Teaching English in Vietnam

The land of hidden charm is calling your name. Teaching English overseas could be a once in a life time experience in any country, and Vietnam is not an exception. Staggeringly beautiful attractions along with the rich heritage of the culture definitely make Vietnam an enticingly choice to live and work. Besides, the young country is eager to be part of the world and the key to opening the globe door is English. This results in an increasing demand for learning English and plentiful opportunities for English teachers and would-be teachers.

If you are considering Vietnam for traveling, why do not consider teaching English in Vietnam as your future career or even just a temporary job that helps you deal with your bills when being on the road? The following information would help you to know what to expect:

Is there any requirement for teaching English in Vietnam?

The answer is perhaps both yes and no.

In general, a four-year college degree in any subject is required for a would-be English teacher in Vietnam and a TEFL certificate (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is preferred. However, it does mean that you could not get a good job without such certificates but surely those documents would guarantee your chances of landing a better job. Knowing Vietnamese is not a requirement; it just helps you easily integrate into the classroom and impress you students.

TEFL certificate courses can be found in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, each lasting about 5 days and costing about $1000. For the long term plan, the certificate is all worth it.

How much can I earn from teaching English in Vietnam?

There is no fixed salary amount but expect a range between $1000 and $2000 per month. It may sound hefty but for the cost of living in Vietnam, the amount can get you a beautiful rented apartment with plenty of budget for food and saving (see how much things cost in Vietnam).

Where and whom will I be teaching?

Teaching at Vietnam universities is a promising job but surely not a well-paid one. English is a popular and obligatory subject for most universities, yet there is only a handful of Vietnamese universities offering jobs for foreign teachers as their budget is limited.

Formal Education Institutions

Most expatriate English teachers choose private schools and English centers as their workplaces. When it comes to private schools, most classes are at basic level, or English for specific purposes such as English for business. There are many Vietnamese private schools that parents of students urge school to hire English-speaking teachers as they already have to pay much money in exchange for good education environment for their beloved children. So, the demand is very high.

Working at an international school, on the other hand, generally require a college degree (in any subject) and a TEFL certificate or the equivalent. Experience is also required sometimes and such schools typically recruit overseas rather than locally to guarantee their teaching quality. Salary and other benefits make the job deserving.

Language Schools

Language centers go mushrooming in Vietnam recently as the desire to improve English proficiency as a job qualification is overwhelming. Almost all centers focusing on training students to achieve high scores in international language tests such as TOEFL, IELTS, and TOEIC are in their days. Those centers employ foreigners to teach English skills that Vietnamese teachers somehow could not do better than native speakers, including speaking and writing skills. Salary is good and the time is quite flexible. The quality of these centers varies, depending on the tuition fees of their students, generally.

Among the most prestigious centers are ACET, British Council, Language Link, and Apollo, but they do not necessarily offer the highest salary and it is the reason why some of teachers just work for them to build up their reputation and then leave them to teach in other education centers that offer higher salary.

If you do not intend to stay long in Vietnam, it is advisable to teach English for students in kindergartens and English centers for students. The job entails normally no specific qualification or certificate and you just have to teach children their ABCs and other basics, which are just pieces of cake for you. This seems to be more flexible and you also do not have to dress up when taking your jobs.

Private Tutoring

There is private tutoring, which is preferred by most inexperienced English speaking teachers. There are a large number of potential students and it is easy to find them through your expat network and other ways. Most of the students are the children of expatriates whose parents maybe English speakers who are so busy to teach their children or Asian expatriates working in Vietnam, wanting their children to learn living English at their early ages. Posting notices at expatriates’ housing complexes is one of the easiest ways to find your students.

Preparing curriculum

You will teach according to the center’s curriculum and reference materials. However, you will need to construct your own in-class activities, especially in introductory courses for children.

Working hours per week

Normally, full-time trainers will be required to teach 40 hours/week, of which real teaching hours inside class are from 18 -20 hours /week, and the rest of time will be spent for curriculum designing, class preparation, test marking, essay editing. Part-time trainers can work for 11-12 hours/week and take care of at least three classes per week.

How to find teaching jobs in Vietnam

Community forum such as The New Hanoians or job ads website such as VietnamWork is a great place to start. If you are in Ho Chi Minh City, read our guide to get a job there.

Visa information

As an English teacher in Vietnam, you will be required to have a work visa and locate your temporary housing. It is not a problem; tourist visa could be converted into work visas without leaving the country. Most employers will be responsible for assisting you with visa extension or arranging a work permit though some will ask you to do that yourself so check with them first. The most important task then is to nail down a job first before figuring out the paper process.

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