Vietnam Is Not All Sunshine And Sweethearts.

Things I Dislike about Vietnam

Generally, I love Vietnam and its people and the magnificent landscape that never fails to “awe: me.

After 16 years of living here, I consider Vietnam my home for reasons above and beyond being married to my wonderful wife.

Listening to foreigners whingeing about Vietnam is one of my favorite “sports”. I have heard people complaining about being “shortchanged” 10,000 dong and seen arguments over 50,000 dong.

While this is quite petty, there are some valid reasons for people to feel aggrieved. Especially if they have been here for a while.

Not that we want special privileges for lasting so long, lol. More for the fact that we know that you know the scam about to be perpetrated.

Here is my small list of “complaints”. Just another whingeing foreigner, go home “”Om Tay” or, my favorite “Tay balo”…..Mr Backpack. Lol.

My Favorite Peeves.

My normal response to people who moan and complain about a country they were not born in, is…to go home. But there are things over the last decade and a half that I have tried to avoid but not always successfully.

Before I start my “decompression”, let me start by saying every place has its pros and cons and luckily the cons far outweigh the pros, albeit you can find a lot of them here too. Lol.

Sitting over a hot computer and a cold beer (75c U.S.A)here is the list I have come up with.

The Heat.

It is not so much the heat, but the consistency of the heat. Yes, I could move out of H.C.M.C. Unfortunately, that is where our business is.

One of the best jobs in H.C.M.C Vietnam would have to be a weather forecaster. There are seasons, but they all revolve around hot. For example, hot and dry or hot and wet. Sometimes even hot and windy.

The Traffic.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Vietnam has the second-highest motorcycle ownership in the world, after Taiwan. As of 2016, there were over 37 million registered motorcycles in Vietnam, accounting for more than 90% of all vehicles on the road.

Motorcycles are the main mode of transport for most Vietnamese people, as they are cheap, convenient, and flexible. However, they also contribute to many traffic problems, such as air pollution, noise pollution, road accidents, and fatalities.

And I feel like I am caught in the middle of it. Just crossing the street can be hazardous let alone driving. I do not know of any foreigner who has stayed for a long time and not had a traffic accident of some description or another.

The traffic congestion in Vietnam is mainly caused by rapid urbanization, the lack of public transport infrastructure, the poor road quality and design, and the low compliance with traffic rules.

HCMC is the most affected city by traffic jams, as it has a population of over 9 million people and an area of only 2,095 square kilometers. The average speed of vehicles in HCMC during peak hours is only 15-20 kilometers per hour, and sometimes even lower than 10 kilometers per hour.

Traffic Accidents and fatalities in Vietnam.

The road accidents and fatalities in Vietnam are also alarming. According to the WHO, Vietnam ranked among the top 10 countries with the highest road traffic death rates in the world in 2018, with 26.7 deaths per 100,000 population.

Roads are being fixed and things are slowly changing, but it remains one of my pet peeves. Just about everyone I know has witnessed a fatality. I have seen two very traumatic fatalities and even watching it leaves you shaking.

Higher Prices for Foreigners.

Even after living here for 15 years I am still obviously viewed as a foreigner, and because of that the natural assumption is that you are rich. Because of this when shopping in a lot of markets, especially the touristy ones you are charged triple the normal price.

The best way to deal with this is to quote a reasonable price and if it is not accepted, walk away. Quite often you will be called back grudgingly and the price agreed upon. But please don’t haggle over a few thousand “dong”. The merchants do need to make a profit and it is embarrassing to see foreigners haggling over a few cents.

Petty Crime in Vietnam.

Vietnam is one of the safest countries I have ever lived in. It is safer than Australia and most Western countries.

But opportunistic petty crime can be a pain. It is not rampant, but there is enough to make you nervous about holding your mobile phone in a street situation. I have seen and been a victim, of people on motorbikes snatching your phone or bag if you are negligent in safety.

Vietnam Hospitals and Doctors.

The doctors who have helped me here in Ho Chi Minh City have been great. Let me tell you my hospital story about bowel cancer and then the little niggling things that don’t quite add up.

Approximately 11 years ago my stomach swelled up and I was rushed to hospital after several days of constipation. I had a bowel blockage caused by a cancerous growth.

I was taken to surgery ASAP and operated on over 17 hours. The doctors saved my life, however it did cost me about $15,000. Probably not much for the USA, but a lot here. Anyway, I certainly couldn’t complain.

That being said, medical communication in Vietnam differs greatly from that of medical communication in my own country. In Vietnam they give you only the essential information here, ignoring any things they consider to be “optional.”

Not being able to buy what I want.

After living in Vietnam for so long it can become difficult to buy certain things, especially clothes in Western sizes. Purchasing specialized sports goods, hardware, large-sized clothing and shoes, and other uncommon items can be quite difficult in Vietnam.

I am frequently compelled to buy goods from abroad or arrange for a family member to buy them for me and have them shipped to Vietnam. Of course, this operation means that there are often long delivery delays—up to one month.

A real pain if you want the right-sized underpants.

Final Say.

Overall I love Vietnam, but if you are thinking about staying for a while it is also good to know about the problems.


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.






How To Avoid Teacher Burnout in ESL

Avoiding ESL Burnout.

Teaching ESL can be a rewarding but challenging career. You get to interact with students from different cultures and backgrounds, help them improve their language skills, and witness their progress. But it can also be stressful, exhausting, and demanding. How do you avoid burnout teaching ESL? Here are some tips that might help:

Tips for Sanity.

– Set realistic goals and expectations. Don’t try to do everything at once or expect perfection from yourself or your students. Focus on what you can control and celebrate small achievements. Some students are great, some not so much, but you are helping them even if they don’t know it.

– Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Eat well, sleep enough, exercise regularly, and find time to relax and recharge. You can’t teach well if you’re not feeling well. Try not to party too much. It tends to happen when you first arrive in a foreign country, especially Asia.

– Seek support and feedback. Connect with other ESL teachers, join online communities, attend workshops, or find a mentor. Share your challenges and successes, ask for advice, and learn from others’ experiences. Build a network of friends you can talk to about any problems at work. Personal problems will happen and having someone to talk to is a literal lifesaver.

– Be creative and flexible. Try new methods, materials, and activities in your lessons. Experiment with different ways of teaching and learning. Adapt to your students’ needs and interests. Keep things fresh and fun for yourself and your students. Learn new stuff, It makes class life more exciting and fun. Go into your class and focus on having fun and the students will warm to you immediately which will make your teaching easier.

– Remember your purpose and passion. Remind yourself why you chose to teach ESL and what you love about it. Think about the positive impact you have on your students lives and the difference you make in the world. You are helping others achieve their dreams and traveling the world at the same time. Not many get to do this, so revel in the joy.

  • If Things Get Bad. Do not hesitate to contact me or a professional if you are suffering. There are online services that provide help. You can use this link. I Want to Talk.

What are some fun ESL activities?

Here are some ideas that you can try in your classroom:

– Games: Games are a great way to motivate students, practice vocabulary, grammar, and skills, and have fun. You can use board games, card games, online games, or create your own games based on the topic or skill you want to teach.

