Your Handy Guide to the English Teaching Jobs in Ho Chi Minh City

March 17, 2018

“Ho Chi Minh City”, “HCMC”, “Saigon”, whatever you want to call it, one thing is certain, teaching English in Ho Chi Minh is great! While Hanoi is technically Vietnam’s capital city, many ESL/EFL teachers prefer to find teaching jobs in HCM. If you think you might be one of those people, then read on.

There are many reasons that travellers prefer Saigon. It has a warmer climate, more metropolitan feel, and considerably more amenities available to travellers who might be craving Western comforts. In many ways, this is analogous to the teaching jobs in HCM; which themselves make for another great lure for traveling teachers.

You are a lot more likely to find modern teaching equipment in Saigon than you are anywhere else in the country. While this does not mean that you can expect to find cutting-edge smartboards and internet-ready projectors in every classroom. You’re one heck of a lot more likely to find them in Saigon than you are in Sapa!

You only need to take one look at Saigon and Hanoi to realise that Saigon is where all the money is. The city centre is littered with huge, modern buildings that would dwarf Hanoi. You might expect the average teaching job to be higher paying to reflect this, yet most of the time this is not the case. [N.B. We say “most of the time” because teaching rates fluctuate between the two cities, at times wages have been higher in Saigon.] To truly understand the difference between Hanoi and Saigon, one should remember Hanoi’s communist roots and Saigon’s capitalist influences.

Interestingly, while HCMC generally offers lower salaries, it also facilitates more opportunity to earn very high wages. This is because of the booming industries in the city. Saigon is truly the head of Vietnam’s “Sleeping Dragon” economy. International entrepreneurs are flocking to Saigon, and wanting their children taught in private classes or high-end international schools. Business and trade is booming, and as the international language of business, that means for the right teacher, business is booming too. Teachers who specialise in BE (Business English) may want to teach in HCMC for this exact reason. That also applies to teachers with backgrounds in ESP (English for Specific Purposes). We’ve met teachers who have worked in all kinds of unlikely disciplines, from “English for dentistry” to “English for freight shipping”. If you’ve never taught ESP before, we suspect you might have after a couple of years in Vietnam.

That does not mean you can stroll into these hyper high paying roles. Most teachers moving to Ho Chi Minh City follow one of the following options. They either a) find a full-time job in a public school or b) build up a schedule of part-time jobs. The benefits of a) are reliability, a consistent role, and more professional development. The benefits of b) include more flexibility, a range of different roles, and the autonomy to define your own schedule. If you’re considering teaching English in HCMC, we suggest you decide which one of these would suit you more.

The bright lights and allure of HCMC attract a lot of teachers. If you go there expecting to be the only foreigner in town, you have another thing coming. This also means that there tends to be higher competition for jobs, compared to Hanoi. It can be quite difficult for teachers to find work without the right contacts. We recommend looking via reliable Facebook groups, job posting boards, and by networking like crazy. Some of the best jobs come from word of mouth after you have established yourself. Getting your foot through the door in the first place, in teaching as in many other jobs, can be the trickiest part.

The extra competition means that teachers are expected to have more experience and qualifications if they are going to find work. We certainly do not recommend trying to find teaching jobs in Ho Chi Minh City if you are not a qualified teacher. Ideally, you should have a CELTA (or equivalent) teaching qualification, as well as at least a year’s experience. Fear not, if you do not have both of these things, with a bit of luck and the right contacts you will be able to find work anyway. If you have both experience and qualifications you should be looking at a minimum of $20 per hour for teaching in HCM. However, if you play your cards right, this can raise dramatically over time.

If you would like assistance finding English teaching jobs in Ho Chi Minh City, or if you have any more questions about the experience, do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Teacher’s Friend – Vietnam.

Written by Alex Sinclair Lack for Teacher’s Friend – Vietnam

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Your Handy Guide to Teaching English in Hanoi

