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Vietnamese American Newbie moving to Saigon
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thetuanster



Joined: 22 Sep 2014
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:50 pm    Post subject: Vietnamese American Newbie moving to Saigon Reply with quote

Hello all! I'm a newbie here as well as in the ESL world. Here is my background:

31 years old male, 2nd gen Vietnamese American from Washington, DC. Non-Native speaker however people can't really tell I'm a non-native unless I tell them Smile

BS IT Network Admin/Info Sec
IT professional for 3 years
Former DC Police Officer (4.5 years)
Former teacher assistant for an after school program (1 year)
Recent CELTA graduate at Teaching House Washington, DC (still waiting for the actual CELTA certificate from Cambridge)

I'm planning to move back to Saigon at the end of this year and I'm hoping to get a fairly decent teaching gig there. However, I did lots of research and it seems that I will be fighting an uphill battle due to my ethnicity. It is quite disheartening knowing that Asian Americans are getting discriminated against because our skin color is not white. Also, most of the jobs there are listed for non-native only (this is crazy!Smile)

What should I expect besides the blatant discrimination? Is it possible for me to make around $1500-$2000 a month in Saigon with the above qualifications? Btw, I don't have to pay for housing so the only financial obligation I have is student loans (around $500 a month).

Any inputs from seasoned veterans or newbies like me would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! Smile

A lot of my friends and family think I'm crazy for doing this! My philosophy is life is short you gotta enjoy what you do!
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calidan



Joined: 06 Aug 2014
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't do it, if I were you. At 31, you are in your prime earning years IN THE UNITED STATES. The fact that you have IT experience means you can make decent money and sock it away for your future. And the fact that you're Vietnamese-looking means you're going to be discriminated against in Vietnam for teaching positions. Why would you leave a place where you can make great money, for someplace where you will make crap money? I could see it if you had a half-million dollars in the bank and wanted to eek out of sustenance income in Vietnam, but I'm guessing you don't since you still have debt.

You should work hard for 10-15 years, save up as much money as you can, avoid anything that sucks your money away from you (expensive cars, a wife and/or children, etc.) become debt-free and then consider going to Vietnam (or wherever you wish) and then teach english for something to do, and make a little bit of money. You considering leaving a high-paying country for a low-paying country at this point in your life is crazy.


Last edited by calidan on Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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thetuanster



Joined: 22 Sep 2014
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I understand where you're coming from but I'm set to leave the country once I receive the CELTA. There is no turning back now! Cool

I may sound crazy but to me you have to be crazier to not do what you really enjoy while you still can. I recently quit my police job and while I was there It made me realize that life is short you never know what will happen to you tomorrow. Rolling Eyes No offense! Laughing

Btw, are you in Vietnam right now?
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thetuanster



Joined: 22 Sep 2014
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok. Sorry for sounding off like a jackass but to be honest I already have everything planned out. My question is do you guys think that I can get a decent teaching job in Saigon with the CELTA and some limited teaching experience? I'm sure I will find something overthere but I just want to hear some personal opinions from people that have been in the game already. Much appreciated guys! Cheers! Very Happy
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calidan



Joined: 06 Aug 2014
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems like you have everything planned out, except the actual getting a job to make enough money for retirement part. Very Happy

Sorry, I'm not trying to give you a hard time. But it sounds like you're being impulsive and you're not looking at the situation realistically. I would be really surprised if anybody on here tells you that teaching english in Vietnam is a solid career choice for somebody who doesn't NEED the job. Ask yourself: How long could you go without a job? If the answer is "indefinitely", then you're in luck. Otherwise...? I wouldn't give up my day job if I were you.

Anyway, I've said my piece. Hopefully mark_in_saigon will chime in. He'll give you some realistic expectations, for sure.
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Mattingly



Joined: 03 Jul 2008
Posts: 166

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In response to some poster who advise him to continue working to save for retirement, and earn income etc.

IMO,

If he is doing this for the cultural and/or life experience then I think tuanster should do it.

Tunaster, you will experience dysfunction and odd working conditions, most likely.

It's OK to take a year or two, or three years off from the grind of US life.

Yes, he has good quals for back in the US.

He's 31. He will likely be working for 40 more years (because retirement will not happen for most. This depends on where one invests their income and how much they can invest).

If someone needs money or income, I say, "do not come and try this."

