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How can Vietnam pay ESL teachers so much?
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The Mad Hatter



Joined: 16 May 2010
Posts: 165

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's pretty basic: If we are so wealthy, as you suggested the reason for such high pricing targeted to goods and services we tend to want, when you make the point that its normal because wealthy in all countries have to pay more for things, and we are among the wealthy here. So I make the point that if we are so wealthy why cant we afford a house? And why do we have to room up with other in units which are much higher and smaller than what locals pay? the answer is obvious- we arent rich here. We have enough money coming in each month from teaching to theoretically rent a huge storefront and start our own business also, but when they see us coming the system morphs into a money vacuum with very large maws.
We arent rich here by a longshot.
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spycatcher reincarnated



Joined: 19 May 2005
Posts: 215

PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mad Hatter:


Quote:
We arent rich here by a longshot.


Agreed that very few foreign English teachers here should be considered rich. Sorry my wording in my first post wasn't very precise. I meant that we are perceived as being rich and not that we are rich.

Quote:
And if you believe the economic data is relatively unmanipulated how is it possible to construct anything like a GDP or average income when there is a well known huge unreported income economy with the reported earnings just a tip of the iceberg?


The point I was trying to make is that Vietnam's data is no worse than other similar countries. Other countries have the same issues you have brought up.

NB: I believe GDP figures for all countries only include the legal economy and this is why some counties with low GDP appear to be much richer than their GDP numbers suggest. This is also one of the reasons why they can have such high GDP growth. IE money moves from the illegal economy to the legal economy, there is no real increase in wealth, but their GDP subsequently increases.

There was a survey a few years ago conducted by the tax department, for what it is worth, from which the tax department summised that 95% of foreigners' income is from salary and 50% of Vietnamese income is from salary.
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EricCC



Joined: 07 Jul 2004
Posts: 63

PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:12 am    Post subject: Money Situation in 2012? Reply with quote

How are wages in 2012 in Vietnam? How about the cost of living?
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bluedingo



Joined: 23 May 2012
Posts: 4
Location: USA

PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 10:32 pm    Post subject: Returning to the Original Topic... Reply with quote

This thread has been quiet for over a year (you the exception EricCC). What changes have occurred since mid-2011 that affect teachers' incomes and job prospects in Vietnam? I'd especially like to hear from people in-country and those who've moved recently. Thanks in advance! Smile
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TimkinMS



Joined: 18 Oct 2005
Posts: 84

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 7:11 am    Post subject: Re: Returning to the Original Topic... Reply with quote

bluedingo wrote:
This thread has been quiet for over a year (you the exception EricCC). What changes have occurred since mid-2011 that affect teachers' incomes and job prospects in Vietnam? I'd especially like to hear from people in-country and those who've moved recently. Thanks in advance! Smile


I've been here a long time. Here's my observations and experiences. I'd like to hear from others. Do the rest of us here agree with me for the most part?

You can still save but you will save less and have to work more.

Here are some of the reasons.

1. visa uncertainty (and a work permit issue that has clearly failed).

This visa uncertainty means visa runs: airfare, hotel/gueshouse, transportation once out of country, and the visa fee.

2. Taxes. Nearly all of us our paying taxes now. Where this tax money goes, I don't want to know. There is nothing we can do about it. I personally think the taxes deducted from our wages are put into some upper-admin's pocket or goes to the owner.

3. Wages/salaries have peaked. They have reached the ceiling.

In Saigon, wages are declining. Too many teachers applying for a job opening. There is no negotiation on salary/wage. You either accept it or you don't. If you want a higher wage than offered - good bye. Some else will accept the job.

4. Higher cost of living. Rents, electricity (A/C/ if you use it) food, entertainment, etc.

5. Economic downturn. Enrollments are down everywhere in both big cities at all schools.


I am not complaining, but these are the changes I've experienced. They happened in other countries, and it's now Vietnam's time.

I think the big question is: What will conditions be like in 3 years? 4 or five years?

Will it be worth it to teach EFL/IELTS/Kids, in Vietnam?

There will ALWAYS be a market for foreigners to teach EFL here. But what will the pay and conditions be like?

How old will these future teachers be? Or I should say, how young will they be.

A single guy can survive and save a little money for apartment and small trips where you stay in a guest-house.

If you get married and/or have kids, Vietnam is not a good place to teach in unless you are qualified to work in a real international school that provides housing, medical insurance, and stability.

For this you need a teaching license from your home country to teach and the competition now is brutal because of the economic downturn in the West.

That said, you can make it here, if you play it smart and have a back up plan.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 746

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 12:01 pm    Post subject: this was a better thread Reply with quote

Lots of good background info here, let's try to get it going again, hopefully with politely stated opinions and not with slamming the honest observations of others. What is true in one location may not be true in another. MIS is not in S at this time, and it is a bit of a different world. Better, worse? Not sure, but it sure is different.

