The School Kids we Teach in Vietnam

What’s it actually like to Teach English in Vietnam?

When we set off to travel the world in 2013 I never imagined that I’d end up teaching English to five-year-old kids in Vietnam. Back in London I worked as an online writer and continued freelancing during the first six months of our travels through New Zealand, Australia and Asia. I am more used to offices and computer screens than noisy classrooms and the feel of chalk on my fingertips, so just how did I end up here? What’s it actually like to teach English in Vietnam?

How to Teach English in Vietnam E-Book

2018 and 2019 teaching opportunities in Hanoi – the language centre we used to work for in Hanoi is now recruiting teachers for 2018 and 2019. If you’re a native English speaker with a degree and TEFL qualification, contact us now and we can put you in touch with the director for an interview.

If you’re heading to Vietnam then you’ll probably need an invitation letter for your Visa On Arrival, we recommend Vietnam Visa as they provide a professional, efficient and transparent service.

Why Teach English in Asia?

Once we began travelling we realised that our savings and my meagre freelance earnings wouldn’t keep us afloat for long and after a year and a half of fast-paced travel we were as burnt out as our bank balance.  However, our wanderlust was far from quenched so we hatched a plan that would allow us to continue to travel, earn money and establish a temporary home base abroad – we decided to teach English in Asia.

The School Kids we Teach in Vietnam

Some of our delightful students

While teaching English abroad was an obvious choice for Andrew since he’s a qualified teacher in the UK, I was completely unsure of how I’d manage in a classroom. I had no experience with children and no idea what to expect aside from what I’d learned in a TEFL course, all I knew was that I’d either sink, or swim.

So what’s it like to Teach English in Vietnam?

Getting a job teaching English in Vietnam was the easy part. Learning how to teach, control a class of 50 noisy kids and deal with living and working in a completely different culture has been incredibly tough – here are some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced:

Vietnamese School Kids in the Playground

One of the public schools we work for

Dealing with disorganisation

It’s taken almost two months for the language centre we work for to sort out our teaching schedules. During that time we’ve been sent to multiple schools all over the city and had our hours cut and then increased at a moment’s notice. It’s common to receive a schedule just a day in advance so there’s barely any time to plan lessons and we’re constantly chasing the language centre for the resources and curriculums we need to teach properly. I’m a very organised person so this kind of chaos really unsettles me but even Andrew, who is the king of last-minute planning, has struggled with this laid-back Vietnamese style of (dis)organisation.


Since I arrived in Hanoi I’ve been plagued with illness. I’ve discovered that schools are essentially giant germ factories that my feeble immune system just cannot cope with. According to the many teachers we know, getting sick and losing your voice is an occupational hazard, particularly during your first year on the job. My voice seems to be particularly weak since after my first two lessons it completely disappeared; even with the help of a microphone I have a constant sore throat from straining my voice in the classroom.

Language issues

We’re told to use English only in the classroom which is particularly hard with grade one and two students (five and six year-olds) since they speak very little or even no English at all. Although we have Vietnamese teaching assistants who will translate instructions for us, learning how to teach English to children from scratch has been incredibly challenging. This is a topic for a completely new blog post (or a PHD thesis or two) but to put it briefly, I didn’t appreciate just how difficult it is to learn English, especially if your native language is tonal and your mouth physically cannot form certain sounds like “th”. Oh, and if you’re five years old and have the attention span of a gnat then it’s all the more difficult.

An English Lesson in Vietnam

Playing games in a class at the language centre

Cultural differences

We expected Vietnamese schools to be very different from UK schools but it’s still hard to get used to some of the more extreme cultural differences. One of the most shocking things for me is that Vietnamese teachers are allowed to hit kids (albeit gently from what I’ve seen) if they misbehave; Andrew has also witnessed a teacher grab a child by the ear. However, as one teaching assistant explained to me, this is becoming more of a sensitive topic in Vietnam.

Children with learning difficulties are also placed in regular classes without any support and left to their own devices; one boy with more severe learning difficulties has a habit of grabbing onto the teacher and refusing to let go. The first time this happened to me I was less shocked by his actions than the way the other kids tackled him to the ground, dragged him back to his seat and told me: “He’s crazy”. My Mum happens to be a (pretty amazing) special needs teacher in the UK, so I know a bit about the resources available there and it’s sad to see the contrast in how kids are treated in Vietnam.