– Songs: Songs are a wonderful way to expose students to authentic language, culture, and pronunciation. You can use songs to teach vocabulary, grammar, listening, speaking, or writing skills. You can also have students sing along, fill in the blanks, or write their own lyrics.

– Stories: Stories are a powerful way to engage students’ imagination, creativity, and emotions. You can use stories to teach reading, writing, speaking, or listening skills. You can also have students read aloud, act out, or write their own stories.

– Projects: Projects are a good way to integrate different skills, topics, and resources in a meaningful way. You can use projects to teach research, presentation, collaboration, or problem-solving skills. You can also have students work individually or in groups on topics that interest them. This takes a bit of time to set up and is better with more advanced students, however, the benefits are amazing. I have a lot of ideas on my website about this.

– Websites: There are a lot of websites that you can use for free that will help you in the classroom. Here is a link to some of them. Teaching Websites.

– My Website; I have a lot of stuff that can help you teach from young kids to adults if you take the time to check out my site. It is all free and I do not advertise. Yet. Lol. Here is the link to my website. MY WEBSITE.

Final Thoughts.

My Father and Mother were both teachers as well as my brother, so chalk flows through my veins. I have been teaching in Vietnam for over 15 years and now own 2 schools, so I know what I am talking about. Burnout is a thing we all have to cope with, and how we cope is what makes the difference.


Some links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through these links, I will make a commission on them. There will be no extra cost to you and, you could actually save money. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Teaching in Vietnam with a Colostomy Bag.

Funny but Freaky.

About 11 years ago I had a bowel cancer problem and ended up with a colostomy bag.

And I want to tell you a funny story that happened to me when I went back to teaching in a Vietnamese primary school.

A Big Stomach.

It all started with me being “blocked-up”. I couldn’t pass anything in the “nether regions”. And I just thought, “ah well, living in Vietnam I am accustomed to this happening”. But after 5 days I started getting a bit worried. Day 7 and my stomach had swelled up like a balloon. It was rock hard and no amount of water or laxatives would get things moving.

My wife eventually got me to go to hospital and after an x-ray or several the doctors told me I had cancer of the bowel. They also told me they needed to operate immediately. To say I was “freaked out” is to put it mildly. The same day they operated on me and after a 12-hour operation I woke up. More stories about this part later, and yes we get to the truly disgusting and funny parts soon.

Back to Teaching English.

After 2 to 3 months off recovering the wallet told me I had to get back to work. All good except I had a colostomy bag that I had to carry around for another month while my “insides” were recovering.

At this stage I was working in a primary school teaching English to kids from 6 to 12 years of age in Ho Chi Minh City. Young kids and a teacher with a colostomy bag, no problems right? It was an accident waiting to happen and it ended in a veritable “shite storm”.

Same Same, but Different.

I had been back teaching and things had been going well. Just another day teaching truly great kids. I had no mishaps and I always had a spare set of clothes “just in case”. And little did I know it, but on this day I was definitely going to need them (and then some).

All the teachers knew I was wearing a colostomy bag and so did the children. An announcement at one assembly by the Principal saying “Mr Stephen had a “Tui Colostomy” and please do not bump into him or hug him. This announcement was made at the start of my return to work and “today” as I found out, it would be forgotten.

My morning classes of the day had gone well and it was a beautiful hot day. It ended up being lucky that it was a hot day as I was going to need that fast drying time. I was walking down the outside balcony on the way to the staff room for a coffee.

No Coffee Today.

There would be no coffee that morning for me. I was walking and talking with my T.A. (teachers assistant) when a young student of about 6 years old rushed up to me and gave me big hug. Vietnamese kids are really nice and this was a good student from one of my classes. However, you can imagine a 6-year-old kid and a colostomy bag come in around the same height and I knew the “proverbial” was about to hit the fan.

I looked down and was surprised that everything looked ok. I should have known better. One whiff and I knew we had a leak, the ship was going down. I excused myself to the TA and grabbed my bag and took off to the nearest bathroom. Luckily for me, these toilets had a shower, I didn’t know it yet, but I was going to need them.

A Veritable Shite Storm.

I got to the bathroom intact and started to strip down. By the time I got into the cubicle, I knew it was going to be bad because the smell had ramped up to level 9. I got to the bag and as soon as I touched it the bloody thing exploded. You might think these things can’t explode, and I never thought before then they could either. But I was dealing with a shite bomb and when I say it exploded, it went everywhere.

The bag had been full and when it went “off” it hit the roof, covered the walls, and splashed all over the floor. It could not have been worse. Luckily there was no one else in the toilets. Or if there were they must have quickly left because of the stench. It was like “Dantes inferno”, fecal matter was dripping from the ceiling and the walls looked like they had been smeared with old rotten cabbage and I can’t even describe the floor.

Thank god my spare clothes were in a plastic bag.

It Could Only Get Worse.

I very quickly grabbed my stuff and moved into the shower and washed me, my bag, and my first outfit. I also always carried spare colostomy bags, tape, etc, and for everything squared away. Twenty minutes and I started feeling I had pulled it off and could flee the scene of the crime unscathed and uncaught.

In hindsight, I should have just stuffed everything into my bag and run. However, I thought I would drape my clothes in the sun for 10 minutes and partially dry them off. Bad move.

The Cleaning Lady

I knew I had made a mistake as soon as I saw the cleaning lady head into the toilets. It was impossible to clean my cubicle and it was still in the same state as when I left it when the cleaning lady headed in. OMG.

She had seen me draping my clothes on the balcony and you didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what had happened. I had never seen a Vietnamese person turn white before today. She came out after about 3 seconds and just looked at me, shook her head and fled. I believe she never came back and I guess she had some burning questions that would never be answered. Or at least not by me as I fled the scene of the crime too and luckily had finished teaching for the day.

Life as Usual

I did go back to the school the next day and nothing was ever said to me about it. It is times like this you have to admire the politeness of the Vietnamese people. But I did get the odd funny look and none of the Vietnamese teachers sat next to me for a couple of weeks. Just in case I guess.

When you come to Vietnam to work you will acquire your own “funny” life stories, however, I truly hope this never happens to you.


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Vietnam Visa and Travel Information

this is about getting Visas for Vietnam. It covers tourists but is mainly for English teachers.

Vietnam Visas for ESL and EFL Teachers.

So why is now the opportune time to look at your visa and resident details? Well for one it is the start of a new semester and doing it now before the schools are running at full steam, makes sense. The latest updates seem to be around trying to woo foreign tourists back into Vietnam.

March 15th Updates.

The Vietnam Government on Tuesday (March 15, 2022) agreed to resume its unilateral visa exemption policy for citizens from 13 countries as Vietnam seeks to reopen inbound tourism after nearly two years of closure.

Citizens from Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K. will be allowed to visit Vietnam for up to 15 days without a visa regardless of passport type and entry purpose.

The Vietnam Government also announced to resume other pre-pandemic immigration procedures for foreigners and overseas Vietnamese.

Contact Phone Numbers.

Before I start flooding you with information about visas, I will provide a list of contact details and phone numbers that will help you get your questions answered.

