Living in Vietnam.

Enjoying the Vietnamese Lifestyle.

What I want to write about today is a bit different from what I normally write about. But, it is one of the most important topics if you want to work or live in Vietnam for an extended period of time.

This article is not so much about what you can find in Vietnam or even what you should bring. But, it is about what you should leave at home.

Ethnocentrism and the Uneasy Traveller

According to the Oxford Dictionary “Ethnocentrism” is the ” evaluation of other cultures according to the preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of our own culture”

Before heading into the topic of a foreign teacher being fired (And what sparked this article) and the debate as to whether he should have been fired or not, I want to cover more on “moral codes” and what makes up “ethnocentricism”

Moral Codes and Cultural Differences.

Moral codes are a set of rules that show how a person should treat others and behave within society. They are learned through interactions with others in society by picking up behavioral standards within your cultural area.

Our moral codes are heavily dependent upon our culture. All these codes may cover aspects of our lives from how we act, how we dress, and how we treat others.

There are some moral codes that are regularly found throughout the world. These would be “though shall not kill” or “treat others as we would like to be treated”

However, each culture has its own idea as to what is right or wrong. These other aspects of moral codes are a direct reflection of the ethical thinking of that area.

Cultural Insensitivity in the Workplace.

I have been living and working in Vietnam for 16 years and I have seen a truckload of cultural insensitivity from both foreigners and Vietnamese. However, the thing to remember is that Vietnam is run by and for the Vietnamese and if we can understand that our life will be much easier.

I have often seen new foreign English teachers come to Vietnam with preconceived ideas telling the Vietnamese teachers how English should be taught. While some of the topics raised by the new teacher may be valid, they should take their time to find out how things are done. Losing “face” is still quite a big thing in Vietnam.

I remember talking to someone very high up in Sacom bank and we were discussing how banks (Being a capitalist entity) survived and thrived in Vietnam and how they dealt with the Government. The gentleman I was talking to gave me an example of how an idea that the bank has is introduced to the government.

First off the idea is planted within the government, at a lower “rank”, and allowed to percolate up to the top. Then a meeting between the bank and the government is organized during which the bank praises the government for its forward-thinking idea.

I’m not saying this is how teaching is, but it gives you some idea about the different approaches that need to be taken.

The Firing of a Foreign Teacher.

There was an incident very recently involving a foreign teacher, a security guard, students, and a Vietnamese teacher.

If it wasn’t so serious it would sound like the start of a bad joke. To start at the end, a foreign teacher was fired after a “scuffle” with a 65 year old security guard. The security guard was checking the names of students who were allowed to leave after the 4th lesson of the day.

At the school above, the 11th graders were allowed to leave as long as their names were on the guards’ list. The guard also checked the name tags of the students who were eligible to leave.

One of the 11th graders was wearing a jacket so the security guard could not see her name. When the security guard asked her to remove her jacket she refused and the guard started yelling at her. This is when the foreign teacher stepped in and pushed the guard over.

The “scuffle” then broke out after the guard was pushed over. Because of the violent acts carried out by both the teacher and guard the school board got together to discuss what should happen next.

The foreign teacher was allowed to continue teaching while the decision was being made about what was to be done with all parties. The head of the English department then asked the foreign teacher to refrain from posting anything on social media.

This seemingly didn’t go down well with the teacher who then started kicking the “teachers’ room” door and yelling at the head of the English Department. He was obviously fired at this stage. But to add one more piece of ludicrousness, the teacher then went onto social media and tried to get the students to defame the school. Trying to incite the students to rebellion.

Who does this guy think he is? he obviously has no regard for any other foreign teachers in Vietnam. Surprisingly there were some who supported this teacher. I did not see the whole story and did not get to talk to anyone firsthand about this, but I think just pushing the 65-year-old over would be grounds enough for dismissal alone. What do you think?

Final Thoughts.

If and when you come to Vietnam, please leave your preconceived ideas at home. We are guests in this lovely country and yes there are things that are different and they may not sit easily with us. However, if you can adapt to this culture (and there is not that much you need to adapt) you will have the time of your life.

Also, remember there are other foreigners and teachers who live here and we get “tarred by the same brush” if we do anything wrong. Vietnam is a very tolerant country, however, it doesn’t take much to influence the Vietnamese that we are insensitive to others feelings.

Thank you.


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

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Common Health Problems for the EFL Teacher.

Health Problems in the Classroom.

Keeping one’s physical health together when teaching in the classroom and online is important, especially when doing remote instruction via a computer. But as a teacher, it’s crucial to look after your mental health as well. You will benefit from this as well as improve your teaching and student outcomes.

Being a teacher is such a demanding job. A teacher is continuously “on the go,” and if they are not careful, the students can quickly sap your energy on a regular basis. Many teachers feel exhausted and drained when they return home. Not physically fatigued, but mentally spent. A person will eventually start to feel mentally exhausted and “hit the wall”. As a result of this, you will undoubtedly be affected outside of the classroom as well.

Being an EFL or ESL teacher in a foreign country can also leave you open to feelings of “aloneness” and wondering how you can cope. Often there is no support structure in place and this can lead to harmful substance abuse situations.

Common Educator Health Problems.

Teachers are generally held in high regard because of the challenging work they do.

They have the responsibility of assisting students in learning and helping with intellectual development, from young children to adults and they are expected to adhere to rigid lesson plans. On top of that, they are not necessarily paid the greatest salary.

It may be necessary for them to attend class even though they are feeling under the weather, then stay up late to prepare for their upcoming class of students. All this contributes to various physical health problems and there are some health issues that are more likely to emerge in teachers.

Here are a few of the most prevalent physical health issues that instructors encounter.

Due to the physical demands of the profession, educators deal with a wide range of medical conditions, from back discomfort to vocal demands from speaking in large noisy classrooms and eye strain from the amount of reading done.