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon though, according to a Vietnamese teacher, in the last few years the Government has acknowledged this issue and several schools catering for the needs of these children are now opening.

Class sizes

While we teach classes of around 20-25 children at the language centre, public school classrooms are typically tiny, lack air conditioning and are packed with 50 or more children. Even with a microphone to project your voice and a teaching assistant to help with discipline it’s tough to control such large classes, especially because kids often see our lessons as ‘fun time’. In contrast to Vietnamese classes, which seem to involve a lot of silent writing work, our lessons focus on speaking and listening, on singing songs and playing games which leads to a lot of noisy over-excitement. Added to this, we don’t have any real disciplinary powers and we’re not even allowed to send kids out of the room, which means it can be difficult to establish control.

Teaching – the Good Bits

Now that almost two months have passed and I’ve settled into teaching, the good aspects are definitely outweighing the bad. Here are the best bits about teaching here in Hanoi:

Teaching Aids

Teaching aids and some art-work from the kids

The kids

I’ve never worked with children before or had much of a desire to do so. My plan was to teach adults or older teenagers so when I found out I’d be teaching in primary schools I was really worried. As it turns out, the kids are the best (and sometimes the worst) part of the job. Yes, they’re noisy, grubby and like to hit each other a lot but they’re also creative, funny and full of enthusiasm.

Given that we’re the novel foreign teachers who come in to play games, sing songs and have fun with them, the kids are always happy to see us too. We receive what feels like a hero’s welcome every time we show up at school with dozens of kids rushing over to high-five, hug and say hello to us – it’s hard not to be happy when you’re working in such a love-fest. The problem is often containing the excitement in lessons and making sure that everyone gets to speak and play equally; as I’ve discovered, there’s a fine line between having fun and hyping the kids up so much that you cannot calm them down. In short, the children I work with surprise, annoy, frustrate and amuse me on a daily basis but one thing’s for sure, I’m never bored.

The Challenge

Teaching is a huge challenge for me in so many ways. I haven’t got the strongest voice or physical presence and I’ve found it harder than I thought I would to be strict with the kids; classroom control is one of the hardest parts of the job for me. Luckily my obsessive organisation and planning tendencies have come in useful as I enjoy lesson planning and the challenge of constantly creating new, exciting classes. After each class I try to reflect on the good and bad aspects of the lesson and think about what improvements I can make. It helps that I have Andrew to discuss these issues with and get advice from.

Getting an insight into Vietnamese life

Teaching has allowed us to integrate into Vietnamese life in a way we couldn’t when we were travellers. We work with Vietnamese teachers and assistants who we’ve gotten to know and of course, we spend most of our time in the company of local kids. Working in public schools has given us a unique insight into the lives of ordinary people in Vietnam and we find that locals are far more friendly and receptive to us now that we work within their community.

An English Class in Vietnam

Playing games at the language centre

Our schedules

Back in London I used to work 40-hours a week, not including extra freelance hours, with just 20 days holiday a year. Here in Vietnam I teach a maximum of 22 hours a week and because the pay is so good and the cost of living here is so low, we can save enough money to take the rest of the year off when we complete our teaching contracts in May. Work for nine months, visit Thailand, the UK and America for another seven? Sounds like a great deal to me!

Being in one place

While we absolutely loved our initial 15-month travel adventure, it was incredibly fast-paced and we were pretty relieved to head back to the UK in the summer for a rest. Now we’re enjoying having our own apartment again and settling in one place long enough to learn our way around, discover our favourite cafes and spend evenings at home cooking and downloading TV programmes. A bit of normalcy is just what we need right now but establishing our base here in Asia, in a completely new culture and working in a new job provides enough excitement to stop us from getting bored and restless.

What's it actually like teaching English in Vietnam?

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Earning and saving money

After watching our savings account diminish month after month it feels great to see our bank balance grow again and with it, our plans for how we’ll use that money next year. After so long without a proper working routine it also feels surprisingly nice to get up and go to work in the morning too.

Overcoming fears

I strongly believe that in life, you need to do things that scare you in order to learn and grow. As I discovered working in an office for four years in London, one of the worst things life can be for me is boring. I may find taking on a new challenge, like moving to Vietnam to teach, terrifying to begin with but once I push through that fear I gain strength and learn so much from the experience.

Building a sustainable travel strategy

Through teaching English we are able to build a sustainable travel strategy; we can work and live in a new destination for a chunk of the year, spend summers at home in the UK and a few months exploring a new part of the world. This seems like a great plan for the next few years.

