Teaching English abroad is a unique experience in any country, but perhaps no more so than in Vietnam. The Vietnamese people live a life that is very much influenced by the past. The beauty of the countryside combined with the rich heritage of the culture will surely result in an extraordinary experience.
If you're considering teaching English in Vietnam, the following information will help you know what to expect.
What requirements are there to teach in Vietnam?
Teaching English in Vietnam requires, in general, a four-year college degree in any subject, and preferably a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. While certification is not necessary, it will increase your chances of landing a good job. A working knowledge of the Vietnamese language is recommended, but only for your own comfort and peace of mind.
The vast majority of people teaching English in Vietnam do so at universities. English is a popular course of study for Vietnamese university students, and chances are good that as a native English speaker you'll be a highly valued member of the faculty. Surprisingly enough, you probably won't spend the entire time teaching students; you may be called upon to teach other professors English skills as well.
Although universities are the number one job market, it is also possible to get a job as a private English tutor in Vietnam, or as a teacher of part-time conversational classes. Many Vietnamese adults choose to learn English and attend evening classes by choice, and native-speaking teachers are always in demand.
Life in Vietnam
As a teacher of English in Vietnam, you will essentially be considered a citizen. You'll be required to have a work visa in order to remain in the country, and will be in charge of locating your own lodging. All of these factors should be taken into account when you're choosing a city in which to teach. The lodging available (and the cost of it) will vary widely between small villages and large capital cities. Although big cities may be more expensive in terms of cost of living, they will also offer more opportunities for teaching positions. The final decision is really up to you.
The city of Hanoi, in northern Vietnam, is the main governmental seat of the country. The area around Hanoi and bordering China is influenced heavily by Chinese culture, while further down south in Vietnam you will discover smaller villages and a more mixed range of people and cultures.
Regardless of where you choose to live, beware of the fact that traveling in Vietnam is expensive. Rail travel is available, but is generally slow; if your work place and your home are too far apart to walk, you may want to consider investing in a bicycle.
The Vietnamese people are known for being very friendly and accepting; Vietnam is a pleasant and beautiful country for visitors. Some English teachers choose Vietnam precisely for these reasons. Family ties are strong, and although Buddhism is considered the main religion, no particular faith is dominant. You'll find your Vietnamese students to be open-minded and giving, with a sense of fairness and teamwork already well developed.
Teaching English in Vietnam is a wonderful adventure, but you shouldn't expect to get rich doing it. Pay for teachers is relatively low in Vietnam, and sometimes jobs are somewhat scarce and difficult to locate. You may have to take what you can get.
With that said, you can make the experience much more positive for yourself if you go into it with some money in the bank and a few connections. Many colleges and organizations offer teacher-exchange programs that can help place you with a school in Vietnam and get you started on the path to your teaching career. Use the internet as a tool, and search online for teaching jobs in Vietnam. The more prepared you are to face the challenges ahead, the more you'll benefit from the entire experience.
By Michelle Simmons