Vietnam’s becoming more of a popular tourist destination these days with thousands flocking to its beautiful shores every year. Gone are the days when Vietnam was considered a no-go tourist area as many people continue to visit it for its breathtaking scenery, friendly people, affordability, exquisite cuisines, and not to mention some of the best coffee in the world. Not only is Vietnam attractive to those seeking adventure and luxury beach resorts, it’s also really popular among ESL teachers. Situated in South-East Asia, Vietnam is one of the most stunning and interesting Asian countries to live and work in.
Other than its breathtaking and diverse landscapes, Vietnam is attractive to ESL teachers for another reason – money. With relatively high salaries compared to the local average salary and cheap living, Vietnam is a place where you can work, have fun, and save money if you really want to. Although the local currency is the Dong, the US dollar is also widely used with favourable exchange rates.
Most ESL positions in Vietnam are located in its major cities such as Chi Minh City and Hà Nội. ESL jobs in Vietnam are varied and involve a number of different activities like general English instruction to all ages, especially children, curriculum development and staff development. Most students are young between the ages of 7 and 15 years of age as parents are recognising the necessity to learn English to a high degree given the world’s economic and business situation.
If you compare the earning potential to the cost of living in Vietnam, teaching English there can be quite lucrative with the average hourly rate being between $16-19 USD (£11-12) per hour. Vietnam continues to be one of the cheapest Asian countries for expats. Some typical costs include:
A cheap meal for one: £1.50
A pint of local beer: £0.60
0.33l Bottle of water: £0.20
1l of milk: £0.80
A one-way ticket on local transportation: £0.15
Taxi starting tariff: £0.30
One-bedroom apartment in the city centre: £200
Most English schools in Vietnam offer visa sponsorship with a single entry visa, which will then entitle you to a work permit. Such visas are valid for one year and are renewable if the ESL teacher has lawful work the following year. At an extra cost, it’s possible to get a multiple-entry visa to Vietnam – this is highly recommended since Vietnam is surrounded by some exciting Asian countries worth visiting such as Laos and Cambodia.
Expect to teach 25 hours per week on average and in most schools due to the shortage of English teachers in Vietnam, overtime is available. A few schools will offer to pay for accommodation, but since the cost of living is so low in Vietnam, it’s doable to pay for your own rent and live a life of luxury at the same time if that’s what you want.
Another great thing about Vietnam is its people. They are some of the most humble and hospitable people in the world. It’s not uncommon for strangers, neighbours and families of your students to open their doors. If you do end up in a smaller town, be prepared for a few stares; it’s not because they’re rude, it’s because they’re curious and want to know more about you.
The Vietnamese, like other Asian countries value hard work and foreign ESL teachers are seen as gold, which is why you can expect to be treated like a king or queen. You’ll be given the opportunity to continuously develop professionally as an ESL instructor with a number of English teaching workshops offered regularly in the larger cities. By law, all full-time employees in any field are entitled to paid holidays with education professionals being offered approximately 4 weeks annual leave not including Vietnamese National Holidays.
And if it is adventure and awe-inspiring landscape you’re after, Vietnam shouldn’t be dismissed. Vietnam truly is a hidden gem with a number of World Heritage Sites such as Halong Bay, Hoi An Ancient Street, Phong Nha Ke Bang Caves, and Cham Islands being just a few places that are must-see spots. Other than the attractive monetary incentives in Vietnam, you’ll also get the opportunity to sample some of the most delicious Asian delicacies. With a diet full of fresh produce and free-range meats readily available, you’ll surely be eating like a member of the royal family. If you’re into seafood, you’ll be in heaven and be sure to try a big sized king crab that typically costs around $8 (£5) for 2 people – it’s a bargain.
People adore Vietnam for a number of reasons and while the demand for ESL teachers is still high, it’s really worth checking out.