What are the stereotypes of English teachers in Vietnam?

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Teaching English in Vietnam.

People have predicted that things will change in Vietnam in terms of ex-pats for years But, it is evident that very little has changed in the last 15 years.

The majority of foreign workers work as teachers in schools (whether ESL, Japanese, Korean, International Schools, or universities).

However, in school management, administration, and other fields, there are extremely few foreigners. It’s all about teachers, teachers, and more teachers. So, why hasn’t it altered all that much?

Click here to find out more on Teaching in Vietnam.

The Asian model.

People have tossed out estimates like 70% of foreign employees are teachers and the remainder are anything else.

From small business entrepreneurs, freelancers, corporation ex-pats, or on the low end – Chinese and Korean laborers working in Chinese and Korean companies.

Expats’ evolution in business in East and Southeast Asia has been uneven. While some countries want you to stay in their country for the rest of your life, not all of them are made equal.

Two Models

There are two models to choose from in Asia. You have the Korea and Singapore models, where foreigners began as instructors and trainers and progressed to leading universities, businesses, and advising non-governmental organizations.

Then there’s the Chinese approach, which entails simply being a teacher. This has occurred in China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Thailand and Malaysia were the exceptions, but it is apparent that Thailand has returned to the China model.

More progress needs to be made.

It’s disappointing that more experienced foreign personnel are unable to assist in the administration of some of the universities.

They could implement more efficient policies and assist in the modernization of some of the curriculum (which happened in the case of Singapore).

It would be excellent if more progress was made in this area, even if foreign workers are only noticed or valued in the education sector. At the very least, both Vietnamese students and foreign workers may have additional possibilities.

The school stereotypes

In Vietnam, female teachers outnumber their male counterparts by a large margin. Many Vietnamese regard the imbalance as unimportant, but educational specialists believe that the lack of male role models in education has a negative impact on the development of well-rounded students.

“Children are constantly exposed to pictures of men as pilots or engineers, while women are depicted as teachers or tailors,” she explained.

More women than men are thought to have chosen this profession because it allows them to balance work and family life.

Many Vietnamese believe that teaching is not a difficult profession and that as a result, women have more time to spend with their families.

So it can often be seen as a foreign English teacher in Vietnam, that the preference for males is somewhat sexist.

More foreign teacher stereotypes.

The level of English language instruction in Vietnam has been widely criticized, owing to a variety of ‘traditional’ reasons such as huge class sizes and inefficient and poor teacher training.

The ‘difficult’ learner, in particular, is frequently singled out for blame: The most common learning methods are described as ‘passive,’ ‘traditional, mechanical, and occasionally reluctant. S

Students are reported to be insecure, reliant on memorization and prone to blunders, and lacking in communicative and critical thinking skills. This supposed “learning culture” is thought to be “tough to change.”

Cultural Bias.

Quite often this is just an example of foreign teachers bringing their own cultural bias to the classroom.

It’s important to note that traditional Vietnamese teaching methods are teacher-centered, book-centered, and grammar-focused rather than pronunciation-focused. There is also a strong emphasis on rote memorization.

English, which is taught using Western cultural methods, is the polar opposite of this form of instruction.

Right or wrong this is not our country, and we are guests in a foreign land and should accept cultural differences.

Things are changing and we must wait for the change to happen before we judge or try to force change.

You can find out more about etiquette in Vietnam here

There are some annoying things in English schools.

English teachers are employed in both government and private schools in Vietnam to teach English to youngsters. Teachers are not employed by the government school.

Instead, Vietnamese language schools hire teachers and send them to different schools to conduct lessons.

The benefits of this include that language schools give the syllabus and teaching materials, as well as professional development opportunities.

The downsides.

Schools prefer white faces and younger teachers. Whether you are qualified or not, it is much easier to get a job if you are young and white. Even this is slowly changing.

Here is a Reddit post regarding this subject.

Q. I am a British graduate of Indian origin with a TEFL. Though I don’t look British, my English is perfect. How difficult would it be to find work as a brown-skinned dude in Vietnam?

A. You’ll be fine, just not as easy as attractive white men.

I think Vietnam is the least racist of Asian countries I’ve been to. But they ARE very forward.

Overweight a few pounds? You got fat!

Black? You’re the first black person they’ve seen not in the movies! Let me touch your skin!

Locks for hair? Omg, they’re gonna touch that. 

Arm hair? Yeah, that too.

Don’t worry they’re very nice, they just have no filter and don’t realize other cultures find it rude.

I think this explains it all, while not trying to be racist there are no laws in place to stop explicit requests for young white foreign males.


if you leave your cultural biases at home, you will be fine. If you can’t, it is probably better that you do not come.

There are some teachers who have been here for only a short time and think they know everything about the country. They will try to get discounts on everything and get angry if they are charged $1.00 more than the locals. This is petty, in my opinion.

And you will also lose face with the locals, so grin and bear it. Remember you are making a lot more than the local population and they know it.

Who am

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching in Vietnam for 15 years. I have taught in both state schools and private schools and now have my own English school.

You can check out my school below on my YouTube channel.

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