It’s the time of year when teach, travel and TEFL companies are going to be bombarding you with all of the awesome opportunities out there for 2019. It’s a really exciting time to be planning your next adventure, or better still, to change your life. However, a lot of these companies focus so much on selling the idea of packing your bags, getting your TEFL certificate and jumping on a plane to your dream destination, that they end up setting some pretty unrealistic expectations for teaching abroad. This can leave people feeling cheated, stressed and unprepared.
Here at Teacher’s Friend, I help teachers move to Vietnam to teach English and get TEFL certified without the stress, without the hassle and without the hype. I will set real expectations, tell you exactly how it’s going to be, and give you honest, trustworthy, reliable and friendly advice that only a friend can give.
So here it is, five TEFL Myths to be aware of when teaching English in Vietnam (And most other countries) in 2019.
- Anyone can teach English in Vietnam
More than likely, you have read online that anyone can get a job in Vietnam, regardless of their qualifications or where they are from. There is definitely some truth to this. Many teachers come in on a tourist visa and find “under the table” jobs, in small schools and language centres, that pay cash in hand- if they feel like it, some just don’t ever pay you! The industry is highly unregulated and work is easy to find. However, what the internet doesn’t tell you is that working in this way is illegal. Anyone who wants to teach English in Vietnam must obtain a work permit and in order to do this they must prove that they can do the job better than a local person. The easiest way to do this is to be a native English speaker (or equivalent), with a degree and a TEFL certificate. Therefore, this is usually the minimum requirements of the legitimate language centres which offer work permits, pay you on time and don’t steal your salary! To add to this, pretty much all legitimate language centres in Vietnam now request that the TEFL is face to face, 120 hours and with a minimum of 6 hours of observed teaching practice from an ESL professional. An online TEFL is not going to cut it. So, think twice before you fork out a couple of hundred for that online TEFL of yours…. To check if you meet the requirements for working legally in Vietnam, complete the requirement checker here.
- You will earn thousands in Vietnam
The wages in Vietnam are very good, but not quite as good as what many sites are advertising online. A typical starting salary for a new teacher in a legitimate language centre is $1200 per month (after Tax). This usually includes health insurance, paid holiday, excellent facilities and resources and will always cover all work permit and visa fees. It is unrealistic to expect to be on $1800-2500 US per month, with no experience, yet I have seen these figures quoted online. Yes, these opportunities do exist but usually only for more experienced teachers, with good contacts in Vietnam. This wage is extremely good, especially as the cost of living in Vietnam is so low, and you are only actually teaching 18 hours per week. When working with the legitimate companies, this is a guaranteed salary each month, no matter how many hours you actually teach.
- You will save thousands in Vietnam
Ok, so now we’ve clarified the wage you’ll see that there is less to be saved. This does not mean that you can’t save in Vietnam. I was saving about $1500 US per month in Vietnam, which was awesome. However, I also had three years of teaching experience and so received a higher wage, a CELTA (the highest regarded TEFL) and was teaching 30 hours a week. For new teachers, this is a lot of teaching hours that isn’t really manageable for beginners. It also depends on your spending habits. Some people live easily on $600-800 per month when teaching in Vietnam, while others may be spending all of their wage each month. It depends how much you travel around Vietnam, how often you travel outside of Vietnam, you’re eating and drinking habits (local haunts are much cheaper than expat bars) and what kind of free time activities you do. Taking a stroll around the lake, reading books in the park and catching up with friends are much cheaper than going on nights out, signing up for dance classes and having frequent trips to the designer shopping malls. I would say that you can easily save around $500 per month living and teaching in Vietnam, and much more if you’re actually trying.
- Teaching English in Vietnam is the best work/ life balance ever!
OK yes, I think it is. But it’s not for everyone. Firstly, the hours are usually in language centres which requires teaching evenings and weekends. This can get tiresome after a while. Secondly, for newbie teachers, you will spend about 1 hour planning for every 1 hour you teach. Therefore, if you are teaching for 20 hours a week, that’s a 40 hour work week, not including the commute. At first, lesson planning can be extremely time consuming so don’t expect to be living the high life as soon as you arrive in Vietnam as a newbie teacher. It will take some time to adjust, to settle down. At first, it may be quite stressful, you may feel quite over-whelmed and as though you don’t know what you’re doing. This is normal and it will pass- but get ready for it, and embrace the adventure. Of course, if you sign up with Teacher’s Friend, you’ll get unlimited support and assistance, lesson plans, articles on life in Vietnam and everything you’ll need to make your transition as smooth as possible!
- Vietnam is the best place in the world…. Ever.
Well…. I think so!! But I am also aware that it’s not for everyone. Pollution is definitely a problem and you may notice that you get a bad cough for months, bad skin and don’t see the sky for a while as it’s covered by clouds…. The traffic and noise is also hard to deal with at times and can be downright irritating!! Traffic jams are a frequent part of everyday life in Vietnam. Also, for many Westerners, Vietnam is a long, long way from home and flights back take forever and are expensive.
These are just some things to consider when thinking about moving to Vietnam to teach English. Of course, I think that all of the pro’s outweigh the cons and would encourage everyone to move here! However, be aware of the cultural differences, be prepared for the adjustment period, and make sure you are working legally. Teacher’s Friend offers various services to help you move abroad to teach English in Vietnam from job placement, to TEFL certification (that will actually get the job!) to full relocation packages. Take a look at my site or get in touch to find out more.