Circletime Studio

If you are a professional teacher, accomplished artist or experienced scientist, of course, we want you to apply. However, so many of our volunteers are just ordinary people who bring such extraordinary ideas to the studio. You don't have to be a movie star to lead an amazing theatre workshop... maybe, just a little wit, a little heart, a little magic... WELCOME TO HANOI! We are looking to collaborate with volunteers to inspire children to use their imaginations. We are not looking for professional teachers. Instead, we are looking for actors, scientists, visual artists, musicians, creators and designers in many fields to introduce their disciplines and passions to the children. This is how we teach English! While doing an art project or a science experiment that is entirely in English we engage the children in ORGANIC ENGLISH. We are not a traditional school. We use no books, have no curriculum and steal unapologetically from many different methodologies. Instead, we call ourselves a THIRD SPACE (Wikipedia) where inspired souls from around the world bring their personal passions to share with the children of Hanoi. ALL ABOUT US We combine mindfulness with Project Based learning for kids aged 2 to 16 years. This is play-based learning designed to make the children active and use their own imagination to navigate the world. We don't want to just teach; we want to inspire. We just don't want them memorizing facts; we want them to dream a little bit. In the past we have had so many amazing workshop leaders create something close to magic: a television producer from England made a beach installation out of nothing and then fully engaged the children to play at the seaside when there was no sea and no sand, just the children's wonderful musings: a Brazilian filmmaker based in London, created a film set and then gave all the kids jobs as actors, directors, film crew and producers and they created a storyboard and even produced a short film; one university student from Osaka combined sumo wrestling and origami to create an incredible PBL where all the children were left wanting to travel to Japan. We have had volunteers engage the children in cosmic yoga, science experiments, acting, playback theatre, theatre crafts, engineering, baking & cooking, up-cycle gardening, recycling, art installations, storytelling, music............ almost anything that a volunteer is passionate about can become, with a little work, a PBL. Simple projects that resonate personally with the Workaway volunteer will inspire the children. It is wonderful if you are an artist who has shown in galleries or a chef who has worked in amazing restaurants but equally as empowering is a volunteer who brings something personal-- even idiosyncratic. We had one amazing volunteer who made puppets from potatoes and household items and it was as if a light had been brought into the studio. Don't be just professional: be personal! . WHO ARE WE LOOKING FOR 1. VOLUNTEERS WITH A SCIENCE BACKGROUND are needed to lead lively and engaging experiments to inspire the children. The science teacher will also lead STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). We want the kids to go into nature and bring back their own observation supported by experiments and hand on PBL. This is natural science minus the book.We have recently had a volunteer from France who introduced us to the idea of STEAM is STEM but with some art thrown in. It is marrying these two disciplines and creating something new. This has been very game-changing. 2. VOLUNTEERS WITH A VISUAL ARTS BACKGROUND are needed at the studio. The focus is always on the process and about learning organic English but this summer we would like to up our skill level to learning basic foundation such sketching or basic techniques in painting. We also would like to expose the children to creating art and the power of original thought instead of simply copying. 3. In the Kids Kitchen, we just had a French baker and a Russian & American chef bring in a Master Chef program. We need more support in this to create an educational program where the kids create a recipe book and start thinking about how food is put together. Again, it is great if you are a sushi chef but your grandmother's recipe for banana bread will do just nicely. 4. We need practitioners of yoga and mindfulness to support the kids to focus and to become engaged in the moment. 5 Create installations, murals or even sculpture that the kids can work as a team 6. We run an IELTS plus program for young adults and a sensory class for kids aged 2 to 4. Your creativity and experience are very helpful. 7. Team building and how to build good social skills would also be of great help here. 8. Journal-ling: bullet journals for tweens and teens and other types of scrapbooking and writing activities to support young minds express themselves through writing. 9. Theatre/acting/public speaking are three creative ways to teach English. 10 BEST OF ALL, Bring your own idea. Our best workshops have always come from individuals who have created something unique from their own PERSONAL lives. We call this authenticity and the children respond so enthusiastically to a person who brings their personal project and a little enthusiasm. A CHILD'S RIGHT TO PLAY We are advocates for children's rights. We do this by building a culture in the classroom based on respect, kindness, non-violence, and most of all, a child's right to play. But we are not an NGO and receive no funding from governments or institutions. We charge a tuition for the weekend students so that we can offer scholarships and support local community projects. This allows us to have complete control of our program without the red tape and to do something more empowering, more personal, more experiential............ maybe something more holistic. THE WORKLOAD We work only 3 nights during the week because most of the workshops are on the Saturday & Sunday. We take off Monday & Tuesday and work half days Wednesday to Sunday. Our idea is to follow the Worksaway guidelines of 25 hours per week. Sometimes it is a little less, sometimes a little more but usually, we are able to follow this guideline. We are hoping that people are self-motivated and hoping to make a difference and we are not looking for volunteers to punch a clock. This is a travel experience and not just a work experience. We are hoping the international volunteers will bring their lightness, their joy, their personal stories and their humanity to inspire our community. THE VOLUNTEERS We are very humbled by 550plus volunteers that have visited our studio from 27 countries. Their contribution to the Vietnamese children cannot be overstated. Most of the workshops were very good but SO many were just unbelievably magical and for the kids--even life-changing. This is what we are all about and is the very core of our methodology......... we want to inspire the children to use their imagination and for that to be the catalyst for a life of learning. Please note that we are not an NGO or a social enterprise. We fund our own charitable and scholarship programs through tuition of our regular students and to pay the bills, Robert works at a local university and the Ministry of Finance to subsidize the program. You should also be aware that we give volunteers abundant independence to design their own programs and frankly, this does not always work for everyone. If this is the case, be transparent and ask to support other volunteers who are leading programs. Supporting other volunteers is more than ok and we often find that people want to take the lead after a few classes anyways. We have worked hard to created a culture of learning based on Mindfulness. Although our objectives are diverse, they all come through building an atmosphere of quiet engagement and a feeling of "flow" or mindfulness. We create a completely bilingual space that not only teaches English but also develops cognitive and social skills, supports active learning and advocates children’s rights, especially a child’s right to play. However, because we are so creative, some of our workshops are vulnerable to failure. That is inevitable. We are open to failure as part of the process. Because of this, we have had a few negative reviews usually stating that we are a little disorganized. GUILTY AS CHARGED! We are, however, more communicative and more transparent and more organized than other companies in Vietnam. But, this is, in the end, Vietnam and things are done differently here. Driving and arriving on time are creatively interpreted in Hanoi. This is not Germany or Japan, regimented and organized. The Ts are not crossed, the dots are missing from the "I" and the ducks are seldom in a row. Life here is reinventing itself after a thousand years of war and famine and a tumultuous history. Now, Hanoi is in a renaissance: it is colourful, exciting, surprising. The Vietnamese are doing it their way and frankly, they have earned that right. If we were to paraphrase life in Hanoi, we could say that the traffic and pollution suck -- everything else is pretty amazing. OUR BACKWARDS METHODOLOGY We do things backwards and we like it that way. You will not be handed a lesson plan or a curriculum or any kind of outline. We want you to use your idea and create a workshop reflective of your life. This could be as simple as a hobby or something you learned at school. Better, to create something that you are passionate about. Perhaps a life's workshop or a vision for the future or maybe how you want to contribute to the world. We work as a group to brainstorm and mind map out your personal workshop. That is supported by us but the workshop is all about you and your vision. WHEN SHOULD YOU COME? HOW LONG SHOULD YOU STAY? Usually, we are looking for Workaways who can stay for 2 weeks. Some have stayed for three months and several volunteers stayed for even six months. It is best to commit to a short stay of 2 weeks and then extend your stay if this internship suits you. It is best to arrive early in the week, maybe Tuesday & Wednesday so you have time to get orientated before the larger workshops on the weekend. You should leave on a Monday or make special arrangements with Robert. We close for most of February (TET: Lunar New Year) but are quite busy for the rest of the year. When you apply, please give us a rough date of your availability. Usually, we do book up three to four months in advance but last minute request can work well if you are specific with your dates of arrival and departure. We are a small operation teaching students on weekday nights and weekends. Most of the workshops and events are held right in the studio, however, we now teach in several locations away from the studio. This year we are adding some online modules for our students to increase face time with international teachers. (please bring your laptop or smartphone)

