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Is this really how bad things have become in Vietnam?
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Joined: 01 Apr 2013
Posts: 60

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kurtz wrote:
Honestly speaking, most geezers I met in Vietnam weren't exactly the cream of the crop. In fact, most were skirt chasing alcoholics. I have reason to doubt that most teachers in Vietnam weren't there for the pleasure of the job; more like the cheap entertainment and living; to a certain extent, I was one of them. People like this don't generally have much coin in the bank, and aren't exactly into self improvement, nor do they have options. Young guys taking their jobs and women; cry me a river, boo hoo. Those with half a brain will either get themselves a half decent job within 3 years, or get out of the country and move on.

If an experienced teaching is competing with a newbie, it's time to throw the towel in, as you just haven't got what it takes; a little bit of initiative and a little bit of brains is all you need.

Laughing Cheers, that was my point. I was just trying to be a bit more polite about it.
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Okie from Muskogee

Joined: 31 Jan 2014
Posts: 52

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey! Take'em if you need 'em.

If you think it's a good deal that'll give you some experience, a place to stretch, and belly full of somethin', take it. But if you think it's horse crap, ain't no sense taking it.
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Joined: 27 Oct 2011
Posts: 186
Location: HCMC

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

New posts made me revisit this thread and look again at the good Professor's example job post. Aside from the wage levels, I think this job is roughly comparable to my own work in a public school in an adjacent district. I have broken up his post to add my comments.
Prof.Gringo wrote:
*Program description:
- Being of English teacher as a local staff in a public high school and teaching English for high school students (Grade 10, 11 and 12). The class size is around 20-25 students. The spacious class rooms are air-conditioned, free WIFI and fully equipped. The courses includes: English for communication, major focus on speaking, listening and presentation skills;
Aside from the obvious grammar errors, I note as follows:

Class size is very suspicious. Standard size is more likely 50. To achieve 20-25 students, the school will have to split a class. This would be a great idea but it would effectively double the cost of the foreign teacher to the school so it is unlikely.

Air-conditioned: Possible but unlikely. I substitute taught taught one day at a brand new (3 months old) school in my district. The offices of the head of English instruction for the district were in this school. This was certainly the model school in the district. The classrooms were quite comfortably larger than most schools but not air-conditioned.

WiFi: Most of the schools I have worked at have WiFi but it seldom or never reaches all the classrooms.

Course description is pretty much what happens in public schools. The Vietnamese teachers cover reading, writing and grammar and we handle speaking and listening. See my note on coordination below.
Prof.Gringo wrote:
- Provide advice for students on academic concerns;
Pretty standard and hardly time consuming.
Prof.Gringo wrote:
- Working place: a public high school in District 12, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam;
- Contract time: 25 August 2014 -- 25 April 2015 (8 months).
If a wide eyed recent graduate wants to experience the "real Vietnam," District 12 would certainly be a good place to start.

End of school is likely mid-May but 25 April is probably a far better time to end a foreign teacher program. Once final examinations begin, a) schedules are disrupted and b) even good students make minimal effort in a class that will not alter their test scores in Vietnam’s make or break testing environment.

Prof.Gringo wrote:
- Sense of high responsibility, serious in work with good manner of a teacher;
- Teaching experience and knowledgeable in IELTS, TOEFL is a great plus;
- Be able to inspire even the low level students to learn and help them listen and speak good English after a course;
- College/University Degree;
- Qualifications in TESOL/TEFL or equivalent.

These requirements are pretty standard. The last two are at least hypothetically required to obtain a work permit, and a work permit is hypothetically required to work in public schools. Working with lower level students probably should not be considered a requirement but more of a goal. It is still a problem particularly in large classrooms with students with variable prior experience. That said, any good teacher will try to work with weaker students and not only focus on the more fluent.
Prof.Gringo wrote:

* Working time:
- 20 hours of face-to-face teaching per week (most important responsibility);
- 15 hours per week for lesson preparation, academic meetings with local English teachers, open days, professional development program for staff, school excursions, etc. (maximum of 35 working hours per week)
- Monday to Saturday, usual school hours from 7:00am - 11:15am in the morning and 1:15pm - 4:35pm in the afternoon (detail timetable assigned by Schedulers).

These things would be pretty standard in any US teaching situation although 15 hours may be a bit much. It may prove inconvenient to have to plan in school rather than at home but teaching 26 periods will require at least 5-10 hours a week for any teacher dealing with an unfamiliar curriculum. Prep time may be lower for experienced teachers but for a new hire this number is not unreasonable. This last year I taught three grade levels and two curricula at each level for 18 periods so the spread meant a lot of preparation time at home. Alternatively, I taught at a high school for a while with the same text and lessons for 10 classes a week and almost no prep time.

Academic meetings with local English teachers would be a great thing. My contacts with the local English teachers in my main school have improved especially as I appeared to them to have some longevity but they are pretty much limited to break time in the teacher’s room. A more structured meeting could be beneficial. That said, I do notice that the Vietnamese teachers seem to have to suffer way too many meetings and I sympathize with them on that. They also spend way too much time grading tests and recording test results and some have told me as such.