If he's looking for a new life and/or cultural experience, then I say " go for it."

Yes, his ethnicity will bring some barrers.

Mark Twain said, "most people don't regret the things in life they did do, they regret the things they didn't do."
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Prof.Gringo



Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 2018
Location: Paradise, Paradise, Paradise!

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thetuanster wrote:
Ok. Sorry for sounding off like a jackass but to be honest I already have everything planned out. My question is do you guys think that I can get a decent teaching job in Saigon with the CELTA and some limited teaching experience? I'm sure I will find something overthere but I just want to hear some personal opinions from people that have been in the game already. Much appreciated guys! Cheers! Very Happy


Maybe-Maybe NOT!

There are NO hard n' fast "rules" about VN and I think you know that.

Many schools will want to pay you the same as a local. But I do remember one chain school, which only employs foreign teachers. There was a Viet Kieu guy working there, except they put all of the other "white-face" teachers photos up, except for HIS... I wonder WHY?

If you have some savings and can hold out, you should be able to find something decent. But you might have to knock on 100 doors instead of 10.

Good luck all the same, I think it should all be based on your ability to teach, not age, sex, race etc. But such thoughts are not held by the majority of those who actually run the "schools" around here...
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skarper



Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 318

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At a rough guess I'd say you will make about 10,000 usd during the first year. With 6000usd going to service student loans that will not leave much for 'fun'

With free housing and I suppose an easier visa situation it would be possible to manage. Just about. You won't be able to afford health insurance, travel or save anything during the first year unless very lucky.

2nd and subsequent years you'll maybe manage 15-20K USD. It may be possible to move into the top tier jobs but frankly as an Asian-American it seems unlikely. Sadly - white monkeys are what they want. They could get a local with good English for about 1000USD a month so why pay more for a foreigner who looks like a local?

Actual teaching in Vietnam is not very rewarding. It rapidly becomes just a job. The 'schools' are businesses and they want to make money. They do not git a rat's rear end about providing a quality service for that money...and I think this goes even for the best places.

Some of the teachers at all levels still make an effort but the school management will mix levels, ages and students with different goals in the same class, change the class members often, provide outdated and unsuitable materials, allow students to routinely come to class 30-40 minutes late without sanctions, and talk in Vietnamese/use mobile phones throughout then it is pretty much a hopeless task.

You do get a few good classes now and again and there are always a few good students among the 'chaff' - so if that is enough for you OK. Most people can cope for a year or two with this but longer term it is an issue.

I'd say stay in the US and save up about 10,000 USD then have a 6 month holiday in Vietnam. More fun, less hassle. You can always do a bit of teaching on the side - perhaps as voluntary work.
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mark_in_saigon



Joined: 20 Sep 2009
Posts: 778

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Ask yourself: How long could you go without a job? If the answer is "indefinitely", then you're in luck. Otherwise...? I wouldn't give up my day job if I were you.

Anyway, I've said my piece. Hopefully mark_in_saigon will chime in. He'll give you some realistic expectations, for sure.


I would throw in my 2 cents worth, but sounds like you have covered it.

I would just instead speak generally to all newcomers. First, I am one of the few that actually likes other expats (amazing, but most of the expats have this dislike for each other). Of course, I can change my mind about individuals, and do find that most of the guys coming over should not, but that does not make me dislike them. I just think they are not teachers, and they do not plan sufficiently.

This gets us to the general mistakes newcomers make. This gentleman (I assume) gives us some background (though rarely is it enough), but enough to make it clear that this is not a good career move. But then he follows up by saying he is not really making this move based on logic, but more on emotion or the desire for adventure. Fine, but then asking for advice in the first place seems out of place. Not to be rude, but if the best advice is that it sounds like a mistake, then why go on from there? I see this very commonly among newcomers posting here.

As noted many times, rarely do we get enough background info to be able to give our best advice. In this case, he is already aware of the discrimination issue, yet he wants to overcome that. The folks who advised building an asset base first are totally correct. If you have money already, you are golden. If you actually need money from these folks, you are in the position of weakness. Gotta have the power here, life is great when you have money here, then you can laugh at their offers and keep looking. You can dabble here and there, build your skills, develop your niche, get in the driver's seat.