We work from a modern, comfortable apartment on the 6th floor of a high rise, We offer our volunteers a clean, bright and quiet space to live and work in. We have no bugs! This is not a hostel ... we hope a little cleaner and a little more welcoming. Couples are given a private room where possible. The sleeping accommodation is two to three Workaways to a room and there are 3 to 6 international volunteer at any one time. We have hot water, wifi, a rooftop balcony, two additional balconies in the studio, air-con and heating, The walls are painted with black chalkboard paint and although it is not luxury, it is very comfortable, arty and a great place to call home for a little while. Meals are eaten together on workdays, However, on days off we have less of a structure: volunteers are welcome to cook or head out to many restaurants in the area for lunches and dinners that cost less than 2 dollars. We always have a vegetarian option. Vegans may have to buy some of their own ingredients. THE STUDIO o Near West Lake, Hanoi’s largest lake and also Hanoi’s cleanest air. A great place to walk, run, cycle or have a seat in a traditional cafe overlooking the lake shore o Walking distance to inexpensive restaurants ($2-$3 per meal) o Traditional beer barges on the lake o 10 minutes to two fabulous swimming pools right on the lake o One bus to the old quarter (a village of yellow French colonial homes): about a 30 minute bus ride

All experiences


2 reviews2

Staff & Host

Hours & Tasks


Learning & Fun


I've stayed at Circletime for a couple of weeks, but after leaving and rambling around Vietnam I decided to come back for an additional month.

Robert is very helpful with every necessity that may arise. His teaching activity is definitely something unusual, not unique but rare and groundbreaking. Staying at Circletime I had the occasion to meet both other delightful foreign volunteers and local vietnamese teachers eager to show me around the city.

The workload is modest but there's room for extra commitment for anyone intrigued in making the children's workshops worthwhile and memorable.

12 days ago


Circletime is a beautifully innovative learning program. The host (Robert) is a professional in his field and the program focuses on teaching children of all ages English through dialogue and less-conventional methods. Overall our experience was fantastic, should you choose to participate you will be living in a communal environment with the other volunteers sharing space and responsibilities. Could not recommend this more highly.

4 months ago

Perfect for you if you're looking for


Vegetarian / Vegan

City & Town