With a population of over 90 million and a long history of tradition, teaching abroad in Vietnam can give teachers a chance to explore both remote villages, like those in Sa Pa, and bustling cities, like Hanoi. Teaching in Vietnam particularly, is great for individuals who want to teach English, as young Vietnamese learners are very enthusiastic about learning English. From mountains to rice fields, international teachers can explore a range of sites when teaching in Vietnam; they can visit Ha Long Bay on the weekend or visit famous monuments, like the Thien Mu Pagoda, after work.
Where to Teach in Vietnam
Teachers will find the majority of teaching opportunities are located in the two largest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), due to the higher population and presence of many more international language schools and institutes. Ho Chi Minh City has had a fierce comeback post-Vietnam War, which has created a constant need for English teachers in particular.
In the second-largest city in Vietnam, Hanoi, international language schools are continuously popping up and teaching experience is gradually becoming less of a requirement. There’s a lot of Chinese influence in this part of Vietnam, so not only do first-time teachers have plenty of opportunities to try their hand at teaching, but they can also have a dual international experience. While many teaching placements in Hanoi cater to teenagers or the younger Vietnamese population, adults in Hanoi are actively searching for English language learning opportunities to help them develop their career too.
If a teeming metropolis isn’t for you, there are several other spots, like Hue and Hoi An in southern Vietnam, that offer teaching jobs near the rainforest and beaches of the Vietnam. For a mountainous teaching experience in quieter, more rural villages, head north to the Thai Nguyen province where cultural traditions are upheld and a variety of teaching options are available.
How to Teach English in Vietnam
Teaching English as a second language is the most popular and common subject for foreigners looking to teach in Vietnam. Private schools and English language centers are the primary institutions in which teachers will find formal placements. The demand for English language in Vietnam is high, and jobs are available year round in almost every city and town.
International schools can be more difficult to secure placement in because requirements and experience are a great deal higher. But, the benefits and salaries will match, so teachers with considerable experience shouldn’t be discouraged from going after these placements. Teaching in a formal institution typically requires a bachelor’s degree and TEFL/TESOL certification. Some programs include training and certification.
Teachers can set up multiple teaching gigs spread out at a variety of English language centers, or commit to a full time contract at a private school. If the former is your route, you might also want to consider private tutoring as a way to earn and save while teaching in Vietnam. Rates for private tutoring range from $10-$30 USD an hour based on teaching experience. Individuals who teach in Vietnam can expect to work anywhere from 25 to 40 hours a week. In some cases, only half of that time is spent in front of students teaching lessons, and the other half of work hours are spent planning and preparing for lessons.
If you don’t speak Vietnamese you can still find plenty of teaching placements in Vietnam. However, if you take the time to learn some Vietnamese it will definitely help you navigate the classroom and gain greater respect as a local.
Salaries & Cost of Living in Vietnam
Salaries for teachers in Vietnam are pretty standard. You can expect anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 USD a month (or $10-$30 USD an hour) depending your teaching placement. First-time teachers will likely sit on the lower end of the pay scale. To receive the greatest benefits and higher pay, teachers will need a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate and teaching experience.
Since the cost of living is lower in Vietnam, the monthly salary teachers receive will be enough to afford a very comfortable lifestyle (even in a big city like Hanoi) and provide some extra money to save for later. Depending on your teaching placement, you might not have to commit to teaching 40 hours a week, and can use that extra time to travel. Luckily, Vietnam offers really efficient and cost effective transportation.
If you’re looking for extra perks, Vietnamese schools don’t offer much. Most teaching jobs in Vietnam are not likely to cover your accommodation, flight, or insurance. However, many employers will help you secure a visa or work permit, they just won’t take care of the fees attached.
Where & How to Live in Vietnam
Individuals who teach in Vietnam will most often need to secure their own housing in an apartment, unless a teaching job happens to provide housing. In many cases, if you ask your employer or placement providers, they will have suggestions or help you find accommodation.
You will need a work visa to teach in Vietnam and to be able to secure housing. Sometimes the visa process can be difficult if you’re trying to find placement on your own. Many teachers who have worked in Vietnam in the past came in with a business visa. This is no longer a viable option. Coming in on a tourist visa is an option because you are able to convert the visa to a work permit or business visa within Vietnam. Unlike many other countries, you’re not required to leave Vietnam and come back on a new visa.
Why Teach English in Vietnam
First-time Teachers: Language schools are the most reliable and offer the most support. Other teaching placements in Vietnam may not be as suitable for beginners.
Bonuses: Some language schools will offer overtime pay and cover travel expenses.
Contracts and Travel: Working at a language school implies a contract, which commits teachers to a certain amount of teaching time a month. This can inhibit outside travel opportunities.
Diverse Classes: It can be challenging to work with students who are not all at the same level. Some teachers will pass students who are not ready for a heavier or more advanced workload simply to save face.