An Insider's Guide To Teaching English In Vietnam
My name is Ismael, I've been teaching English abroad for over 3 years now.
My story begins when I bought a one way ticket to Europe in early 2016. From Europe I headed on to Vietnam, where I settled down and have been here since late 2016.
One of the things that made me teach English was the demand for the job, the pay and the freedom that comes with it. As an English teacher I have a lot of free time to do the things I love the most, like traveling.
What are the best places to teach English abroad? Why did you choose Vietnam?
In my experience, any Southeast Asian country is perfect for English teachers.
Vietnam, has beaches, cheap food, it's very inexpensive to live here. Even though tourism has picked up, it is nowhere as popular as other South East Asian countries. There are less tourists, less expats and in my experience, it has such a unique and captivating feel, that I could not see myself anywhere else.
Vietnam was the perfect choice for me for many reasons, but I think the most important reason is the people. The people in Vietnam are so nice and so kind toward foreigners, it's almost too much. Even though there's the obvious language barrier, it doesn't stop people from lending you a hand whenever you needed help.
Can you make good money teaching money abroad?
If you are smart, you can save a lot of money.
The basic rate of an English teacher in Vietnam is about 20dlls/hr working full time (which is only 20 hours a week) this means you are making about 1,600dlls a month. I can say from my personal experience living expenses sum up to about 600dlls. Those 600dlls are more than enough to cover rent, food, transportation and entertainment.
With that said, you could easily be saving over a grand per month and that is doing the bare minimum. Some teachers get paid 25dlls/hr or even 30dlls/hr for teaching academic classes.
I've also known teachers that worked 35-40 or more hours in a week. Hustling like that, you can easily make over 3,000dlls per month. So you do the math. It just depends on what your goals are.
As for me, I rather make a bit less but have a balance between work and fun.
What does your lifestyle look like?
Right now, I only work 4 days a week, so obviously I have a lot of time on my hands to do whatever I want. I usually pick traveling.
About a year and a half ago, I met a beautiful Vietnamese girl who is my girlfriend now, and we love traveling and exploring the small towns and villages in Vietnam. It's awesome being with her because we go off the beaten path and it's so much easier having someone that speaks Vietnamese fluently.
I have also picked up Vietnamese lessons, and even though I am not near being fluent, I can hold my ground and have a decent conversation with locals.
What requirements do you need to become an English teacher abroad?
Most public and private schools ask for a bachelor's degree (doesn't matter what field) and of course an English certificate such as TEFL, TESOL or CELTA.
It's quite difficult to get those jobs because they also require you to get a work permit.
Most private English centers don't require a work permit and are usually a lot more lenient when hiring teachers. If you come from an English speaking country or have native speaking capacities and can prove you have a good education, most private English centers will trust that as a native speaker, you will have the ability to impart your wisdom of the English language to their students.
Here are 5 tips for making your journey of teaching English abroad easier:
1.) Save enough money to not worry about rent and your basic needs for about 3 months.
In Vietnam, rent on average is about 200dlls for your own room in a shared a house, so about 600dlls for 3 months of rent. Food is quite cheap, some meals are as cheap as 1dll. So let's say you spend about 5 -10dlls a day on food (this is going very high) that would mean you need to save 450 - 900 dlls for 3 months of food/meals.
You should also include any other miscellaneous, like flights, visas, accidents etc. Once you've figured out your budget, save up for it and earn yourself peace of mind for 2 or 3 months. With that said, you can probably find a job within the first month.
2.) Have your paperwork ready.
If you have the right paperwork that will make things a lot easier. If you don't have a degree, you can still manage, you will just have to work a bit harder to find a center that is a bit loose when asking for credentials and all that. You will definitely be asked for a TEFL course, TOEFL, TESOL, CELTA or any other accredited program that certifies you as an ESL teacher.
3.) Have one contact in the country you want to go to.
Having one contact in the country you plan on settling in will definitely help you. Most of the time, at least in Vietnam you can find everything online, specifically on Facebook. There are FB groups for everything. I mean EVERYTHING. But it is always nice to know a few people in the area so that they can introduce you to their social groups and whatnot.
4.) Do your research.
Before you move to the new country. Ask people that have been there or try to find those online groups. Try to see if you can have some interviews for jobs through video-conference, and also it doesn't hurt to start looking for a shared house or an apartment.
5.) Get mentally ready for new challenges and new ideas.
Once you step out of your comfort zone, there will be challenges everyday. Language barrier, culture barrier, etc. Common ideas such as traffic can be turned upside down in a new country. Food is something that people frequently get culture shock with. Manners and etiquette are some of the other things that people moving to a new country should do a little bit of research. Understanding the new currency of that country. Dealing with visas, visa-runs, work permits, etc.
When I first came to Vietnam it wasn't easy, but I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.