Teaching English in Vietnam: Everything You Need to Know

Teaching English in Vietnam: Everything You Need to Know

So you’ve thought about coming to Asia to teach English, but you don’t know where to start. Maybe you have some friends who’ve taught in Korea or Japan and said they loved it and would go back in a heartbeat.  Vietnam is one of the lesser known teaching destinations with a plethor of available teaching opportunities.

Where to begin? Vietnam is a cultural explosion of random yet organized chaos, and teaching here is no different.

 

These market women are everywhere, selling everything from fruit to cotton swabs

 

Traffic jam in Hanoi – A bit different from back home

 

At first everything might seem overwhelming since there isn’t really any specific guidance or organized, structured way of doing things, but once you get here you’ll be rewarded with a very exciting and fulfilling experience. Teaching in Vietnam (Compared to other countries) has its many benefits. The teaching market here is not yet as saturated as Korea or Japan. Think of the way South Korea was 10 years ago, with its serious need of English teachers, and bam, you’ve got Vietnam. Compared to surrounding SE Asia countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, or Laos, Vietnam offers the most competitive salary, with most jobs paying between $18-30/hour, depending on your qualifications and experience. For example, someone with their TEFL certificate would most likely find a higher paying job than someone who doesn’t have their TEFL. With this kind of salary, and with rent being on average just $150-300/month, you’d be able to live an incredibly luxurious lifestyle.

 

I love my adorable fifth graders! They brought me strawberry tea on the last day of class

 

Chillaxin’ near the lake in Hai Duong, a small town between Hanoi and Haiphong

 

Compared to South Korea and other countries like China, Vietnam has a very low cost of living, and you’d be able to save a lot of your salary every month, go on weekend trips, and live an extremely comfortable lifestyle out here. So, now you’re considering moving to Vietnam and finding a teaching job? I’ve worked in numerous cities in the North such as Hanoi, Haiphong, and Hai Duong, but there are loads of teaching opportunities in Saigon as well, and there’s an especially high demand for teachers in the smaller developing provinces such as Halong Bay and Danang, where the need is especially high. Finding a job in Vietnam is INCREDIBLY easy due to the high demand.

 

People carry the most random things on their motorbikes in Vietnam

 

Playing pictionary

 

Teaching in the public schools – Most classrooms don’t have A/C, so it can get sweltering hot in the classroom

What Qualifications Do I Need to Teach?

 

The main qualification you need to get a job is just being a native English speaker. Yep, I said it. If English is your first language, you’re guaranteed to find a job, easy.

The second helpful (but not always necessary) qualification would be having a college degree. It could be a degree in Fashion, and you’ll still find a job.

The third thing (Which is not even necessary to find a job, but still helpful if you want to find a higher paying job) is having a either a TEFL, TESL, or CELTA teaching certification. Click here to read more about the differences between these certificates. The TEFL course is around 150 hours and is easy to obtain, but a bit pricey (The cost of the course ranges from $150 on up). You can check out Groupon to find easy discounts for online TEFL courses. There are plenty of TEFL courses offered online, and in no time you can have your teaching certification, which will make you much more attractive to potential employers.

 

 

Teaching English is fun!

What Documents Do I Need to Bring?

 

Here’s a list of the important documents to take with you to Vietnam:

 

-Copy of passport

-Copy of college degree

-Copy of any teaching certificates (TEFL, TELSA, etc)

-CV/Resume and Cover letter

 

My awesome highschoolers in Hai Duong

 

What About the Visa?

 

Tourist Visa On Arrival – This is the fastest and easiest route to obtain your Vietnam visa. Once you apply online, you’ll be sent a visa approval letter in Vietnamese, indicating the amount of the time on your visa. The visa approval letter costs around $30. I recommend using vietnam-visa.com for getting the letter. They’re fast, reliable, and send over the documents in a timely manner. All you need to do is show up at the airport and present the visa approval letter, then purchase the visa. On average the tourist visa is valid for one and three months, with the three month visa costing around $60. Click on the banner below to get your Vietnam visa fast and with reliable service!

 

 

The ‘Visa Run’ – Lots of teachers have to do this. Once you have the three month tourist visa, and you’re already working, you have to leave the country by flight every three months or however long your tourist visa lasts, then fly back and obtain a new visa.

 

Work Visa – This visa is a lot trickier to get. Most companies won’t offer to help you organize or pay for it, unless you have a full time contract with them for at least a year, then they might help sponsor the work visa. Obtaining a work visa is a headache and super expensive, but if you plan on being out here for the long haul, it’s probably worth it, since you would be getting a 1-3 year residence card and wouldn’t need to worry about doing any visa runs or getting new visas all the time.

 

 

How Do I Find A Job?

 

It’s highly recommended that you look for a job right before you come to Vietnam, or you can also look for one right after you get here, since you’ll likely find a job in no time at all. Yep, that’s right. Just showing up is the most important part.

The best resources to search for teaching jobs include Facebook groups such as Hanoi Massive and Ho Chi Minh ESL Teaching Jobs. These FB groups post jobs regularly and they’re great at getting back with you. Another good resource is TNH Hanoi, which is where I found my job. They post everything from up to date teaching jobs, to apartments and rooms for rent to travel companies for tours. Another reliable resource is Vietnam Teaching Jobs. Just search for the city you’re wanting to work in, and you can even filter out the specific type of teaching job you’re looking for, whether it’s business English or general English.