Most physical health problems can be solved by fixing the problems with the school administrators or dealing directly with doctors and related problems.

However, today we are going to be looking at stress and the problems related to protecting your mental health. And what we can do as individual teachers to help alleviate these problems, especially as ESL teachers.

Trying to Maintain Mental Health in the ESL Classroom.

The answer isn’t as straightforward as “taking a break” (although it can help momentarily), in my opinion, you should match your daily actions with your emotional beliefs. Make sure your actions and the topics you cover in your teaching are consistent with your beliefs.

The simple reality that many teachers are tearing out their hair because their ideals about teaching and learning don’t align with their teaching environment can cause a lot of mental tension and misery.

You only need to look at what is happening in the U.S.A at the moment with mass resignations reverberating throughout the teaching profession to understand the depths of despair in the education industry.  

More Options.

It can be challenging to seek the support you need to maintain your mental health when mixed with a culture of self-sacrifice and external pressures.

Without assistance, continuing is unsustainable, and eventually, something will break. This can make it difficult for you to manage your day-to-day workload at work, necessitating time off for treatment, and more.

How to avoid problems or relieve symptoms:

You have alternatives to handle pressures at work, depending on how severe they are for you. You can get the tools to handle this through talk therapy, support groups with other educators, mental wellness applications, and the usage of perks like an employee assistance program if these are available.

However, as I mentioned before, when you are in a foreign country with a lack of resources you will be struggling to find any type of support structure. Added to that, if you are in a country that has a large “party scene” you may find some teachers start abusing alcohol as a coping mechanism. This is something that should be avoided at all costs.

Simple Solutions.

There are some simple measures you can take that will help insulate you from some of the worse conditions of living in a foreign country where you may or may not be feeling homesick.

Before you leave for your new life in the country of your dreams check out the Facebook groups you can join and look for other activities you can do as well. At the same time, get your ideal lifestyle and employment worked out! It’s not as difficult as it may seem to select a work abroad program, especially if you prepare prior to traveling.

Another thing you may wish to do is to put together a selection of photos of friends and family to remind you of your support groups if and when you need them.

Surrounding yourself with things and people that remind you of home will help you to settle into your new country and new job more easily.

Join Clubs.

Most large cities in Vietnam have a good selection of clubs and groups that you can join and make friendships with people who have similar interests.

Learning the local language will not only help you develop new friendships it will also open new doors of understanding within your new country. 

After living in Vietnam for more than 15 years, the people I see who survive and thrive are those who immerse themselves in the culture and develop a strong network of friends.

For example, Expats in HCMC are an English-speaking community in Vietnam and are one of many groups available.

Final Words.

With the post-effects of covid still trickling through and with Christmas on the horizon I wanted to make people aware that it is OK to feel a bit down at times. 

You can do a few things that will help you cope if you are having problems. Remember you are not in it alone and there are a lot of people who can help, and not just professionally. It is just as important to be able to sit down with friends and discuss how you are feeling.

Christmas can be a time when you feel alone and isolated, so if you are feeling like that, I urge you to reach out and get in contact with someone to talk with. I am also here if you need a good listener.

Spending your first Christmas away from family can present its own challenges and there are always people available to talk to. Don’t try to cope with any problems alone. As cliched as it sounds, a problem shared is a problem lessened.



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.

Best Gifts for an ESL Teacher

Thhis year let’s ask for the stars and we might hit the moon anyway. Tired of books for Christmas, let’s ask for laptops and see what happens.

Vietnamesl Amazon privacy policy
Associates Program

What You Wanted and What You Got.

We have all woken up on Christmas day at some stage and been totally underwhelmed by what we received. When you were wishing for a new bicycle and ended up with a pair of socks.

And it always started with the advent calendar. All the other kids were getting metal whistles and cool gifts and you ended up with a plastic “dummy”.

This Christmas is about Karma and will right some of the wrongs you have been dealt with over the years.

The Gifts You Always Wanted.

Here are some suggestions for gifts that are MUCH better than gift cards or socks if you have an English teacher on your gift list.

Alternatively, if you ARE an English teacher, you can leave this list open on your laptop for your students to “inadvertently” find. Or go and treat yourself. Isn’t it time you upgraded your laptop and added some speakers to play in the class?

There will be no judgments from this teacher.

Books, The teachers’ choice.

Teaching is a stressful profession, and reading for enjoyment can help you decompress by transporting you into a different world. This is why teachers adore books.

Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction if it is a captivating read you can be transported through time and space to a place where you can escape and explore.

Books are a teacher’s and student’s choice.

The World Book Company.

Since 1915, the World Book Corporation has dedicated itself to producing accurate, impartial, and trustworthy products that have regularly been rated as the finest in the education industry by teachers, librarians, and families.

The complete World Book Encyclopedia is the most recent and up-to-date print and online encyclopedia available thanks to the work of thousands of specialists.

From the 2017 World Book Encyclopedia’s 100th Anniversary Commemorative edition to intriguing new titles like Enigmas of History, Building Blocks of Science: Life Science, and Endangered Animals of the World, the titles cover a variety of topics and age groups.

There are various advertising campaigns every month, and they offer free shipping to consumers in the United States and Canada. You’ll come across information that will enlighten and enrich you.

The World Book company has everything from sports-related books to encyclopedias. A teacher’s dream and delight await all who hearken upon this voyage.

Or divest yourself of pretense of unselfishness and throw your head back and scream for your laptop.

Laptops for Legendary Teachers who Create.

And books are great, but let’s get real. These babies are for the hardworking teacher who crafts his lessons from scratch and demands the best. So if you want to reward yourself, These come strongly recommended.

Are you already dreaming of i9 Laptops? The Real Dream.

Asus Zenbook.

Maybe a bit of ASUS will spice things up for you…You can just watch or be part of the action for less than US$2,000.000.


Asus New Features.