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Want to teach in Vietnam?

Would you love to teach in Vietnam but feel too overwhelmed to take the leap? Then we’d recommend contacting Teacher’s Friend Vietnam. This small, independent company is run by real teachers who have actually lived and worked in the country. Georgie and her team will help you find jobs with reputable schools that will provide you with a work permit, excellent resources, ongoing training and a great salary. They’ll also help you find an apartment, get a visa, find a motorbike, meet other like-minded people and offer support throughout your time in Vietnam.

Teacher’s Friend offers packages for teaching in Hanoi, HCMC and smaller cities and the countryside. If you’re interested and are a native English speaker with a Bachelor’s degree, clean police check and a practical TEFL certification of at least 120 hours (or are willing to obtain one), contact Teacher’s Friend to get started. Georgie is kindly offering our readers a 10% discount on packages, just use the code TFV01 when you contact them.

Find out more about teaching English abroad in these posts:

Have you, or would you ever consider teaching English abroad? Do you have any questions about teaching English in Vietnam? Feel free to ask in the comments below.

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    Posted at 19:30h, 31 October Reply

    I can only imagine how challenging these past 2 months have been for you, so kudos to you for sticking with it, even though it has not been easy. I have always enjoyed being in the classroom and the few times I had to work as a teaching assistant, I actually found it really rewarding. BUT that was always dealing with older students who I knew (probably) wanted to be there… I am not at all sure how I would handle a large class with very young children. I am glad to hear that the benefits of the job have outweighed the negative ones, and I suspect that the more you do this, the easier you will find it.

    • Amy
      Posted at 05:46h, 01 November Reply

      Thanks Steph, it definitely is rewarding but it can also be soul destroying when you have a terrible lesson. This job is definitely thickening my skin, that’s for sure! I think I’ve turned a corner though now that my schedule is sorted and I have the same classes each week, the consistency really helps with classroom control.

  • Emily
    Posted at 19:33h, 31 October Reply

    I hold all teachers in high-regard – I think teaching has got to be one of the hardest and under-appreciated jobs out there. Well done on figuring things out and somehow managing classes of super young kids who don’t speak the same language!

    • Amy
      Posted at 05:43h, 01 November Reply

      Thanks Emily, I never realised young children could be such hard work!

  • Stefan Arestis
    Posted at 13:01h, 01 November Reply

    This is exactly what I want to do after our travels in Asia come to an end (ie money runs low…!)

    Where did you do the TEFL – in UK or in Hanoi? Was it expensive and do you recommend it for aspirant English teachers (like me!) or did the school you teach at not really mind if you had one or not?

    • Amy
      Posted at 13:09h, 01 November Reply

      Hi Stefan, I took an online TEFL course with LoveTEFL and a weekend practical course in London over the summer with Both courses were useful in their own way and I needed a TEFL certificate, along with my degree to get a job in Hanoi. Since Andrew has a UK teaching qualification he didn’t need to do a TEFL course. I plan to write a post soon about TEFL courses.

      • Stefan Arestis
        Posted at 07:15h, 02 November Reply

        I look forward to your TEFL course post. What was your degree please?

        • Amy
          Posted at 07:41h, 02 November Reply

          My degree was in Film Studies and Cultural Studies and I did my Masters in Journalism 🙂

  • Kellie
    Posted at 16:56h, 01 November Reply

    I really enjoyed reading about your experience, apart from the obvious cultural differences, I relate to so much of what you said from my first time working in school. I choose to work with teenagers though. I know crazy but I loved it. The kids are definitely the best and the worst part of the job. Oh and it’s so nice that they like to share their germs with you.

    It sounds like it’s been a massive learning curve for you but it also sounds like an amazing and rewarding time.

    • Amy
      Posted at 06:43h, 02 November Reply

      Yes, it’s been a really steep learning curve for me Kellie but it’s also been very rewarding. What surprises me is how intense the job is, I can have amazing classes in the morning and feel great but then one disastrous lesson in the afternoon will have me screaming that I never want to set foot in a classroom again! The joys of working with kids 🙂

  • Miriam of Adventurous Miriam
    Posted at 00:52h, 02 November Reply

    I can only imagine the challenge it must have been to teach when you’ve never tried it before and then also in a foreign country! You should be proud of yourself for facing your fear and following your dreams. My husband and I have thought about moving to Asia for a while now. Do you have any experience with teaching in Thailand or do you know if it’s easy to get a teaching job when your first language is not English?