 

I was teaching them how to draw a face

Where Would I Teach?

If you are hired on for a part time or full time position at any given company, most likely they will have you working in three different types of school settings:

Public schools – The company you work for will most like schedule you with partnering public schools, with the age of the students ranging from 11-18 years old.

International schools – These are private schools which would require you to have not only previous teaching experience, but also the proper qualifications such as TEFL. They also pay a considerably higher salary.

Language Centers – There are lots of these in Hanoi and all over Vietnam, but the most well known ones are Apollo and Language Link (These require the TEFL or other teaching certificate). I recommend doing what I did and going to the language centers in person to inquire about a job.

Online – You might get lucky enough to score a job teaching online. The pay might be a little less, but it would be super flexible, you can travel while doing it, and you can also avoid the horrendous Hanoi rush hour traffic.

 

Teaching these cutiepies the “Hello” song

 

Should I Work Part Time or Full Time?

 

If you live in a big city such as Hanoi, you can earn more money if you take on multiple part time jobs, versus one full time position. You can get a much higher hourly rate if you teach part time. However, if you work outside Hanoi or Saigon in one of the smaller provinces, it’s better to work at a full time position, since they usually offer higher salaries and serious benefits such as free accomodation, a free motorbike, and three free meals per day.

 

They almost rolled me up into a burrito

 

What’s the Schedule Like?

 

Generally, if you’re working full time it will be on average 21-30 hours per week, not including any lesson planning and other class preparation time.

Public schools – Usually you are teaching a short class (One hour) with a short break included. If you have multiple classes that day, there would be some short breaks in between classes.

Language centers – Classes run about the same length of time (30 mins-1 hour). The hours are usually in the evenings from 4PM or later.

 

The Cost Of Living Is Really Inexpensive

 

The average rent in Hanoi is around just $150-$350 per month, depending on the type of accommodation you’re looking for. Private rooms usually cost around $150/month, and this includes all utilities except electricity (Which should be no more than 2,000 dong/kw hour, so beware of some of the ads that try charging more for electricity). You can easily find your own studio apartment with all utilities included for under $300/month.

The average cost of a meal in Vietnam is around $1 or less, with tasty cheap street food abundant. The cost of having lunch in a restaurant or café is around $2-3. A beer costs less than 50 cents.

Transportation – I highly recommend getting your own motorbike. They offer monthly rentals here for just $30/month. I rented mine from a shop in Hanoi called Phung Motorbikes. The good thing about renting a bike monthly is that you don’t have to pay for any maintenance, so if anything happens with the engine or anything the bike shop will take care of it. If you take the risk and buy your own bike, it could end up being a lemon, so it’s best to take a local with you who knows what they’re doing and can communicate and negotiate with you.

 

Don’t ask what’s in the balloon!! 😉 All you need to know is that my the beer, the balloon, and my food altogether cost me under $3

 

Teaching Resources

 

 

Here are some helpful ESL teaching resources, and there are many, many more:

 

I hope this article was helpful in making your decision to come teach English in Vietnam! If you’re looking to escape the same old boring routine and are a flexible and adventurous person, then Vietnam is the place for you.

So close your eyes, open your mind, and dive head first into one of the most thrilling and rewarding experiences of your life!

 

These smiling faces are one of the biggest rewards you’ll get for teaching in Vietnam

 

I hope this article was helpful to you in some way! Let me know what you think in the comments section or by sharing my article with the social media links. I’d love to keep giving you tips and advice so feel free to subscribe by email in the subscribe box below. Don’t forget you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Keep a look out for my upcoming article “9 Tips On How to Save Money When You Travel.

 

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4 thoughts on “Teaching English in Vietnam: Everything You Need to Know

  1. You are is a superb webmaster. The internet site running rate will be awesome trekking in nepal. It seems that you’re executing any kind of special technique. Furthermore, The particular material will be masterwork. you’ve completed an excellent activity in this theme!

  2. Just so you know immigration has begun to crack down on expats working on tourist visas without work permits /proper papers. Just last week, that I know of, 3 girls (2 Americans and 1 British) were deported for this reason. It felt really shocking because when I first arrived everyone was working illegally, but now it seems government is cracking down on education, they just don’t have enough manpower yet to get everywhere at once.

    Maybe you want to include in your blog post that even though centers will hire you without proper papers or bother to give you proper papers, if you get caught your center will hang you out to dry and the foreigner will be the one who gets deported, not the Vietnamese employer.

    It’s happening so much now, especially schools and centers are getting inspected so of course it’s easy to try and wing it but it’s better to ask your employer to have you working legally so this doesn’t happen! I think you should not encourage people to work illegally in another country without understanding the ramifications of what could happen to them.

    Cheers!

    1. Hi Nhung,

      It should be getting better, but unfortunately most companies in Vietnam are condoning this behavior, and even making fake degrees and certificates just to get foreigners to work for them. Once the government begins to step up and crack down on the Vietnamese employers condoning this corruption, then some change will start to happen, until then foreigners will keep coming and taking advantage of the corrupt system. Also in no way was I encouraging foreigners to work in Vietnam illegally, I mentioned how their employer could help them get the correct visa paperwork to stay in the country and work legally. On another note that’s another reason I no longer am working in Vietnam, as I can’t handle the blatant lies and corruption of most employers there hiring foreign teachers, it’s despicable, not to mention the working culture isn’t organized or fair and the the corruption runs too deep. Xxx

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