Vietnam is quickly becoming one of the most fascinating and lucrative places to teach English abroad. With a low cost of living, bustling street food scene and beautiful traditional temples, Hanoi is the perfect city to base yourself when teaching in Vietnam. If you’re looking to explore Vietnamese history and culture, look no further than the capital of the north. Explore Ho Chi Minh’s old residence, wander the Confucian temple of Literature and watch a traditional water puppet show.
Looking to travel during your time off? Vietnam is the perfect hub for travel around Southeast Asia. Visit Thailand, Laos or Malaysia. You can even take a quick flight up to Hong Kong or Bali.
There’s plenty to do and explore in Vietnam as well. Hanoi is situated near Ha Long Bay. You can spend a weekend exploring this beautiful bay by boat, sailing past mountains jutting out of the bright blue water. Do you like food? Hanoi is famous for it’s pho noodle soup. Not only is it delicious, it’s also extremely cheap! The city is packed with street food stalls. Try barbequed meat and vegetables or a traditional Vietnamese pâté sandwich.
Teaching at a language school is the easiest and most popular way to teach English in Vietnam. Most teachers choose one of two options: teaching full-time at one school, or part-time at multiple schools. A full-time job will usually consist of 20 hours of teaching a week, for about $1,500-$2,000 USD a month. This job will often require a TEFL certification and a full-year contract.
For those that don’t want to commit to a full-year contract, you may be able to get a few part-time jobs, teaching English for about $20 an hour. Many contracts will supply teachers with 3-4 teaching hours a week, so it is possible to make a livable income teaching at three or four schools, without the commitment of a one-year teaching contract.
Some teachers may find jobs teaching small children at a kindergarten. Pay and benefits are similar to language schools, but classes will mainly be from 2-6pm, with short, activity-based lessons. These schools tend to prefer female teachers, but men may find work here as well.
While state schools rarely hire English teachers, many international schools will employ foreign English teachers. These schools usually offer higher salaries, but require a few years of experience and a TEFL certification. Teachers trained in other disciplines in the sciences and arts may also find a job teaching their subject in English.
Some teachers choose to take on clients for private tutoring. While it’s difficult to make a living solely tutoring, many teachers do this to supplement their incomes. Private lessons tend to run $10-$15 an hour.
When and Where to Find Jobs
While it is possible to find employment online, many people prefer to find a job once already in Vietnam. You can arrive on a tourist visa, and let your school handle all of the paperwork once they hire you.
Local newspapers and online forums advertise job vacancies. The best method to get a job is to print out a list of schools and make personal visits to all of them with your CV. This way, employers can verify your English level and gage your personality, while you can survey the school and become familiar with possible employers.
Due to the continuing popularity of English learning in Vietnam, schools are often hiring year-round. The only exception to this would be the international schools, which tend to hire in the summer for the upcoming school year.
Many jobs require a TEFL or CELTA certificate, while others merely prefer it. Having a teaching certificate with almost always guarantee a higher salary and a better chance of obtaining a job; however, it is very possible to find a job teaching English in Hanoi without a certificate.
Salary and Cost of Living
Vietnam is a very affordable country for most westerners. With street food costing as little as $.50, and dinner at a restaurant costing $5-7, it is easy to live on $800 a month.
Hanoi is also a walking city, so you will be able to save money on transportation costs. If your school happens to be far from your apartment, consider purchasing a motorbike. These bikes are very popular in Hanoi, and are very affordable.
Your largest monthly expenditure will be housing, which will cost about $150-$250 a month, plus an additional $30-50 for water, electricity and wifi.
Classroom and Work Culture
The work culture in Vietnam tends to be much more relaxed than that of other East Asian countries like South Korea, China and Japan. However, teachers will be less coddled in Vietnam. Benefits packages with pre-arranged housing, free flights and healthcare plans are almost non-existent for most teaching jobs. This means teachers will have to purchase their own flights, find a healthcare plan and search for their own apartments.
The first month is often spent finding an apartment and applying for jobs, which can be a bit stressful for many teachers. However, it also gives you the opportunity to choose an apartment in a great area that suits your needs, and find a teaching job that is best for you.
Vietnamese students are known for being very diligent and respectful towards foreign teachers. Students are attentive, excited and polite. The lifestyle in Vietnam is also more relaxed than that of East Asia, meaning that students have more energy to pay attention in class, and are much less exhausted.
There are also many options for teaching times and schedules. Schools do not require you to sit in the office all day, planning lessons and holding office hours between classes. Teachers are free to find a job that fits their ideal schedule, and are only required to be present for their classes.
The business culture in Vietnam is also similarly relaxed. Teachers can dress casually, and the work atmosphere is open and friendly. Teachers do not need to worry about abiding by certain professional customs, unlike many other countries in Asia.