Thank you for your comments and feedback! Unfortunately, sometimes with a new program in a new location there are always some kinks to work out in the first year.

Starting with revamping our volunteer recruitment process, there are a number of elements we will be able to improve on for 2014. Thank you for helping shape that - thanks to this group, we have a better idea of the types of volunteers we are looking for and how to prepare them for some of the challenges of living and working abroad.

ETA4 is always looking to improve the experience for both teachers and their students. Your feedback will be really helpful as we look forward to 2014 and beyond.

Thanks again! :)

Victor

Default avatar
Joanne
Female
24 years old
OC

Bad Leadership

3/10

Main Points:

-Some of the volunteers got extremely scared as a drunk man started banging on their glass door. The volunteers did not know why the man was banging on the door, and got extremely scared. Victor, next door, was watching Pitch Perfect and did not respond to the requests of helping them, even though he heard the banging. Additionally, he never followed up on the volunteers. The volunteers felt their safety was compromised and felt ignored when they stated their feelings.

-The leader, never communicated with the group, at all. His girlfriend did. She was the "middle-person." It was very irresponsible.

-When the volunteers confronted him about issues they were concerned about, he turned it on the volunteers. He never addressed any concerns.

-He was very last minute about the airplane group ticket. He told us that we had a day or two to buy the ticket.

The Trip:

I was so excited to go on this trip to volunteer. However, when we got to Vietnam, the group (who went to the rural area) found out that the location was not actually Phan Thiet, but Duc Linh. It was a rural area, which was a nice town with great people. There were so many mosquitoes that bit no matter what mosquito repellent you used. I was very unprepared for the area I was at. If I had known (which a good leader should have done), I would have prepared more games and brought more items for the long month there, as there was no huge 'supermarket' there to buy anything. Additionally, the "leader," was very unorganized. He spent most of the day working for his job via the internet. Also, he said some statements to the group that made people feel uncomfortable. I put quotations around the word "leader" as his girlfriend did the work and effectively communicated with the group. He did not provide competent TAs (and he only provided 2 TAs total). He had a fifteen year old boy that was our TA for one class. There was one other TA, who was excellent, but she had to leave early.

It was an unprofessional organization with an incompetent leader (as he never considered the safety of his volunteers, his relationship with another volunteer made people uncomfortable as they fought often, and he never communicated with the volunteers.)

Response from ETA4

Thank you for your comments! With a new program in a new location there are always some kinks to work out in the first year.

We will continue to believe that are always elements of the program to improve on, starting with revamping our volunteer recruitment process. Thank you for helping shape that - thanks to this group, we have a better idea of the types of volunteers we are looking for and how to prepare them for some of the challenges of living and working abroad.

ETA4 is always looking to improve the experience for both teachers and their students. Your feedback will be really helpful as we look forward to 2014 and beyond.

Thanks again! :)

Victor

Default avatar
Huong
Female
24 years old
PHOENIX, ARIZONA
Arizona State University

Rural Area vs. Urban Area

5/10

Okay so my comments will be on the differences of the teaching areas. I highly recommend that you find out for SURE which area you will be teaching first being committed to the program. Vietnam is a wonderful place to explore and visit. However, if you have to be stuck in the rural area where all you see is trees you will get sick and tire of it real quick. Yes, the whole purpose to volunteering is for the students but realistically speaking you also need to be able to go out and relax at night not be stuck within four walls of your motel. I, and the rest of the volunteer in my group was place in a deserted place and not a single volunteer in that group would do it again. However everyone in the other program which was an Urban area loved it and would do it again. The staff does not provide with any teaching materials beside the one file they give you, so you have to go off of that, and be aware you will have to have your own supplies if you are wanting to have the kids do some type of art activities. Bottom line before committing make sure you know what the area is like, and I highly recommend not committing if you are in a rural area unless you want to live isolated for a month.

Response from ETA4

Thank you for your comments! With a new program in a new location there are always some kinks to work out in the first year. Your advice to future volunteers is appreciated! ETA4 is always looking to improve the experience for both teachers and their students.

Default avatar
Amber
Female
32 years old
Los Angeles, Ca.
Loyola Marymount University

ETA4 - a meaningful community of learning

10/10

I, like many others I know who volunteered with ETA4, never listed Vietnam as an ideal travel destination. After spending the summer of 2012 in Hue, teaching with the program, I can't imagine leaving Vietnam off my travel list. Not only does ETA4 provide a meaningful experience of teaching and helping those who are in need of assistance or support (in English instruction, but sometimes just in life overall), it also provides a travel experience incomparable to any I've had before. As a member of the program, volunteers dive into the culture of Hue (and other areas of Vietnam that we are located) headfirst. We live each day with local people, learning their cultures and sharing ours simultaneously. We eat with our students, sing with our students, drink coffee with our students, and go out for the occasional Huda beer with our students. The learning and teaching is consistent throughout the 5 week program and, in the end, provides an incredibly meaningful and unforgettable experience for all parties involved.

How can this program be improved?

Fundraising is a challenge.

Default avatar
Tin
Male
19 years old
Framingham, MA

My future volunteering organization

10/10

Being once was a student of the program, I realized the importance and how effectively ETA4 worked within a youth environment and encouraged students to explore beyond ourselves. I personally love this organization and thus I will definitely volunteer as a teacher since I moved and been living in the States for quite some times. I'm just looking forward to make commitments and helping children explore the world through various perspectives.

Default avatar
Zack
Male
32 years old
Los Angeles, CA
Ithaca College

An Incredible Summer

10/10

I had the best summer of my life teaching English through this program. Making friends, working hard, and exploring Hue- there was never enough time in the day. I'm going back next year.

How can this program be improved?

It'd be great if the plane ticket was covered by the program, but it is so worth the expense.

Default avatar
Ngoc
Female
19 years old
Hue, Vietnam
Other

A great experience!

9/10

ETA4 is by far the best teaching program I'v ever joined. In the last three years, ETA4 has built up an active community among the young students in Hue. Every summer is another fun experience for me. The kids are really motivated and studious, the volunteers are friendly and enthusiastic. ETA4 sure is and will always be the best friend of Hue's students.

Default avatar
Oh_na_na
Female
24 years old
Athens, Ga
Liverpool John Moores University

Far Better than what I was expecting!

10/10

Never in my life would I have thought of volunteering to teach in Vietnam. This was by far the most fun/ meaningful summer I have ever experienced. The students were so motivated and good to me. Not only that, but I now have a second family in Vietnam. I have no doubt in my mind that I will be returning regularly from here on out to Hue, Vietnam for the rest of my life.

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ETA4 is dedicated to cross-cultural connections through comprehensive English instruction and volunteer work. Since 2008, ETA4 has helped over 3000 children learn and grow.

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