Teaching ESL in Vietnam is awesome, and it’s even better when you do it legally – after all, no one wants to live with the fear of being deported. However, the options for gaining your ESL qualification can seem a little overwhelming.  TEFL, CELTA or TESOL? What’s the difference, which is best, and what do all those letters even mean?! We’re going to answer all that, and more, so you can decide whether to get a CELTA, TESOL or TEFL in Vietnam.


Should I have a TESOL or TEFL in Vietnam?

These are perhaps the most confusing of all the ESL world acronyms, and they often leave people a bit perplexed.  To put it nice and simply, they’re just two different ways of saying the same thing. TESOL means “teaching English to speakers of other languages, and is used mainly by Americans and Australians.  TEFL means “teaching English as a foreign language”, and is used mainly amongst Brits.  Although there is a very slight difference in the terminology, the courses are the same, and both are accepted in Vietnam.  There are a huge number of online TEFL and TESOL courses available, with varying numbers of online and offline hours.  In Vietnam, TEFL courses must be a minimum of 120 hours, with at least 6 of those being observed by an ESL professional.  This is the minimum requirement for the majority of reputable language centres in Vietnam. This is very important, because it’s the language centres who will be applying for a work permit in Vietnam on your behalf. The work permit is essential for working legally in Vietnam.

Is an online TESOL or TEFL suitable for you?

The online courses are certainly the cheapest option when trying to gain your ESL qualification, with courses from around 500USD.  They are a great option for people with previous teaching experience (at least one year or more full time work which must be paid), who are simply doing the course to be able to work legally in Vietnam.  For those with no teaching experience, this might seem like a good option because of the price, and of course you will gain valuable knowledge about ESL teaching, but it might not fully prepare you for walking into your classroom for the first time. Also, it is not enough to get you a job in the reputable language centres who provide the work permits- needed for working legally.

Where to get your TESOL or TEFL qualification

Whether you choose to get your qualification online at home, or if you’d like to get your TEFL in Vietnam, we have a couple of great companies to recommend for you.   ITTT offers great internationally recognised courses, both online and face to face. However, if you have no prior teaching experience then the online course is pretty much useless in Vietnam. Definitely take the full classroom course and you’re good to go!

For a 10% discount on your deposit, use this link for more info.  You can also use this link to apply.

CELTA Course

The CELTA course (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is quite a bit different to the others.  For starters, it is all done face to face – no online teaching here.  Because of this, it is a lot more hands on.  Students on the CELTA course begin teaching in their first week, and see real progress in their confidence and ability to teach during the month.  The CELTA program attracts a mix of candidates, including ESL teachers looking to receive more training and prospective ESL teachers with little to no experience.  The CELTA is the entry level qualification that best prepares new teachers for the ESL classroom, it is for this reason that we recommend new teachers give serious consideration to this option. It is by far the most recognised TEFL qualification that you can take and will provide access to teaching opportunities all over the world.

Completing the CELTA in Vietnam

There are some great options for completing the CELTA in Vietnam.  Although the course itself is the same wherever you complete it, our favourite is with one of our partner language centres.  And that’s because they offer so many great perks it works out at only marginally more than an online TEFL qualification. The cost of the course is around 1630USD, which can be a little on the steep side for some.  However, they offer an early bird discount of 10% AND a refund of around 574USD to CELTA students that then sign a contract with them. Get in touch for more details.

The hefty discounts aren’t the only reason we recommend getting your CELTA in Vietnam with our partner language centre.  You can also use the time on the course to learn your way around your chosen city, make some new friends AND get qualified all at the same time. Beware, this is an intensive course and not for the fainthearted but that is why it is treated with so much respect and is definitely worth your time and money, especially if you intend on travelling to lots of awesome destinations while teaching English!

It’s hard to say which is the absolute best option, as it varies a lot depending on your experience and goals.  As a general rule of thumb, though, avoid online courses where possible. They will make it very difficult to find a job working legally as a TEFL teacher as most reputable language centres won’t accept them. In general, an internationally recognised TEFL MUST have 6 hours of observed practical teaching and be 120 hours of face to face classroom time.

All of the options we recommend are internationally recognised and can be used to teach in Vietnam, as well as other popular destinations for ESL teachers, such as Japan, China, South Korea and many European countries.