My observations, all over, we have a lot of churn in teachers, and a lot of them are not that great or that serious. What this means, if you really are a substantial person, then you are in a very different pool than most. Not that this always matters, you go to lots of these places, they do not know or maybe even care about that.

Lots to learn on getting a better job here, and even then, hard to say what better really is. For some it is money, for some it is professionalism, for some it is convenience, for some it is the quality of the students, for others it may be the materials provided, or maybe even the freedom to use your own materials.

Working here is mostly still a mess, and looks to be on track to remain that way for the foreseeable future. Not to say that it cannot be fun or rewarding, but the huge turnover certainly speaks to the fact that for most people, this is a mistake or a short term stop. I agree that for most western couples, folks with children in tow, and for a lot of western ladies, this is not a very good long term stop. If you couldn't be happy working in a nasty environment, you probably will not be happy in VN.

I do find the cost of living to be plenty low, and the costs of some key needs to be INCREDIBLY low. Housing can be okay, but it takes forever to find a good setup on that. Transportation is very cheap, if you do not factor in getting squashed in traffic. Food is plenty low, but you do have to accept some pretty low standards. You can find decent enough food that seems to stay down, some is quite tasty, and it mostly is plenty cheap. Things like medicine, booze, smokes (for those of you who partake), cellphones, internet, public entertainment, most of that is really a bargain. If you have some compelling reason to live here, it can be fine. I just think teaching should not be that compelling reason, nor should income production.

On wages, I think we have a situation where 90% of the jobs and the candidates are like a never ending series of bad dates. The folks move from one disaster to another. Maybe some of the teachers are better than this, but the dates do not seem to even know, or care. The better teachers can eventually get off this treadmill, but it is not just a matter of knocking on doors, and I feel some of the better players just get disgusted and give up. I sure don't blame them either. I do see that there are still good wages for folks who are really first rate, but even those guys do have to slide (or luck) into a decent organization, which is almost an oxymoron in VN.
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 250

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The standard of living for EFL teachers is falling everywhere. Go back 10-15 years and it wasn't bad at all. Japan was still paying a living wage. Korea allowed a lot of saving in a short time. The middle east was safer and highly paid - if rather a dull and frustrating place to work. There were good schools in the UK and they were making money and employing teachers on moderately good salaries.

There were better options everywhere. And I think the same goes for every job. The world is getting steadily worse everywhere as far as I can see. There are many reasons for this - most are obvious.

In this scheme of things, Vietnam is getting worse but not at a faster rate than others - perhaps even slightly slower.

As for the thread title, well, IMO the money is there in EFL. Students will pay high prices for what can be a key skill. English is important already and that will only increase.

But - the business is run in an increasingly exploitative way. The students pay too much, the teachers get paid too little and somewhere in the middle large amounts of money simply dissappear. A good deal is spent on window dressing - useless computer rooms and front desk staff. Marketing. Flashy buildings. These are things that are not half as important as well trained, motivated teachers, up to date and suitable materials, moderate class sizes of students with the same level and aims.

This is as true in any of the countries I've worked as it is in Vietnam. I worked in the UK for a while - and some places are very good, but sadly most are just herding the students through and making them pay through the nose.

I am a bit bitter. But I accept that I made my choices quite freely and I can live with the consequences. If you're sincere and motivated you can do something positive in almost any setting. And we still get paid enough to live in comfort while many here live in extreme poverty.

Just my opinions. What do others think?
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8balldeluxe



Joined: 03 Jun 2009
Posts: 64
Location: vietnam

PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The students pay too much, the teachers get paid too little and somewhere in the middle large amounts of money simply dissappear. A good deal is spent on window dressing - useless computer rooms and front desk staff. Marketing. Flashy buildings. These are things that are not half as important as well trained, motivated teachers, up to date and suitable materials,


There are far too many schools, far too many fingers in the pie. Way too many parasitic staff workers who tell teachers what to do when teachers know best. There have been innumerable times when I wanted to give students instruction or teaching methods that they really needed, and students agreed, but i was waylaid and prevented in my task by interventions of staff who demand syllabus , or books pages on a certain day, etc. the flashy buildings is another joke altogether. Foreign teachers are falling victim to the same mindless obsessive habits of repeated business model cookie cutter stamping of schools as locals are. The middle men are just ruining it for students and teachers. Not much learning, and not much earning is going on.
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I'm With Stupid



Joined: 03 Sep 2010
Posts: 342

PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is it not the case that the obsession with hiring native speakers over qualified locals has always been based on lies and window dressing?

Anyway, I've been here for nearly 2 years now. I'd say wages haven't really gone anywhere, although we did receive a huge pay increase in real terms when the VND was devalued a while back, because all of our contracts were in USD. But obviously on an individual level, you do get higher wages the longer you stay, be it through increased pay at your current employer or access to the higher paying jobs. I guess that applies in any country though.

Rent seems to have stayed roughly level. Food and petrol have increased. I can't say I've noticed on the utilities front. I'd agree that it's still a pretty good deal for young, single people, but a standard language centre salary wouldn't go far if you have a family to support.
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