January 2, 2018

Hanoi is the Marmite of Asia. That’s a sentence that I never expected to find myself typing. But it’s true; for those of you unfamiliar with the yeast-based British condiment, it’s a product that is either loved or hated by everyone. Hanoi is just as divisive; for some it’s a crowded, crazy, stressful city, and for others it’s a crowded, crazy, wonderful city. For this writer and teacher, it’s unquestioningly the latter. Hanoi is culturally and historically rich, it is filled with hidden gems, welcoming people, and endless adventure. Most teachers who manage to endure their daunting welcome, live to describe it as a teacher’s paradise. Here’s why.
Teaching ESL in Hanoi is eclectic, unpredictable, and brilliantly diverse. You could be teaching at a preschool in the morning, teaching undergrads in the afternoon, and tutoring heart surgeons in the evening. There are classes that suit everyone’s preferences, from large, beginner classes in state schools to advanced private classes; ESL teachers in Hanoi are bound to find a niche that suits them.
As in Saigon, English teachers in Hanoi tend to fit into one of two categories. They either create their own schedule of classes based around their lifestyle and pedagogical preferences, or they find a more permanent, stable position in one Hanoi’s many state schools or private English centres. There are advantages to both: the former provides autonomy, control, diversity, and flexibility; the latter provides stability, support, and simplicity.
If you’re looking to build your teaching experience in more specific areas, that can certainly be done. From BE (Business English) to ESP (English for Specific Purposes), there is something for everyone.
Salaries fluctuate in Hanoi, as they do everywhere in Vietnam. However, perhaps because not everyone is cut out for Hanoi life, salaries tend to be higher here than anywhere else in the country. The average English teacher in Hanoi expects between $20-25 per hour (higher rates for the busy summer months). We recommend not accepting salaries lower than this, with the exception that if you are offered a large block of classes together, then the time saved on transport may be worth losing a couple of dollars per hour.
Do not go into a class in Hanoi expecting to have all the modern facilities of a western classroom. While establishments do sometimes offer modern teaching technology, this is far from the norm. I taught my first class barefoot, in someone’s living room, and by candlelight due to an all-night power-cut. If that excites you rather than horrifies you, then you might be the right sort of teacher for Hanoi.
Despite being Vietnam’s capital city, it is considerably less developed than Saigon. There are less high-rise buildings, and visitors often speak of Hanoi’s big-village-vibe. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to do. From museums, architecture, and quiet lakeside cafes, to a vibrant nightlife and even the occasional music festival, there truly is something for everyone in Hanoi.
If you’re looking for an endless summer, then Saigon may be a better choice. Unlike in the south of Vietnam, the north does experience a cold period. Winter can get a little chilly so bring warm clothes; you can expect some real wind-chill when you ride to work on your motorbike. Nonetheless, most of the year Hanoi is glorious! And when the sun does come out after winter, it makes it all the more enjoyable. All of a sudden, the city comes alive. Everywhere you go there will be people basking in the sunshine, sitting outside cafes and bars, and generally making the most of life.
While you may be able to find employment anyway, English teachers looking to find teaching jobs in Hanoi should be experienced and qualified. They should have a degree and CELTA certificate (or equivalent). If you do not have this qualification, send us a message and we can help you get one. It should be stated that in Hanoi, as in other places in Vietnam, there are also some other, less “traditional” preferences for teachers. Sadly, Vietnamese employers are prejudiced towards native-English speakers, younger teachers, and shamefully, Caucasian teachers. Teacher’s Friend – Vietnam has been at the forefront of efforts to try to combat these unfair prejudices, but the reality is that if you do not meet these seemingly arbitrary criteria, finding employment will probably be harder for you.
There are various methods of finding employment. Lots of job offers happen via word-of-mouth once a teacher gains a reputation as reliable, fun, and effective. To get your foot in the door, the best solution is to network. There are employment Facebook groups (some of which were set up by Teacher’s Friend – Vietnam) to help connect employers and teachers, as well as a few job database websites that can prove successful. We might be a little bias, but to give yourself a considerable head-start, we suggest getting in touch with us here at TFV, so that you can take advantage of our established, vetted network.

Written by Alex Sinclair Lack for Teacher’s Friend – Vietnam

A very windy beach, a panic over my flight ticket and a hatred for Vietnamese airlines!

December 23, 2017

Hoi An Day Three

I was awake at 6am and lazed around in bed until 9am, which was amazing!! I love holidays. I hired a bicycle and cycled to the beach, past the rice fields and over a little lantern bridge, it was lovely, so peaceful!


I had to pay 5000 vnd to park my bike which no-one told me about and was bright red after just 30 minutes of being in the sun, even thought I was covered in factor 30. Luckily I caught it just in time and went for a swim to cool off. The beach was nice, but both the beaches have been a little disappointing, I think because there were so many Vietnamese tourists. However, it was blue sky, clear water and white sand so I shouldn’t complain! I think maybe I’m just not the biggest fan of beaches, I prefer rocks and waterfalls!