1. Address:

+ In Hanoi: No. 44 – 46 Trần Phú street, Ba Đình ward, Hanoi, Vietnam. Phone: (+84) 4 38257941.

Related procedures: Renew visa, Extend visa, issue Temporary Resident Card for foreign citizens staying Vietnam.

+ In Ho Chi Minh: 254 Nguyễn Trãi street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam. Phone: (+84) 8 9201701

Related procedures: Renew visa, Extend visa, issue Temporary Resident Card for foreign citizens staying in Southern Of Vietnam and provinces of Mekong Delta.

+ In Danang: No. 7 Trần Quý Cáp street, Đà Nẵng city, Quảng Nam province, Vietnam. Phone: (84) 07511.823383

Related procedures: Renew visa, Extend visa, issue Temporary Resident Card for foreign citizens staying in Center and Central Highlands of Vietnam.

2. Phone Number:

+ Number (+84) 4 8264026: ask for entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam; repatriation of Vietnam citizens residing abroad.

+ Number (+84) 4 8260922: ask for the exit and entry of citizens of Vietnam.

+ Number (+84) 4 9345609: ask for the sanctioning of administrative violations in the field of Immigration.

+ Number (+84) 4 8257941: ask for the exit and entry procedure at the border and other related issues in fields of Immigration.

Types of Visa.

Popular types of Vietnam visas: In total there are 20 different types of visas, with the below being the most popular.

  • Tourist visa (DL)
  • Business visa (DN)
  • Student/internship visa (DH)
  • Working visa (LĐ)

A1 is granted for official members who are invited guests of Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam or Congress, President, Government and equal guest of Minister, Deputy, President or vice president’s people committee of province or centrally run cities combination with those relatives or assistants coming with them.

A2 is granted for those who are members or representations of foreign governments and those relatives or assistant entering with them.

A3 is used for those who enter into Vietnam to work with foreign commissions or are invited by foreign commissions.

B1 is used for those who enter into Vietnam to work with the People’s Supreme inspectorate, the Supreme people’s court, ministries, and equal ministries, government agencies, the people’s committee of a province, central cities, and central agencies of people’s organizations, union or public.

B2 is granted for those who enter Vietnam to process investment projects accepted by Vietnam-authorized organizations.

B3 is granted for foreigners who co-operate with Vietnam enterprises

B4 is used for those who are staff working in foreign authorized offices, branches of culture-economic organizations or other fields, and non-government foreign organizations whose branches are located in Vietnam.

C1 is granted to those who enter into Vietnam for tourist purposes.

C2 is granted for those who want to enter into Vietnam with other purposes that are different from the above purpose.

D is used for those who haven’t been sponsored by Vietnam commissions, organizations, or other individuals.

Note: D visa category which is not more than 15 days validity. The Other visas are more than 30 days validity.

Visa Stamping Fee.

The fee you have to pay on arrival is called the “Visa Stamping Fee” and must be paid in cash at the “Landing Visa Counter” at the airport you arrive.

25 USD/person for less than 90 days single entry

50 USD/person from 30 days to less than 90 days multiple entries visa

95 USD/person from 90 days to less than 180 days multiple entries visa

135 USD/person for 1-year multiple entries visa

Are You Confused Yet?

If you wish to come to Vietnam to teach, this is the best advice I can give you.

There are 2 main options if you want to be a teacher or conduct business in Vietnam. These include.

Arriving on a Tourist Visa. ( Or an E-Visa on arrival)

Arriving on a Business Visa. (Sponsorship letter needed for business visa)

Look here at Vietnam-e-visa dot org to find out more information.

You can enter Vietnam on a tourist or business Visa, which a lot of future ESL teachers do. You can organize this via a Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your home country or you can apply online. Here is a sample of each ( Do not use these as they are samples only)

A lot of teachers then organize jobs (if not done before) and will negotiate with the schools to do the work permit and other documentation needed or arrange for a private business to do it for them. Please be careful as there are some less than scrupulous businesses around.

It is a good idea to join a Facebook group like Vietnam Visa advice who will guide you in the right direction. If you join these forums you will get advice to the latest “visa runs” or runs to the border to get new visas.

More Paperwork.

Vietnam is a country that loves its paperwork and there is a lot more for you to do before you can walk inside the classroom. For a start, you will need work permits and doctors certificates along with a police record check from your home country.

Now we are opening up again after covid, there will be a strong need for ESL/EFL Teachers. To stay ahead of the pack and get recruited first I would make sure I have all my documents available.

Look at my past post about what extra paperwork to bring to Vietnam here at “How to teach English in Vietnam

Visa and covid rules.

All destinations in Vietnam are open and self-isolation is not necessary. The main ideas of the new rules are entry requires a visa and travel insurance. The minimum level of insurance is $10,000 of medical insurance that covers covid-19 treatment.

The simple entry standards also include that the covid-19 app (available on Apple or Google Play), is required if visiting any Vietnamese establishments.

Visitors are asked to self-monitor for 10 days following admission and should contact the closest medical facility if they see any COVID-19 symptoms.

Sanitation, social isolation, and surgical masks are always necessary. Children under two are permitted outside with an adult. And teachers are advised to wear masks in the classroom.

Final Thoughts.

This is a very brief overview of a forever-changing and challenging set of rules to comply with. While it is not overly complicated,( unless you have a temporary Resident card), it can become extremely annoying having to forever (or feels like it) deal with visas.


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to be an ESL Teacher.

This will give you some things to think about if you want to become an ESL teacher.

So You Want To Be an ESL Teacher.

This is not the sort of career that you sit down when you are 12 o 13 and think, wow, I want to be an ESL teacher. But for whatever reason you have chosen to be an ESL teacher, this will show you how it can be done.

There are a few different ways you can become an ESL teacher as not all schools and not all countries demand that you have a University degree. And even those that require a degree can be pretty flexible in their approach to what degree is relevant. I have seen people with degrees in non-related topics that are accepted for a teaching job.

However, I will give you what is considered by most countries as needed for this position. And I will also show some alternatives to the traditional approach.

What is The Job About?

Being an ESL or EFL teacher can be an immensely satisfying job, but don’t expect the salary to be extraordinary. ( I will talk more about salaries soon.) ESL or English as a Second Language or EFL, or English as a Foreign Language are the acronyms you will become most used to seeing.

Teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) assist non-native English speakers in learning to speak, read, understand, and write the language. They may work at language academies, public or private schools, or out of their homes or the homes of their students, giving private lessons.

ESL Teachers Responsibilities.

The objective of an ESL instructor is to instruct and guide pupils who are learning English as a second language. ESL instructors frequently employ a real-world setting to help their students better understand the language’s intricacies. When interacting with pupils from other cultures.

ESL teachers need to be flexible, inventive, and attentive to the expected cultural variations. Teachers of English as a second language frequently serve as mentors, counselors, and liaisons for families and students who are just settling into a new location.

All grade levels (K–12) of students may be served by ESL teachers in the public school system. They frequently remove ESL students from the regular classroom and place them in a separate space where they can work with them in small groups or one-on-one to develop their English abilities. These small groups may include English language learners of various ages and grade levels who all require assistance with their language skills, depending on the size of the school.