    • Amy
      Posted at 06:35h, 02 November Reply

      Thanks Miriam 🙂 We seriously thought about teaching in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but decided on Vietnam because the wages were a lot higher there, at least from what we researched. There are a couple of teachers at our language centre here in Hanoi who aren’t native English speakers; there’s an Italian guy, someone from Brazil and another woman from the Netherlands, so it is possible to get a job in Vietnam if your first language isn’t English. I would imagine it’s the same in Thailand but I can’t be sure, overall there seems to be less work in Thailand because so many expats live there whereas they are crying out for English teachers in Vietnam.

  • Catherine
    Posted at 21:42h, 02 November Reply

    What a great insight into the highs and lows of teaching abroad. Great to hear that the positives outweigh the negatives though, as it is something I would like to do one day 🙂

    • Amy
      Posted at 02:50h, 03 November Reply

      Thanks Catherine, it’s taken a while but the highs now definitely outweigh the lows!

  • Danielle
    Posted at 22:21h, 03 November Reply

    Hey! Very inspiring read! 🙂

    I’ve been thinking of coming over for a while now, but was wondering if you knew how true it is that you can literally get a job at any time of year? I know somebody in Saigon right now and they said I’d have the best chance trying to get a job during the holidays in February? But I was hoping I’d be able to come straight over after Christmas! Ahhh excitement at the thought!

    • Andrew
      Posted at 03:13h, 04 November Reply

      HI Danielle, thanks for your comment. Although we organised our jobs before we left the UK we’re pretty certain we could have found work just by turning up. The language centre we work for was still taking on new teachers up until the beginning of October I think. But if you’re not fussy about where and what time you can work then I expect you can get a job just after Christmas. It may be worth sending a general email to a few language centres in advance to test the water? Good luck whatever happens! 🙂

  • Patti
    Posted at 04:01h, 04 November Reply

    “In short, the children I work with surprise, annoy, frustrate and amuse me on a daily basis but one thing’s for sure, I’m never bored.”

    This sentence just made me laugh because it could be any teacher in any country, so welcome to the world of teaching! You’re doing great and you’re making a difference in the lives of your students.

    And, I love your sustainable travel strategy. It seems as if you and Andrew have set a smart course for your lives for the next few years, giving you a nicely balanced lifestyle! Well-done!

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:41h, 04 November Reply

      Thanks for the welcome Patti, teaching certainly is an eye-opening experience! Now that I know for sure I can handle and (mostly) enjoy teaching I feel happy about our travel strategy for the next few years.

  • Victoria@ The British Berliner
    Posted at 08:30h, 04 November Reply

    Phew! Very intriguing and exciting all at the same time. I have taught a few children in my time (private schools), and it was a lot of fun but I prefer adults.
    I live in Germany and I teach corporate clients inter-cultural stuff and Anglo-American business practices. That sort of thing. I also teach “normal” ESL but I’m specifically requested by blue-chip companies because I used to be a Project Manager and a Senior Consultant in my previous London life, and also because I’m British. German companies like that. 🙂
    I enjoy teaching. I was even Head-Teacher for a few years! Yep! It’s great and the money is enormously generous, coupled with the low cost of living in Berlin. I really can’t complain LOL!

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:57h, 04 November Reply

      Hi Victoria, I think I would prefer to teach adults too, your job sounds pretty great! I do think I’m getting some good experience here in Vietnam with the kids though and we’re managing to save a lot of money too, which is great 🙂

  • Kendra Granniss
    Posted at 18:53h, 04 November Reply

    Being a teacher seems so tough! However, lately I have been interested in trying to find a teaching job in Asia. I want to take the TEFL course, but there are some many online options to choose from! I don’t want to get stuck with an illegitimate certificate! I will look into LoveTEFL.

    • Amy
      Posted at 06:14h, 05 November Reply

      It is tougher than I thought it would be Kendra, mostly because the children are so young and the classes are so big. I’m planning to write a post about TEFL courses soon, so hopefully this will help you choose a course 🙂

  • Gilda Baxter
    Posted at 22:06h, 04 November Reply

    Teaching is such a rewarding job and in particular teaching young kids, since they are like little sponges soaking it all up. Well done you for coming out of your comfort zone and facing up to this challenge. Sounds like you are getting the hang of it and starting to enjoy it more and more.

