Teaching English in Vietnam

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Peter Goudge

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The Vietnamese Government is very focused on improving the quality of English language teaching across the country. Unlike a number of countries in South-East Asia - Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia for example - the days of the ‘backpacker’ foreign English ‘teacher’ have largely finished in Vietnam with more hoops to jump through to be eligible to work. Over the past year or so, there’s been a noticeable exodus of backpacker ‘teachers’.

With backpacker ‘teachers’ leaving in droves, there is huge demand for foreign English language teachers in Vietnam who meet the requirements to be eligible to work, laid-down by the government. Specifically, if you wish to legally work as an English language teacher in Vietnam for a period exceeding 3 months, you need to produce the following:

· an internationally recognised TESOL certificate (or equivalent);
· a health check (original document – not more than 3 months old);
· a university degree in any discipline (original document);
· an academic transcript related to your university degree (original document); and
· a police clearance from your home country (original document – not more than 6-months old).

Obtaining TESOL certification (or equivalent) on arrival in Vietnam is a realistic option. It will almost certainly be cheaper than going down this path in Australia, the United States, Canada and so forth. There are some great, internationally recognised TESOL courses available in Vietnam, but like anything that costs money, you’d be wise to do some due diligence. Go and visit the TESOL providers personally. Don’t rely on forum posts by anonymous people who mostly have an ‘axe to grind’.

There are public hospitals in each major city in Vietnam that are authorised by the government to conduct work-permit related health checks for foreigners. Again, I’d encourage teachers to consider meeting this requirement when they arrive in Vietnam. Having a health check in Vietnam will cost a fraction of what you’d pay in your home country, unless you have some kind of private health insurance.

It would be a smart move in my view to have an ‘apostille’ placed on official documents you bring with you to Vietnam – university degree, criminal record check and alike. While ‘notarised only’ documents will satisfy some officials in Vietnam, there are others who may well question the legitimacy of your paperwork. If you go down the ‘apostille’ path in your home country, you’ve ‘covered all bases’.

I’ve been living and working as an English language teacher in Vietnam for rapidly approaching 7 years. It’s ‘the people’ that make Vietnam such a super place to live and work and I’m very grateful for the opportunities that have been extended to me in this truly wonderful country. I’m sure you’ll have a similar view after you’ve been here for a period of time.


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director of the Australia-Vietnam School of English (AVSE) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam:
 
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Tdol

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Not being a backpacker and having lived in Cambodia, that sounds good. I would, however, suggest that reading forums is a good idea, but that people should be cautious about what to believe. If there are dozens of posts across multiple forums, then it may well be a place to avoid. I don't know what is the state of play with Vietnam ESL forums- there was one that shut down a couple of years ago but I don't know what there is now. A friend in Japan says that some posters on forums there have said they make things out to be worse than they are simply to keep the competition for jobs down. I don't know how widespread the practice is.
 

emsr2d2

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It still infuriates me that a degree (in anything) is required.
 

konungursvia

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Having a degree demonstrates a higher degree of .... something other, I think I read once, somewhere.
 

ElleninEdmonton

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Re: Teaching English in VietnamJKpC2e

It still infuriates me that a degree (in anything) is required.

If I've has graduated from a university program, then it demonstrates that I had the necessary language skills to work at that level. As far as I can tell, there are still plenty of "backpacker" teachers in Viet Nam, who don't possess the necessary qualifications, but their working conditions aren't nearly as good.

Having lived and taught ESL in Viet Nam for over 3 years, I definitely recommend the environment.
 
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