This does not always happen. I have been in classes with 50 students that learn on a regular basis with limited resources. If nothing else, ESL teachers need to be flexible and able to think on their feet. It can be one of the most mentally challenging jobs out there. But when you have had a great day, you will feel like a “rock n roll” star.

But do not think all students who wish to learn English as a second language are K-12 or learn only through a private schooling system. As different as the student and their needs are, there are different ways to teach the student for their skill levels and age.

Who Will You Be Teaching?

One, amongst many, things I enjoy about teaching ESL is that after a while you can have a better choice of who you wish to teach. Depending on which schooling system and country you teach in will determine who you teach.

Let’s look at a few alternatives. First, if you are teaching in a public school system for children you can expect to be teaching K-12 and everything that comes with it. The good and the not-so-good, depending on your outlook. Teaching younger children can be extremely rewarding but should be mixed up with games and a lesson plan that takes into account a reduced attention span for learning. Read more about “How to teach ESL to Kids

If you are teaching older children or teenagers in the public school system your approach will be different again. And you will also have a different curriculum if you are teaching in an academy. But teenagers need to be taught differently from children and adults. You can read more here. “How to Teach ESL To Teenagers”

And, age group-wise, adults will normally be taught in a private school or a private lesson situation. Some companies will also arrange for lessons to be conducted in-house or at a place that is suitable for everyone. I have even rented out rooms in coffee shops that can be used as a temporary classroom. You can read more about teaching adults here at “How to teach ESL to Adults.”

While you can change throughout your career as an ESL teacher, it is a lot better if you choose the age groups that you wish to teach first. But try a few lessons with each age group first. Because what you believe may happen in the classroom is probably different from what you will experience. Remember, a good teacher is a happy teacher.

What Qualifications Do You Need?

The 1990s and thereabouts have gone and so has the more laid-back approach to teaching ESL and EFL. In the days when you could jump off a plane in a foreign country, like Thailand or Vietnam, and start teaching English the following week have long gone.

These days most countries have a more stringent approach. But there are still some places that are open to a less rigorous educational background. Some of the Asian destinations are prime examples.

Ideally, you will have a 4-year bachelor’s degree that is teaching or linguistic focused. When you start applying for positions make sure you have transcripted copies of your degree ( and your other paperwork) as you do not wish to hand over any originals.

On top of your degree, you will need an English Teacher license. You will find most Universities are more than willing to provide a course that will give you an English teacher’s License. At the end of the day, employers will not differentiate between a university or private course.

Udemy, as per my side banner, provides TEFL teacher training courses. You can also find a little more information here in my post “ESL Teacher Training”

The advice I would give here is to look online at the country you have chosen to teach in and see what teacher training is offered. Only because most teacher training schools will have contacts with schools within their own country that may make getting a job easier and quicker

What can I make?

Most information as soon as it is posted is out of date. And when it comes to salaries it is, in my opinion, doubly so. However, I have used some information provided by The International TEFL academy to give you a quick rule of thumb.

I have been teaching in Vietnam now for 15 years and have 2 English schools. I have worked in private companies and public schools and have taught all levels of students.

Source; International TEFL Academy.

The amount that is shown here is an indication only of what you can make. If you are ambitious and have a passion for teaching your business will be exponentially better than the figures shown. Likewise, if you hate teaching and do minimum work your salary may be less. You can find more salary information here about “ESL salaries

Final Thoughts.

Teaching English overseas is a truly wonderful way to see the world and find out what people are like in their own country. The job itself is both challenging and rewarding. Without trying to sound cliched, you will be pulling your hair out one day and cursing your choice of jobs. The next day when things click you will feel like that rock star I talked about before.

Yes, you can make a great living if you are prepared to adjust to a different lifestyle and work while others are partying. And you will meet some great people. Teaching EFL in another country may mean that your new friends come and go. A lot of teachers use teaching EFL as a passport to travel the world, so while you meet a lot of new people, old friends become scarcer and scarcer.

In my opinion, the lifestyle of an ESL teacher is extremely rewarding and the positive input that you give to your students’ lives is second to none.


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to Teach ESL to Kids.

This will help you teach ESL to the younger students and make life easier for you.

Teaching English to Kids.

Teaching any subject to kids can be challenging and teaching English to non-native English speakers can be a daunting endeavor and has its own particular problems. And not just because of class size or skill level of the students.

You’ll need a lot of patience, particularly because every child learns differently and at a different pace.

Teaching ESL to youngsters, on the other hand, is also extremely fulfilling. Remember that youngsters have limited attention spans and that teaching them requires patience as well as a sense of fun and humor.

Here are a few tips that will make it easier for you in the classroom.

My Top Ten Tips for the Kids ESL Classroom.

Make use of visuals

Images are excellent for aiding learning. A child may not realize that the term “book” means “book,” but they are aware of what a book looks like. 

Children will be able to deepen their understanding by integrating text and graphics. There are many places online you can get flashcards (Or make your own) that makes learning easier. 

Furthermore, photos and posters provide color to your classroom, making it more interesting and conducive to learning.

Keep it simple.

This is one of the most crucial steps in teaching English to children. Simple words will allow your students to gain their knowledge, which you can then build on. 

These may include phrases like “sit down,” “put your pencils down,” and “open your books,” among others. Keep your wording succinct, informative, and easy to comprehend. 

And don’t forget to teach the fundamentals, such as “may I have some water?” and “may I use the restroom?”

You will want to check to see if they comprehend the short instructions you’ll use in class after teaching them. 

Keep it lighthearted.

Encourage your kids to practice and use the language you’ve taught them by utilizing a variety of activities. Incorporate your pupils’ hobbies as well, so they are motivated to study!

Furthermore, nothing is more tedious for the pupils to read from a textbook and complete drab worksheets with a lot of text and no visuals. When it comes to teaching basic English, be creative and use colorful worksheets.

Making learning interesting in the classroom is simple and does not imply just playing games or acting the fool. 

There is a plethora of entertaining instructional tools available to promote ESL learning, including a variety of games and activities that drive language growth in novel ways.

More on games can be found in my piece “How to Engage Your EFL Student.”

Mix things up a little.

When children are only taught in one way, they rapidly get disinterested and bored. You may cover a variety of learning types while also making your lessons engaging and fascinating by employing multiple learning formats.

We understand that creating all of these materials takes time, but here is a list of my “top 10 websites for ESL teachers” that will make your job easier.

Use Technology in the classroom.

Using resources like Powerpoint and other technology is an important method to involve children in a class. 

There are a multitude of apps, interactive games, and platforms available for teachers to employ in their classes, including these I have listed under ” Technology in the classroom“.

Get them talking.

Overuse of Teacher talk is something I see a lot with novice ESL teachers.  Your job is to get the student to talk, not for you to continually talk.

However, there must be some content focused on listening as the listening skill is the first and arguably most important skill to learn. 

It will be tough for children to initiate English discussions if they are just at a basic level. That means it’s up to you to keep them talking and improve their communication abilities. 

To keep children involved in the language, ask them questions while they work or finish activities.

Sing songs.

Songs are a terrific method to get kids interested in learning and can also aid with memory recall. 

