What are Vietnamese Students really like?

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

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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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4 thoughts on “What are Vietnamese Students really like?”

  1. First of all thanks Stephen for showing Vietnam from your house and I liked the roof garden and classrooms. Teaching English and choosing it as your living with it really shows your courage and congratulation for your school. You rightly said teaching 50 students from 7 am in the morning till 4 pm takes lots of courage. Vietnam is a wonderful country maybe their culture is different from us but their interest in a foreign language like English has definitely created opportunities for English teachers worldwide. 



  2. So if I am not mistaken, these are Vietnamese students looking for people to teach them English? Well, if that is the case then count me in! I believe that my English is up to standard and I am a very good teacher. And they seem like pretty cool people to work with. 

    1. Hi Daniel. I do teacher placement in Vietnam, so if you are looking for a job send me an email at stv_hey@yahoo.com.au 

      Currently, most of the teaching is online, but International flights are just starting to happen now. So I would get in early if you want to secure a position.



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