    • Amy
      Posted at 06:13h, 05 November Reply

      Thanks Gilda, teaching is definitely a challenge but you’re right, it’s very rewarding. This has been a good lesson for me in proving that I can try new things and succeed, even though it’s very scary to start with!

  • Jen
    Posted at 19:35h, 05 May Reply

    This was such a wonderful post! So honest and inspiring. Hearing from someone who has actually done something that I always honestly felt was just a pipe dream…well, it’s pretty amazing.

    • Amy
      Posted at 15:57h, 06 May Reply

      I’m glad you found this useful Jen 🙂 If you have any specific questions about teaching here just let me know.

  • Zita
    Posted at 03:02h, 29 May Reply

    HI Amy, I came across this post while googling info about teaching English in Vietnam. I am a teacher by trade and have also just finished my online TEFL course. I am tossing up between Vietnam and Thailand (I have visited both countries as a tourist and loved them both!) but leaning more towards Vietnam for the same reason as you. I particularly liked Hanoi moreso than Ho Chi Minh, although Hoi An was my favourite! I know it’s been some time since you worked there but I hope you don’t mind me asking you some more practical questions? What type of Visa did you apply for? Did you have your work at the Language Centre lined up before you arrived in the country or did you just find work once you got there? Where did you live and did you have to source this on your own? Are you aware of if there are jobs for teaching adults English in Hanoi? Thanks so much

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:27h, 29 May Reply

      Hi Zita, we actually only finished working here last week so our information is fresh 🙂 We entered Vietnam on a three month business visa and then after we got our permit we got a year-long business visa. We did have work lined up before we arrived although it’s possible to find work when you arrive, there are quite a few language centres in Hanoi. We found a flat through an estate agent within a week of arriving in Hanoi, it was super easy. I’m not sure about jobs teaching adults, the universities probably have some jobs though and you can look on The New Hanoian website to see other job listings.

  • Zita
    Posted at 03:26h, 29 May Reply

    I found your post on visa’s etc! Thanks so much for sharing! Due to other travel arrangements and circumstances I would not be able to start teaching until the end of September at the earliest, not sure how that would impact my ability to gain employment given that school starts end Aug/beginning Sept?

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:34h, 29 May Reply

      Hi Zita, school does start on the first or second week of September but I’m sure there will be language centres still looking for staff when you get there. You could contact some centres ahead of time and I’m sure that they could line you something up. I know our language centre are looking for teachers for September onwards, if you want us to put you in touch with them, let me know.

      • Kevin
        Posted at 18:15h, 05 July Reply

        Are you still teaching and living in Vietnam. Thanks for your article, it helps me to understand more about how to live and get stable job while traveling. If I have ever come to Vietnam and you are still at there, you can be my tourist guide.

        • Amy
          Posted at 21:01h, 06 July Reply

          Hi Kevin, no we finished work in Vietnam in May. I wish you good luck with your travels and working abroad; if you have any questions we can help with, just ask.

  • Frances
    Posted at 13:06h, 18 August Reply

    Hello! Firstly I have found your blog invaluably useful, your are one of the few long term travel blogs I found that really goes into the full planning needed, so thank you! Your experience living in Hanoi sounds amazing – makes me very jealous and itching to move abroad!

    I wondered if you could help with some tefl questions? How easy was it for you to find your position without previous teaching experience? I’ve been looking a vacancies online and the majority request 1+ years of teaching experience – its so frustrating!

    • Amy
      Posted at 10:49h, 19 August Reply

      Hi Frances, thanks for reading and I’m glad you’ve found our blog useful. I found it easy to get a job in Hanoi without previous experience; the fact that I was a native speaker with a masters and TEFL certificate was enough, but I know the rules are different depending on the country. Do you have an idea of which country/city you want to move to? If so, email your CV out to some language centres and see what happens; good luck!

  • meag
    Posted at 15:42h, 07 September Reply

    Hi there, thank you for the great blog. I would like to know if it is possible to get a job in areas that are a bit more secluded? It would be great to stay close to an area where it is possible to kite surf or wind surf. Any place that that has water bodies with some wind:). If it is possible, do you know what the salaries are in smaller towns?

    • Amy
      Posted at 00:36h, 08 September Reply

      Hi Meagan, I’m sure it is possible to get work in small towns along the coast but unfortunately I’m not sure exactly what the salaries would be like; I assume they would be less than in the cities though. We heard of people teaching in Ninh Binh and Dong Hoi, for example. It would probably be best to look through recruitment agencies or travel around the country looking for work in places you like. Good luck!

