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Teaching 40hrs+ a week in Vietnam?
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Dream_Seller



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
Posts: 39
Location: United States

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:25 am    Post subject: Teaching 40hrs+ a week in Vietnam? Reply with quote

Teachers in USA work 40 hrs but don't have the savings power you can have if you don't live the "baller lifestyle" in HCMC.

Currently I work 50hrs a week if you add 10 hrs it takes to come and go to work I work 60. Not as a teacher.

I have found that many teachers in Saigon with exception to backpacker types work 20hrs + perhaps 12 hrs a week tutoring at approx $20 hr. I have been told by English teachers there to expect to live off $1500 a month any more and you have to really hustle. Yet one lives off $4000 a month and I believe him as he does work almost everyday.

So my question is how many are working 40 hours or more as a Teacher in Vietnam? Although I work 50 in my cubicle in the states what is it I'm not noticing? Thanks for your input and I appreciate all comments.
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kurtz



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 403
Location: Off the beaten path

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I daresay most punters would be getting 20 paid hours a week plus working 10-15 unpaid hours for prep and marking papers. Of course, people do different amounts of prep , some do next to no prep at all.

Factor in an average hourly rate of $17-21 per hour and you will realize most people are living very frugally or working their butts off to have a comfortable life.
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Dream_Seller



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
Posts: 39
Location: United States

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:41 am    Post subject: I appreciate your response kurtz... Reply with quote

so for every 20 hr job I should add approx 15hrs. So 40 hrs of teaching will feel like 70+.

I know I could live frugally there. I have been there once and am willing to be frugal to enjoy life there. But I also want to prepare for my future. What I've read is most teachers spend more on exploring and travel. I have traveled alot and travel is where I tend to empty my money. But that's a choice.

I still feel I can live off less than $1000, learn the culture, the language and find some joy in life. A 20 hr contract + tutoring on side avg 12 hrs a week eventually seems desirable.

I don't want to act like I know it all, because I don't. I don't struggle in the states financially but its at a cost of living in a cubicle. I want to challenge myself to make the most for my future without causing myself to burn out. Thanks again for your reply.
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1st Sgt Welsh



Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Posts: 541
Location: Salalah, Oman

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Twenty teaching hours, especially when you first start, is about right. As Dream_Seller noted, with marking and prep time that's pretty much a full-time gig. However, after you have taught a particular unit many times, you begin to know what tasks work and which don't. If you are refine your lessons over time, are organized and file away copies of your lesson plans and supplements, you can cut down substantially on prep and still deliver solid lessons. Geez, sometimes my prep time for a four-hour lesson was basically nothing more than printing out my lesson plan and doing some photocopying Cool. However, it should take a while teaching at a particular school before you reach that stage.
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Dream_Seller



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
Posts: 39
Location: United States

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Sgt Welsh,

So I can shoot for a 20 contract job and once I know what I'm doing I will be able to cut down on my prep time.

I want to minimize my expenditures, maximize my income while still enjoying Vietnam.

I will probably have to experience teaching there first before I can see how much more additional hours I would be willing and able to do. When I graduated college I searched for a career that I could make the most money in and work 20 years then quit. Now I feel although money is nice, I don't want to start my living at 50.

I would rather bust my butt teaching in Asia (above 20 contract hrs) , then coast for 20 years rotting in a cubicle here in the states. Thanks for your time Sgt. Welsh I appreciate your response.
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toiyeuthitmeo



Joined: 21 May 2010
Posts: 211

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When you find yourself in some poor excuse of a staff room, with photocopiers that spit venom or do nothing at all, and an air conditioner that works when it feels like it, and a manager that would make a bald man bemoan his lack of hair for the sheer release of tearing it out, your cubicle in America is going to seem pretty f*cking sweet. Just saying. Make this choice carefully.
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Riding One



Joined: 25 Jul 2006
Posts: 63

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:23 am    Post subject: Re: Teaching 40hrs+ a week in Vietnam? Reply with quote

Dream_Seller wrote:
Teachers in USA work 40 hrs but don't have the savings power you can have if you don't live the "baller lifestyle" in HCMC.

Currently I work 50hrs a week if you add 10 hrs it takes to come and go to work I work 60. Not as a teacher.