Finally, I would just suggest it would be best for newcomers to continue to dust off a recent newcomer's thread (don't we have a sticky on this?), as the same questions and same answers are there, over and over. Much better for all concerned to not repeat this stuff endlessly. We have some great advice from very experienced guys on this site, and they may be willing to add to it if they do not have to keep starting from scratch. You young people know more about technology than us old folkers. Use it efficiently, it is supposed to make things easier, but we are wasting the power of the technology.
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ieltsteacher102



Joined: 24 Jun 2014
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
2nd gen Vietnamese American from Washington, DC. Non-Native speaker however people can't really tell I'm a non-native unless I tell them


Where were you born and educated, primary, secondary school etc
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thetuanster



Joined: 22 Sep 2014
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really appreciate all the great inputs so far Very Happy. Just to be clear, money is not really an issue for me right now as I have enough to hold out for at least 3 years over there. The most important thing for me right now is to get a decent gig to build on to my skills and experience. Basically, I need to get myself well established first. I know it sounds crazy but I already have a pretty good feel of the country and the culture as I have lots of family over there and I also went to school in Saigon until 8th grade. Also, it does help that I come from a well priviledged family Very Happy. Eventhough I'm a newbie here but I've experienced quite a lot as a former police officer in DC. I'm at the stage where I want to really enjoy what I do instead of sticking it out everyday being unsatisfied with a typical day job in America Very Happy

Btw, does any of you have a list of decent schools/language centers that you don't mind sharing? Very Happy
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Prof.Gringo



Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 2018
Location: Paradise, Paradise, Paradise!

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thetuanster wrote:


Btw, does any of you have a list of decent schools/language centers that you don't mind sharing? Very Happy


Rolling Eyes
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thetuanster



Joined: 22 Sep 2014
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prof.Gringo wrote:
thetuanster wrote:


Btw, does any of you have a list of decent schools/language centers that you don't mind sharing? Very Happy


Rolling Eyes


schools that are worth it to take a look at Laughing I know of the big schools like ILA, VUS, ACET, AMA etc. Aside from these big names, does anyone know of any other reputable establishments? Rolling Eyes I hope that clears things up for you Prof. Gringo Very Happy
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Prof.Gringo



Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 2018
Location: Paradise, Paradise, Paradise!

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Vietnamese American Newbie moving to Saigon Reply with quote

thetuanster wrote:

...the only financial obligation I have is student loans (around $500 a month).

My philosophy is life is short you gotta enjoy what you do!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Just to be clear, money is not really an issue for me right now as I have enough to hold out for at least 3 years over there.


I'm at the stage where I want to really enjoy what I do instead of sticking it out everyday being unsatisfied with a typical day job in America



So, you have money saved, but you continue to pay monthly debt of $500 USD instead of paying the principle loan itself off now, so I fail to see the reasoning there.

BTW, I know another former cop here who works his butt off teaching all over the place at multiple language centers, govt. schools etc. plus private classes on the side. And he has a whiteface as well, so life sure isn't easy for him here.

Now, if your real goal is to party, meet girls & use "teaching" as a vehicle to do so, by all means come on over. Plenty of other guys doing the same exact thing. Of course, don't be surprised when you wake up one day, broke, without any recent skills in IT or even able to get a cop job back home (pretty sure the departments frown upon guys living overseas for years without being able to verify every single movement you made, with the standards for police recruitment nowadays...) Something often called a reality check sets in. But often, once you have been in the "TEFL lifestyle" for a number of years, it's kinda hard to get back out.

And don't let any of the posters on here discourage you in anyway. Just because 10 different people all gave you pretty much the same answer, but it wasn't what you wanted, feel free to do as most people do who have already decided to do something & just want some moral support to go along with it and if they don't get it, go ahead with their plan anyways. Just don't say: "Nobody ever told me so!"
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Prof.Gringo



Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 2018
Location: Paradise, Paradise, Paradise!

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thetuanster wrote:
Prof.Gringo wrote:
thetuanster wrote:


Btw, does any of you have a list of decent schools/language centers that you don't mind sharing? Very Happy


Rolling Eyes


schools that are worth it to take a look at Laughing I know of the big schools like ILA, VUS, ACET, AMA etc. Aside from these big names, does anyone know of any other reputable establishments? Rolling Eyes I hope that clears things up for you Prof. Gringo Very Happy


Spend a few hours reading posts on here Idea , and you will get a much better idea Exclamation

Or better yet, just come on over and see for yourself Twisted Evil

BTW, AMA is very reputable Laughing
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