Teaching English in Vietnam: Everything You Need to Know

As a previous ESL teacher looking for new opportunities to explore, Vietnam had always been on my radar. With a population of over 97 million people and a high demand for English language education, Vietnam seemed like the perfect place for me to experience a new culture and earn a decent living at the same time. In this blog post, I am excited to share everything you need to know about teaching ESL anywhere in Vietnam. From the job market and salary expectations to visa requirements and cultural tips

Qualifications and Requirements

To teach in Vietnam, you will need to fulfill certain requirements set by the government. Here are the general requirements:

  1. Bachelor’s degree: You must have a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution. Ideally, the degree should be in English or education-related fields. However, degrees in other fields may be accepted if you have a teaching certification or relevant teaching experience. I must say, there are some teachers who have landed a job without a degree due to certain circumstances, but they were able to obtain a work permit through specific agencies with bribery. This process is notably easier in Ho Chi Minh City.
  2. Teaching certification: You will need to obtain a teaching certification to teach. The most common certification is a TESOL or TEFL certification, it is highly recommended and will make it easier for you to find a job. These certifications can be obtained through online or in-person courses.
  3. Additional qualifications: As for non native teacher to-be, you must demonstrate fluency in English by providing proof of proficiency through tests such as IELTS. Many schools in Vietnam will also require teachers to have at least 1 year of teaching experience. Teachers from a Native English speaking countries (CA, NZ, AU, US, UK) find it easier to land English teaching jobs here.
  4. Criminal background check: You will need to provide a criminal background check from your home country or any country you have lived in for more than six months.
  5. Work permit: You will need a work permit to legally teach in Vietnam. Your employer should provide assistance in obtaining this permit by providing 100% support, or 50%-50% split in financial cost.
  6. Age limit: The age limit for teaching in Vietnam is 60 years old.

Note that requirements may vary depending on the type of school you will be teaching in. It’s always best to check with your employer or the Vietnamese embassy in your home country for the most up-to-date requirements.

Types of ESL Jobs in Vietnam

There are several types of ESL jobs available in Vietnam, including:

Language Centers: These are private institutions that offer English language courses to students of all ages.

International Schools: These are schools that follow an international curriculum and offer English language courses as part of their program.

Public Schools: These are government-run schools that offer English language courses as part of their curriculum.

Private Tutoring: Many students in Vietnam also seek private English language tutors, which can be a lucrative option for ESL teachers.

Salary and Benefits

The salary for ESL teachers in Vietnam varies depending on the type of school and your qualifications. Generally, teachers can expect to earn between $800 to $2,000 USD per month. Many schools also offer additional benefits such as housing, motorbike, flights, and/or health insurance. Private tutoring can also be a lucrative option, with hourly rates ranging from $15 to $30 USD.

Working Hours and Vacation Time

ESL teachers in Vietnam typically work between 20 to 40 hours per week. Most language centers require teachers to work on the weekends. Schools also offer vacation time during national holidays and the summer months.

Culture & Lifestyle

The people are friendly and welcoming to foreigners, making it easy to settle into the country. The cost of living is relatively low compared to Western countries, with affordable housing, entertainment, food, and transportation.

Teaching ESL in Vietnam

Challenges of Teaching ESL in Vietnam

One of the biggest challenges of teaching ESL in Vietnam is the language barrier. Vietnamese is the official language, and many students may not speak English fluently. This can make communication challenging, especially in the beginning. With the help of your teacher assistant (TA), it should be a smooth ride if he/she is cooperative.

Vietnamese culture is different from Western culture in many ways, and this can impact the way that teachers are perceived and treated in the workplace. It’s important to be aware that Vietnamese teachers have the tendency to hit students and this is a normal thing for them.

Some schools may have unclear or unfavorable contract terms, or they may delay or withhold payment and sometimes your papers. It’s important to thoroughly review and negotiate contract terms before accepting a teaching position and to communicate clearly about payment, workload, housing (if included), and overall expectations.

Some non-native teachers find it hard to land a job solely due to their facial features (skin color to be exact). So employers prioritize hiring native speakers and any non-native speakers (Russia, Ukraine, European countries) as long as they have a white skin tone regardless of their qualifications to do the job.

It’s also worth noting that if the deal sounds too good to be true, it could be a scam. Beware of employers and recruitment agencies who’ll try to rip you off by double-checking the institute’s credentials.

In a nutshell

Teaching ESL in Vietnam can be a rewarding experience for those who are passionate about education, exploring new cultures, and in need of money. With a high demand for English language education, there are plenty of job opportunities available. Although there are some challenges, the benefits of living and teaching in Vietnam are well worth it. With a little bit of preparation and an open mind, you can have a successful and fulfilling ESL teaching experience in Vietnam.

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