Remember that annoying ” ABC ” song that all the ESL kids sing and you just can’t get out of your head? 

For your students, this works in exactly the same way. Memorizing songs can be a great way to help children remember vocabulary.

Use Real-Life objects.

This is especially effective when discussing themes like food, clothing, the home, or anything else where you have easily available materials to support learning.

Bring some food or plates, cups, forks, etc. to class if you wish to improve your student’s food and utensil vocabulary. Check to see if your kids can select the proper utensil or food item that you layout.  

If you want to focus on clothes vocabulary, take a trip to your wardrobe and pull out some clothes to show. You can also invest a little money and do classroom dress-ups. 

This type of interactive learning is ideal for children since it is more engaging than out-of-context learning.

Practice makes perfect.

You can’t expect your students to understand things straight away.  You should give a range of examples and give your students plenty of time to practice what you’ve just taught them. then check for understanding.

When teaching beginners English, this usually entails drilling the students (but not for too long), followed by individual or group practice. Make sure the kids know it’s okay to make mistakes during practice so they don’t feel pressured to get it right the first time.

Use positive reinforcement.

Another key aspect of teaching English to young students is to provide positive feedback. If someone gives an incorrect answer, give them encouraging feedback and correct them. 

Never make a student feel embarrassed in front of the entire class. Because if you do they will turn off and learn to hate studying English. Instead, attempt to establish a welcoming environment in the classroom by frequently complimenting your students, even if they make mistakes.

When teaching English to beginners, for example, if they get the term right but mispronounce it, say something like, “Okay, good!” and then repeat the word with the correct pronunciation so that the student is not embarrassed and the rest of the class hears the correct pronunciation.


For both novice and veteran ESL teachers, teaching English to children can be a lot of fun. Although preparing content for teaching English to beginners may seem difficult at first, you will quickly become accustomed to it. 

It’s also quite satisfying when your kids want to talk to you outside of class to tell you about their accomplishments. It’s incredible to watch them progress from having no skills to being able to communicate in basic English!

Following these suggestions will help you gain the respect of both your students and their parents. 

Continue to praise your kids so that they do not become disheartened when they make mistakes. Praise will assist them in being self-assured learners who are not intimidated by a foreign language. Be the teacher you always looked up to.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching in Vietnam for over 15 years and have my own small school. I am also the author of this article and owner of this website. You can check me out on YouTube below.

Post Covid

My School in Vietnam

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to Teach ESL to Adults

Teaching English to Adults.

Adult ESL instructors must be aware that their students’ learning styles differ slightly from those of children. According to studies, the ordinary adult is expected to be self-motivated and to have a clear goal in mind when learning a new subject or language.

These two characteristics alone suggest that adult ESL teaching methods differ slightly from those used with younger students. Furthermore, the learning environment, as well as the courses, should be more formalized and systematic.

Because the need for ESL lessons should be increasingly focused on adult learning, here are some considerations to make while teaching.

Learning can be More Challenging.

When it comes to learning a new language, adults have different needs, demands, and difficulties than younger students. The inherent ability to learn a second language begins to decline around adolescence and continues to decline as we grow older.

To attain competency or fluency, your adult pupils must actively and consciously learn a language. If you’re teaching individuals who are complete beginners with no prior English expertise or exposure, this can be a difficult task for them.

Even individuals who have had previous exposure to the language can easily forget what they’ve learned, struggle with grammatical concepts that are foreign to them, and feel self-conscious or humiliated about their abilities and development

Understand Why Your Student Wants to learn English.

First and foremost, try to understand each student’s requirements and preferences, and then do your best to inspire the student by providing demanding exercises that he or she is capable of doing.

A teacher should be able to assess a student’s ability to manage different levels of difficulty. Correctly accessing your new student is critical, as you do not want to place them in a class that is too difficult and likewise a class that is boring and not challenging for them.

Here are the different levels for adult learners as laid out by the C.E.F.R.

The Different Levels ( C.E.F.R.)

The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) is a global standard for describing language proficiency. It uses a six-point scale to describe language proficiency, ranging from A1 for novices to C2 for those who have mastered a language.

A1 Beginners.

At the end of English level A1, you will be able to,

  • Understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases.
  • Introduce yourself and others.
  • Ask and answer questions about personal details (for example, where you live, people you know and things you have.
  • Interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

A2 Elementary.

At the end of English level A 2, you will be able to,

  • Understand statements and terms that are commonly utilized in common places. This includes fundamental personal and family information, as well as shopping, local geography, and work opportunities.
  • Easy and everyday actions requiring a direct and simple exchange of information.
  • Describe your background and present concerns in simple terms.

B1 Pre Intermediate / Intermediate.

At the end of English level B 1, you will be able to,

  • Understand the essential points on topics that you encounter on a regular basis at work, school, or in your own time.
  • Deal with the majority of problems that may occur while traveling in an English-speaking location.
  • Create simple linked text about topics that are familiar or particular to you.
  • Describe your experiences and events, as well as your dreams, hopes, and objectives, and briefly explain your ideas and plans.

B2 Upper Intermediate.

At the end of English level B 2, you will be able to,

  • Understand the essential points of a complex text on a wide range of topics, including technical talks in your field of expertise.
  • Interact with a level of fluency and spontaneity that allows for regular interactions with native speakers without putting either side under stress.
  • Produce clear, informative literature on a variety of topics and express a point of view on a current situation, including the benefits and drawbacks of alternative options.

C1 Advanced.

At the end of English level C 1 you will be able to,

  • Understand and recognize underlying meaning in a variety of challenging, longer texts.
  • Express yourself fluently and naturally without obviously searching for expressions.
  • Use language in a flexible and effective manner for social, intellectual, and professional reasons.
  • Produce clear, well-structured, thorough text on complicated issues using organizational patterns, linkages, and cohesive devices in a controlled manner.

C 2 Proficiency.

At the end of English level C 2 you will be able to,

  • You can understand almost anything you hear or read easily.
  • Summarize information from a variety of oral and written sources, putting arguments and accounts together in a logical order.
  • Even in increasingly difficult situations, express yourself freely, fluently, and precisely, distinguishing finer shades of meaning.

You can find some great resources at British Council, including lesson plans for each level from A1 to C1.

Points to Remember.

Be Nice.

If your student is having trouble grasping a subject that you believe is straightforward, make sure you reply with patience and respect. Your attitude will be revealed through your tone, body language, and behavior. This is understood by the students, regardless of how little English they know.

Remember that learning English is only a small part of their lives, and while you may have greater skills in this area, they may have more professional and life experience. Maintain a courteous demeanor.

Make it Fun.

Everyone likes to laugh, and while your classes will be more structured than a children’s or teenagers class, don’t forget to have a bit of fun at the same time.

Some of the best social interactions I have had with my students is when we have gone out to a restaurant or even just for a coffee.

Your students are Adults and you can be a little more risque. Just make sure you are culturally appropriate and your comments or attempts at humor don’t come across as inappropriate or rude.

Make it age-appropriate.

Make sure your courses are relevant to your adult students’ life, even if they are complete beginners. While it is simple and effective to use children’s books and materials, it may appear patronizing to them.