  • Brady
    Posted at 21:57h, 20 September Reply

    Hi Amy,

    Great post. My boyfriend and I are very interested in teaching in Hanoi. Can you tell me the Language Center you went through? Thank you very much

    • Amy
      Posted at 01:49h, 21 September Reply

      Hi Brady, we worked for Washington Language Centre; if you’d like us to put you in touch with the Director, let me know. Language Link is another popular centre you could try. Let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

  • Brady
    Posted at 06:42h, 21 September Reply

    Hi Amy,

    Thank you so much for your fast reply. Yes, we would love to be put in touch. Your experience with them sounds exactly like what my boyfriend and I are looking for. One question, did you do the 120 hour TEFL course online or the required 60 hour? We’re about to sign up and wanted to find out what you did first. Thank you so much, Amy. My email is [email protected], if you want to contact me directly. I really appreciate all your help.

    • Amy
      Posted at 23:08h, 21 September Reply

      No worries Brady, we will email you more details. I did a 120hr TEFL course online plus a 20 hour in-house course over a weekend in London; Andrew now has a 150hr online course too. I would check Groupon and other discount sites as you can often get the online courses there very cheap; Andrew’s was only £50!

  • Tara
    Posted at 21:38h, 21 September Reply

    Really nice post. I’ve been on the road for about 7 months now and the meager savings I had when I left home have run dry. I’m heading to Vietnam to teach in about two months (I also got my certificate through LoveTEFL) and I’m thinking I’ll really enjoy settling in for a while then being able to travel some more… with a bit of money!

    • Amy
      Posted at 23:09h, 21 September Reply

      Hi Tara, good luck with the move to Vietnam, will you be in Hanoi? I’m sure you’ll have a great time and it really is one of the best places to earn and save money in SE Asia.

  • Tiffany
    Posted at 20:27h, 17 October Reply

    Hi Amy! I was thinking of teaching in Saigon, Vietnam too but I don’t want to do a full year commitment. I really just want to teach for about a month or so. Are there programs that offer short term teaching plans? Thanks!

    • Amy
      Posted at 23:43h, 18 October Reply

      Hi Tiffany, I can’t say for sure about short-term teaching, but you may be able to find something like supply work. If I were you I’d email some language centres and see what they say. Good luck!

  • Julia
    Posted at 19:39h, 16 December Reply

    Hi Amy. Thanks for a great post! Does teaching continue between May and September?

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:52h, 17 December Reply

      Hi Julia, schools are closed during those months but there are classes at the language centres and some summer schools. Actually, there may be quite a bit of work around because many teachers go away for the summer. Good luck 🙂

  • Maja
    Posted at 11:41h, 03 February Reply

    Hello! Just a quick question..were you able to travel easily on weekends? Were you able to go to thailand or Cambodia? What were the holidays like? Thanks!

    • Amy
      Posted at 13:49h, 03 February Reply

      Hi Maja, you could definitely take weekend trips to nearby places in Northern Vietnam, but you’d probably need a longer break to go to Thailand or Cambodia (although if you just want to do a visa run, that can be done over just two days). We got a day off for 31st December, almost two weeks off for TET, which is in January/February, and a week in April; the school year starts in September and finishes in mid-May, so you can definitely travel over the summer too. Our holidays were all unpaid, although I believe some language centres or international schools pay holiday. Good luck and let me know if you have anymore questions 🙂

  • Ian Leahy
    Posted at 18:16h, 25 March Reply

    Teaching kids can be a challenge. On one hand you have to control and lead them and on another you have to inspire and motivate them. Kids like to have fun. I would do some training with a course or some self preparation before jumping in.

    If you can’t control them then you won’t have much fun. You have to push respect, rules and have consequences for when they are broken.

    • Andrew
      Posted at 18:21h, 25 March Reply

      Hi Ian, I agree. I found that some of my public school classes, which had up to 55 kids in them, too hard to control. My much smaller language centre classes were perfectly behaved once we’d established our class rules and reward system though.

  • Daryn
    Posted at 17:30h, 16 May Reply

    Hi Amy,

    I’m looking at heading to Vietnam to teach. I have some experience and will be doing my CELTA in a couple of months. The only stumbling block is not having a degree. What are my chances of getting work? You come across anyone teaching without a degree? Seems to be so much different info online. Not really sure what to make of it all. Any help greatly appreciated.

