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The Complete Guide to Teaching in Vietnam

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What are the Benefits of Teaching in Vietnam?

There are many benefits of teaching in Vietnam. These Include:

  • A government that is heavily investing in its education system.
  • Low cost of living.
  • Free or subsidised housing.
  • Some schools will provide you with a motorbike to get to work on (motorbikes are the most common mode of transport in Vietnam).
  • Teachers are well respected by parents, students and society as a whole.
  • Great food, high standard of living and great, strong coffee!!

The Complete Guide to Teaching in Vietnam

Up until the past 20 years, Vietnam was relatively untraveled by tourists and teachers alike. However, rapid expansion and foreign investment have led to Vietnam becoming the “world’s fastest-growing economy”, according to a 2017 study by multinational professional services network PricewaterhouseCoopers.

This increased attention has caused many teachers wishing to go overseas to look towards Vietnam as a solution.

Here is the complete guide to teaching in Vietnam.

How is Education in Vietnam?

While Vietnam is unrelentingly focused on improving their economic standpoint, they have clear educational targets too.

The country has been on a mission, nay a full-on campaign, to eradicate illiteracy and provide greater opportunities for education for every citizen. 

Vietnam’s ‘Resolution on Continued Renovation of Education and Training’ began in 1993. Since then, the government has reported that:

the whole country has completed the target of wiping out illiteracy and universalizing the primary education in 2000; universalizing the junior secondary school education in 2010 and is [now] advancing to universalize pre-school education for five-year-old children.”

Their long-term aim is “to improve the quality of comprehensive education… to make the Vietnamese education reach the advanced level in the region.

For ambitious teachers, the country’s recent dedication to improved education is a real chance to change the lives of historically underprivileged students whilst working in a stunning, unique and upcoming country. 

How do I Get a Teaching Job in Vietnam?

The sincerest of apologies, but it’s best to start with the boring formalities.

The rules for foreign workers are currently in flux, so understanding the new immigration reforms, which came into effect in July 2020, is vital. 

There are various visa types in Vietnam, determined by the nature of your visit. It’s illegal to work on a tourist visa, so teachers need only be concerned with getting a work visa. 

3 Types of Vietnamese Visa

A  Vietnamese Work Visa (LD1, LD2) is provided for foreign nationals who will commit to employment with a registered, legal company or partner in Vietnam. The company will provide you with an approval letter beforehand, so you are then able to receive the correct visa stamp on arrival.

A Vietnamese Business Visa (ND1, ND2) is offered to those who intend to work with businesses and organisations or conduct other commercial affairs. However, this visa is not suitable for those coming to work and live in Vietnam long-term. 

The Vietnamese Work Permit is the Holy Grail document for foreign workers. It’s mandatory for working in Vietnam, so prospective teachers need to know if they’re eligible for one.  

In order to land a teaching job, you’ll need to have a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited institution with at least 3 years experience in the field.

If you meet this criterion, the school or institution sponsoring you can aid you in the application process, which is considered an arduous and lengthy process.

You will require Vietnamese health and police checks, your original visa approval letter and notarised copies of the relevant certificates and qualifications. 

How do I find a teaching job in Vietnam?

OK, you are qualified to teach in Vietnam, but how precisely do you find a good job? Well, there are a few options:

  • Recruitment Services: Professional individuals or agencies can connect you with schools and educational centres, making it easier to scope out a position. 
  • Online: There are a few websites on finding teaching jobs in Vietnam, such as Vietnam Teaching Jobs or Vietnam Works, but the application process can be inconvenient. Social media is an unexpectedly effective tool, as many schools will post advertisements directly on pages administrated by ex-pats. 
  • Direct Contact: Make direct contact with schools, universities or English centre conglomerates like APAX, ILA and Apollo. If offered a job, the paperwork will be easier, as you will receive advice and guidance directly from the employer.  
  • Travel First: If you’d love to get a feel for Vietnam first, you can travel on a tourist visa while spending time looking for potential jobs. You never know what opportunities could come from this approach, so it’s often the most exciting prospect for those interested.

A word of warning, though: don’t work on this visa, as you could face deportation and blacklisting if you’re caught.

What Teaching Jobs are Available in Vietnam?

Even when you’re using the right channels to job-hunt, you have to consider what kind of work you’re most interested in, and the type of institution you’d like to work for. 

What Types of School are there in Vietnam?