There are a few features that make this laptop a standout and stand apart laptop. This laptop includes a secondary 3.5-inch OLED display on the lid in addition to the primary display in its usual location. This display may show various animations, notifications, battery life, date and time, and user-customizable text.

This laptop’s compliance with US Space System Command Standards (SMC-S-016A) and resistance to vibrations and extremely low or high temperatures are its other unique features. This device’s durability meets MIL-STD-810H specifications for toughness.

The ASUS ZenBook’s internal processor, the Intel Core i9-12900H, has 14 cores and 20 threads. The laptop’s integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics are available for graphics. A 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD and 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM are added to the potent processor.

It lacks a number pad because of size and space limitations. However, it does have a virtual number pad. It comes with 2 Thunderbolt 4 connections, a USB Type-A port, an HDMI and headphone jack, and an SD card reader.

A USB Type-A to RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet converter from Asus is also included in the box.

The ASUS ZenBook is currently available for purchase. The laptop costs $1,999 and has a metallic Titanium color. Words and numbers aside, it is ready for some heavy duty processing work

Apple Pro M2. Dream No. Two or No. One?

M1 or M2, 14″ or 16″

The M1 MacBook Air, M1 MacBook Pro, and M2 versions of those models have already been released, and their successors might not be too far away. Here is all the information you require for the upcoming release.

Despite rumors that the new laptops would be released soon, the prediction that the MacBook Pro with M2 Pro and Max CPU s would arrive in the fall of 2022 has been crushed.

New Macs are often introduced by Apple in November.

Next year will bring new Macs. Apple’s upcoming lineup of Macs “probably won’t ship until early next year,” according to Gurman. Gurman anticipates the first half of March 2023 as the timeframe.


The prices for the current models are as follows. Despite some significant price increases, we don’t foresee any significant changes in the U.S. With the M2 makeover, Apple increased the cost of the base MacBook Air by $200, or 20 percent.

Final Thoughts.

Despite or maybe because everyone seems so serious this year, I have put together a couple of things that I would love to receive under the Christmas tree.

Sometimes Santa is better when he tries to be worse. They say “karma” is a b****. Well, this year I’m up for it and I hope you are too. My ‘karmic” balance involves a couple of hi-end laptops and I hope this can go somewhere in bringing a bit of balance in your life.

If these don’t tickle your fancy, send me an email and Include your righteous response with a plethora of your perfect presents. And I will see what Santa can do to provide some Santa treats.

Author: Stephen. Editor

Editor to VietnamESL, Kool Affiliate, and recently acquired Gardening-Guru, Stephen has worked in small business for the last twenty years. He has clocked up many hours, days weeks, and years in growing small businesses into large healthy ones.

 Stephen’s career highlights include establishing and running two English schools in H.C.M.C Vietnam. Conducting training for native English Teachers in Pleiku for the Ministry of Education of Vietnam (M.O.E).

And now helps people with their own dreams who wish to teach in Vietnam or live the nomadic lifestyle of the laptop warrior.


English Language Centers Facing Shortages | Editorial.

Vietnams English industry is suffering from lack of good teachers and poor administration.

Why Do Some Centers have Staff Shortages?

You could be forgiven for thinking that in Vietnam we are still in the throws of lockdown because of the lack of ESL teachers in language centers. Surely they didn’t all pack up and went home during the pandemic?

Some independent education experts speculated that the recent problem affecting English language schools in Vietnam may be caused by the institutions’ delayed response to changes in the preferred teaching strategies of today’s students.

Independent specialists debated that while modern trends in foreign language learning are growing both in Vietnam and around the world, many Vietnamese English language centers appear to have fallen behind because they cannot adapt to the new waves of change.

Higher Costs Hitting Home.

The Apax Leaders affair, ( They were once well respected and have been around for roughly five years), is one of the most recent scandals involving an English language school.

The current situation highlights a number of issues that many other English-speaking locations are facing in the post-pandemic age. That is higher costs, especially office rent, and little increase in tuition fees from the students and parents.

A center’s rent could be hundreds of millions of dong (100 million dong is approximately $4,200 US), and the majority of landlords are unwilling to lower their rate. Also, the global market is searching for native foreign English teachers, but they are hard to come by as many have gone home during the pandemic and found other jobs. Money Conversion by “XE-Money Converter

Language School Closures.

Overall I would estimate that between 40% to 60 % of language schools have either closed or dramatically reduced their size. Many have stopped renting high-priced offices and moved to cheaper ones. They also used smaller spaces instead of large properties to save money. A lot of this happened while still passing on the higher charges in fees, understandably illegal.

Some companies share their offices with partners. They keep only some parts for teaching and sublet the rest for purposes other than teaching, although this is also not allowed by law.

Additionally, many married immigrants have established “schools” inside their homes that can significantly undercut such businesses with higher prices.

While other schools, like Apax, are allegedly going through “re-opening procedures,” it is unclear whether they will actually reopen. Will it be another case of “take the money and run”?

A Shortage Of Qualified English Teachers.

I have been living and working in Vietnam as an EFL teacher for the last 15 years and I have never seen it this bad before. The pandemic drove people out of the country and the non-slackening of visa or immigration rules has made Vietnam to be a less friendly entry point than some other countries.

Add to that the closures and fly-by-night practices of some schools and you have severely dented the reputation of many language schools in Vietnam.

There are a lot of online communities and Facebook groups that have seen continued publishing of unfulfilled jobs. This has led a lot of the English Centers to lower their standards and accept people with rudimentary English language skills. It is almost like stepping back 15 years to the less controlled environment that was still current then.

It is common to see 20 or 30 jobs for a teacher that can’t be filled. The English teachers who remain get bombarded with calls and offers to teach. At one stage I was getting 10 calls a week for different job offers. however, the offers all tend to be around the same hourly rate, more than likely due to the points raised here.

It’s Time to Relax Administrative procedures.

