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Is this really how bad things have become in Vietnam?
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lower and lower pay is a fact of life in EFL.

The general pressure is downwards and you have to have special skills or experience to jack the hourly rate up above $20 - even to $20 in the better locations.

With the influx of new fresh faced youngsters willing and able to do the job (or do it well enough to fool the students long enough to deplete their savings) there will always be the tendency for schools to cut wages.

We have to live with this fact - do what we can as individuals to mitigate it in our own cases - but we cannot change the fundamental nature of EFL.

It is the very nature of EFL as 'an anyone can do it' job that allowed most of us our starts anyway so we have to accept it.

If we had done better at university, worked harder, made better choices avoided our bad marriages or whatever we might be sitting pretty in a good job with benefits and annual increments - but we didn't. SO GET OVER IT and get on with making the best of life.

That said - it is worth posting typical pay rates regularly to deter as many of the foolish young dream-chasers as we can.

There's an old WS Maugham short story I like to remember - the author gets asked by a young doctor if he should go to live in Spain and set up his own practice or stay in the hospital were his future is secure but dull. Maugham advises him to go to Spain if he can live with the risks because he will lead a wonderful life.

Decades later the two meet again and the Doctor has had a great life but is poor and is just getting by.

We get by and we live better than our counterparts back home who suffer the same deflating wages, eroding security and also the misery of crappy weather, cramped housing and high taxation.
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kurtz



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 393
Location: off the radar

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It doesn't have to be like that. Taking a chance, meeting people who have connections and getting a decent amount of experience can open all sorts of doors. I earn far more than $20/ hr and live in a country slightly more expensive than Vietnam. It can be done; no need for a defeatist attitude. Granted, without an actual teaching certificate; my chances of big bucks are slim, but I am doing better than most in this game in Asia. I have made connections for my next job already.

I think some of you need a kick in the pants; get out of your comfort zone.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Defeatist is a somewhat loaded term but I shan't take offense.

I think in life we must all come to terms with reality which includes how willing or able we are to alter that reality.

Sure - we could all work a bit harder and make a few dollars a month more - but at what point does it become more trouble than it's worth?

Vietnam allows a lot of us to live well enough on very minimal effort. Some are certainly doing a bad job because they are not making any effort at work - others do a perfectly adequate or even excellent job but still manage to get by on very little effort because they are experienced and/or have done effective training or professional development.

We do have to accept that the pressure on wages is always going to be downward. It is a basic law of supply and demand. I accept this and work around it as best I can.

I tend to find the relocation costs eat up the marginal 5-10 USD an hour extra that can be had and as the downward pressure on wages is the same everywhere to a greater or lesser extent the long term gain is small.

As you get older you usually want to stay in one place too - which is hard to quantify but is a factor for most of us over 40.

Add to that the fact many have married a local and perhaps had children and moving is no longer an easy option.

I wouldn't recommend TEFL to someone in their 20s since it is a dying industry and they would really be better off getting a start in a better career (whatever that might be). It's OK for a 6 month extended vacation but again - just save some money in a real job and have a 2-3 month vacation without the hassle of trying to find teaching work!
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 758

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been thinking for quite a while that the job market is bifurcated. (Or trifurcated). The posters here are a reflection of this. With thousands of folks trying to do this work, there are about a dozen regular posters here. The new posters who work up the nerve to come on and ask questions almost never come back and say how it worked out. While it does take some kind of effort to come over and try this, not many seem to make the effort to tackle it in a serious way. Just look at the resumes that come in to your schools. Maybe 1 out of 10 or 15 looks like they belong in this work. Same for the schools and jobs. Maybe 1 out of 10 or 20 is really worth having. I noticed a long time ago that a first rate employment package would often get no response from the average employers, those guys do not want to even get started with someone serious. So you really have to know what you are, what you seek, and you need to be qualified for it if you are seeking one of those better jobs.

This can be a great life, but a lot of our discussions on this site are of no relevance to the average job seeker here. I have never even seen a Filipino or a non native speaker of English try to create a thread that is dedicated to his/her nationality. I would love to see a thread like that, think it would be very interesting. We have a good number of Filipinos here, but they have not opted to come on here in any numbers and share their situations.