I have found that many teachers in Saigon with exception to backpacker types work 20hrs + perhaps 12 hrs a week tutoring at approx $20 hr. I have been told by English teachers there to expect to live off $1500 a month any more and you have to really hustle. Yet one lives off $4000 a month and I believe him as he does work almost everyday.

So my question is how many are working 40 hours or more as a Teacher in Vietnam? Although I work 50 in my cubicle in the states what is it I'm not noticing? Thanks for your input and I appreciate all comments.


I'm answering your OP in consideration with the responses already made.

40 to 50 hours per week: these are contact classroom hours. Commute, marking papers, lesson planning are not included. This is often a 7 day per week schedule involving split shifts. Start in the AM and come home around 8-9-10 PM.

You mention money / savings. You can save a little here.

To sum up: I know people now and have known people in the past who did 40 to 50 contact hours per week. They have a good amount of experience and they do burn out eventually.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 793

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally would not leave a good job in the states to come here. Honestly, I believe this will take years off your life, and it makes more sense to do this when you are older and closer to the end. It also can put an end to your ability to restart a career back in the west. I would not come over unless I was sure I was ready to stay forever. Even if I was in that situation, I would beef up my finances over there first, and would not want to come without my investments cranking out at least $1,000 a month in perpetuity. More is better. Then you can come here and survive, maybe even thrive. My guess is that about 10 percent of the westerners who come over make this thing work long term, most of them last about 6 months to a year, and only get the experience out of the deal. They are probably worse off in financial terms and career options when they leave. This is a place to be if you HAVE money. For most guys, this is not the place to secure your financial well being.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 326

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

40 hours a week is unsustainable long term. You could do it for a year or two if you are driven and in good health. But your standard of work would be low even by local standards.

20 hours a week is pretty much the livable maximum. Every hour in class is like two in an office. Plus there will be prep, marking and general admin, stoopid meetings, arguing with the manager, other teachers, 'support' staff. So 20 hours feels like 50-60 in an office. If you have to travel to 2-3 sites in a day and have split shifts it will eat up your whole life and you'll still only earn about 2000USD a month - before tax.

EFL should be a 15 hour contact full time job - like it used to be at the beginning when teachers were running the show and cared about standards.

But alas the money creeps got involved and it has become just another business. Such is life. There is no point whining about it.

As someone said above - if you have a decent job in the US think carefully. And forget 40 hours a week at 20USD and hour. Figure on 25 at an average of 17USD and you'll have to hustle yourself all over town to get that.
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1st Sgt Welsh



Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Posts: 541
Location: Salalah, Oman

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some interesting comments here Cool.

In regards to Mark's belief that TEFLing here "will take years off your life", well, I wouldn't necessarily have thought so. What's the annual vacation time in the States? About two weeks seems pretty common to me, but I'm not an American. Anyway, most teachers here do better than that. I know I do and I actually get teased all the time by my co-workers about all the holidays I take Embarassed. However, I'm very grateful to finally be in a position, after about twenty years in the work force, to do this. Besides, like the old adage goes, no one lies on their death bed regretting that they didn't spend more time in the office. Vacation time may not be an important consideration for some people, but it is for me.

If the OP has a job that s/he enjoys and it is well-remunerated, well, that's great and s/he probably should stick with it. However, if they don't then that's a problem. Being stuck in a cubicle for sixty hours a week certainly doesn't sound like my idea of fun and I don't see much point in getting up every day in order to do something that you don't like so you can do it all over again the next day and the next week and the next year and so on. I've been there, done that.

I don't want to go into too much detail, but I have worked in what most people would consider stressful jobs and, compared to that and based on my personal experience TEFLing in Vietnam has been a breeze. Indeed, things like equipment malfunctions, long commutes, "stoopid meetings, arguing with the manager" and "'support' staff" happened all the time back in Australia as well.

Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying the OP should come here. I don't know him/her or their circumstances well enough. For all I know, s/he may never have experienced working and living in a foreign country and may hate being away from home. Furthermore, the fact that the OP will be comparatively late in starting a new career is also food for thought. Maybe I've just been lucky, but what I can say is that I started here when I was in my late mid-to-late thirties as my first TEFLing job, I had made some good investments previously (which are not paying off yet but they will) and I've never once regretted the decision to come to Vietnam.
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Tigerstyleone



Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 181

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:10 am    Post subject: Re: I appreciate your response kurtz... Reply with quote

Dream_Seller wrote:


I know I could live frugally there. I am willing to be frugal to enjoy life there.