The need for foreign teachers has grown in the post-pandemic era in line with the rise in student enrollment, although there are significant administrative roadblocks.

Obtaining a work permit for a foreign national is currently quite challenging. This makes it difficult for many language schools to afford to hire enough foreign instructors. And the teachers that are coming through are from countries that were not in favor (For English Teachers) before. Like the Philippines and South Africa.

Regarding this situation, authorities should adopt flexible policies and expedite procedures. In this way, the teacher shortage issue might be quickly resolved.

Money or Education.

Vietnamese language schools frequently place more of an emphasis on business than on education. Quite frequently, I would witness parents barging into the centers and lamenting the abject failure of their child’s external exam. A consequence of the school’s policy of forcing students—whether or not they are prepared—through “the system.”

They 9The schools) simply want to increase the number of centers as soon as possible to achieve expansion. They spend money on marketing and increasing sales to attract as many learners as possible. The parents don’t see the rows of telemarketers calling potential students.

For most Vietnamese, if a school looks good with nice chairs, televisions, and all the latest equipment, it must be good. They don’t necessarily see the poor quality of the teachers behind the scenes.

Additionally, they open additional locations with the majority of their earnings. Therefore, it is uncertain whether they have qualified teachers, the ability to provide services, and the financial management skills to effectively manage for the future.

The Need for Change.

After the epidemic, learning habits shifted globally and in Vietnam, but many Vietnamese English centers do not appear to be adjusting to these changes.

Modern students do not fit the mold of traditional classes held in large, spacious venues.

These conventional approaches are too expensive, and the benefits they provide are not adequate compensation. According to what I have observed, this has caused a significant disparity between the investment and the enrollment of students during the post-pandemic period.

During the coronavirus epidemic, many students discovered the possibility to learn online and stopped attending traditional classes. And it was successful because it cut down on the students’ typically time-constrained commute time.

Final Thoughts.

For students of all ages, online courses have been made available in Vietnam by a number of significant English education providers, including the British Council and others.

Centers can choose how many online and offline units to offer based on the time that classes are offered, but they cannot continue to offer entirely offline courses as they do at the moment. With the combination of teachings, the schools will be able to return to the right side of the ledger book and, ideally, prioritize student instruction over monetary gains.

For English centers, it is now vital to integrate online and offline courses since otherwise, failing schools will keep opening and shutting all the time.

For more editorial content read “Marty Hoares” ” Vietnams ESL Sector, a Series of Disappointments

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.

Are ESL Teachers in Demand in Vietnam?

There is a strong demand for Native and Non Native English teachers in Vietnam. The new school semester is about to begin.

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 (

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.

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 English One-on-One.

This is about teaching English to ESL students

Private Tuition for ESL.

At some stage in your ESL career ( English as a second language), you will be asked if you can provide private tuition. Some teachers can get needlessly worried about doing this. However, teaching one on one can be a lot of fun and extremely rewarding. The rewards are not always financial but they are something we should cover first.

Pricing for Students

Teaching one on one can be a fiscal boon, but you have to be careful not to rely on private tuition only. Let me explain. If you are teaching for a private school you will have a regular income. And if any students depart, you will still get paid.

If like me, you do a lot of private tuition you will probably be teaching groups rather than individuals. So you have to take into account how much per hour you are making for your groups then average that out for your “one-on-one” student.

Lets do some rough accounting. I have a class of 12 students who individually pay 1,000,000 dong per month. ( $43.00 US) and I teach this class approximately 13 hours per month. So 12 million dong ( Vietnamese currency) divided by 13 gives the rate that I could charge my individual student.( about 900,000 dong)

Price high or price low.

This works out in US dollars to about $38.00. I know a lot of teachers will say that is too expensive, my student or my students parents can’t afford that. But you can’t afford to go below that. Let me explain why.

If you are working at a private English school you will probably get about $20 US per hour. If you cancel the class at the private school there should be no problems. That is only one class or 3-4 hours per week. You still get the rest of the classes in your schedule.

But if you have taken on your individual student and they leave after 3 weeks it may take you another month to pick up another class at your private English school. So, not only would I price higher, I would also want payment of 3 months upfront. And this is what I do. I have lived in Vietnam for 15 years and the parents will pay this if they trust you.

In a nutshell, the 2 main things to remember are price higher and endeavor to get an upfront payment of at least 2-3 months. You are the one who is taking the financial risk.

Teaching English One on One.

The great thing about teaching one-on-one is you can tailor each session to the specific needs of the student, especially the ability to tailor activities to the students strengths and shortcomings. The most important thing is that the pupil has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to practice intensively.

The student will progress more quickly if he or she speaks for the majority of the class, practice makes perfect. The same can be said regarding the other English skills; Listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Nonetheless, it is the teacher’s responsibility to make sure that the time spent with the student is spent effectively.

If you have a happy student, not only will they stay with you, they will provide referrals to your teaching business.

Customized Lessons.

If you’ve never taught individual students before, the first few lessons can be challenging. Even if you’re an expert, the first few one-on-one classes with a new student will be difficult because each student has their unique personality, learning style, interests, and educational needs.

The first step to building an environment conducive to learning is to build rapport with your student. This is done by getting to know your student and what they need to get from your classes.

Tips for One-on-One lessons.

Whether your student is a young child ( I have taught individually to a 7 year old) or an older student, the tips I share with you are non age related. By which I mean you can use the overall concept for any age.

Introductions. The first lesson should be about getting to know the student and their life. They may tell you about their country and how it is to live there and customs and traditions. When discussing Christmas, for example, you might compare how the holiday is observed in your home country compared to your students. If your student works in a certain industry, have them describe it to you: what the job entails, what the company does, and who their clients are?

If you have a younger student, chat to him or her about their family and the school that he or she attends. What are their favorite video games or TV programs. Also, don’t forget to introduce yourself to the student. Encourage the student to initiate the dialogue about you by asking relevant questions. Overall it is an “introduction” lesson.