The wind picked up and was in full swing, so I had sand stuck on my face, in my hair, in my ipod and in my eyes. Most people vacated the beach. I sat on a wall facing the beach and wrote some postcards. On the way back I took photos and went for lunch in a café right in front of the river. I went to the pool in the hotel but it was overcast so we sat in my friends room chatting and just as I was about to leave the heavens opened and it poured for three hours… so there I stayed!


Not doing anything all afternoon made me more sleepy so after a late dinner I went straight to bed…. In my huge bed!!


Hoi An Day four

I said goodbye to the elderly couple at breakfast. I then panicked because I’d lost my flight ticket home, I rang the travel agent to get her to email it to me, but there was no internet on the computer in the hotel so I still couldn’t print it… I then found it. It was on the same page as my outward flight, but I had been looking for a separate sheet! Silly little things…


I made the mistake of going to a store that I’d promised to visit and ended up buying yet more gifts… I think I’m going to have to pay for an extra bag for my flight home to England! I saw some ornaments on sale, exactly the same as the ones I’d brought on Marble Mountain, but not quite as nice, for about half the price… *breathe… and let it go!!*


I walked around the old town taking some last pictures of the beautiful Hoi An before eating ice cream by the river. At lunch I met two women, one of whom had been in a long distance relationship for two years, from Australia to Jakarta! They were finally moving to Australia together in a few weeks. It’s crazy, I expected travelling to be a single person thing and felt a bit silly arriving while dating someone in Spain, but I’ve met more long distance couples than single people! There is hope!


I hate airports. I arrived to see my flight had been delayed by 25 minutes already and there were no Vietjet desks open. When they finally did, I told them I needed to pay to check in my suitcase, and I had the rest of my stuff in another bag as hand luggage. They weighed the bag and it was 7.6kg so they said I didn’t need to check it in, I said “Yes but what about this bag?” pointing to the one on my shoulder and the guy said “Never mind that!” So, on the way here I had to pay for extra weight, on the way back, when I had various very heavy gifts and three new dresses I got on for free! Insane. They literally make up the rules as they go along.


I was amused when the announcement asked people to go to but instead of pronouncing it “double you, double you, double you” they said “www” as in “w” for “water”. Haha.


I got a text about more private tuition classes, I am going to teach an extra hour every Thursday for 2 million dong a month, this is £15 an hour. I managed to find a transfer bus to take me back home which was only $2, however I hadn’t realised this would mean waiting an hour until the bus was full!! I got home, exhausted, but a great trip!

Dress Shopping In Hoi An

December 17, 2017

Hoi An

Day 2


I met a nice elderly couple from England at breakfast time and invited them for dinner that evening. This isn’t something that I would normally do, but after being invited out by the Vietnamese family, I decided it was a nice gesture.


I was bamboozled into the first tailor shop I found but after seeing they had a book full of reviews I sat down and began filing through their magazines. I found a dress I liked and chose the material but then said I was leaving so I could think about it, and I was not buying in the first shop I came to!

I then found a tailor and paid to have my sandals re-made to fit my size exactly before I was then pulled into the market by another woman who showed me again a book of reviews, and I decided it was impossible to decide where to go, and to pick out the bad tailors from the good, so I just decided to go somewhere with good reviews that had a dress I liked. I had two dresses made there, a red silky one with a single shoulder strap and a blue dress with laced material over the top- similar to one I already have, but it’s now too small. It occurred to me that I was getting tailor made clothes having just lost a lot of weight, and that I am probably going to put all the weight back on when I return home, but there was not much I could do about this!


I then returned to the first shop and made the mistake of telling her I’d already bought two dresses. She got a bit hostile, saying “Why you not buy from me? Why you not buy from me??” So, annoyed, I said, “Look, I can’t go into a shop, see a picture I like in a magazine, then take it out the shop and bring it to you. I am here now, I am going to buy a dress or I am going to leave, what do you want??” She was then all smiles…


I was meant to be going to the beach but there was a storm coming so we sat in the thunderstorm in the heated pool at the hotel. I was slightly worried I may be going to get struck by lighting and electrocuted, but it was really cool!


I was made nervous about my dresses because my friends had bought dresses too and had to make a lot of adjustments and one of my friends was still not happy with it…


I went to have my dress fitted and it was far, far too tight, and the second needed taking in at the bottom because it looked too square on me, but they looked nice and something to remember from Vietnam.


