What is it like teaching in Vietnam?

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Teaching EFL in Vietnam.

Teaching English as a foreign Language (EFL) has provided many English speakers the opportunity to explore the world.

English teaching has opened up the globe to teachers, whether they are teaching online from a laptop or travelling overseas to work in underdeveloped nations.

Vietnam has become nearly associated with English language instruction. One of the world’s greatest ESL destination is Vietnam, thanks to a combination of strong demand, job availability, appealing lifestyle and amazing scenery, and a low cost of living.

Why is English teaching so popular in Vietnam

Around a decade ago, the Vietnamese government introduced numerous school reforms that placed a high priority on English proficiency.

As a result, there has been an increase in the number of English teaching jobs available in both public and private schools and learning centers.

Because of the high demand for western English teachers, not all institutions can screen for the best candidates, leaving the door open for new and occasionally unqualified  teachers to find job in Vietnam.

When you consider Vietnam’s low cost of living and enticing tourism sector, it’s easy to see why.

What’s it like teaching in Vietnam?

It can be a gratifying and life-changing experience to teach English in Vietnam.

Vietnam is a beautiful nation with kind people. You will cultivate a lot of friendships with both the Vietnamese community and the ex-pat as well. Most who come here are very friendly and supportive to the newcomers.

Teaching English provides a more immersive experience that allows you to interact with people while also contributing to a unique culture. When you work and live in a new culture you will understand it so much more.

When moving to Vietnam, though, it’s critical to have reasonable expectations. It is not all roses and butterflies. There are some things that will get on your nerves. The constant  agressive sales approach and the nightmarish traffic being the first ones that come to mind

Things work quite differently in the east than they do in the west. While bribes and frauds are surprising to Europeans, they are viewed as the usual in Vietnam. Don’t be offended if you go for a test in hospital and you have to “gift” a little present to smooth things through. It is just the way things are done here.

Be Cautious

Also as a Teacher be cautious when accepting employment offers to ensure that they are making the best option possible. Read your contract, do not just go YEH, and sign. There might be penalty clauses for arriving 5 minutes late to class.

With the traffic in Vietnam you are going to be late sometimes, just make sure you are not penalized unduly for it. I have seen some that will dock you 1 hour if you are 5 minutes late. Power English is one of those.

Can You Teach in Vietnam without a degree?

The answer is simple: Yes, but it is getting more difficult. In Vietnam, you don’t need a degree to teach English. However, if you don’t have a degree, you’ll almost certainly require a TEFL or TESOL certificate.

For inexpensive online TESOL classes, I highly suggest AIT as they will also help you in finding a job. The owner, Heather, has been a friend of mine for over 15 years. I first came to Vietnam as an aspiring teacher and now own 2 schools and still use Heather to supply me with Teachers.

I know people who have worked as English Teachers without a degree, but these are usually at lower paying, lower quality institutions, which are the ones you should avoid. but if you are an excellent communicator you can rise above these restrictions. I have some friends with no qualifications who are now teaching in Universities.

You can negotiate better pay with better schools if you have a degree and/or a TESOL or TEFL certificate.

It’s also a good idea to take a short IELTS course online to give yourself an edge over other teachers, which will look excellent on your EFL Resuume..

How much do English teachers make in Vietnam?

No Money, no honey is a phrase you will often here in Vietnam. I did say it is different here, so you have to leave your western idealistic ways behind. Vietnam is awake, not “woke”.

English teachers in Vietnam earn between $1000-$2500 per month on average. It can be more or less depending on the hours you work.

I first came to Vietnam in 2007 and I was making  $14.00 US per hour. ( 320,000 dong). After a couple of years I was making $20.00 US per hour. ( 455,000 dong ) Now, considerably more. Now my students pay between $30 to $70 a month, and I have a lot of students. Each of my classes have a minimum of 7 students and I am currently teaching on line because of Covid, but the price remains the same.

If you build a good reputation and get to be known as a good teacher, the sky is the limit. Shoot for the stars and even if you fall short , you will hit the moon.

Teachers with degrees and TEFL certificates are more likely to earn more money so i would sugest for you to do your training upfront.

Work Schedules

When it comes to teaching English in Vietnam, there are two basic work schedules to consider when you first arrive. you may want to set up a school, but that will come later

The first is through the traditional educational system. This, of course, means that you’ll be teaching on the school’s timetable. That means early mornings, think 7.30am. Up and at it, luckily the coffee here is like rocket fuel. however I would advise to keep those late night activities to a minimum through the week.

The other option is to work at night and on the weekend. And you can do this by teaching at one of the English academies like VUS or VAS. And so many more, but be careful who you choose. With Covid some schools have gone bust and have not paid teachers. They shall remain nameless. I have not got enough money to fight a court battle. LOL.

In Vietnam, there is plenty of night jobs for ESL teachers. This is due to the fact that many English learning institutions are open after school and are currently desperate for on line teachers. Why?, because so many teachers have gone home because of Covid. You can check out my COVID update  ==> HERE <==

I have taught in both areas before opening my own schools and there are plusses and minuses to both. The first thing you have to consider is are you a morning person and can entertain 50 kids in a classroom at a public school or are you a night person who can put up with office politics.

Are you White?

Sad but true, there are no restrictions on advertising for teachers in Vietnam. If you are white , you have more of a chance to get a job. If you are a young female you will be snapped up by schools and Kindergartens. If you have a tattoo, make sure it is covered when you go for that interview. Tattoos mean you are a bad person in Vietnam

Yes, it is changing slowly and the next generation will take this amazing country into the 21st century. If you want to help them, become an EFL teacher.

  Covid and Teaching.

For the last 4 months Vietnam has been in a state of lockdown, much like the rest of the world. So teaching has been on line only in most of the cities. The students are bored because they can not see their friends and class sizes are huge.

Can you imagine teaching 50 students via Zoom or Google meet. What a nightmare. However things are looking better. The “scuttlebutt” is that classroom teaching will resume in February 2022.

These graphs show what is happening at the moment. If you need any further advice leave a comment below.

These are the confirmed cases in all of Vietnam.

These are the confirmed deaths in all of Vietnam.
These are the confirmed Vaccinations in all of Vietnam.Would I come to teach in Vietnam now?

Honestly, No. I think it is probably better to wait for a couple of months and then look at travelling. Vietnam is an amazing country that will amaze you and then frustrate you, all within one hour. But I have never regretted coming here as the experiences and the people you meet are lasting memories that will always bring a smile.

I hope to see you in Vietnam one day.


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2 thoughts on “What is it like teaching in Vietnam?”

  1. Hi, Stephen great to know about Vietnam and its approach to Foreign Languages. Today English is the widely used language and in countries like Vietnam, it’s more important because they earn a huge portion of revenue from tourism. To match up with the rest of the world Vietnamese are more prone to learn Fluent English in the past decade. Naturally, the demand is high for Good English teachers and that leads to lots of Work opportunities in Vietnam. The cost of living is low compare to other countries but the lifestyle is different here. Although a professional degree is not mandatory for teaching, a TEFL or TESOL certificate definitely helps you to find a job in reputed organizations and you can earn $1000 to $2500 per month. Thanks, Stephen for your vast experience as an EFL teacher in Vietnam, and your post definitely help other aspirants who are looking for Jobs Abroad.

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