I still feel I can live off less than $1000, learn the culture, the language and find some joy in life.


learn the culture, the language, enjoy living like vietnamese do.... oh god, i just vomited in my mouth and accidentally swallowed it.
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kurtz



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 403
Location: Off the beaten path

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two glowing examples of burnt out teachers on this thread.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 793

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the years off one's life, I am thinking -

Driving - almost get wiped out about twice a week.

Food - even the natives think it is unfit for consumption, and we read stories about that all the time, which should only be the tip of the iceberg.

Water - I have never seen an inland body of water here that I felt was actually clean enough to drink from, maybe you could swim in a few of the rivers if you got far away from the cities. I have just never seen clean water outdoors in all my years here. Oceans maybe, once you get a ways out.

Air - well documented that life expectancies are going down in China due to the air there. Ours is not quite the same kind of pollution, so not sure if it is better or worse, but it is not good.

God only knows what else is in the system, including Agent Orange.

I just cannot see how any reasonable analysis would lead one to think that living here WOULD NOT take years off your life. I am not a scientist, but you do not need a lot of technical knowledge to see the reality here. So, I think older guys who have maybe 20 natural years left may not lose any time, may die of natural causes. Younger guys would be more likely to have it catch up with them. That is my logic.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 326

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You do have stoopid meetings and arguments with the boss in the UK, Oz etc - but generally you do it on THEIR time, not in your scarce prep time or unpaid overtime.

But besides that I'm not saying here is more stressful than working in a western country - but 40 hours contact is like a 60+ hour office job.

With experience you can make a 25 hour contact job equivalent to a 35-40 hour office job back home. But I think in the first 2 years it's more like a 50-60 hour job - it will just consume your entire working week. In some ways you might as well have more contact hours because this will reduce your prep rime but could increase your stress if teaching cruddily bothers you (it does me - a lot)
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Dream_Seller



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
Posts: 39
Location: United States

PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow haha well this thread has gone several directions but I appreciate everyone’s response even if you think I would be crazy for leaving a good paying job. Sometimes when we are young we join careers to secure our futures but gradually feel like soulless voodoo puppet dolls.


You join with an illusion of what your career will entail with all the money that comes with it. Once you realize what your job really is you learn how to spend all your money to numb your unhappiness. So am I better off because I make more money? I don’t think so. Funny that today at work they told me they will be giving us a raise (next year) and have noticed morale issues agency wide-- “Golden Handcuffs”.


I am a single 31 year old man who has travelled to many of the same places already that many of you also have. Sure beats sitting in a cubicle with loads of cash, 30 hours by plane away. Four day weekends would be nice. But I get my 2 weeks a year. There also is a small island just 3.5 hours by plane from HCMC that’s really known for its culinary delights Wink


As far as learning the language/culture etc…well if I did live there hopefully I also wouldn’t be single forever. I wouldn’t want to be at family gatherings unable to communicate and simply be “the white guy in the corner nursing a beer”. I have many friends in America who are Viet and despite the fact that everyone can speak English this is what family gatherings become. It’s very sad guys. I would want to learn the language and culture to keep from getting ripped off as well. Regardless, I will never be Vietnamese no matter how much I try.


I might not have hot water, two proteins at every meal or sweet, independent women. I might die of all the toxins in the sky but I still think life would be enjoyable. At least the beer is cheap and the food is delicious. I don’t care to eat the rat, dog or snake though.


Deep down I feel “Mike in Saigon” is right. I should move there in an “almost retired to retired” financial position. That was my original plan to move to Asia, until I visited Vietnam and saw English schools on every corner. Some teachers have started in their early 20s but maybe they will only last a few years. I can stay in my cubicle for 5-10 years or I can start teaching for 15. With all I listed above which life would be more enjoyable. If I don’t like Vietnam I could always move elsewhere. When the time is right for me to leave my cubicle I will know. Thanks for the advice guys, I appreciate all of it.
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