Teaching English in Vietnam
In recent years, Vietnam has become a popular destination for EFL teachers and it’s not hard to see why; ESL Teachers can enjoy a comfortable standard of living, the culture is fascinating, the people are friendly, and the food is delicious. What more did you want?
Teaching English in Vietnam is largely an enjoyable and rewarding experience, with committed students who are well aware of the importance of English as a second language. Most of your students will be studying English to get a good-paying job in a multinational company or the tourism industry. There is a big push to improve language skills in Vietnam, with a National Foreign Languages Project that aims to see most of Vietnam’s students using English in their studies and work by 2020.
Teaching jobs are available in Universities, Language Centres, Kindergartens, International Schools, Agencies and Private Schools, and this drives a constant demand for qualified ESL Teachers. Ho Chi Minh City is the commercial centre of Vietnam. It’s a vibrant and interesting city, a mix of old world charm and modernity, and offers plenty of teaching opportunities. Schools in Vietnam don’t usually help newly-arrived teachers to find accommodation, but it’s not hard to find and is relatively cheap.
Qualifications and work permits and salaries
You need a work permit to teach in Vietnam. To qualify for a work permit you need a university degree and recognised TEFL certification, plus a criminal records check. We have been told that if you can provide documentation to show that you have 7 years of teaching experience, it is a legally acceptable alternative to formal qualifications, but we weren’t able to verify this. In any event, once you have a work permit, you can obtain a visa.
A typical full-time teaching position in Vietnam will provide around 20 teaching hours per week and will provide you with health insurance, assistance in applying for your work permit and holiday pay. Some employers also offer a bonus upon contract completion. ESL Teachers can expect to earn around $1500 – $2000 per month for such a full-time position. To get this type of teaching job you will normally need to be properly qualified and you will need a work permit and visa. More often than not, your employer will help you to obtain these documents.
Casual teachers often enter Vietnam on a three month business visa. Taking this path will enable you to find short-term and part-time teaching jobs at smaller language schools, but you won’t be able to use it to get a full-time job. You’ll need to renew your business visa at the end of every three months, but if you only want to work temporarily or part-time, it may be enough for you. It’s worth bearing in mind that the cost of living in Vietnam is low, and teachers can often survive with just 10-20 hours of work each week.
In any event, we strongly advise teachers to seek advice from their Vietnamese Embassy before applying for a work permit and visa, to ensure that rules haven’t changed and that you are following the most appropriate path.