    • Amy
      Posted at 19:38h, 16 May Reply

      Hi Daryn, yes it can be quite confusing, especially because the rules in Vietnam seem to change a lot. When we left Vietnam our language centre was only hiring people with a degree as you need one to get a legal work visa, however the rules might have changed again now. I think the best way of telling would be to email your CV to a few recruiters/language centres and see what they say; your CELTA might well count for more than a degree. I don’t know for sure if there was anyone at our centre working without a degree, but I do know that there’s plenty of cash-in-hand work available and I’ve heard that people do work without valid permits too. Good luck with your search, if you’re heading to Hanoi, check out The New Hanoian website for job listings and try emailing centres like Apollo and Language Link.

  • Ed
    Posted at 21:40h, 21 July Reply

    Hi Amy – I enjoyed reading your blog. I’m have a Trinity certificate and I’m now thinking of heading to Asia (South Korea, Japan or Vietnam). It seems likely that would involve teaching kids; did you get any training aimed at teaching young learners before you started?

    • Amy
      Posted at 17:00h, 22 July Reply

      Hi Ed, no I didn’t really get any training, I just got thrown straight in the deep end. Perhaps that was the best way though? I’m still not sure about that! Basically I was given a few classes at the language centre to start with to break me in before going out to the larger public schools. Most centres will give you some training though.

  • Sophie
    Posted at 10:19h, 14 August Reply

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Sounds absolutely fantastic. I have been wanting to teach in Vietnam for a while now, but have been having trouble finding genuine job advertisements as many are scams. Any tips on finding genuine work? Really keen to make this happen.

    • Amy
      Posted at 15:13h, 14 August Reply

      Hi Sophie, I would definitely recommend independently contacting Apollo, Language Link and ILA language centres to apply for positions. If you’re thinking of Hanoi specifically you can also look at The New Hanoian website for jobs. I would ask any employer for references from teachers who are currently working for them too. You could try a reputable recruitment agency like Reach to Teach or ESL Starter as well. Good Luck and enjoy Vietnam!

  • Joaquim Miro
    Posted at 06:25h, 06 October Reply

    Hi Amy!

    Loved your post about what its actually like to teach english in Vietnam! I just experienced an out of the ordinary experience teaching english in Hanoi as well and posted about it on my blog. I liked your article so much that I linked to it in my post inciting people to go check out your experience for a more in-depth story from someone who has lived it for many months! Let me know what you think 🙂

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:34h, 06 October Reply

      Thanks Joaquim, I just read about your experience and it sounds interesting. Thanks for linking to my article and I hope you had fun in Vietnam 🙂

  • Thomas
    Posted at 14:58h, 07 October Reply

    Hi There everyone,

    I have recently returned from teaching English in South Korea for 4 years and have decided today that I am going to fly out to Vietnam and try and find a job teaching English. I have a degree and along with my teaching experience am hoping to find a hostel and start asking around and doing my research with the hope of finding work. The only issue is I don’t have a TEFL or any teaching certificate. I don’t really have the 6-8 weeks to complete the TEFL. My hope is that after meeting with some schools, showing of my experience and charming some people, I will find a job relatively easy. Is this Naive and unrealistic of me? I can’t seem to find much info regarding prospective teachers who have experience, degree but no TEFL. Help me!

    • Amy
      Posted at 06:05h, 08 October Reply

      Hi Thomas,

      If you have a degree and are a native English speaker with four years of experience teaching in South Korea, then I’m pretty sure you’d be able to find a job without getting a TEFL certificate. That said, each language centre/school does have different requirements so it’s hard to say for definite. You can always purchase a cheap online TEFL course and complete it if you find that employers are asking for it.

      Andrew is a qualified teacher from the UK and so he didn’t need a TEFL to get a job in Vietnam, he just had his UK teaching diploma. Saying that, Andrew later decided to take a cheap online TEFL course just in case he might need it in future; it cost just £50 through a coupon website and he completed it in a couple of weeks, even though it was a 150-hour course. Good luck with the job search!

      If you’re planning to go to Hanoi in the next couple of weeks, I can set up a meeting for you with the language centre we used to work at, let me know if you’re interested.

  • Martha Wongchaipasoed
    Posted at 11:11h, 12 October Reply

    Thanks for the low down. Quick question: were you typically given lesson plans or did you create these on your own? If so, did the materials provided differ in quality between the gov’t school and the language center?

