The Complete Guide to Teaching English in Vietnam
With over 5 years of experience teaching English in Vietnam, let me share the knowledge I’ve picked up. From what qualifications you need to teach in Vietnam and how to find a job, to where to live and what companies to work for, this complete guide to teaching English in Vietnam will help to prepare you for moving to Vietnam to teach English.
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Being the proud owner of a teaching certification is one of the key requirements for becoming an English teacher abroad. While there are two main types of teaching qualifications, TEFL and CELTA, there are hundreds of different companies offering these qualifications which can make it confusing to pick which course, from which provider, is best for you. When picking a course you might want to consider:
• Is a CELTA or TEFL more appropriate for you?
• Is the course accredited by an outside education board?
• Does the course content relate to the job you eventually want?
Online TEFL courses
I completed an online course through the UK based company, TEFL.org*. I did their most advanced and comprehensive course, which was 140 hours. For me, it offered the perfect combination of a quality qualification at a reasonable cost and I’ve since landed multiple jobs with this course.
If the TEFL.org course is not suitable for you, or you are not UK-based, why not consider completing one of the Vietnam-based, Ninja Teacher online TEFL courses*. Ninja Teacher are one of the most reputable TEFL/TESOL providers in Vietnam and offer lots of support in terms of transitioning to life in Vietnam as well as assistance in finding jobs once you complete your course.
In-person TEFL courses
If you are looking for a higher qualification, I suggest checking out the Ninja Teacher in-person TESOL course*. While I haven’t completed the course myself, many of my friends and colleagues have completed their TESOL through Ninja Teacher and highly recommend it. Not only is the course comprehensive but doing the in-person option is great for welcoming you into a community with lots of support, be that socially or professionally (perfect if you are moving to Vietnam solo).
There are 4 main types of jobs for teaching English in Vietnam; kindergarten, public school, international/bilingual school and at a language centre. You can find out more information about the specifics of each type of position as well as some reputable companies to apply for in this post. The two most popular for TEFL certified teachers are public school and language centres (after-school classes).
I’ve taught in both the Vietnamese public school system, through a company called EMG Education, and in a language centre, for a company called Apax Leaders. These two types of jobs offer different lifestyles and different teaching conditions, so depending on your goals in Vietnam, one is likely to suit you better than the other.
⏰ Public school classes run during the day, with early mornings
📅 Monday – Friday with weekends off
📚 Public schools often follow text book curriculums with lesson planning required
👨🏫 Little professional development or teaching quality feedback
💰 Some salaried positions but often hourly
⏰ Language centre classes are often in the evenings, with morning and afternoons free
📅 Normally teaching weekends, with days off mid-week
📚 Less freedom in lesson planning/curriculum due to higher class prices
👨🏫 Generally language centres offer more professional development
💰 Many salaried positions, but you can also find hourly
Teaching Science and Maths in Vietnam
Some education companies in Vietnam are branching into CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) with a focus on teaching English through science and maths classes. With my background in science (I studied Biology at University), it made sense for me to try teaching science and maths in the Vietnamese public school system. I really loved teaching science and highly recommend it to anyone with a BSc degree. You can find out more about the company and the experience here.
With the rapid expansion of English language schools in Vietnam, there is a constant demand for foreign teachers. Some essential qualifications and criteria need to be met to teach English in Vietnam, and these are required by all language schools. Schools request these criteria as these are the documents needed to apply for a work permit, and therefore to legally work in Vietnam. If you possess these basic requirements, finding a secure and reliable job teaching English in Vietnam can be relatively easy.
✅ Must be a native speaker, or be native-level
✅ Need a TEFL / CELTA or equivalent
✅ Hold a bachelors university degree
✅ Have a clean criminal background check from your home country
If you don’t have all these requirements, you can still find teaching positions however they are not likely to be as high salaried or working for as reliable schools/companies as you will technically be working in Vietnam illegally and under the table. I know lots of people who successfully work in Vietnam “under-the-table” because they do not go to university however I do not suggest trying to find work in Vietnam without a TEFL certification as you will struggle. Courses are not difficult to complete and are relatively cheap to purchase.
How to find an ESL job in Vietnam
There are many different ways you can find a job in Vietnam. This post outlines more about how to find a job teaching English in Vietnam, as well as some sites through which to find job postings. Below are some of the popular Facebook groups and websites to check out:
I’ve worked for two education companies in Vietnam. My first job was found via a Facebook recruitment group. secured over email and Skype before I left Scotland. Facebook is a really valuable tool for job hunting in Vietnam so it might pay to make your account private and spruce up that drunken profile picture.
My second job was found through LinkedIn. Again recruiters actively scout for teachers through LinkedIn so it would be worth updating your profile. As I was already in Vietnam, all interviews were done at their offices for this position.
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are the largest, most developed cities in Vietnam with the majority of public schools offering English lessons with foreign teachers. There is also a large presence of language centres in these cities making them the easiest places to find ESL teaching positions in Vietnam. The dreamy beach location of Da Nang has led it to be a popular place to teach, however, the smaller scale of the city doesn’t facilitate as many teaching positions making competition for ESL jobs very high.
Aside from these 3 major cities, there are many more developing cities across Vietnam with a high demand for teachers. These cities don’t offer the same level of comfort that the big cities afford but will offer a very local experience. Some places I see a constant demand for teachers are Hai Phong/Ha Long, Can Tho, Vinh and Binh Duong, but there are a lot more.
The biggest periods of recruitment are over the summer and in the build-up to winter, as these coincide with the start of school semesters at public school. Most language centres operate year-round without a break, meaning that the time of year won’t affect your ability to find work at a language centre. Winter is a common time for ESL teachers to leave so there is a need to fill positions at this time of year also.
The strictness of the dress code depends greatly on the work environment and the company you are working for. As a general rule, business dress is expected at international schools and some public schools, while business casual is largely accepted at language centres. Regardless of companies, tattoos, facial piercings and unnatural hair colours are frowned upon and you may be asked to cover/remove items. That said, I haven’t had an issue with my nose ring.
• Shoulders should be covered (no spaghetti straps)
• Knees should be covered
• Close toed shoes
• Shirts or polo shirts
• Business shoes/simple black shoes
• Suit pants or chinos. Black jeans might be acceptable