I would actually like to go on the 1 or 2 excursions my school seemed to have each year but my center always wanted to send me to another school in the available time.

To me, none of the things included in the 15 hours is inherently bad. The problem is that if they are mandatory, then how are they compensated. (Does the last sentence require a question mark? Help me.) Confused

Prof.Gringo wrote:
- Provided air-con single accommodation with full furniture, individual toilet/bathroom, free WIFI at a hotel in a 3-minute walking distance from the school;
Others may differ, but I think this has a value of at least $300/month. Of course it is worth nothing if you have a local spouse, but this ad does not seem to be targeted at people already in the country. The school undoubtedly will be able to make a better deal and pay even less but it is unlikely that a westerner could find lodging for less than $300, particularly on first arrival.
Prof.Gringo wrote:
- Paid 3 weeks for vacation (1 week in mid-term and 2 weeks in TET holiday/Lunar New Year -- around January-February) on top of paid public holidays (Sundays, National Day - 02 September; Teacher Day -- 20 November; New Year Eve . . . );
- Paid for visa fee and work permit fee;
This is a plus compared to the standard arrangement which has no paid holidays or vacation. Prof Gringo needs to add this to the compensation value.

Work permit fees are paid for by some language center employers, but certainly not by all. If this is a direct hire situation as I suspect, the school can probably obtain the work permit without the need for “special fees.”
Prof.Gringo wrote:
- Free using of swimming pool at the school;
I really have a hard time swallowing this one. I have scoured Q12 on Google maps. There is a large pool and sports center there but it is not even close to a high school.
Prof.Gringo wrote:
- Vietnamese lessons and local living assistance (02 hours per week);
Probably not worth much.
Prof.Gringo wrote:
- Cultural excursions: at least 01 excursion with students and/or local English teachers;
As above. Really not a bad idea (although one excursion at my school was Dam Sen Park, not very cultural.)
Prof.Gringo wrote:
- Airport Pick-up;
- Living allowance: USD 600 per month + incentive (for full completion of 20 face-to-face teaching hours per week).

* Application:
- Cover letter with updated picture, CV (detailed working experiences);
- Copies of passport and legalized degrees/certificates/qualifications;
- and Legalized police check/judicial record, legalized general medical check (legalized at Vietnam Embassy/Consulate in your home country) are kindly requested to send by the 30 June 2014 to
Medical check in your home country seems odd as a local check is needed for the work permit but the employer may be protecting themselves against having an employee fail a health check once here. The others are all things that a serious teacher should get together before coming here anyway.

I read on this board that completion bonuses are not uncommon in other Asian countries but they don’t seem to be used much here. What or how much is the “incentive” and will they try to find a way out at the end. It really should be explicitly stated

With respect to the overall compensation, it is not as low as pictured by Prof Gringo but still way below any reasonable standard. I recalculated by adding in paid vacation and holidays and the housing and came up with $6.69 for the 35 hours and $11.72 based on face time. Prof did not post the name of the school but I suspect that this may be a direct hire situation. I have heard third hand of a school in an outer district doing this and I think it may become more prevalent as principals and district superintendents try to make their budget stretch (or go in their own pockets) by cutting out language centers and agencies as middlemen. It would be naive to expect as much but cutting out the middleman contracts could be one way to reduce class size. If this is the model of the future, it will mean pressure to be truly full time employees and not just sojourners. It will mean teaching at a single school along with increased involvement in the bureaucratic aspects. I don't know how they think they will fulfill the goal in rural areas but with the governments stated push to have foreign teachers in every school, this could be the future.
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Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 393
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

$6.69 - $11.72per hour.

The horror.
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Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 313

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not the kind of job or pay scale I would even consider - but you can't blame them for trying.
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Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 2008
Location: Paradise, Paradise, Paradise!

PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kurtz wrote:
$6.69 - $11.72per hour.

The horror.

Anyway you try to slice it, that's a CRAP wage in VN.
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Joined: 30 Nov 2010
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AMA has an ad for $13 to $20 an hour for qualified and highly motivated teachers of English. You need to prepare teaching materials and teaching units(?). A reference letter from a previous employer is required. UK, US Canada and Australia citizens.

I thought $14 was their lowest rate. Let's see... 15+ hours a week, only about 8 months work, lots of holidays and exam days cutting into hours. 8 to 12 hundred a month, much less around TET and nothing from June through August, reduced in May and September because programs at public schools often begin and end mid month. You'll have to pay for a WP yourself but that's not in the ad. You probably get full pay about 4 times during the school year. Exams probably cost about two weeks pay over the year and TET would be half a months pay.

So 15 hours at $20 is maybe $8000 to live on for an entire year less the WP, visa costs, the flight and initial setup fees like housing deposits and surviving until the first pay. Maybe $7000 or slightly more than $500 a month (after the WP only)? $13 an hour? $350 a month? The lowest price I've seen on this board for housing lately is $250. Utilities? Food? A life? Recouping the cost of travelling here and back and the initial set up fees?

IMHO those countries embassies should have warnings about this type of situation for anyone contemplating working in EFL in Vietnam.

I doubt they're looking to hire many at the $20 rate.
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