In Vietnam, you can find these kinds of employers:

  • International Schools: Vietnam currently has six accredited international schools. Jobs here are highly competitive, but if you’re the best of the bunch, it’s a fantastic opportunity to further your career. 
  • Private Schools: These institutions are also a great choice for more experienced teachers. The students are usually wealthier, and the school facilities and amenities more comprehensive. You will likely have greater development and training opportunities in this type of school. 
  • Universities: Posts at universities offer great financial rewards and manageable working hours. The attractive offers that these institutes provide usually mean they consider expert or highly-trained individuals.
  • Language Centers: The market for language centres in Vietnam has basically exploded, meaning there is a plethora of companies that require foreign teachers. However, the quality and professionalism of these centres varies wildly, so be careful when choosing a job. Less established centres often don’t have adequate learning materials and course structure, so look for the more reputable names if you want to get serious. 

Additionally, you need to consider what age group you’d like to teach. Vietnam invites foreigners to teach all levels, from Kindergarten upwards. 

Where should I teach in Vietnam?

Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Da Nang are the most popular regions to find teaching positions in Vietnam. Companies in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh offer very competitive salaries and benefits.

The cost of living does jump up in larger cities, but not enough to cause any significant problems. 

Larger language centres can afford to offer teachers small city incentives, to entice them to quieter regions.

If you love the natural world and aren’t necessarily bothered about trips to the cinema or international cuisine, teaching in a small city is a great way to gain more intimate experiences. 

Life both in the city and countryside has its own advantages, so be sure to search the locations of any prospective jobs as you find them. Landing in the country only to find your school is based in the middle of nowhere could disappoint and isolate you.

Likewise, if you are searching for a calm locale, a big city may feel too busy and stressful.

What Will my Teaching Schedule Look Like if I Teach in Vietnam?

Depending on the type of institution you teach at, and the level of students you teach, your schedule can look wildly different.

Schools run in the day, from around 7 am to 5 pm. However, primary and kindergarten students will start later and finish earlier than secondary level.

The Vietnamese nap for a few hours at lunch, so the school day is quite easy-going. 

(Nice!)

The school year in Vietnam is from the start of September to the end of May, but some schools can offer you summer school work. At top-tier levels, you can expect to be paid throughout the summer, just like back home. 

English language centres are flexible with their contracts, offering full and part-time deals. They run their courses on weekday evenings and at the weekends.

In the summer, when schools close, students rush to the centres in the morning and afternoon, so this is the busiest and most lucrative period for the teachers.

What Kind of Teachers are Needed in Vietnam?

As a foreign teacher in Vietnam, you are able to teach all students, be it Kindergarten, Primary or Secondary level.

Vietnam is especially concerned with raising the universal standard of education at the kindergarten level, but there is always a demand for qualified educators.

Unless you have Vietnamese language certification, you will be a Foreign Language Teacher. Your abilities must be expert.

The British Council states that “MOET’s National Foreign Languages Project 2020 requires all English language teachers in Vietnam to reach an English level proficiency of CEFR B2 for primary and lower secondary school teachers and CEFR C1 for upper secondary, high school teachers.

As the new standard for Vietnamese nationals is set this highly, foreigners are expected and required to be native-level speakers.

Consequently, the government is particularly interested in educators from places, such as:

Many Vietnamese institutions prefer American English. While prospects are not entirely limited to these countries, you will find it much more strenuous to find employment coming from other parts of the world. 

How Much Money Can I Earn Teaching in Vietnam?

Vietnam is now known to be a budget holiday destination, as the cost of living is so low.

Food, transport and utilities and even phone contracts are noticeably cheaper than Western rates.

As far as a teacher’s salary goes, teachers can earn a good amount of income. Rates across the country are higher than neighbouring countries, such as Thailand, Cambodia or Laos.

Teachers can receive varying rates, depending on their type of institution, role, experience and location.

Here are some average salaries:

Type of InstitutionVietnamese Dong (VND)US Dollar (USD)British Pound (GBP)
Language Centre27,000,000 – 41,000,0001,200 – 1,800850 – 1300
Private School32,000,000 – 44,000,0001,400 – 1,9001000 – 1350
University36,000,000 – 46,000,0001,600 – 2,0001100 – 1400
International School43,000,000 – 57,000,0001,900 – 2,5001350 – 1800

It’s also relevant to consider whether or not your contract will be salary or hourly.  As a general rule, schools will go for salary, whereas language centers tend towards hourly rates.

