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The Truth about Teaching in Vietnam (That You Won’t Find Elsewhere)
The past few years have highlighted just how unreliable the internet can be as a source of knowledge. This is especially true of info related to TEFL in Vietnam! The ever-changing nature of this wonderful country means that information, if it was correct in the first place, doesn’t stay true for long. From hourly rates to visas, the world of Vietnamese TEFL can change in the blink of an eye. But for the brave souls who are willing to traverse the gauntlet of false-information, the rewards of teaching in Vietnam are outstanding.
If you’re considering a move to Vietnam, I highly suggest you do a lot of research or that you get in touch with someone who really knows the score. It will help you craft realistic expectations on what it’s like to live and teach there. But first, let’s get the record straight on a few of Vietnam’s major myths.
Requirements to Teach English in Vietnam
If a website says you can work in Vietnam without a degree or a decent TEFL qualification, you should immediately be suspicious. Yes, that work is out there, but legality and legitimacy are placed in the darkest reaches of the ‘grey area’. Accepting a job like this will often result in being scammed or working in very poor conditions.
You are required to have a degree and a TEFL qualification. At the time of writing, the law does not mandate a minimum number of hours for your TEFL course. However, getting the work permit can be a linguistical and practical nightmare without a decent school to apply on your behalf. To get a job with these reputable centres, the minimum requirement is now almost always to have a 120-hour, face-to-face qualification including 6 hours of observed, real teaching practice under a trained professional.
It used to be that Vietnam was a bit of the Wild West, as far as teaching (and teaching requirements) went. But as the market develops, the industry is becoming more professional and the competition for jobs is getting more intense. You’ll be able to open more doors and have access to more opportunities with a CELTA, as it’s the widely recognized around the world as one of the best TEFL certificates available. It is also the first step towards career advancement, like management and training positions, which are readily available for qualified people.
Salaries in Vietnam
This leads to myth number two – your expected salary. The starting salary in language centres that provide work permits can be less than other centres because of the other benefits they provide: end of year completion bonuses, medical insurance, high-quality facilities, professional development, and paid leave. Not to mention, it is all legal. The starting monthly salary in these centres is around $1200 USD after tax for inexperienced teachers (not bad in a country where a beer costs $1).
Teachers with more than 2 years of experience can expect to be earn around $1400, while those with four years can expect $1600. Of course, this all depends on the language centre. While higher paying work is out there, you should be suspicious when you read figures of $2000-2500. Usually teachers with this kind of wage get no support and have no facilities. They’re usually the only foreign teachers in the school and therefore work without colleagues, training, or development. What is more, they must often teach many more hours than the typical 18-20 offered in language centres.
I know this because I’ve done it. I taught in a private school that paid exceptionally well, and on paper it looked great. In reality, it was an hour-long drive outside of Hanoi through terrible traffic; I didn’t feel like I improved my teaching skills much in the whole year I worked there.
This is a demotivating experience, and sadly it can put off some great teachers. Don’t believe everything you read online and don’t come to Vietnam as a newbie teacher expecting to be on a salary of $2000+ per month. Better still, don’t come to Vietnam with the primary aim of making money at all. Come to this incredible country for the students, the culture, and a life-changing experience (with an added bonus of some savings at the end)!
Cost of Living in Vietnam
Finally, a word of warning about the cost of living. Yes, it’s crazy cheap and there are great opportunities to save money. However, with western amenities, great trips, and a wonderful nightlife to explore, it can be easy to get sucked into expensive expat living.
I was able to save around $1300 per month through my job at the language centre, private classes, and a little discipline. I also had friends who were left with nothing at the end of the month. So, while Vietnam can be a goldmine, it really depends on your spending and saving habits!
There is so much more to know about teaching in Vietnam. If you’ve appreciated this honest, realistic look at the requirements and benefits, don’t hesitate to get in touch us at Teacher’s Friend – Vietnam. There is plenty more where that came from!
More about Georgie
From a young age, Georgie knew that she wanted to travel, so much so that when she eventually set off travelling at the age of 23 she was surprised at how many people said, “Wow, you’re finally doing it!” She has a degree in Community Drama from a top drama school where she learnt many transferable skills that she utilizes in teaching, such as classroom management, lesson planning, event organization and communicative skills. She also learnt a lifetime’s worth of drama games and activities that she has adapted for the classroom.
After graduating she completed her CELTA certificate with a Pass A, teaching (in one way or another!) ever since. She has taught English in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and now teaches IELTS exam classes in New Zealand. She is a passionate and experienced teacher who wants to share her love of travel and teaching with others, helping them to achieve their dream of continuous travel.
She has been the owner of Teacher’s Friend Vietnam since April 2016 and absolutely loves helping new and experienced teachers move to Vietnam to teach English. Her outstanding reviews highlight her passion for the job, her friendly nature and her love of Vietnam.
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