Real Life Objects. Real-life items (Realia) can be used in any type of class, whether one-on-one or in large groups. However, if you have a map (for example), you can sit next to your student as he or she gives you instructions to their house, a hospital, or a specific spot that you can both follow on the map. “Realia” also makes the lesson more fascinating and enjoyable in general, and it can be a useful icebreaker.

Adults will enjoy Realia because it allows them to use and relate to almost anything. Newspapers, work brochures, restaurant menus, and ad pamphlets are just a few examples. And with children it is just about essential that you use them. Twinkl is a great resource for the younger student and you can check out the range of resources they provide here at”Twinkl Resources

Video Lessons. Remember that the main advantage of one-on-one sessions is that pupils have more time to communicate. Using video and audio to start a conversation is a terrific approach to get a student talking. Show a video to your student, check for listening comprehension, and then talk about what you watched.

Any audio file can be used in the same way. Keep in mind that the Internet offers a wide range of audio and video files, the majority of which are simple to download. There are a number of websites dedicated to children that also feature videos. And for shorter lessons consider YouTube as well.

It is also worth considering opening your own Youtube channel where you can post prepared homemade videos. Or make one with your student. Here is one I made about “Our House in Vietnam“.

Video Recording. Most students do not like getting recorded by video or only audio, however, a one-to-one lesson is a much better opportunity for this to take place than in a full class of students.

Audio and video recording are great for students to become self-aware of their speaking and pronunciation difficulties. And while the younger student will not be interested for that reason, they will have a lot of fun making the recording.

You could get the younger student to be the “presenter” of a house walk-through. Similar to the YouTube video shown above. ( via link )

Internet lessons. When it comes to one-on-one instruction, the Internet is ideal. You can use genuine websites for reading assignments, play an online game, listen to a podcast or view a video, and even have your student take an online test. The options are limitless.

However, keep in mind that adequate lesson planning is still necessary. Before your class, double-check all links and web pages. And depending on which country you are in, have a back up lesson in case the internet is down. However, Vietnam has improved a lot, but I still make sure I have a paper based alternative lesson just in case.

Quiet time. Although some advanced students are willing to talk for hours, the majority of them find it difficult to speak for more than ten minutes. Make sure to follow up a particularly busy speaking activity or game with a more relaxed and quiet tasks. A young learner may sketch a picture of the tale they heard; a business English student could write a resume or an email.

Silence isn’t something to be scared of. Remember that your students will need some time to process what they’ve learned. Keep in mind, though, that encouraging a student to work on something independently while you do something else could be seen as a lazy practice for the teacher. Because the student may think they could complete the task outside of class if you weren’t present. Such activities should be completed informally, with the teacher reviewing each answer with the student.

Final Thoughts.

One-to-one teaching has many advantages for both teacher and student. It does, however, require a slightly different mindset compared with group teaching.

One big advantage that I haven’t talked about is that teaching only 1 student gives you the opportunity to take the classroom outside. For example, you can go to the local supermarket and talk firsthand about the vocabulary related to the supermarket. Or even just visit a coffee shop where you can sit and talk (hopefully) with other foreigners.

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.

Is Learning the Alphabet Still Important for ESL Students?

The Importance of the ABC.

Do you still think teaching the alphabet is worthwhile or just an excuse to fill in time in the classroom? Do you get sick of hearing the sing-song of the young students attempted at the ABC and then appalled when they can’t say it without singing?

I think the ABC is like the foundations of a house, if you have bad foundations your house is not structurally sound and it is the same for your younger and older students. Why is it important, let me explain.

Why is it important?

What is the alphabet, and why should our students learn it? The alphabet is nothing more than a set of letters and sounds. . The ABCs are the foundations of language exactly like the foundations of a house give the structural integrity to the whole house.

Our students must be able to recognize each letter, both in sequence and out of order, as well as the sounds associated with every letter, in order to become literate. Once your student has such understanding, he or she is well on their way to learning to read and write.

So, if we agree that learning the ABC’s and teaching the ABC’s are still important, how can we as teachers teach the alphabet effectively?

How to Teach The ABC’s.

This can be either a fun activity for your students or turn into one of the most boring lessons ever depending on your approach or teaching style.

Teachers can engage students in a variety of activities to help them learn the alphabet. Some of this learning may happen as a result of life experiences, things you know that can be fun and passed onto your students. Specific alphabet resources, such as puzzles and matching games, might provide additional learning opportunities.

Children will appreciate using specialized alphabet materials if they are simply one aspect of a larger literacy curriculum because they will know which experiences in the world they relate to. Children find learning the alphabet dull and useless only when it is taught in a restricted, linear,’skills-first’ manner.

This can happen, for example, if the teaching methodology consists of studying one letter each week for the entire school year, or writing one letter on a workbook page repeatedly each day. However, there is no necessity to learn the letters in this manner. These days, there are so many alternatives and better ways to do it.

Lessons for Teaching the Alphabet.

Students must learn to recognize and name the letters, both in and out of sequence, as well as the sounds associated with each letter, as the alphabet is the cornerstone of literacy.

Begin with the basics. Don’t attempt to teach all 26 letters at the same time. Simply do 5-6 letters at a time, allowing your pupils to see, hear, and experience the letter in a variety of ways.

Remember that children learn via all of their senses, so while books can be great, teach the ABCs using a variety of tactics and materials. Use ABC blocks, coloring pages, ABC mats, and even play dough to learn the alphabet.

The most crucial piece of advice is to have fun with it. Make it a game for your students, and they’ll enjoy learning with you.

Alphabet Teaching Resources.

As teachers, we are spoilt with the ever-increasing amount of resources we can use to teach the alphabet. In my 15 years of teaching ESL in Vietnam, there have never been so many different tools we can use. Mixing it up and making it fun is the name of the game. Here are a few of the many tools you can use. From apps to coloring pages, online games, PowerPoint, and a plethora of other tools, here are some of my favorites.