I would just say that this is a great place to live and work if you are serious about the work, good at it, and if you have a decent financial profile. Needing these guys for an income is never good, they are too undependable, they know when they have the upper hand, and you do not want to be in that situation. A lot of bang for your buck here, most of the jobs are not worth doing, in my view. Better to enjoy life and work for free than to be subjected to stupidity.
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kurtz



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 393
Location: off the radar

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

skarper wrote:
Defeatist is a somewhat loaded term but I shan't take offense.

I think in life we must all come to terms with reality which includes how willing or able we are to alter that reality.

Sure - we could all work a bit harder and make a few dollars a month more - but at what point does it become more trouble than it's worth?

Vietnam allows a lot of us to live well enough on very minimal effort. Some are certainly doing a bad job because they are not making any effort at work - others do a perfectly adequate or even excellent job but still manage to get by on very little effort because they are experienced and/or have done effective training or professional development.

We do have to accept that the pressure on wages is always going to be downward. It is a basic law of supply and demand. I accept this and work around it as best I can.

I tend to find the relocation costs eat up the marginal 5-10 USD an hour extra that can be had and as the downward pressure on wages is the same everywhere to a greater or lesser extent the long term gain is small.

As you get older you usually want to stay in one place too - which is hard to quantify but is a factor for most of us over 40.

Add to that the fact many have married a local and perhaps had children and moving is no longer an easy option.

I wouldn't recommend TEFL to someone in their 20s since it is a dying industry and they would really be better off getting a start in a better career (whatever that might be). It's OK for a 6 month extended vacation but again - just save some money in a real job and have a 2-3 month vacation without the hassle of trying to find teaching work!


Very true. No harm meant.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK - no problem.
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Daveric



Joined: 03 Jan 2014
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mark_in_saigon wrote:
I noticed a long time ago that a first rate employment package would often get no response from the average employers, those guys do not want to even get started with someone serious.

Sad but true. Many schools prefer younger newbies who don't know the ropes to older, experienced, even highly qualified teachers. They are more malleable, and they can pay them lower salaries.
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ExpatLuke



Joined: 11 Feb 2012
Posts: 355

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't quite understand the attitude that younger and inexperienced teachers will be more malleable and therefore more manageable. I've been teaching for a good number of years now, and I have much higher qualifications than the average EFL teacher, but that doesn't mean I'm going to act like I know better than the person who's paying my paycheck.

If I'm asked to teach in a certain way, then I will, even if it goes against my personal beliefs of how a language should be taught.

Honestly, the only thing I put my foot down on is when I'm asked to do more and more responsibilities than were originally agreed upon in my contract.

I wouldn't say I'm malleable, but I'm certainly going to be agreeable to my employer. I just don't get the attitude I see in some "experienced" teachers who come in and think they can tell their bosses what to do. It might have something to do with that "Western superiority" we hear about now and then.
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LarueLarry



Joined: 05 Jul 2013
Posts: 21

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ExpatLuke wrote:
I don't quite understand the attitude that younger and inexperienced teachers will be more malleable and therefore more manageable. I've been teaching for a good number of years now, and I have much higher qualifications than the average EFL teacher, but that doesn't mean I'm going to act like I know better than the person who's paying my paycheck.

If I'm asked to teach in a certain way, then I will, even if it goes against my personal beliefs of how a language should be taught.

Honestly, the only thing I put my foot down on is when I'm asked to do more and more responsibilities than were originally agreed upon in my contract.

I wouldn't say I'm malleable, but I'm certainly going to be agreeable to my employer. I just don't get the attitude I see in some "experienced" teachers who come in and think they can tell their bosses what to do. It might have something to do with that "Western superiority" we hear about now and then.


It's probably less about teaching style and more about putting up with BS. If you're qualified, you probably work for one of the more professional and organized schools.

I think when people say malleable, they mean more willing to accept things like:

-last minute schedule changes
-late pay
-malfunctioning equipment
-bogus criticism ("a parent said you aren't focusing enough on their child.")
-etc.

All of which a new teacher might chalk up to "Vietnam" and not a major, inherent problem with the school and its management.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's my take on it too LarueLarry.

I don't mind informed input on teaching matters or sincere and honest feedback from someone who knows more or at least as much as me - but the BS we put up with when we're new keen and needy becomes intolerable when we're old, jaded and have cash in the bank/under the bed/wherever.

Schools - even the best of the mills - soon learn this and make their life easier by employing young fresh meat that is easier to push around.

The DOS (or sorry excuse for one) with only a year or two of teaching experience does not want to try to manage some veteran teacher with serious qualifications and tons more experience than they will ever have.
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mk87



Joined: 01 Apr 2013
Posts: 60

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Luke here really.