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:59h, 13 October Reply

      Hi Martha, we were given the curriculum for both types of classes which had outlines of what we needed to teach during each lesson. Then we were free to teach that material however we liked although in the public school classes we had to focus on speaking and listening but in the language centre classes we could also cover reading and writing. We had better resources and materials in the language centre as each room was equipped with a projector, in some public schools all I had was a blackboard. It all really depends on where you teach.

  • Jaz
    Posted at 19:48h, 05 July Reply


    What a very imformative blog, thank you so much. I have learnt so much from your information. Really appreciate it 🙂

    So long story short I am a new person with the travel bug at 33! I done a few English immersion programmes through Angloville & I was hooked. Just a few questions.

    1. I can get my TEFL through Angloville, will that be good enough to teach in Vietnam or shall I get one through a Canadian one?

    2. I like you want to secure a job in Vietnam before I go there, any good links I can apply through?

    3. Do some schools provide accomodaion? Does the £300 rent typically include bills? Getting a good flat is very important for me so I would appreciate as much info as possible like deposit, fees & how easy it is etc.

    I am happy to make a financial donation as well as your information will be so much appreciated.

    • Amy
      Posted at 09:35h, 07 July Reply

      Hi Jaz, glad you found our site useful. To answer your questions, as long as you have a TEFL certificate, that should be fine, employers tend to like TEFL courses that have had a practical element to them as well. When are you planning to go to Vietnam? I know a great scheme that could help you find a job, I’ll email you the details. I would say that the accommodation schools would provide might not be amazing, so it’s probably easier to find your own apartment. I’ll email you with more details.

  • Allison Green
    Posted at 21:09h, 18 November Reply

    Great read – I’ve definitely considered teaching English in Vietnam (it’s one of my favorite countries in Asia) – thanks for the insight!

    • Amy
      Posted at 11:09h, 19 November Reply

      Thanks Allison, we’d definitely recommend teaching in Vietnam 🙂

  • Rachel Platts
    Posted at 12:01h, 20 April Reply

    Hi there,

    I’ve just come across your lovely blog and found this article so interesting. We are very interested in teaching in Vietnam. My husband is an experienced, qualified teacher and I am a teaching assistant. I have been trying to find information about the age restrictions on teaching there as my husband is 60 and I am 45. Do you know of any such restrictions? Thanks for your help ?

    • Amy
      Posted at 02:03h, 23 April Reply

      Hi Rachel, thanks for your message and kind words. It is difficult in Vietnam, as they do prefer to hire teachers under 30 to be honest, which is obviously totally unfair and frustrating. However, given that you and your husband have so much experience, I’d definitely email some schools and language centres to see what they say. Anything is possible in Vietnam and the rules and requirements are always changing. Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions (sorry for the late reply too, we’ve been off grid in Bolivia).

  • Ross Symonds
    Posted at 07:33h, 03 May Reply

    Hey Rachel

    I work for Apax, it is a company with 50+ language centers in the country. Up till recently we had two older gentlemen (over 50) working in our center. The company seems to hire year round.

    • Andrew Wyatt
      Posted at 17:27h, 03 May Reply

      Hi Ross, thanks for this very useful info, we’ll be sure to pass it on to anyone else who is a bit older asking about teaching in Vietnam 🙂

  • Henry Fidelis
    Posted at 16:25h, 21 July Reply

    Hello, I really enjoyed your post.
    Meanwhile, I am a Nigerian, currently teaching English and ICT subjects at a school in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
    Do you think I will be able to get a job -teaching job?

    It is also important to let know that I am dark in complexion.

    Please, advice me .

    • Amy
      Posted at 10:05h, 16 August Reply

      Hi Henry, unfortunately the language centre we recruit for only accept teachers from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. You may find it more difficult to find work if you’re not from one of those countries.

  • Caroline
    Posted at 16:33h, 23 January Reply

    Thanks for your insightful info on Vietnam. Do I need a degree to work there? Many thanks.

    • Amy
      Posted at 15:43h, 24 January Reply

      Hi Caroline, yes, you do need a degree to get a job with a legal work visa. However, for short-term work, you may be able to avoid that and work cash-in-hand.

  • TrungThien
    Posted at 04:38h, 29 March Reply

    English is gradually becoming popular in Vietnam with many applications in life. It is quite interesting that foreigners who speak English in Vietnam are highly respected. Therefore, foreigners who teach English are very loved by the students.

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