Should I Consider Teaching English in Vietnam?

getting around in Ho Chi Minh

One of the easiest ways of making money whilst abroad is teaching English. Whether it’s online or in the classroom, it should free up a lot of your day to pursue other ventures or just sit around by the pool chatting up local girls 😉

should i teach english in vietnam

I’ve taught English at various times whilst being abroad, and while I can’t say I thoroughly enjoyed it it’s not a bad way to stack some cash or make enough to pay the bills, especially in places like Vietnam.

It’s easy to find cheap accommodation in Vietnam which is easily afforded in just a few days in the classroom per week. Or should I say hours, because you’re most likely to get upwards of $18 an hour teaching English in Vietnam. This will easily pay for your place depending on how many hours you want to work.

The Pros and Cons of Teaching English in Vietnam

Pros

  • Decent money, especially by local standards. Average local salary is around $200 a month here and that can be made in a few days of English teaching, leading to a very comfortable lifestyle.
  • Meeting new people and networking. I’ve taught heads of large businesses alongside students of rich and powerful parents. You never know who will be in front of you in the classroom or the doors that may open for you as a result of teaching here.
  • Low stress. If you avoid the kids and stick to adults or uni-students it’s much easier in my opinion. I find a direct correlation between the wealth of the parents and the behaviours of the kids. The richer they are the brattier and more badly behaved the kids. This is the exact opposite of the UK where richer kids generally tend to be better behaved than poorer kids in schools by a long shot.
  • Free-Time. The average teacher will teach around 15-20 hours a week here meaning apart from some lesson planning the rest of your time is your own. This should give you ample free time to pursue other interests other than work, or set up a side business.

Cons

  • Dodgy schools. There’s plenty here, so check them out before you sign a contract or work a load of hours before getting paid. Search Google for info on the school or manager before you start, and ask around.
  • Random hours. Even though the hours can be low, quite often you may have to teach in the evenings and weekends when everyone is out partying. People can often only learn English after school or work so that means you’ll be needed in the evenings and on the weekends.
  • English teacher stigma. Some people like to look down on the English teacher posse. I don’t find it’s a problem at all when it comes to dating local girls, but other expats and some locals might give you a sly grin when you mention you’re an English teacher. Just remember that you’ll be at the pool at 2pm when they’re slaving away at their desks.
  • No progression. English teaching is generally a go nowhere type of job unless you harbour the dream of starting your own school or becoming a director of studies. There is a plentiful supply of backpackers and new college grads keen to take up TEFL posts each year so you can be easily replaced and the centre managers know it. It’s looked upon as a business so your qualifications don’t really matter. The more ‘Western’ you look in their eyes the better. But that’s nothing new.

I still feel the pros outweigh the cons when teaching English abroad, especially in lower cost of living countries such as Vietnam.

Be careful not to fall into the trap of the ‘forever TEFLer’ though, you can do better 🙂

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