ABC Kids.

Children will enjoy learning phonics and the alphabet with ABC Kids, a free phonics and alphabet app. It includes a series of tracing games designed to help children recognize letter shapes, link them with phonic sounds, and apply their alphabet knowledge in entertaining matching activities.

By just following the arrows with their finger, any young student can learn English and the English alphabet. As kids complete tracing games, they can even “win” stickers and toys.

Online Games

British Council.

The British Council website has so much to offer, not just the alphabet. Here you can make your own flashcards or worksheets, listen to songs and so much more. A wonderful site put together by teaching professionals.

Websites for Worksheets.

LanternFish/ Bogglesworld.

One of my all-time favorites that I keep coming back to, even after 15 years I find things on this site that are new to me. Again, it offers so much more than your basic worksheets. Well worth a look and definitely a useful site.

These are just a few of the many websites and apps that you can use to keep your students interested and excited about learning. You can also look here at “Online Teachers Tools” for more ideas.

Teaching the Alphabet in the Classroom.

Before teaching the alphabet consider the age of the student. You would not teach adults the same way as teaching young learners. Teaching adults is in some ways easier as the motivation to learn has already been established by the student, otherwise they would not be in the classroom. Teaching adults is mainly making sure that the pronunciation is correct as I put the onus on learning the alphabet onto the adult student.

However with your younger student you must create the reason for learning and that reason will be “fun”. We have to make the learning experience fun and exciting for the students.

Also remember the attention span of the younger student is not very long so you need to have sets of, approximately, 10 minute maximum activities.

Techniques I Use to Teach the ABC.

For the very young student, kindergarten or pre-school, I will use as one tool an animal ABC song that you can find on YouTube. The Animal ABC Song.



Flashcards are another “oldie but goodie” tool to use. With flashcards, you can play a myriad of games. From placing them face down and getting students to find the correct letter. A flashcard version of the old ‘memory game

To make it more exciting place your students in teams. Boys verse girls always works well. Then place no more than 10 cards face down and call out one letter. Lets say you are using A to J, then you may call out A for example. Then each team has alternate turns in trying to find that letter. A point is scored for each letter “found”

You can also “tweak” this game by adding 2 sets of flashcards and the participants must match A with A, B with B etc. Be aware that this version can take longer so adjust your lesson times accordingly. Scoring remains the same.

4 Corners

A very simple game where you choose 4 flashcards or 4 letters in this case and place them in the corners of the room. You then call out 1 letter, and the last student to touch the card or stand within a set boundary must sit down and are “out” of the game.

You need a good size room and should be able to clear the floor of all chairs etc. This is a fast paced game and watch out that the students don’t push or accidentally hurt one another.

Guess the Card

Similar to the memory game, but rather than placing the cards face down you hold them against your chest. You can make this a lot of fun by kidding with the students as to what you have or not in your hand.

ABC animal/ ABC food/ ABC Country.

I use this not so much as a teaching tool but more as a task for remembering and introducing new words for the higher grades and older learners. By this I mean 10 to 12-year-olds.

Once again, I will split the class into 2 groups and points will be scored only when a student gets the answer wrong. For example, if A team gets the answer wrong, B team will collect the point.

If you try to give a point for all correct answers your back will be towards the class for far too long.

So if you choose ABC food, the teams must alternate in their answers with the correct responses being A- apple, B-banana, C- coconut, etc. I also put a time limit of 3 seconds for the answer and penalize any shout-outs.

I don’t prompt the alphabet and each person on the team must be able to both recite their ABC’s and find the correct name of food, animal, or country for their answer.

The students have a lot of fun with this game and it has become very popular and is a great way to get the students to remember their ABC’s.

ABC Listen and Write.

Two teams and points scored on the accuracy of the listening and writing skills.

All you need for this game is a sheet of paper for each student and a whiteboard the students can copy their work to.

The students are given a sheet of paper, preferably pre-drawn, with numbers from 1 to 7 in the corresponding columns. (as shown). The teacher then reads out any letter from A to Z and the students must copy in the correct column.

You might say, number 1 letter S, number 2 letter X, number 3 letter B, number 4 letter P, and so on. Once both teams ( As individuals) have written down all the letters from 1 to 7 you will choose one person to copy the letters to the board. They will get one point for each correct letter.

I have played this game with children as young as 7 who picked up the rules very quickly. You will need to do one game as an example first so your students understand.

This is a great listening skills game and it also reinforces letter recognition. You will find this helps students recognize some of the similar-sounding letters like P’s and B’s and S’s and X’s.

A popular game with great listening skill outcomes for the students.


There are so many ways you can teach the alphabet to make it interesting and fun. The above are only a few ways that I use for my students. Some of the best games are those you make up yourself. Never be scared to try something new because your students will respond positively to something that is fun.

And for the younger student change your activities frequently so they don’t get bored. It is a terrible feeling if you look around and see your students yawning.

And who am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching in Vietnam for 15 years and have my own school as well as placing students into private and public schools around Vietnam.

If you wish you can look at my Alphabet video by clicking on the YouTube button below. And if you wish to support my website, subscribe to my YouTube channel. It doesn’t cost you anything. Thanks.

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.


Teaching Phonics to ESL Students.

What is Phonics?

Phonics refers to the sounds of a language and includes how sounds are pronounced, how syllables or words are stressed, and intonation. If students learn early on what sounds each letter or combination of letters makes, it may help them improve their reading, listening, and speaking skills.

In a nutshell, phonics is the study of how to read and write in an alphabetic language. Students must study the relationship between sounds and letters in order to do so. Starting with individual letter sounds is simple, but things become more complicated when you realize that each vowel has two distinct sounds and that some letters can be combined to create new sounds.

Teaching Phonics.