Plan your courses instead around their current objectives, such as how to fill out a job application, study for a citizenship test, or practice interview questions for a new job.

Provide Positive Feedback.

Adults require a lot of encouragement. If they struggle or take a long time to remember something, they may become disheartened.

Get a comprehensive picture of your pupils’ language level before you start teaching, and leverage what they already know to help them gain confidence. You may start introducing new language from there, and they’ll feel more confident knowing they have a solid base.

Take it slowly and don’t try and rush, we all have different styles of learning and some may take longer than others. It is not a race, sometimes I have found the slower student becomes the most proficient in the long run.

Talk Slowly, Clearly and Directly

Quite often ESL students do not comprehend nuance, and there may be moments when you need to discuss a sensitive topic like personal manners or healthcare. In these situations,

I’ve found that role-play is one method to get the idea across in a non-threatening yet direct manner. Also, body language is something that is easily understood and should be made use of if you are having trouble getting the students to understand.

And sometimes it is even worth translating a word into the students native language if nothing else is working.


It is also critical for the teacher to remember that the lessons that the students learn will be used outside of the classroom at some point. We must keep it relevant to what the student needs, whether it is traveling or work or whatever the students needs are.

There are a slew of issues that come with studying English as a second language. The language barrier is perhaps the most difficult, which is why many teachers still struggle to correct the pronunciation of some English terms, grammatical faults, and so on.

However, it is still the teacher’s obligation to make an attempt to break down these barriers and establish a positive learning atmosphere for the students.

Learn how you can make money as an ESL teacher by visiting my post ” How to Make Money Teaching ESL

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen, and I’ve been teaching English as a second language/English as a foreign language for over 15 years and own a school in Vietnam. I am also the proprietor of this website and the author of this post.

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to Teach Grammar to ESL Students.

Teaching Grammar to ESL students.

Teachers frequently shy away from grammar lessons because they are not fun to teach and can be immensely boring for the student.

Before they can do anything, the students must sit silently and listen to a lecture on the present perfect, present simple, past participle, or whatever grammatical topic you are addressing.

For a variety of reasons, it can be difficult. Lessons can be tedious. It’s possible that the grammar is too difficult for the students. Or they become bored and lose focus.

As a result, the teacher may become overwhelmed when attempting to present and explain all of the complicated rules.

How do we overcome this and make it a bit more fun and understandable?

Continue reading to learn a few tips about teaching ESL grammar classes.

Some Tips On Teaching ESL Grammar.

Let’s have a look at how to organize and deliver a good and pleasant grammar class.

We’ll walk you through a step-by-step teaching procedure that will fully engage your pupils in the lesson and ensure that they comprehend the rules without the need for lengthy, confusing explanations. And have a bit of fun at the same time.

1. Learn the rules yourself first.

If you grew up in an English-speaking household, you most likely picked up on grammar principles without even realizing it. While this makes you a natural speaker of the language, it might cause some difficulties while teaching it.

It is claimed that it is impossible to properly teach something that you do not understand yourself.

To put it another way, who would you choose as your teacher? Someone who knows what they’re talking about, or someone who is just pretending to know what they’re talking about?

2. Traditional approaches to teaching Grammar.

When it comes to teaching grammar, there are two main approaches that have been traditionally used. The two approaches are the deductive and inductive learning approaches.

Depending on your ESL student’s background, teaching inductively may be far more effective than teaching deductively.

Inductive learning.

The bottom-up method is another name for inductive learning. This strategy is widely used by teachers to help students especially those without recent educational backgrounds, such as adult learners, to learn more quickly.

To apply it, you teach grammar through a discovery process, in which students learn how the rules work through a series of tasks.

Deductive Learning.

The more traditional teaching method is when the teacher first explains the particular rules that govern each aspect of the grammar lesson then the students practice or do exercises.

Or, to put it another way, the teacher first explains the rules, after which he or she gives lessons based on those rules.

Although the deductive method is tried and tested, it is arguably less successful. Take the time to experiment with both and see what happens.

You can learn more at Udemy about teaching grammar.

3. Mix it up.

Create your own way of teaching Grammar by mixing both approaches and then adding your own unique touch.

For younger learners, you could use the inductive method and incorporate it in a TPR ( Total Physical Response ) style of teaching. Think outside the box and be creative in your approach to teaching grammar.

But first and foremost before you walk into the classroom prepare a lesson plan.

4. Do a Lesson Plan.

Far too many first-time ESL instructors enter the classroom without properly planning their lessons. Simply speaking the language does not guarantee that you can teach “off the cuff”.

Proper planning will allow you to avoid a lot of bad situations such as giving an explanation “off the cuff”, only to find out it is wrong.

The English language is complicated, and many rules include more exceptions than we would prefer. You don’t want to be caught off guard by one of those exceptions while speaking in front of the class.

Planning allows you to lay out the direction of your class ahead of time, including any relevant examples, ensuring that you have a flawless path for your students to follow. Let us go to the classroom.

5. Do a Warm-Up Activity.

Start your lesson by getting students engaged by playing a topic-relevant game.

For example, you can read out an article and ask your students how many times did you say the word “the”. ( You can also say pronouns or any point you wish the students to focus on )

You will quickly find them listening intently. You will probably need to read the ( short ) article 2 or 3 times.

Then ask them to give you the answer, you can turn this into a competitive game if you wish.

Most students will be wrong, but watch while they scour the text looking for the word “the”. You can also do it with punctuation. How many full stops, commas, etc. Now you have their attention, make the most of it.

6. Keep it Real.

Present the grammar in a way that has meaning and relevance, the students can start to understand what the structure means and why it’s used if they can relate it to a real-life situation.

Presenting the Grammar.

You could use the same article you used for a warm-up and highlight some examples of the target grammar topic.

Use a sentence containing the grammar items you are teaching and have students put it into their own words. But changing the meaning with their word substitution.

For example, if you’re teaching comparatives and superlatives and the sentence is “He is taller than his brother,” students might practice comparative adjectives by replacing “taller” with “larger,” “shorter,” “fatter,” “smarter,” and so on.

You can also include students’ names to make it more personal, just make sure you do not criticize any students accidentally.

7. Doing the Boring Bits.

Your goal is for students to be able to use the grammar taught after you teach it.

In order to do so, students must be taught the form, meaning, structure, and pronunciation correctly. This is where many teachers begin their lessons.

They believe it is their obligation to provide all of this information to the students in one foul sweep.

If you’re not careful, this stage can quickly devolve into a protracted, teacher-led rant that the kids have trouble following.

 Use a guided discovery process to help your students understand that boring grammar stuff.

Grammar Instruction Using Guided Discovery

Guided discovery is a worksheet or activity that guides pupils through the understanding of a grammar structure.

The beauty of guided discovery is that it encourages students to figure out the rules on their own rather than having the knowledge spoon-fed to them by the teacher.

This means that students will be more engaged, empowered, and invested in the learning process as a result. The following is an example of how a guided discovery works.

Example of Guided Discovery in Teaching irregular Verbs.

Despite the fact that there are only about 180 past tense verbs in modern English, they are the most regularly used verbs.