Before I went for dinner with the elderly couple I picked up my two dresses and they looked great, but one is still very tight! At dinner, it was lovely talking to different people, with fresh, new perspectives on life. They are cleaners, who run their own business, working many jobs, literally only getting three hours sleep a night, and they’ve been doing it for three years, seven days a week!! Now, they have their own retirement fund and have just taken 6 months off to go travelling! She has travelled all over the world, taking months off at a time, leaving her husband to look after the company. That is the life, not sure if I fancy being a cleaner though?

In the evening I took pictures of Hoi An- which is absolutely stunning, especially at night- and chatted with a woman about her children and life etc. I bought a bracelet from her, I want to get one from each place I go.

Have you got it covered?

December 12, 2017

If you are going to come and visit this amazing country, or decide to take the plunge, change your life and  teach English, then you are going to need travel insurance.

Yes, I know. It's expensive and feels very insignificant while sat in the comfort of your own home, surrounded by family and loved ones, when you are safe and well.

But when alone, on the other side of the world, having just had a road accident, broken your leg, caught dengue fever or are needing antibiotics, you will be glad that you have it. It will be priceless.

More to the point, when you are critically ill in hospital, needing to be flown home for whatever reason or need to undergo serious treatment, you will definitely want the insurance. I have seen dodgy Vietnamese hospitals... you do not want to be in one of those...

If you don't do it for you, do it for the peace and mind of friends and family back home, who will all be worried about your welfare no doubt!

Vietnam is not the same as your home country. The standards and levels of hygiene are not the same... don't end up where you don't want to be with no way out!

Now for recommendations for travel insurance there's no contender for me. STA Travel specialises in travel insurance for 18-30 year olds, and the young at heart!

I have used their insurance for the past five years and it has been fantastic. I would not go with anyone else. (I nearly did, once, because it was significantly cheaper, only to find that the benefits just didn't compare!)

In this blog I am going to tell you EXACTLY why I choose STA travel every time.

1) You can renew the policy from abroad.

I cannot stress the importance of this. The majority of travel insurance policies cannot be renewed from abroad. This means that if you book insurance for six months and then end up staying a year or longer- which has happened to me and many other people who I know- then you are stuck without insurance on the other side of the world, with no way of renewing. THIS SUCKS.

2) You can pay a medical waiver fee

The cost of walking through the door to see a doctor in Vietnam (and many other countries) is $100 or more. This means that if you need to see a doctor urgently you must first choose whether you want to fork out the $100... However, with STA travel's medical waiver you can claim every penny back on your medical insurance without the standard $100 excess. Perfect! Go to a doctor twice in one year and you just saved $200...And trust me, $200 goes a LONG WAY in Vietnam!

3) Another thing that as a long term traveller has always infuriated me is that the minute you land back in your home country your insurance is void. This means that if you pay for a year's worth of travel insurance but then your best mate decides to get married, your sister has a baby or you find a cheap flight back home, doing so will void your travel insurance and waste your money. It means you always have to carefully plan how long you will away for, or book insurance for shorter periods of time, which costs more money. This again wastes your money. However, STA are constantly working on improving products for their customers. They have just introduced a new system where if you are away for more than six months you can come back at any time and not void the insurance. Thanks for being on it guys.

4) Another WOW factor with the STA travel insurance policy is that they have just partnered with Push Doctor, which enables you to talk to a doctor from anywhere in the world for the duration of your insurance policy.You can access this on your tablet, smart phone or PC from anywhere, for up to 15 hours a day. (Opening times are GMT 7am-10pm). Here you get unlimited appointments (for a set amount of time) for free, plus £20 per ten minutes after that and only £10 for referral letters/sick notes and £4 for subscriptions.

5) Many insurance companies don't cover you for "activities" which could be anything from roller skating to skate boarding, or from walking to abseiling. If you're the adventurous type, you might find yourself having an accident on a rock climbing trip near Hanoi, doing Muy Thai in Ho Chi Minh, canyoning in Dalat or trekking in Sapa, only to find that you are not in fact covered because you were doing more than just walking down the street. At STA they have over 100 activities which come included as part of the package, as well as all the add ons.

On top of this it has the usual travel insurance benefits such as a 24/7 medical helpline, cover for mobile phones, laptops and your expensive items, up to £15 million in medical expense cover (the type that will get you flown out of a dodgy hospital and back to your own country when you really need it), up to £10,000 cancellation cover and up to £3000 personal possession cover.

*Subject to change. Check your policy details carefully and speak directly to STA for more information.

If you want to take a look at their price plans then you can do so here.

They also do great deals on Cash Cards, Flights and much more. Check out their products here.