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Teaching English in Vietnam

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Dray Nur Waterfalls, Buon Ma Thuot.

Vietnam is a stunningly beautiful country with everything from bustling cities to serene mountains. It is well worth visiting if you get the chance.

The major cities are often clean and full of old colonial landmarks and buildings but wherever you are in Vietnam you’ll always find lots of interesting things to see and do all the time. Major centres are: Ho Chi Minh City (hot, exciting, and cosmopolitan), Hanoi (reserved, traditional, cold in winter), and Da Nang, on the coast of the South China Sea (warm, sunny, and with great beaches for surfing).

Apart from good climate, low cost of living, and beautiful countryside, Vietnam offers new and seasoned English teachers alike very competitive salaries.

Demand for English in Vietnam

The demand for teachers is high and in 2013 the Ministry of Education in Vietnam signed agreements to bring between 300 – 500 native English language teachers to the country to work in state schools (including universities) to help raise the general level of English education in the country.

Universities in Vietnam also require their students to have good English knowledge before graduating. Many ask students to take the IELTS‏‎ or TOEIC exams or prove they have attained at least a B1 grade in English (in the CEFR system). However, it must also be said that some universities use their own system which is not always a reliable judge of ability in English.

Requirements to Teach in Vietnam

Job requirements in well established English language schools in Vietnam are usually:

  • native English speaker
  • a degree which is essential for a Work Permit but not always required by employers
  • a TEFL Certificate
  • at least one year’s experience

In order to work legally in Vietnam you will need a visa and a work permit. Schools will often help their teachers with their visas application process and might even cover costs for both the visa and the work permit.

Although a degree is listed amongst the basic requirements for entry level teaching positions, Vietnam is reported to be one of those few countries where you can still be employed without a degree. However this will largely depend on the employer and their specific job requirements. There is a risk involved here, however, in that by not having a degree you may well be working on a tourist visa which is not theoretically allowed.

Pay & Conditions

An job in one of the major cities can provide a salary of about $1200 USD (€950, £764) per month. You can also expect to receive your basic medical insurance‏‎, flight allowance, end of year bonus + 20 working days paid annual leave and an additional 8 paid days off for national holidays.

Jobs may well come with accommodation included. If not, this need not be expensive and can run to about $300 USD (€237, £191) per month.

Teaching ranges from university placed students to volunteering‏‎ at orphanages and so on; you can get work in all kinds of schools and the Vietnamese tend to be quiet, pleasant people. They respect their history a lot and enjoy meeting foreigners (there’s little or no antagonism shown at all to Americans from the war, for example).

Useful Links

Vietnamese vs English – issues teaching English to Vietnamese speakers

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