Despite his training in biotechnology, Nguyen Thai Duong, hailing from Ho Chi Minh City, made a bold choice to become an English teacher and has been riding a wave of success and popularity as a key opinion leader by using hit songs to teach vocabulary and packing his classes with fun.
The 30-year-old man, widely known as a teacher with innovative teaching methods and an influencer on social media, strives to pique interest and gives inspiration in teaching and learning English, mostly lexical items, through viral tunes.
His recent in-person show was a big success, during which he shared tips on how to learn English effectively through singing and dancing with nearly 350 of his hardcore fans.
The event was also an occasion for the young influencer, who has 97,000 followers on Facebook, to look back at his pursuit of language teaching.
A Google search with Duong’s full name as the keyword brings back nearly 2.7 million results.
Graduating top in biotechnology from Ho Chi Minh City University of Science in 2013, Duong realized his heart lies elsewhere.
The more he was immersed in English, the more he realized teaching the language is his life’s passion.
After weighing the pros and cons of a career move to English teaching, he made a bold decision not to pursue postgraduate education or become a scientist in biotechnology.
Without a background in language teaching, Duong signed up for a second-degree program in English linguistics and literature at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Upon graduation with a second university degree, he also obtained a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate awarded by the Ho Chi Minh City University of Education.
The two colleges are the city’s most prestigious institutions in English linguistics and pedagogy.
Gradually, Duong built his image and came to establish himself as an inspiring teacher, singer, and composer.
The versatile teacher spared no efforts in piquing people’s interest in learning English, and sharing tips for them to effectively take up the language, particularly vocabulary.
Duong has gained popularity after sharing his video clips featuring English lessons creatively delivered on the catchy, viral tunes or his own songs, with lyrics adapted to match the lesson content.
Although it all simply started, his video clips have caught viewers’ attention for his eye-catching choreography and warm singing voice.
Many of his video clips have garnered millions of views each, turning him into a media personality who has appeared on national television channels including Vietnam Television (VTV) and Ho Chi Minh City Television (HTV).
The young teacher has put all of his pride and love for his hometown into his work, using his own childhood memories.
“I was born and raised in this city, which I hold dear to my heart. I’m lucky to have fond childhood memories, so I refer to them all as ‘Saigon9X,’ Duong shared.
Despite his growing popularity, the man said he has no intention to enter the local show industry.
“It’s quite unusual that an English teacher puts on his own show,” Duong admitted, referring to the success of his recent show.
“I organized the show just to satisfy my love for singing,” he noted, adding his main source of income comes from the English classes he offers at his own language center.
Duong also holds exchanges across the country to boost his real-life interaction and showcase his own pieces about Saigon9X.
“Of course, what my fans come for are mainly the methods and tips on learning English I’ve shared with them,” he said.
The young teacher shared he was quite moved at the influx of thank-you messages from his viewers.
Duong said he has never regretted his career choice, not even once.
“In fact, I’m so grateful. If I were a scientist now, I myself, my students and even other scientists would feel regretful,” he gleefully said as he recalled the milestone in his career.
He said he has applied the acquired knowledge in science to his artistic work to make it more logical and go smoothly.
The teacher revealed he always has a full plate, with his own family and language center to care for and new songs to compose and perform apart from being an influencer.
The roles, however, have taken him time to indulge in his hobbies, including playing soccer, watching films, and reading novels.
Duong admitted his first steps were met with countless immediate failures, which he said he could learn a lot from.
“They always meant something. I poured tons of money into branches of my language center, to no avail,” he recalled.
It later dawned on the aspiring man that launching a foreign language branch is not like opening a coffee shop.
“We basically need the same recipes and ingredients for the same products at a coffee shop,” he noted.
“On the contrary, humans play a central role when it comes to launching a foreign language center branch.”
Duong revealed there are quite many challenges in rewriting songs to match what he wants to teach.
“Besides a match in melodies and rhymes, catchy content and a captivating way to deliver knowledge are also needed,” he remarked.
“What comes out next must also be better than its predecessors.”