When talking with other ESL/EFL teachers, phonics tends to be a forgotten subject. Phonics is being taught much less or not at all in conventional ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. As a result, deciding whether or not to utilize phonics with pupils learning English can be tricky.

Though much of English adheres to phonetic norms, the exceptions can appear to be more frequent at times. Do the disadvantages of phonics outweigh the advantages?

Is phonetics a superior technique to teach reading and pronunciation? Or will it do more harm than good to ESL students? If you’re having trouble answering the phonics question, here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of phonics to think about while you answer it for yourself.

Benefits of Phonics.

Like most learning and teaching styles there are pros and cons to phonics. Here are some to consider before teaching.


Students who are learning the English alphabet can benefit from phonics.

When learning English, Vietnamese students face an additional obstacle. The Vietnamese language is a tonal language with six distinct tones. Learning a new alphabet and the sounds that go with it can be tough for a Vietnamese ESL/EFL learner.

Phonics can be quite beneficial to these students. Students learn the sounds that each letter or combination of letters produces, which aids them in reading and pronouncing new words.


It can also help the students in spelling. Breaking down the components of a word into phonetically understandable sounds helps the students become better spellers. The student will recognize the sound as it corresponds to the letters.

Different Words.

Students who utilize phonics are generally better at pronouncing unknown or unfamiliar words. They will attempt the sounds that they have learned in relation to the letters that they see.


In the 15 years, I have been teaching in Vietnam I have seen the difference between those students who use phonics to sound out a word and those that don’t. If nothing else, the confidence attributed to the students who use phonics is much higher than those that don’t.

The Downside of Phonics.


ESL pupils who excel at phonics may develop into so-called false readers. When they encounter a written article, they may be able to read aloud and pronounce new and unfamiliar words with ease.

However, they may have problems with comprehension. They can read what is on the page and because it sounds ok they will be held to have understood what they read. But in reality, while they can pronounce the words correctly they have little understanding of what the word, phrase, or article means.

Extra Work.

You as the teacher must put in a lot of effort when teaching phonics. You must continually name and point out letter patterns in words, assisting your students in recognizing and remembering them. If you teach phonics, it will become a part of every day’s material, as well as each class. You’ll have to show your students the phonic breakdown of every new vocabulary word they acquire until they can do it on their own. And depending on age and skill level this may take from 1 to 2 years.

Your Choice.

For ESL students, phonics provides substantial benefits as well as drawbacks, and each instructor must determine whether or not to utilize it in the classroom. In the end, no single approach will be sufficient to teach your ESL students correct English usage.

The majority of ESL teachers, that I know, believe that a balanced approach is beneficial for their students. It’s up to you how you implement phonics into your classroom, or even if you want to. So, if you want to teach phonics, here we go.

Let’s Teach Phonics.

Teaching phonics to ESL students involves four steps. These can be broken down into, learning the letter sounds, learning to write letters, blending sounds, and segmenting sounds. Twinkl is a great resource and I have used them on numerous occasions.

Step 1:

Learning sounds. Students need to learn the sounds and the letters that match them, both uppercase and lowercase (it’s best to start with uppercase), as well as the sound that can be made by joining two letters together. I would recommend spending more time on similar sounds and letters. The letters ‘d’ and ‘b’ for example, can be hard for ESL students to learn.

Step 2:

Blending sounds. Once the students know the sounds that each letter makes, they need to know how to put these together to read words. So, they see the individual sounds ‘d’ ‘o’ and ‘g’, but they need to put those sounds together to read ‘dog.’ This can be really tricky for some students, and others will learn quicker than others.

Step 3:

Segmenting Sounds. This is the reverse of blending; students must learn to break down the words they hear into their individual sounds. They should hear the word ‘pig’ and break that down into the sound’s ‘p’ ‘ai’ and ‘g’. This is how students learn to spell.

Step 4:

Sight words. These are words that often appear in the English language (think ‘and’, ‘on’ or ‘it’). These are words that students should learn to recognize on sight. Mastering these will significantly speed up the progress of reading.


Source; Twinkl.


You will find a large range of resources online, with Twinkl being but one of many businesses that can help you as a teacher. I have done 2 posts about online teachers’ tools that will help in the classroom. “On-Line Teachers Tools”

And, “The Top 10 Websites for ESL Teachers”

MES English, which you will find in the above list has a comprehensive range of materials that cover phonics. They are one of my go-to’s for English worksheets, but there are many online to choose from.

Why It’s Important to Teach Phonics.

Phonics helps with pronunciation. Have you ever played the game, ship, sheep, or shop and seen the mystified looks on your students’ faces? Unless you have been taught phonics the sounds of these words to many students may sound the same.

The ship, sheep shop game is a listening game where you as the teacher start and you have to say the words, and the students write down what they have heard. It becomes more interesting when it becomes the student’s turn to be the “teacher”

Use words with the same vowel sounds but different consonant clusters.

There is a lot more to the game as you add the “extras”. For example, you may ask “where did you see the ship?” The students may mishear the question and answer, “I saw the ship on the farm”. Great for listening and comprehension.

And can be a lot of fun at the same time.


The purpose of learning English is for the learner to be able to effectively communicate with other people around the world in a meaningful and realistic way.

No matter what level your pupils are at, no matter how advanced or fluent they are, if they pronounce certain essential sounds incorrectly, other English speakers will misunderstand them. And that is where phonetics comes into play and what it is all about.

It is up to you as a teacher if you want to use Phonics as one of the tools in your arsenal of teaching weapons to help your students.

However, there are potential drawbacks as discussed, but in my opinion, it is yet another tool that can be used to help English literacy.

Who Am I?.

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching ESL/EFL for the past 15 years in Vietnam. I have traveled and worked extensively around this wonderful country and find myself still being amazed and frustrated, quite often at the same time.

Vietnamese students are generally hardworking and respectful to the teacher. And most schools are professional in the development of their students. However like anywhere there are always exceptions to the rule.