What is the Cost of Living in Vietnam?

Considering that locals can live comfortably on the average monthly salary range from $200 to $450, ex-pat teachers can afford a lavish lifestyle.

Cheap meals out can cost as little as $2; in large cities, monthly rent is between $250-$500, but it’s far cheaper in less-populated regions; even something as important as a decent, reliable motorbike will only set you back $150.  

Teachers wanting to come to Vietnam should focus on finding the environment first, as the accompanying salary will surely be enough to have vast amounts of fun, while saving for a rainy day.

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What Benefits do Teaching Jobs in Vietnam Come With?

Most companies will provide their teachers with free or subsidised accommodation, usually around $100 per month.

The quality of housing is quite good if you’re willing to pay for it.

The accommodation suited to foreigners is more expensive: a small, well-furnished one-bedroom apartment will start around $250 p/m; a luxury two-bed may cost $400 to $700 p/m a month, and entire houses or villas can range from $400-$1000.

If you want to get around in Vietnam, you need two things: a front wheel and a back wheel.

The majority of companies will also provide you with a motorbike. They are everywhere in the country. Public transport, even in the larger cities, isn’t a particularly satisfying or convenient experience, everyone commutes by motorbike.

By law, you require a motorbike license, but this is not heavily enforced.

What is the Vietnamese Curriculum?

As we’ve learned, the Vietnamese are serious about education.

They don’t undervalue its significance in the sculpting of wholesome, well-informed individuals. As a result, the classroom is considered a highly-respected place.

Teaching is an esteemed profession, and the parents are exceptionally courteous towards the teachers of their children. 

(How good does that sound, right?)

The Vietnamese curriculum contains comparable subjects to Western education.

After 2018 reforms, it focuses on literature, maths, core sciences, geography, history and foreign languages. As the curriculum requires students to learn a foreign language throughout their schooling, which is one reason why there is a demand for foreign English teachers in Vietnam. 

At private and international schools, you may actually teach American curriculums. If you are qualified in a particular field, you might have the opportunity to teach other subjects as well as English.

Certain institutions strive for what is known as Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). In essence, teachers instruct students on math, science or geography in English

How are Vietnamese Students?

As the general populace of Vietnam considers education so crucial for success and prosperity, students are usually attentive and hardworking.

As a foreign teacher, you can expect your students to be delightfully curious about your unique ideology and mannerisms.

Most student-teacher relationships are positive, with trust and shared dedication towards schoolwork. Primary students absolutely love foreign teachers, because it’s so novel.

At the same time, older students see value in the distinct life experiences of foreigners and feel they should also be studied.

Schools and parents actively encourage students to engage with foreigners, in and out of the classroom, to take full advantage and practice their language skills. 

Is the Vietnamese Language Hard to Learn?

Speaking of practicing languages, you may be disheartened to discover that most foreigners seem to have a hard time with the Vietnamese language.

For some strange reason, let’s assume you want to ask your Vietnamese friend: “Does this box contain God’s sour tomatoes, yet?” In order to do so, you need to learn:

“Hộp này có chứa cà chua chua của Chúa chưa?”

It just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

Regardless, it truly is a beautiful symphony of tones, rising and falling like the waves, so learning it can be an incredibly rewarding journey. Students of all ages are instantly impressed with their teacher’s Vietnamese.

If you are serious about learning it, your school may provide you with complimentary lessons.

Alternatively, a 90 minute class with a qualified private tutor will cost around US$10, but it’s possible to find cheaper, conversational tutors. The Vietnamese adore it when foreigners speak their language.

They consider it very charming, even if you can’t pronounce anything and end up asking them to pass an electric sander at dinner.

What is Vietnamese Culture Like?

The Vietnamese are friendly, honest people. They are not at all confrontational, preferring to settle their disputes rationally.

They value family, respect and honour. They are quite spiritual too, with numerous beliefs passed down through generations. 

In their free time, the Vietnamese are crazy for coffee, so anticipate a fast heartbeat when you get there!

The locals have devilishly strong drip coffee to fuel their days. The Vietnamese also love to socialise by going out to restaurants. Vietnamese food ranked in the top 15 cuisines of the world, according to YouGov, an online market research company.

