Chinagog: Our Columnist Prepares To Move To Vietnam


You might remember Greg Donohue, our English teacher columnist. What’s that, you don’t? Here’s your reminder.

Greg Donohue? I thought you’d been fired.

Me too. But then the BJC editors reached out and explained that unpaid columnists couldn’t be fired, especially since I’m not a particularly corrupt official, a pedophile, or a LBH teacher. And how little do they know.

There’s only one editor, but we won’t quibble. We understand you’re planning a move to Vietnam.

I’m either going to be furthering my career in TEFL at a highly respected institution of learning offering multiple avenues for professional development, or I’ve just been elaborately tricked into entering the Southeast Asian sex trade.

Is that why you’ve been absent lately?

Well, yeah. That and the fact that I decided to take a one-month unemployed staycation before moving to the other side of the world again. Lots of camping, weekday drunken bicycle pub crawls and “catching up.”

That doesn’t sound at all like what English teachers do.

Implicit derision is so last year. Are you trying to fire me and repossess my small store of face?

So you were unable to hack it in China, moved to Denver, and now, unable to hack it in the States, are going to ‘Nam.

All joking aside, yes. That is basically correct. I drink to excess. I smoke tobacco from time to time. I’ve downloaded a car. I’ve worked on two continents, and both marked me “return to sender.” Vietnam is quite literally the last place in the world I can legally work, much less teach.

But I want to teach.

How will teaching there be different?

First of all, when I’m obscenely drunk in class, it probably won’t be the result of a baijiu lunch; I have yet to ascertain the characteristics of the local officially-sanctioned moonshine, but it’s apparently different from baijiu. Also, I’m guessing that I won’t be answering questions about how much I like China or if I like Chinese food, or asked to reaffirm that 钓鱼岛是中国的.

Otherwise, I expect I’ll be teaching awesome kids who have no idea why they’re learning English. I see no reason how my boilerplate motivational tools of American pennies, stickers, and dumb, nonsensical jokes will fail to be effective across cultural lines.


Too many teachers (actually, all of them, myself included) talk too much in class, and one of my next columns will be about cutting back on your teacher talk time. Anything from minor offenses like echoing to major ethical quandries where you query your students endlessly about your coffeeshop startup. “Okay, so here now is what we’re gonna do…” is on my first sacrificial altar of blacklisted instruction questions.

What else do you plan to write about?

How to stay sane teaching in China while only working 25 hours a week. You should say yes when your boss ropes you into a weeklong school trip to Guoliangcun. Why there’s objectively no shame in teaching kids instead of adults. Innovative ways of assessing student progress.

At the end of the day, are you good a good teacher?

Yes, I’m good. Fuck it: I’m great. My resume is littered with student accomplishments from primary to graduate school. My teaching methodology…

Okay, actually…

…is tight. My students love me, young and old. The young ones…

…we’ve heard this from you before…

…have placed in national competitions, and at the very least developed their neural plasticity. The adults have…


…matriculated into…


…American uni…


…versities, or vastly…


…improved their prospects…

…kind of…

…in the business world. So…


…I’d say I’m good at my job.

What’s up with the English-teaching complex?

Every English teacher will tell you they’re Christ on a bike in a snowstorm when asked.

Thank you for joining us. We look forward to your column next week.

Greg is an ESL instructor who spent two productive years teaching in China. He currently lives in Colorado.

Previously: My English-Teaching Prowess May Have Helped Siwei Defraud Caterpillar

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