I have worked at one of the bigger "Mills" for nearly 3 years now. Never had any issues with any of the things pointed out by LaRueLarry.

Maybe schedule changes, but realistically we're talking like maybe 3 or 4 times a year something goes wrong. In which case that's pretty good odds for any job really. I know I certainly have less issues or reasons to talk with HR here than I ever had when I was working in my home country. I'm also someone who was involved in the labor movement so I'm not just one of these "take what is given" type of people.

Playing devils advocate I'm going to suggest that the world that us "younger" ones were raised in was one that was much less stable and settled than the world of the "older teachers". Its not so much about western superiority like Luke suggested, but more the fact that us younger "workers" have grown up in a time where most of us have always been considered "precarious workers" so we deal with it more easily - because its kinda normal to us. My conditions here are not actually that different to my conditions in the UK. I am a worker... and I am fully aware of that. I occupy the same economic role in VN as I did in the UK - Maybe the older guys can remember a time when that was different for teachers in VN but it sure as hell isn't now.
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kurtz



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 393
Location: off the radar

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mk87 wrote:
I agree with Luke here really.

I have worked at one of the bigger "Mills" for nearly 3 years now. Never had any issues with any of the things pointed out by LaRueLarry.

Maybe schedule changes, but realistically we're talking like maybe 3 or 4 times a year something goes wrong. In which case that's pretty good odds for any job really. I know I certainly have less issues or reasons to talk with HR here than I ever had when I was working in my home country. I'm also someone who was involved in the labor movement so I'm not just one of these "take what is given" type of people.

Playing devils advocate I'm going to suggest that the world that us "younger" ones were raised in was one that was much less stable and settled than the world of the "older teachers". Its not so much about western superiority like Luke suggested, but more the fact that us younger "workers" have grown up in a time where most of us have always been considered "precarious workers" so we deal with it more easily - because its kinda normal to us. My conditions here are not actually that different to my conditions in the UK. I am a worker... and I am fully aware of that. I occupy the same economic role in VN as I did in the UK - Maybe the older guys can remember a time when that was different for teachers in VN but it sure as hell isn't now.


I don't think the four points outlined by Larry necessarily relate to your position; the bigger mills generally pay on time, have good resources, and hopefully have a decent DoS that supports their teachers.

When I was in the mill scene, it was a case of pretty much get the first person in the door and get them in the classroom ASAP in regards to recruitment. Age and experience weren't an issue.

I suspect the lower paying jobs at rubbish schools, whose owners might be very concerned about profit margains, or who think all teachers are the same, may choose to employ younger and cheaper teachers.

Professional and experienced teachers shouldn't take any crap, but they still need to play ball and realize everyone is replaceable.

BTW, I am not sure how old you think people are on here; I am pretty sure there are only a couple of baby boomers here; I'm certainly not one of them.
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mk87



Joined: 01 Apr 2013
Posts: 60

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well then it seems to me that the problem isn't the younger or older teachers (and if older teachers are less likely to take shit), it's just the shitty jobs - to avoid that there are things you can do as a younger or older teacher. There also seems to be an undertone of disdain for these "fresh meat" types, which I was poking at. As I said, I was playing devils advocate to some extent.

Well Skarper mentioned over 40s teachers .... and to be honest the position I was talking about as a "precarious worker" in the UK only really developed properly in the early 90's (post Thatcher and the lead in to Blair - the Major years). Not that you didn't have people who fit that description before that, but it wasn't a whole generation - which I think its pretty obvious exists now.

I have some good "older" friends, I've also sat around and listened to "older teachers" moaning about how the young people are coming in and taking their job and their women, dropping salaries and making it more difficult to live here... like any anti immigrant sentiment I feel its misguided and lacks any real wider analysis of what is happening.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't in any way resent the young fresh meat types. They are welcome to come and make the best of it here.

I think many older more experienced teachers find it hard to get hired for jobs that younger people get quite easily, and I think part of the reason is what I outlined above.

Some of the young ones do a great job of course while some of the oldsters do not so good.

I tend to accept the reality and work around it rather than waste my energy moaning about it. But if someone brings the topic up I'll give my opinion.

I agree that people under about 40 are more accepting of 'precarious' employment situations than those over 50 or who have had a career in state schools or similar.
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kurtz



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 393
Location: off the radar

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.
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