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Thinking about teaching in Vietnam. Quick question.
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Hokie21



Joined: 27 Feb 2011
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:13 am    Post subject: Thinking about teaching in Vietnam. Quick question. Reply with quote

Hey everyone, I looked at a few threads on the Vietnam board and noticed a few of them are out of date so I just want to ask a quick question or two, I appreciate everyone's patience.

OK so I've go a degree...clean criminal background and just completed 1 year of teaching English in Korea. Have been back in the US for about 7 or 8 months now and the draw of going back overseas is growing stronger. So I guess my question is, TEFL/CELTA? What is recommended when applying in Vietnam? Also, from reading a few of the posts it sounded like Vietnam didn't need an FBI background check, just something local? Is that correct?

Also is there anyone here who has taught in both Korea and Vietnam? I'd be interested in hearing about the differences. Thanks very much.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 326

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very different.

Korea has a more stable work situation. In Vietnam the standard 20+ hour a week guaranteed salary job is quite rare. Most people work several jobs at the same time.

Accomodation is never provided in Vietnam while it is almost always in Korea. I think a few jobs working at hotels or industrial sites far away from cities provide accomodation.

In some ways, Vietnamese students are easier to please than Koreans, but tend to be lazier and more passive. They are also paying far higher fees proportionally.

Wages are slightly lower in Vietnam, but the cost of living is far lower too. There are no annual severance paymerns or airfares, and you must pay for accomodation. This can be quite reasonable or quite expensive depending on what you want/need.

You need a CELTA or more to get the better jobs. There are very few university jobs and they are not that great, according to what I've heard.

Health insurance is a vexed question. The Govt/companies do nothing much to help in this regard. Seeing a doctor/dentist is cheap though. Most insurance policies would not pay out if you fell off a motorbike unless you had the proper licence (few do).

Visas and work permits are a constantly moving target. It used to be very simple to get around the problems but this is less and less true. Compared to the very clear rules in Korea this can be a shock.

The weather is obviously totally different but Hanoi is much colder than you might imagine. Unheated/uninsulated buildings and windows that won't close
properly make this far worse.

I think other expats are less sociable than in Korea. I think this is due to a hard core of veteran expats who prefer to be left alone. More expats are married to locals too and the profile of the average expat is older than in Korea.

In the larger towns you can find others to hang out with etc but it is very different to the situation in Korea were many EFL teachers have a vibrant party lifestyle.

One thing I would say is that the potential to save large amounts of money is no longer there in Vietnam. If you can manage just getting by and having more freetime/freedom than in Korea then it could work for you. If you need/want to save X USD a month then best head back to Korea.
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Hokie21



Joined: 27 Feb 2011
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great, thanks very much for your detailed response.
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jester87



Joined: 05 Nov 2012
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow skarper that was an amazing response. I'm right now looking to leave korea for vietnam but you've just given me some cause to think over that.

Are you currently living in Korea or Vietnam. I would love to pick your brain about your experiances.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 326

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been in Vietnam since 2007. Before that I was in Korea for about 3 years.

I miss some things about Korea but wouldn't go back. Far happier here. I am married to a local so that changes everything.

Vietnam is not for everyone. Plenty of threads on here about this.
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I'm With Stupid



Joined: 03 Sep 2010
Posts: 383

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Skarper and I must move in different social circles, because there are a couple of things that are definitely not my experience.

skarper wrote:
Korea has a more stable work situation. In Vietnam the standard 20+ hour a week guaranteed salary job is quite rare. Most people work several jobs at the same time.

I can't speak for your friends, but the vast majority of people I know only work for one school (I know mainly people from ILA, Apollo, VUS and RMIT). Some people work for one school at the weekend and another during the week, but I've only met two teachers who actually work in more than one school in a single day (with the exception of Apollo partnership schools). I think especially if you get a TEFL/CELTA qualification, getting a job in a single school isn't too much trouble.

skarper wrote:
I think other expats are less sociable than in Korea. I think this is due to a hard core of veteran expats who prefer to be left alone. More expats are married to locals too and the profile of the average expat is older than in Korea.

Obviously, I don't have direct experience with Korea to compare it too, but I find people here to be pretty sociable, often to the point where it gets too much (i.e. English teachers only know other English teachers and everyone knows everyone else). I'm in Saigon though, which I think attracts a younger crowd. The main advantage of Saigon is that you can wear summer clothes all year round, because it doesn't change very much.
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ExpatLuke



Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 421

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think everything Skarper said applies to Danang as well (although it doesn't get quite so cold here as it did in Hanoi). He paints an accurate picture as far as my experiences in Hanoi and Danang are concerned. Saigon might be a bit different.
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Mushroom Druid



Joined: 19 Oct 2009
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

skarper wrote:
One thing I would say is that the potential to save large amounts of money is no longer there in Vietnam.


I agree with this.

