Are ESL Teachers in Demand in Vietnam?

Taking my students to the zoo in Ho Chi Minh City

The Effects of Covid on ESL.

As livelihoods were snatched by the Covid-19 pandemic, many foreign teachers ran online classes at cheap rates to survive, while others left Vietnam.

After living in Vietnam for 15 years and being married, my options were somewhat limited. I had been teaching in both public schools and had my own students. Covid kicked me in the proverbial teeth. Schools and language centers were shut down and I, like many, had to teach online to survive.

Others, left for their home countries ( Some, never to return) or battened down waiting for the lockdown to cease. Some gave up the teaching profession as they refused to be vaccinated.

ESL Teaching Pre-Covid.

In a country that was among the world’s nine countries that pay the highest salaries to ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers, who could earn up to $2,000 and more per month, many ex-pat teachers were then in a distressing situation.I had one friend who ran out of money and ended up walking the streets for a week. (He had no computer so could not teach on-line.)

As English is compulsory from sixth grade across Vietnam and in large cities like Hanoi and HCMC, many primary schools opt for English programs for students and demand high proficiency. And because of these Government directives, the ESL industry had thrived in Vietnam in recent years, with jobs offering high salaries available all year round.

But the year-long pandemic and prolonged lockdown changed the table. Over the last few months, the tables have changed again.

ESL Teachers in Demand.

Vietnam has kicked off the constraints of Covid and the government is back pushing English in public schools again. Tourism and the rumored relocation of some major businesses from China ( Apple, Samsung, and LG) to Vietnam are behind this.

It implies that if locals speak English, the country will be able to draw in more tourists, businesses from other countries, jobs for the locals, and competitive economic growth

Іf уоu vіѕіt аnу eхраt Fасеbооk grоuрѕ оr ѕіmрlу Gооglіng tеасhіng Еnglіѕh іn Vіеtnаm, іt wіll ѕurеlу оvеrwhеlm уоu wіth the plethora of јоb оffеrѕ. Whеthеr уоu dесіdе tо lіvе іn Наnоі оr Но Сhі Міnh Сіtу (Ѕаіgоn), оr еvеn іn ѕmаllеr сіtіеѕ lіkе Dа Nаng, оr Nhа Тrаng, уоu саn gеt уоurѕеlf а јоb еаѕіlу.

The Good, The Bad and…

Тhеrе аrе lоаdѕ оf рrіvаtе Еnglіѕh сеntrеѕ аnd рublіс ѕсhооlѕ thаt аrе dеѕреrаtе tо gеt thеіr hаndѕ оn а fоrеіgn tеасhеr.

Ноwеvеr, thеrе аrе а fеw uglу truthѕ уоu nееd tо knоw аnd рrераrе уоurѕеlf.

Most schools play by the book and get people with the right qualifications. That is everything from police and health clearance forms up to a University degree, however, there are a few that won’t care so much about your qualifications but more about your accent and the color of your skin. Or to clarify that, the whiteness of your skin.

The Ugly.

Racism is quite the norm when it comes to ESL teachers and it always makes me sad when I see a perfectly qualified black African teacher placed 2nd over an unqualified white backpacker.

Nоn-nаtіvе English speakers who are not native speakers will face a bigger challenge in finding the job they are looking for, but it is still possible. If you are well qualified, you should look into larger companies and international schools because they are more professional and interested in your qualifications than the color of your skin.

ESL Teacher Pay in Vietnam.

It is generally advertised that the pay rates for ESL teachers in Vietnam can range anywhere between $1200 – $ 1800 U.S. or $2,000 – $2,400.U.S. depending on whether you have just started or whether you are qualified with a few years of experience. And what levels have you taught before etc.

After working and having my own school in Vietnam for the last 15 years it still appears that those advertising they still haven’t worked out an easy way to show pay rates for foreigners.

An hourly rate works best for those schools that are more upfront about their pay scales. Then when the teachers weekly hourly schedule is worked out then you know exactly what you are earning.

Normal Pay Rate.

The normal pay rate is between $18.00 to $30.00.per hour with each class running for about 1.5 hours.

There are 2 types of teaching for ESL, and that is the public system or Government schools that generally pay less and are daytime hours, Monday to Friday. And then the private schools or academies that run in the evenings and the weekends.

Obviously depending on where you are in Vietnam will have an effect on the pay scales.

You will find out some more about the education system in Vietnam here at……….

The Vietnam Education System and ESL | Stephen (vietnamesl.com)

Native and Non-Native Speakers.

Native English speakers are deemed to be those who have passports from the U.S.A, England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand with South Africa coming somewhere in between the Philippines and the U.S.A. But generally, any Europeans will be seen as Non-Native speakers. And similar to the Filipinos they will be paid at a lesser rate.

For example, if a “native speaker” was being paid at 450,000 dong per hour the non-native speaker would be paid around the 370,000dong rate. n.b. All pay rates should be quoted in Vietnam dong ( Even though it is not) by government decree.

My Daughter-in-law back to school in 2022

School Holidays

Vietnamese students often attend school for only half of the six-day school week, which starts on Monday and ends on Saturday. However my daughter-in-law attends an International school and only goes 5 days a week, but full time. And she has just finished her close on 3 month holiday. Generally, private or international schools have a five-week summer break in July and August.

In Ho Chi Minh City, the academic year normally lasts from September to May. While a typical school day only lasts for half a day, the school week starts on Monday and finishes on Saturday. The 15th of June marks the end of the academic year. The summer break lasts from June 16 to August 7.

Desperate Recruiting Measures.

After 3 months at home, the students and especially the parents are ready for public schools to start again. And even though there has been “Summer-school” everyone is ready to start a full-time curriculum again. And there is now a pent-up demand for teachers for the next semester.

So from now until the schools start again, there will be a big drive for teachers for public schools. This is often filled not only by the schools but also recruitment agencies who are desperate to get people on board. And when people are desperate, corners will be cut. The enforcement of University degrees and even English teaching licenses may well take a back seat until vacancies are filled.

Where to Find a Job.

Vietnam loves Facebook, and so do the recruiters. There are a large number of Facebook groups you can join or you can work via “Teacher Placements” to find a position for you. Whichever you feel most comfortable with.

Here is a small list of Facebook groups for jobs.

Foreign English Teachers Vietnam.

Below are some links that can help with your teaching.

How to teach ESL to Kids.

How to teach ESL to Teenagers

How to teach ESL to Adults.


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4 thoughts on “Are ESL Teachers in Demand in Vietnam?”

  1. It is very sad that in today’s world there is still so much racism and that there are not only differences between male and female salaries but also differences based on skin color. When neither gender nor skin color determines a person’s values and knowledge. It is sad that the world has not yet reached the level of understanding to appreciate that knowledge and character are more important than skin color.
    Unfortunately, covid has had a negative impact in so many areas, but I would not have thought that it would have made life so difficult for teachers.

    Reply
    • Hopefully people will be judged on the quality of their work and not their race or skin color in the future.

      Stephen 

      Reply
  2. It is a very useful post for anyone who wants to teach English in Vietnam.

    I appreciate the details of inside and outside of teachers’ placement in Vietnam, for teaching English as a foreign language.

    I enjoyed reading your honest assessment of teachers of varying colors, ethnicity, education, and all of what counts. Learning good English as a second language is useful in this world we live in. 

    It is challenging to acquire the language internally and make it your own.

    Thank you for bringing this post to the world and I am sure there will benefit on both ends.

    I also would recommend chats that teach spoken English on computers and phones could be used to upgrade the skills

    Reply

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