Have you set your sight on TEFLing in Southeast Asia? If so, why not consider a country regularly beckoning for English teachers: Vietnam. With its expansive coastline along the South China Sea, Vietnam has many positives that make it a frontrunner worth the relocation as an English as a foreign language teacher.
From modern, skyscraper central Ho Chi Minh City to forest-filled Hai Phong, Vietnam has something to offer any adventurer. Vietnamese people are welcoming and always willing to go the extra mile to settle your nerves or lend a hand as they uphold their cultural values of respect, family, national pride, hard work and hospitality. The locals consider learning English critical to their international business growth, and for securing scholarships to study abroad. This gives you, the EFL teacher, plenty of opportunities to teach both adults and children, with over 200 language schools in Ho Chi Minh alone to apply to!
Added bonuses: Vietnam is safe for solo female teachers, and its steamy summers and warm winters offer the perfect year-round desired short-sleeved wardrobe. Have confidence in your choice to relocate to this pretty paradise; nobody goes to Vietnam to fail!
Let’s get down to business! For many EFL teachers, the attraction of teaching abroad in Vietnam is the pay. The average starting teaching salary in Vietnam is between R16 000 - R20 000 (approx. 1000-1400 USD or 24000000-30000000 Vietnamese dong). Salaries are also dependent on working hours, which range between 40-60+ hours a week.
Each job starts with a two-month probationary period. Depending on your contract, you may be paid hourly during the probationary period, and rest assured all English language centres pay similarly. After the probationary period, you could potentially earn up to 30-50 million VND (approx 1200-2200 USD or R20 000 - R35 000) - a pretty penny for saving, living well and paying for voyages to neighbouring lands.
Cost of living in Vietnam is approximately 7.66% lower than in South Africa! Based on current data which may fluctuate, Expatistan estimates that the monthly cost for a single person living in Vietnam is around 22,572,062 VND (R15018.07). However, your lifestyle, spending habits and deals you find will determine the true figure. So, when budgeting, keep the following in mind:
Housing: Finding a comfortable place to rest the tired teacher varies depending on location. In non-major cities, accommodation is approximately R4000+ per month. For housing in major city centres such as Hanoi, expect to pay around R8000+ per month. Budget for those hidden costs that foreigners aren’t typically aware of, such as paying a deposit, and watch out for false advertising! Also, be sure to note that immigration officials randomly check on your residence.
Food: Dive into local Vietnamese culture by consuming street food from the many sidewalk stalls. A big bowl of flavoursome pho (fresh rice noodles in a savoury broth), bun cha (marinated pork in broth), xoi (sticky rice), or other mighty meals range between R10-15. An inexpensive restaurant may cost you around R50 per meal, while a mid-range, three-course restaurant is comparable to South African restaurant prices. For groceries, expect to pay about R20 for 1 litre of milk and R12 for bread. Overall, food is economical, and your belly will always be full if you choose local over Western.
Transport: An Uber-like service called Grab offers car/motorbike rides for cheap rates but can add up for daily commuting. Scooter rentals are also available for approximately R1000 pm. Do you intend to stay in Vietnam long-term? Consider investing in your own scooter or motorbike.
Personal luxuries: Hair and grooming services and clothing are also considered “cheap” by South African/American standards. Make an effort to learn some conversational Vietnamese, as knowing a little goes a long way when it comes to paying for things.
What Companies Provide
Some schools or language centres will arrange for minibuses to transport a group of teachers to and from school daily. Usually, the company or school you’re hired by will also handle procuring your two-year working visa. Of course, you’ll also be given leave and a super salary.
At What Kind of School Will I Be Teaching?
In Vietnam, you can choose between working at a public, private international school or a language centre. However, be aware that even if you work for a language centre, you may have to work at both private and public schools. You may be required to teach at several schools throughout a school district during the day, and teach at the centre after school hours. So, instead of having a single class of students, you may have many students under your influence, which can be a real honour but challenging to be more involved individually.
Public school classrooms are quite large, consisting of about 40-50 learners per class with a limited range of English skills. You’ll therefore rely heavily on high-energy group activities, choral drilling and pronunciation for effective English teaching and learning. Primary education is also free in Vietnam, whereas private centres cost a fee for in-depth English training.
At a private language centre, your class size will be smaller and likely have access to more resources (i.e. technology).
No matter the teaching scenario you’re assigned to, you’ll find it an enriching experience.
Best Way to Find a Job Teaching English in Vietnam
The best way to acquire a job in Vietnam:
Step 1: Be in the country with a tourist visa, equipped with a professional outfit and copies of your CV and essential documents. If you have a friend in Vietnam, use it as an opportunity to visit the country and begin the job hunt.
Step 2: Enquire after teaching positions at language centres/schools in person. These centres are always seeking new teachers, but prefer to assess you face-to-face rather than over correspondence. Also, join the local Facebook group of the town you’re in (such as Vũng Tàu English Teachers and Teaching Jobs) and network with ex-pats for cover classes (part-time teaching work) until you land your perfect fit.
Before booking that ticket, however, do some research on the cities where there are many language centres for maximum hiring opportunities, or which suit your desired lifestyle and expenses. Ultimately, in-person job procurement is the best way forward.
Alternatively, seek assistance from the HR Consultancy Teaching in Vietnam which specialises in recruiting English teachers. They could provide you with more information before venturing to Vietnam.
Requirements to Teach English in Vietnam
A working visa. Note that if you secure employment while on a tourist visa that it can be converted to a work visa without having to leave the country.
An accredited TEFL/TESOL certificate.
A bachelor’s degree.
Note: Having a degree in any field is required to teach English legally in Vietnam. While some teachers without degrees have attained employment, we do not advise anyone to do so. You’ll need to ask the language centres/schools you apply to about their education requirements.
If you’re interested in becoming a travelling teacher, you’ll need a TESOL certificate to unlock this opportunity. Don’t delay! Contact us to book a spot in one of our full-time or part-time online or face-to-face courses, and soon start your TEFL venture in Vietnam.