Why do I teach English in Vietnam?

Why do we teach English in Vietnam

When I was preparing to move to Vietnam and filling people in on my plans I used to get a lot of questions asking why? Why do you want to live there? Why do you want to teach English? So, I thought I would give you an insight into exactly why I teach English in Vietnam.

Why teaching English?

Teaching English has been widely portrayed as a means of travelling for “free”. While this is not true, a little research into teaching English and the opportunities it presented was enough to convince me that it would not disappoint my desire to see more of the world. And it has certainly delivered! In my first year living in Vietnam I was able to visit 5 different countries (and enjoy two trips back to the UK).

Teaching English also offered me the opportunity to change career paths, learn new skills and move to a job where I have fun at work. The kids we teach are great (98% of the time) and they are so fun to spend time getting to know. The drive of students in foreign countries to improve their English is really incredible.

There were two main draws to teaching as a way to travel more. First of all being able to live and work in another country is an amazing opportunity to immerse in that countries culture and travel from a more local stance. It also means you get a more in depth experience by learning the language, making friends and living daily life. But secondly, teaching abroad offers the opportunity for us to travel to exotic places during short vacations, while still being able to save money working full time. As my ultimate goal is to be able to do a mini world tour (which anyone who’s planned or done will know costs a LOT), teaching English abroad provided the perfect balance between being able to travel to new places and save for the big adventure.

Why Vietnam?

Multiple factors contributed to my final decision to pick Vietnam as a destination for my first teaching and living aboard experience. During my first whirlwind trip to Thailand I fell in love with the region, my only regret being that I didn’t have enough time to explore the surrounding countries. So before I even looked at the possible jobs on offer, I knew that SE Asia was where I wanted to base myself for my new career as a teacher.

I was first attracted to Vietnam after exploring the TEFL job markets of different SE Asian countries. Vietnam still has a relatively low English level despite its development and economic growth. As a result there is high demand for English teachers, with jobs paying good salaries and providing many benefits like contract competition bonuses, healthcare, housing allowances and free Vietnamese lessons. Compare this with neighbouring countries like Thailand, and you find that teaching positions often pay just enough to live (unless you live in the back and beyond), and reliable jobs can be hard to come by without having a teaching degree or CELTA qualification.

Don’t understand what I’m talking about regarding TEFLs/CELTAs? Check out: Beginners Guide to Picking a TEFL Course

While this is the technical reasoning for picking Vietnam as a base country, I am yet to speak to someone who has visited Vietnam without loving it, raving about how beautiful the country is, how friendly the people are, how amazing the food is and how they are dying to return (come visit!). And now weI am here, I couldn’t agree more!

As to why I ended up teaching in Ho Chi Minh City? Well, that was mostly down to the weather. When given the option of year round sun in the South (HCMC) VS 4 seasons and smog in the North (Hanoi) – it was pretty clear who the winner would be.


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Why teach English in Vietnam?

To further sweeten the deal, with some good job hunting you can teach English in Vietnam earning a very comfortable salary. All while living in a country much cheaper than out West. As a result I have been able to grow my savings quicker than I would have in the UK while being able to live a very comfortable lifestyle. Hopefully by the end of my contract I will be in a position to experience some travel long-term and still have a float to kick-start the next adventure.

Better yet, most who teach English in Vietnam work roughly a 25 hrs/week job, compared to 40 hrs/week at home. I am lucky to only work 18 hours a week, yet I am earning the same salary as I was at home for fewer hours a week (equating to a higher hourly pay rate). So by working in Vietnam, I have plenty time to enjoy the city and relax alongside my working day. Alternatively, many teachers fill their schedules here by working further jobs or doing private tutoring, of which there are plenty opportunities.

Do you see why it appeals to teach English in Vietnam?

Now, try and tell me this doesn’t sound appealing to a young girl with a dream to see the world, working full time but getting nowhere saving money in the UK. Add in that I’m a recent university graduate without a set career path or clear idea of what they want to do and here I am! I am lucky that I don’t have any ties to the Scotland: no mortgage or careers to leave behind. If you are in a similar situation, then there is literally no better time than the present to take on an new adventure and teach English in Vietnam!

Do you see the appeal of teaching in Vietnam? Have you ever considered teaching English in Vietnam?

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8 Comment

  1. Sam says: Reply

    Loved this article, I’m currently working my way through SE Asia and also looking at teaching in Vietnam when the money runs out! Would be torn between HCMC and Hanoi I think :/

    Anyhow, keep up the good work, really like the blog 🙂

    1. francesFR says: Reply

      Hey, thats really exciting. If you can afford to I would visit both first. We didn’t have time before starting work but it turns out we made the correct choice for us! Maybe do some apartment hunting and looking at the different areas online (+ annual weather) and create a little list! Glad you’ve found it of use 🙂

  2. Eddie says: Reply

    Really interesting article, thanks for sharing, as a soon to be ex-science teacher in the UK, I’d be interested to hear what opportunities there are for Science teaching or if TEFL is still the best bet?

    1. francesFR says: Reply

      Hey Eddie, there definitely are opportunities for science teaching! As a biology graduate I was actually approached about tutoring science privately. So there are part time options for this if you wanted to do it alongside TEFL. As a fully qualified teacher though you might be better trying to get a position in an International School (it would be a similar situation to teaching at home, so more hours but higher pay and better paid holidays). I actually have a post coming out in a few weeks with more details from a friend who teachers at international schools. It’ll have tips on where to find these types of jobs! Good luck on the hunt!

  3. Kwako says: Reply

    Thank you for this article!
    I have a degree and TEFL , Im a South Africa Native.
    I am taking the leap of faith to Vietnam August.

    How hard is it to find a job when black. I hear it can be hard even with a degree, experience and TEFL

    1. francesFR says: Reply

      Hello Kwako! Good for you!! You can do it!! Sorry, for the delaying in getting back to you. There are some challenges regarding race (mostly parental ignorance) but I have many coloured friends in Saigon who have been able to find jobs with great companies! And likewise in Hanoi I think you’ll have no problems! – if you were wanting to work in smaller cities then you might find it harder 🙁 Let me know if you’d like me to put you in touch with some of my friends to share their first hand experience with you!!

  4. Grace says: Reply

    Hi Frances
    Never have I been so glad to stumble across a blog! Never has a blog post spoke to me more! I am currently travelling around SE Asia with my boyfriend and we just spent a month in Vietnam and I really left my heart in Ho Chi Minh (and a few other places along the way). Whilst we were in HCM I joked and said I could live there and teach English and you’re actually going for it and by the sounds of it smashing it…you go girl!
    It’s something that nearer the end of our travelling trip I will be considering.
    I can’t wait to read more of your blog posts filled with advice. They’re so easy and enjoyable to read and now also following you on instagram! Such a great blog and insta account!

    1. francesFR says: Reply

      Oh that’s so nice to hear of a traveller who loves Saigon as much as us expats do. It’s a special place. I recommend it highly! Thanks for the motivation to keep things going!! Enjoy the rest of your travels in Asia! 🙂 Thanks Grace

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