Teaching English in Vietnam – The untold story
Vietnam is an incredible place to live and work. You will find yourself diving into a pool of opportunities and English teaching jobs are certainly not hard to find. It is possible to lead a comfortable to a fancy life with fewer working hours and more time to enjoy life as a foreigner. The expat community is huge and the Vietnamese are most likely to be welcoming and helpful.
In the previous blog, we have already talked about certifications and visa requirements types of teaching jobs available throughout the country, and income that you can expect from teaching. If you are still unsure if this is for you, I am going to debunk a couple “myths” from a local’s perspective. These are stories that you might have not heard from elsewhere.
1. WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF TEACHING ENGLISH IN VIETNAM?
If you are lucky enough to be teaching at a good school, you take the job seriously with satisfaction and fulfillment, congratulations!
Teaching can be a very meaningful and rewarding type of job that does not only help you to go by daily life, save up and enjoy yourself but also, more importantly, you are making your student’s dreams come true. It is a fulfilling role because one can influence and mould the future of individual students in a major way with guidance along with positivity. Vietnam is a booming country and English proficiency is no doubt a plus to a must. Besides, your ability to help out students improve their English and see their improvement while learning about their culture/lives is something else. You also benefit yourself with your creativity for physical, interactive, and engaging activities to make learning fun. Moreover, making new friends from all over the world has never been easier within your dynamic working environment.
2. WHAT ARE COMMON CHALLENGES?
- Lack of resources: In your classroom back home, you might get used to most modern teaching materials such as screen projectors, whiteboards, laptops, and provided programs. In a developing country, everything is just beginning. It seems like you don’t have a choice that you either have to recycle your own materials and get more creative with what you can do.
- Limited support: Starting off as a freshman, you are new to almost everything, whether you are experienced or not. The pressure to adapt to the new environment and show that you are a good fit with your performance can be challenging. Working cultures varies differently in different countries, there is a chance that you do not receive enough supports from your headteacher, your assistants, etc. Remember to voice your concerns and questions, that should save you bunches of time rather than doing it all alone.
- Loneliness: It takes time to familiarize yourself with a completely new, different city with strangers especially if you are alone. Remind yourself why you wanted to be where you are now in the first place and be aware that it is not permanent. There are so many things out there waiting for you to discover and enjoy. Besides, you can always gang up with someone from work to grab a beer and share your stories with. English centers are one of the best places to meet up with other like-minded people who also go on the same path as you.
- Language barrier: You might find it daunting to communicate daily with people around you at the beginning when English is not people’s mother language. It is not shockingly surprising when they are not fluent or even anywhere near “able to communicate”. Keep in mind that your students might feel the same and that is why they need you. Pick up some Vietnamese useful phrases, words anytime you can. You will find Vietnamese hard but not impossible if you just try. People will never say no to helping you out with a difficult word. Learning together is always a fun game to do with laughs and fair shared motivation.
3. HOW TO PREPARE YOURSELF AND AVOID THE POTENTIAL DOWNS?
Make sure you are qualified by getting a TEFL certification, or even better, a CELTA, from an accredited institution. In case you have none of those, give ESL a go or/and earn yourself some teaching experiences. Volunteering is advisable as an English teacher/assistant for some time either back home, or in another country before applying for a job. That way, you can enhance your knowledge, skills and find your stand before committing to a full term. It really is two-way traffic exploring the culture while finding your career path.
Keep in mind that most teachers are paid only for their teaching hours and not the lesson preparation part. Hours can be easily spent working on what you are having for your next class. It is true that some English centers provide English lesson plans but only for full-time positions. Note that tax on teacher’s pay is around 10% for both full-time and part-time teachers.
In conclusion, teaching English is a drastically growing business sector in Vietnam. Thanks to its fascinating customs, legendary cuisine, the hustle and bustle markets, tropical- vibe climate, and super duper friendly people. Despite inevitable ups and downs along the way, you will find your way fitting in such unique vibrancy. Nice jobs and professional units are no needles in the haystack. Keep your head up, be well prepared, stay in touch with other expat fellows and always keep yourself updated.
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