Almost seventy percent of the time, we use an irregular verb. The implication for grammar instruction is that irregular verbs are an extremely important area to cover.

So, how would I go about doing it?

I would pre-teach the words I was going to use and practice the pronunciation at the start, this should only take 15 minutes.

If it is taking longer you are trying to teach too many things or not explaining them properly. Then review quickly by asking questions.

If only one person doesn’t understand then it is probably that person. But if 50% of your class doesn’t understand it is definitely you.

Which means you have not prepared your lesson properly. Sorry, but true.

8. Introduce the activity.

Now, get the students to practice what they have learned. You can get them to do it individually or some people recommend pairing up your students. I have found by pairing up students they have a lot of fun talking to one another but don’t do much work.

My preference is to get them to work independently and concentrate on their own learning. This is also easier for you to check if they understand by asking them to put their name on the sheet and checking it later.

So what activity or study tool, I hear you say?. If we wanted to teach irregular verbs we could use something like this.

Here is an example of a word cloze activity.

Now get them to practice after completing.

9. Practice the Target English Grammar

Now the students need a chance to practice what they’ve learned. Here are a couple of fun, interactive practice ideas for irregular verbs you can use.

Class Survey.

Get the students to write two or three questions they would like to ask all of their classmates, using irregular verbs.

For example: What did you eat for breakfast. And the answer could be, I ate cereal for breakfast. Etc.

Allow pupils to ask any questions they wish.

As students prepare their questions, keep an eye on them to assist them and fix any problems that arise.

Then tell the kids that they must collect information on the questions they wrote from all of the other pupils.

They should all stand up and mingle, asking and recording questions from other students in the class. Getting them walking around also helps break the monotony.

Comic strip writing

This is a fun exercise, as there will be a variety of answers that may turn out to be hilarious.

Show the original comic and write it on the board. Then teach the target grammar item as above.

After verbally guessing the speech and learning the grammar from the original comic, have students fill in the speech bubbles on their own.

But only using the target grammar to make the content different from the original.

This is more suitable for flyers to intermediate-level students. You can tweak the activity for beginners by getting them to fill in the blanks.

For intermediate students, you can give helping words to guide them in their writing.

And there are many online resources you can use, here is a list of some of my favorites. ” My top 10 ESL Websites”


So there you have it: some ways for keeping your grammar pupils engaged and motivated.

By adding a variety of activities and resources, you may make grammar more enjoyable for both yourself and your students.

Spend some time gathering your resources, and you’ll be glad you did when you notice a difference in your students’ motivation levels in the classroom.

Your students and the school with which you work will see you as an excellent teacher.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen, and I’ve been teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) for over 15 years and own my own school. I also place teachers in both private and public schools throughout Vietnam.

I am also the author and owner of this website.

You can check out TET in HCMC on the YouTube link below.

TET 2022


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

What is it like living in Vietnam as an Ex-Pat?

Vietnam has grown in popularity and it is now widely acknowledged as a safe place for ex-pats to live and work. The pleasant weather, inexpensive cost of living, vibrant culture, and gradual improvements in Vietnam’s infrastructure all attract ex-pats. 

These are some of my thoughts and experiences about living in Vietnam for the past 15 years.

My experiences living in Vietnam.

When I first arrived at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh city the first thing I noticed was the smell. The locals smelled different, and that is because they do not eat so much beef and have a more mixed diet.

And I was told later that it is the same for Vietnamese. The Vietnamese can smell the meat coming out of foreigners pores.

That was more than 15 years ago. When I first came it was after the breakup of my first marriage, and I wanted to see a completely different culture.

The first time was a 3 week holiday and I  traveled from Hanoi to Halong Bay then onto Da Nang, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and then Ho Chi Minh city. it was during this time I fell in love with the country.

                                                           You can find out more about Vietnam here.

A brief return home.

I returned home and immediately decided to get a Tesol degree so I could teach English in Vietnam. That was the start.

Returning to Vietnam I secured a teaching job promptly after a mishap in Hanoi. I had been offered a job in Hanoi where it was said to be close to the city. 

My introduction to Vietnam

I flew up to Hanoi and was met at the airport by the school owner, who then drove me around for ages under the pretext of buying books. Just when it was getting dark he took me to his school and my promised accommodation.

The school was 2 hours from the capital and in the country. My accommodation was an unairconditioned room with a hole in the wall. it was a rather sleepless night battling the mosquitos. 

Two days later I packed my bags and headed to Ho Chi Minh city. I arrived in HCMC and got a job in the first week. 

This is when I knew I would be in for some very interesting experiences.

The next few years. 

The next few years went in a blur of working, meeting new friends, and having a great time. I established myself as a well-liked and known teacher and worked in various schools. I even spent 9 months working in Pleiku in the highlands of Vietnam.

During holidays I also traveled to Cambodia and Thailand. It is very cheap to travel around South East Asia and I made the most of it.

Outside my house in GoVap, HCMC. My photo.

Fast forward to today.

I am now living in Go Vap in ho Chi Minh city. A district that does not have a lot of foreigners in it. I have some amazing stories and have been on some incredible adventures. 

But quite often it is the unexpected things that take your breath away. For example, coming home one night I ran into this outside my house. My neighbors were celebrating TET with a dragon dance. 

The dragon dance originated in China about 2,500 years ago. The Vietnamese dragon dance is not just seen as a dance. It is a form of displaying martial arts, as the performers should be Kung Fu masters. 

Without the Kung Fu component, it would be seen as just a soulless puppet performance.

TET holiday

Tet is the big holiday of the year with a lot of activities and things to do. If you have only been in Vietnam for a short time it may seem boring because most activities are done at the home.

Tet Nguyên Dán, more usually abbreviated to Tet, is Vietnam’s most prominent and well-known holiday and festival. The name Tet Nguyên Dán means “Feast of the First Morning” in Sino-Vietnamese.

The dates of Lunar New Year vary from year to year, although it usually falls in late January or early February. Tet Holiday is considered the perfect time for family members to return home and gather together.  

For Vietnamese the Tet Holiday is an opportunity to relax and enjoy life after a long year of hard labor; as a result, people forget about their problems and concentrate on the festivities. They will also spend time shopping and visiting pagodas and temples during this time.

Tet is a time to relax, eat and enjoy life. And shop. district 1 in HCMC. My photo.

Pagodas and temples.

It is the sights, sounds, and smells that make Vietnam such an amazing place to visit. Often at night, you will hear the monks chanting when you are safely tucked up in bed. They will be up early and stay awake late and it is enchanting to listen to as you drift off to sleep.

Buddhism in Vietnam 

Buddhism, mostly of the Mahayana branch, is the most widely practiced religion in Vietnam. The exact date of Buddhism’s entrance to Vietnam is unknown. 

However, it is most likely around the year 200 of the Christian era. It arrived by northern routes from Central Asia and southern routes from India.

Types of Buddhism in Vietnam

Taoism, Chinese spirituality, and the indigenous Vietnamese religion all have a symbiotic relationship with Vietnamese Buddhism. 

The three Mahayana School of Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, and Vajrayana, are the most popular among Buddhists in Vietnam.

