Vietnam is an excellent location to earn TEFL certification abroad, because of the low cost of living and abundant opportunities to teach in Vietnam after training. The government has placed a high focus on learning English as a second language, by setting a goal for the majority of Vietnamese students to speak English confidently by 2020; so, TEFL courses in Vietnam are less competitive, than in Thailand or China, in that it is easier to find an ESL teaching job in Vietnam. In addition, teaching positions are offered throughout the year, so there is no need to wait for hiring season after you have completed your TEFL Courses in Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and Hanoi offer the highest volume of teaching jobs in Vietnam, so you’ll find plenty of TEFL programs in both locations. Though two very different cities, both offer a good expat community, music scene, and enough to do to keep busy.
Ho Chi Minh City is more cosmopolitan and overall much bigger than Hanoi. There is a pretty good bus system too, although most foreigners use a motorbike. The nightlife in Ho Chi Minh City is the most extensive in the country providing individuals who teach in Vietnam with ample opportunities to meet locals and experience their nightlife culture. Hanoi is smaller and more laid back, especially in regards to going out, with a standard midnight curfew spanning the city.
There are also TEFL courses in Vietnam’s smaller towns, such as Da Nang, rural areas, and mid-sized cities, such as Haiphong.
Courses & Programs
Most TEFL programs in Vietnam will be provided by private or independent organizations rather than courses offered at colleges or universities.
In order to be eligible to teach English in Vietnam, individuals can participate in online or TEFL programs located in Vietnam. Online courses offer the opportunity to be based in your home country and save money while taking TEFL courses, while TEFL programs in Vietnam will give you cultural insights and real-life practice that can’t be replicated. Unlike some countries, people who choose online TEFL certification still have a relatively easy time finding a teaching job in Vietnam, because of the year-round hiring and pure number of teaching opportunities in Vietnam.
Most TEFL courses in Vietnam are around 120 hours of training, or sometimes up to 150 hours, which includes real classroom time both teaching and observing with actual students. During TEFL courses abroad, teachers learn about lesson planning, preparing activities for groups, and are introduced to a variety of instructional techniques and resources. The focus of TEFL courses in Vietnam will be both practical and theoretical training. A good TEFL program will also touch on cultural expectations and classroom dynamics in Vietnam so you can have a good background for communication with students. Depending on the program, your TEFL certification may also include some Vietnamese language instruction, which can be incredibly helpful when you begin teaching in Vietnam.
Be sure to research your options and understand the full costs and inclusions of the TEFL program before making your decision.
Salary & Costs
You can expect to pay between $1,500 and $1,800 for a four week TEFL certification course in Vietnam (most courses are four weeks long). These costs usually include tuition, books, and job placement services, as well as in-country support and orientation. However, some TEFL programs in Vietnam are more comprehensive, including other amenities such as housing and excursions too.
Once TEFL certified you can expect to make $1,500 to $2,000 per month teaching English in Vietnam, depending on what type of teaching position you choose to fill. There are job opportunities in international schools, agencies, private English academies, and other language centers. After you are certified, you can choose to work for one school full time, signing a contract, or you can be part time at several different schools. A full time position is about 20 hours per week, so while you’ll still need to grade and lesson plan, you will still have some flexibility.
Full time teaching jobs in Vietnam will usually include health insurance and work permit assistance, and allow you to have set hours and paid vacation. Some contracts also offer a bonus after one year of work in Vietnam.
The cost of living in Vietnam is quite low, with a typical local meal costing between $2 and $4. For a nice meal in a “Western” restaurant, you can expect to pay between $6 and $8. There are many local markets that offer fresh fruits and vegetables for reasonable costs - just be ready to barter to about half the quoted price as a foreigner teacher. In general for a basic but comfortable lifestyle in Vietnam you can expect to pay spend $700 and $900 per month in living costs, which allows you plenty of opportunity to save.
Accommodation & Visas
Most teachers and TEFL students in Vietnam live in shared apartments or houses with other foreigners, or locals, depending on what you are looking for. Including rent, utilities, internet, and a weekly cleaning, you can expect to pay between $200 and $300 per month for furnished lodging, depending on your location and distance from the city center. During TEFL programs in Vietnam, some schools will coordinate with a local hostel or hotel to secure a steady monthly rate, in which case all participants reside there during the entire TEFL program.
You will need to obtain either a business visa or work permit to teach abroad in Vietnam. The former does not need to be sponsored by a school, but you will need your employer’s assistance to obtain a work permit. Most individuals arrive with a tourist visa and then convert it to the appropriate visa once they obtain a TEFL certificate and have accepted a teaching job in Vietnam. Work permits are valid for three years and are tied to the business that sponsors you (sponsorship must happen annually). In order to obtain a work permit to teach in Vietnam, you will need to get a health check as well as complete a criminal background check in your home country. Get these before you leave, as it’s more expensive and takes longer to do so from Vietnam.
If you know you are interested in teaching at language centers or conducting private tutoring, and don’t plan to stay in Vietnam long, you can enter the country on a business visa that lasts three months and shouldn’t cost more than $130. You’ll have to renew your visa after three months, but this option allows you to set your own work schedule.
Benefits & Challenges
Teaching in Vietnam will give you the chance to teach people of all ages, from young children to adults, although most opportunities are focused on children because of the government’s initiative for younger generations to learn English.
The job market is excellent and cost of living is low, making Vietnam an ideal location for foreigners to teach abroad.
The dynamic and fast-paced city life of Ho Chi Minh City is equally as attractive as the smaller, more sleepy towns.
Getting your TEFL certification in Vietnam offers the chance to earn a good living without the steep competition of other regional countries, such as Thailand or China. Professionally, you can expect a quick turnaround on your job search here too!