The EFL market has peaked out in Vietnam. It peaked out in different areas in different times.

The EFL wages peaked out (or, "hit the top") in Saigon in 2007 for the most part. Several new arrivals to Saigon are teaching for the wages that were paid 10 years ago.

Hanoi took longer to hit the ceiling but it did about 3 years ago in 2009. There are a couple of schools that pay above market rate, but the vast majority do not.

Danang has always been a different type of market, for many reasons: less demand for EFL, therefore less jobs, lower pay but also a lower cost of living.

Hitting the ceiling has happened almost everywhere in world. I taught in Korea several years ago and with the value of the Won and the current contracts offered it's not very motivating.

That said, as skarper says, if you want to save or need to save, Korea is a much better option for the reason skarper listed.

Quote:
If you need/want to save X USD a month then best head back to Korea.
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LettersAthruZ



Joined: 25 Apr 2010
Posts: 458
Location: North Viet Nam

PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From my years in Ha Noi and Hai Phong (though I have never been to Korea), I feel that everything stated by skarper is accurate. The only exception might be the 20-hour week.

Most places up here STILL do have the set week where you are signed on a contract for XX number of classroom hours per week, and (USUALLY, depends on the school/centre) if you end up teaching fewer than XX classroom hours, you still get paid for that XX contracted number of hours and if you teach more than XX hours a week, you get, like, ten or fifteen UDS per classroom hour.

It had previously been 20-classroom-hours-a-week as the standard.......now it is rapidly starting to creep into more and more schools/centres as a 25-classroom-hours-a-week while the monthly pay rate remains flat.....thusly, more classroom hours taught - same salary. Supply of English instructors is beginning to outstrip demand thanks to the economic and employment situation in Eire and The U.K. (and, to a lesser extent, also in the U.S.A.).
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JSutt



Joined: 22 Jan 2013
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jester87 wrote:
Wow skarper that was an amazing response. I'm right now looking to leave korea for vietnam but you've just given me some cause to think over that.


Which of course, and nothing personal here, is in the best interests of the English teachers currently living in Viet Nam. Worth keeping in mind when picking a destination.
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kurtz



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 402
Location: Off the beaten path

PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JSutt wrote:
jester87 wrote:
Wow skarper that was an amazing response. I'm right now looking to leave korea for vietnam but you've just given me some cause to think over that.


Which of course, and nothing personal here, is in the best interests of the English teachers currently living in Viet Nam. Worth keeping in mind when picking a destination.


Yes, we're all shaking in our boots about a CELTAless newbie with one year up their sleeve.

Skarper wrote correct information.

Read the other threads here. Apart from an Australian university starting with an R that pays well and a handful of others, plus some tasty military/embassy contracts, peeps aren't doing too well here. Also, take a glance at the lengthy Vietnam economy thread, perhaps folks are just telling it like it is.
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JSutt



Joined: 22 Jan 2013
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jester87 isn't the OP, and I'm just saying that there are some fairly basic laws of supply and demand at work here, as there are anywhere else.
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kurtz



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 402
Location: Off the beaten path

PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JSutt wrote:
Jester87 isn't the OP, and I'm just saying that there are some fairly basic laws of supply and demand at work here, as there are anywhere else.


I thought it was fairly obvious that you were implying that people currently working in Vietnam are trying to dissuade new arrivals as it's in their best interests to do so. Well, things are tough; it's up to you if you want to take a cynical slant on things. Most peeps are trying to be helpful.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 326

PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To perhaps clear this up I always try to discourage people coming to Vietnam since the major employers try to encourage them with outlandish claims.

I try to put the other side to the story. If it was as good as some claim the turnover would not be as high as it is with most new arrivals only staying 3-6 months and leaving somewhat jaded and often poorer.

This is not really out of self interest - I am not competing directly with these new arrivals. But I do think there is oversupply of teachers especially new, fresh, unqualified teachers and this is bad for everyone including them.
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vabeckele



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 439

PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Hokie21,

If you are looking for the complete opposite of Korea, then Vietnam is your top choice. It has very weak and unenforceable legal structures which can be refreshing if everything is going your way. But beware, when the tide begins to turn, you had better have the smarts to get out of it. If not, you will be swept away.

My first 1.5 years were great. Now, I am really understanding where I am. I get the feeling that whoever can tell the biggest lie is the winner. I hope I am wrong, but I have just recently noticed quite a drop in new job postings on the regular ESL sites for Vietnam. At this time, there should be literally hundreds, but alas I can only see a handful - something happened in 2012 that has slowed Vietnam down.

If you feel you can hold on to your savings and get out then give this place a try, but don't bank on this place at all. Vietnam is a great place to venture out to, for a while.

I'll say this again here: I have friends with 10 years plus of experience, degreed etc.. and are on just over 1k a month at the moment working at night for language centres. Whereas the guy with spider tattoos on his elbows is earning double that.
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