If you ever consider becoming an English teacher in Vietnam, leave me a message and I will help you achieve your goal.

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.

Technology Tools for the ESL Classroom | Part 2.

Technology for the ESL Classroom.

In my last post, I wrote about the “Essential Tools of the ESL Classroom” In a nutshell, those are tools that I would find hard to do without. Namely, my “Sony blue tooth speaker” with which I could play any recording loud enough for the class to hear, 30 watts RMS.

And also my trusty Aporo headset that saves my voice and stops me shouting in the public school classrooms of Vietnam. Where it is common to have 50 people in a classroom all talking and never being able to hear the “foreign teacher” another 30mwatt output piece of equipment, and protector of my voice.

And my Samsung phone where I store a lot of my lessons on “Google Drive”. Easy to use and I wouldn’t “cry” if my phone was accidentally dropped or misplaced. Unlike a past iPhone that cost me in excess of $1,500 US$. Not a happy day.

In my last post, I also provided information about class sizes and the types of schools, and problems you might come across.

So if you are interested in looking at that information, click on the link “Essential Tools of the ESL Classroom” above.

My Extra Tech.Tools for the ESL classroom.

This post is going to cover the other tools I have and some of the tools I wish I had. Our tech tools make our job so much easier in the classroom and can make it a better learning experience for the students. As well as making it more fun.

Tech Tools I have and Why?

Lenovo ideapad530s i7. Being able to access the various resources online has become vital no longer can you front up to the classroom and be expected to be taken seriously if you can not provide online resources. Also, with Covid still affecting our daily lives, we need to have the option of providing online teaching.

Here are some of the on-line resources I use.” My Top 10 Websites for ESL Teachers

If you aren’t getting the hours you need, you should look at the service you provide. Good services provided means a happy school and teacher.

The webcam and quality of the image on this computer is exceptional. I have now had this for over 18 months and still run it with 20 tabs open at a time. I have no complaints about the SSD storage and I feel it is as fast as the day I bought it.

The only thing I find disappointing is the battery life, as I have to start thinking about recharging after 4 hours. This may have something to do with the number of programs I run at the same time.

Sony RX100V11 Camera. My camera is used for recording the students in the classroom and playing it back to them so they can learn from interacting with the camera and how they sound and the problems they have when they speak.

Go Pro Hero 4. I use this small Go Pro cube for the same reasons as above but generally for the younger students or in a more robust environment where something more delicate could get damaged.

Canon Laser Printer. This is used for worksheets, gap fills, or any exercise not found in the book that is being used for the class. I also use it for any relevant text or image games that are relevant to the lesson. This is one of the tech tools on my upgrade wish list.

My Schools Tech.

Overhead Projector and Smart screen. and Televisions and DVDs are the tech tools that come standard in my schools classroom, however with the use of other technology, these are becoming outdated and not used as much anymore.

The televisions and DVDs will not be replaced, but overhead projectors that work in with computers and smart screens are becoming more common in the classroom. Well, at least mine.

Tech Tools I would like, and Why?

Go Pro Hero 10 creator edition.

I would like this as an all-in-one vlogging unit I can use to record both students and classroom activities or to replay or upload to YouTube or my website. A simple to use all-in-one unit that is ready off the shelf.

Canon wireless printer.

As a busy teacher who does not have time to rely on schools that do not have the equipment or will not provide it, I prefer utilizing my own gear. And I want to move to wireless as the time taken in hooking up a cable between laptop and printer is wasted time. Also, being able to print directly from a mobile phone will be a big time saver.

Don’t Lose Focus.

Having all these gadgets and tools are great, but they will not automatically make you a better teacher. Your style of teaching, the fun you bring into the classroom, and the quality and skills you provide to your students are still the most important thing.

What you do in the classroom is much more important than what you bring into the classroom. These tools are here to help make life easier for you and ultimately provide a better platform for the student to learn.

Most ESL students are still worried about their listening and speaking activities and there is a lot you can do without using tech. Have a look at my post “How to improve English Speaking Skills” You don’t need a lot of tech to make a worthwhile class, but to make a class more worthwhile it can be of great help.

It’s how you teach, at the end of the day, not what you use. Here are some words on teaching styles that, in my opinion, are more important than most of the other resources talked about here today. We just need to prioritize our classroom content.

Teaching Styles

As you gain experience as a teacher, you will create your own teaching style and classroom practices. T.P.R (Total physical reaction), communicative method, meaningful learning, and old-fashioned rote learning are some well-known teaching styles. Most teachers will pick and choose from the instructional techniques listed below to fit their needs.

Total Physical Response

Professor James Asher, a psychology expert, invented T.P.R, a language acquisition approach. TPR engages students in the language learning process by combining words and physical actions.

The Communicative Method.

The communicative approach is founded on the premise that the most effective way to learn a language is to have to express genuine meaning. Learners’ natural language acquisition mechanisms will be applied when they are engaged in genuine communication, allowing them to learn to use the language.

Meaningful Learning.

Meaningful learning is the feeling that all the parts of a concept, idea, theory, equations, or argument come together to make learning meaningful. Meaningful learning is frequently contrasted with rote learning, which involves memorizing knowledge without considering our relationship to other objects or events.

Rote Learning.

Rote Learning is a more conventional method of instruction. It is centered on students repeating the words and phrases until they recall them. Rote learning is the process of memorizing knowledge through repetition.

So use your teaching style and the methods in planning lessons to accommodate the introduction of technology that will put you firmly in the drivers seat.

You can find out more about teaching styles in my post ” Teaching English Abroad in Vietnam“.


After teaching for 15 years across various schools and regions, I have come to the conclusion that a little money spent saves me more in the long run. And it provides a more seamless environment for teaching in the classroom. I control the flow of the class whether it is in my own school a public school or another private school

My name is Stephen and I have worked in Vietnam for over 15 years. I have my own school and also provide ESL teachers to those schools that need quality.

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