Making Vietnamese friends is wonderfully simple. As your social circle spans out, you’ll receive invites to afternoon drinks, karaoke and weekend excursions to the beach, lakes, forests or mountains. 

The standard of English is relatively good in larger cities. Yet, there’s always room for improvement, so you can easily finds locals wanting to chat and improve their skills.

At the same time, you can make it a language exchange by practising your Vietnamese, too. 

Just as with making friends, finding romance starts with a polite meeting at the café or a mutual acquaintance. The Vietnamese are very romantic. They treasure the idea of true love and will make immense efforts in the hopes of finding it.

Is Vietnam Dangerous?

When considering teaching in Vietnam, it’s easy to go straight to the good stuff: imagining yourself ripping up the coast or joking in the classroom.

Unfortunately, there are dangers and issues that can arise. Though they’re often uncontrollable, you can make your life easier by having made the proper precautions.

Like all places, living in Vietnam carries with it some risk.

It is advised to get the necessary vaccines, chiefly rabies, malaria and typhoid but there are other recommended actions. Rural areas will have limited access to emergency healthcare, so you need to be prepared.

There are some dangerous animals in Vietnam, most noteworthy being snakes, bats, rats and mosquitoes.

It’s advised to carry insect repellent and take extra safeguards against any wildlife. When living in the countryside, a mosquito net is an absolute necessity

You may have heard of the outrageously chaotic traffic in Vietnam. Whilst many exaggerate the severity, it still holds an element of truth.

According to the World Health Organisation, “14,000 lose their lives each year in Vietnam as a result of road traffic crashes.

If you do find yourself in any road accident, the emergency telephone number for police is 113.

Although Vietnamese traffic seems lawless and hectic to outside eyes, there is method to the madness. If you make a mistake, the locals are pretty forgiving.

If you begin to feel stressed, slow and stop your bike to take a breath. Other riders will simply go around you. Also, if you have any mechanical troubles, it’s very typical for people to come up and help.

Do I Need Health Insurance for Vietnam?

Under all employment contracts in Vietnam, both locals and foreigners will make compulsory health insurance contributions.

However, it’s not always enough to pay for healthcare. In April, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health said that while about 91% of Vietnamese have health insurance, they still have to cover around 44% of their medical bills. 

To avoid a similar fate, you need to consider getting effective health cover. There are countless providers to compare at your own discretion. ExpatDen offers a stellar guide on the subject. 

When using your health insurance, you will need to specifically ask for the correct forms.

Therefore, it’s seriously recommended to bring a trusted, Vietnamese speaker, preferably from your school. In major hospitals, professionals have adequate levels of English, thus it may not always be necessary.

However, in smaller provinces, doctors and healthcare staff will rarely be able to speak freely with you. 

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Can I get Prescription Drugs in Vietnam?

Many prescription medicines are available over the counter in Vietnam, often a lot cheaper than you’d expect.

If not, doctor appointments are fairly convenient to set up. In quiet cities, it’s entirely viable to just head to a clinic for a walk-in appointment. However, you should take a prescription to make everything easier. 

The range of pharmaceuticals available in Vietnam is broad. Pharmacies will have some familiar brands available, but never assume they will have precisely what you need. In many instances, there is the option to purchase the Vietnamese alternatives.

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Why Should I Teach in Vietnam?

Vietnam is a fantastic choice for anyone wanting to change gears in their teaching career. The ex-pat quality of life is famously high, with many teachers making unforgettable memories in this vibrant, fascinating place. 

Considering the progress Vietnam has made in the last 20 years, it seems the country is set to make further changes and developments.

Who knows how the country will be in a few years more? For now, however, teachers currently working in Vietnam are taking full advantage of their ideal conditions.

The Complete Guide to Teaching in Vietnam FAQs

What are the benefits of teaching in Vietnam?

A government that is heavily investing in its education system.
Low cost of living.
Free or subsidised housing.
Some schools will provide you with a motorbike to get to work on (motorbikes are the most common mode of transport in Vietnam).
Teachers are well respected by parents, students and society as a whole.
Great food, high standard of living and great, strong coffee!!

Paul Fulbrookhttps://teacherofsci.com
Paul Fulbrook (TeacherOfSci) is a Science teacher, writer and education blogger based in Brighton, England. He started teacherofsci.com to help support teachers everywhere with the everyday struggles that they are all faced with, both in the classroom and at home.

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