Pure Land Buddhism  ( Amidism ) and Zen Buddhism have taken over Buddhist life in Vietnam. Pure Zen was largely followed by monks and nuns, whereas Pure Land Buddhism was chosen by the general public.

You will see monks walking down the street wearing no shoes and yes. it is still a common sight in the outlying districts. 

My local Buddhist monastery. My photo.

What do I do now?

I now have my own school and am married to a Vietnamese lady. We have been teaching online as Vietnam has been quite badly affected by Covid. I also do teacher placements in Vietnam. If you want to look at my school click on the YouTube button below. 

My School in Vietnam

Life in Vietnam can be both fun and challenging, it depends on you how much you wish to enjoy it. But there are some big cultural differences. Those that can accept that do well, those that don’t, not so well.

I hope you enjoyed this brief read.


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

What are Vietnamese Students really like?

This is a post about how Vietnamese students view themselves and the overall problems facing students and teachers alike.

How do Vietnamese students see themselves?

When I ask my students what they think about the schools and teachers in Vietnam the main response is “Boring”. And the result is the students see themselves as lacking and describe themselves as lazy. But let us look behind the scenes a bit more.

The number of students in the school and classroom is huge. It is not uncommon for a class to have 50 students and if you get a class with only 30 students you should consider yourself lucky. This is not conducive to good teaching. There is not much individual teaching done in the classroom.

Very basic classroom tools.

Teachers tend to stand in front of the blackboard and write down the lesson of the day and then get the students to copy. While the students are copying the lesson into their notebooks the teacher will often just sit behind his or her desk and play with their phone.

There is also a distinct lack of technology in the classroom. Whatever technology is in the classroom is often paid for by the parents. Televisions, microphones, and DVD players are more common. But don’t expect a classroom full of computers.

And there are reasons for all of the above too. It is not an easy fix. Let us start with the problems the teachers face.

Teachers Problems

The native teachers of Vietnam have to deal with a lot of problems. And some of these only come to light after you have been teaching here for a while.

After teaching here for about 5 years, I got to talk to one of the teachers. She was worried because she was having another baby. Baby number 3. It seems the Ministry of Education frowns on more than 2 babies per family, so she was worried this would adversely affect her career. That blew me away as I thought this sort of thing only happened in China.

Another problem we can all relate to is that they are grossly underpaid. Their monthly income barely pays for rent and the cost of living. Only a few years ago they were getting the equivalent of $300 to $500 per month. Living in a big city makes it very difficult to make ends meet.

Extra activities

As a result of this, a lot of teachers take on extra teaching activities at home. Sometimes informing the parents that if their children don’t attend the extra classes they will get bad grades. This would seriously affect the students’ post-school ambitions.

Scheduling and timetables are a huge drain on the teachers of Vietnam. With classes starting at 7.00 to 7.30 am and going through to 4 or 5 pm, this is a seriously long day. As well as the long day the teachers are pushed into taking as many classes as possible while still having their own “home class” to look after.

As mentioned before class sizes are huge, with classes of 50 plus students not uncommon. In fact, they are more the norm rather than the exception. Pity the poor introvert teacher who has 55 talkative outgoing students in their class.

Lesson planning helps overcome this and you can find out more ==> HERE <==

Vietnamese English teachers.

When I first started teaching in the public schools I thought all the Vietnamese English teachers would come up to me and want to talk. No, it didn’t happen, and I started to think it must be me. But it wasn’t, they were scared that if they talked to me they would be found out that their English language skills were lacking.

Some of the faults of the Vietnamese English teachers are probably easy to understand. They focus more on Grammar than pronunciation. The outcome being the students know the grammatical aspects of the English language better than most native English speakers. However, they either can’t speak or are very limited in their speaking skills.

Native English speakers

And it is for this reason that native English speakers from the USA, England, Australia, and many other countries are employed to teach in the schools. Often this is also funded by the students’ parents.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some seriously good Vietnamese English teachers out there. But they are in the minority and are more progressive in their teaching approach. And even though I haven’t been told, I would think the “establishment” would consider their teaching methods too liberal.

Teaching English is both profitable and fun if you are a good teacher. But first, you have to learn before you earn. Udemy is a great resource for studying anywhere in the world. To check out their classes click the link below.

Now is a great time to get your English teaching license as the borders in Vietnam are just starting to open. You can find out more about International flights ==> HERE <==

The Vietnamese students | What are they like.

When it comes to learning English, Vietnamese students face many problems. It’s difficult in schools where class sizes are huge and English teachers are scarce in both quantity and quality.

One of the key issues is proper pronunciation. Students find it difficult to converse in English as a result of current teaching methods. English education should focus on helping students to speak and communicate effectively in the real world, not just on grammar.


When I started my journey as an EFL ( English as a foreign language) teacher, I envisioned spending 1 or 2 years in a lot of countries around the world. Time for “time-traveling”

I came to Vietnam first on holiday about 16 years ago after my first marriage fell apart, and I was desperately looking for something. But didn’t know what I was looking for.

I traveled from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city and met some amazing people, both locals and fellow tourists. I stopped off at a lot of places and had a great time.

After returning to my home country I knew I had been bitten by the travel bug. So I sorted my affairs, lol. And did a course on Teaching English and hightailed it back to Vietnam.

Fast forward to today.

I am still in Vietnam and one of the biggest reasons is the students. I find them fun and inquisitive, they are eager to learn and if you approach your class in the right way they will show you respect. it is not uncommon for students to bow to you outside the classroom. however, with the older students, I try to get them to just say “Hi” and introduce their parents.

Even though they describe themselves as lazy, they are some of the hardest working and enjoyable students I have ever had the pleasure to teach.

Students the world over.

Like students everywhere, they will test you and push your buttons. but once you have established the ground rules and talk to them at the same level and not down to them, you gain their respect and attention. 

I now have my own school in Vietnam. Lately because of Covid we have been teaching online. Yes, I still teach as I love it, it keeps me young. Teaching online produces its’ own problems. You can find out more ==> HERE <==

Once again the students have buckled down and worked exceptionally well. The online classes I do focus on pronunciation, talking, and vocabulary. Homework, yes I give homework, is written work. Below is one example of an assignment about work experience from one of my students. Jenny. An English nickname is chosen by her.

Jennys’ blog on work experience.

Written by one of my students.

“The work experience I had as a vet was one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of my life. The first day was exciting but overwhelming. I had never seen so many animals at once and there were many different types of them.

I learned how to identify and diagnose the animal’s symptoms and what might be wrong with them. I had to make some tough decisions on whether we should euthanize the animal or not, especially when they were in pain and we couldn’t help them anymore. It made me feel really emotional because you could tell that they trusted me to help them have a better life.”


I have not changed anything in this and am very proud to share it, with her blessing. She just asked, if you like it please share and leave a comment. She would be chuffed for a foreigner to reach out and say she is doing well. Jenny is only 14 years old, so pretty impressive.


Normally at the end of every post, I talk about myself, but as this post covers this, it could be better to show you my house in Vietnam. If you click on the YouTube button below it will take you to my YT account and you can check out my house with me.

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