A common question people ask me is, what is it like teaching at a Vietnamese public school?
Just kidding. Literally no one has asked me that question, but there aren’t any resources on it when I searched for it. So here we are.
This article will just give a general outline and the pros and cons. Personally, I think public school teaching here is one of the better TEFL jobs.
That said, a good TEFL job still sucks because TEFL jobs suck. Being a digital nomad is much better. Fortunately, you can teach a few days a week while working on your business.
If you want to find out how to get a teaching job in Vietnam, then check out the article I wrote on that topic.
Interested in finding a cute Tinder date in Vietnam? Check out my article, “Ultimate Tinder Guide to Vietnam.”
The big question everyone asks is about the pay. The pay starts around $17/hour and can go up to $20/hour, which is not that great.
However, this pay is plenty for Vietnam and even working 2.5 days per week will give you enough money to live an ok life.
Another excellent part about working in Vietnamese public schools is the complete lack of oversight.
90% of the time you will have a TA that just sits in the back on her phone and doesn’t do anything.
They literally don’t care what you do as long as you show up.
Remember, “white man good” in Asia.
The other 10% of the time a TA isn’t even in the class and you’re on your own.
Or sometimes the TA doesn’t show up and you’re on your own the entire class.
Easy to Find Work
It’s pretty damn easy to find work teaching at public school in Vietnam… even in HCMC.
My company claimed that they required a native speaker, a college degree, and a TEFL. Well, I meet all those requirements ($40 online TEFL lol) and was ok…
However, they did not check any of my documents. A few of my coworkers are Dutch, German, and Italian, so the native speaker thing is obviously bullshit. The head teacher doesn’t even have a degree.
Really, as long as you are white and can speak English you should have no problem finding a job.
No Weekend/Evening Work
The way things work in Vietnam is kids go to normal school Monday to Friday/Saturday from 7AM to 5PM.
Asians are obsessed with school, though. The marginally wealthy ones will send their kids to English language centers in the evening and on the weekends for extra learning.
Guess what time language center teachers work?
That’s right. They teach from 5:30PM to about 9:00PM or later. They also teach all day (7AM to 5PM) on the weekends, which means a lot of language center teachers are not guaranteed two consecutive days off.
Not Much Planning
The classes are 45 minutes each. They run back-to-back with a 5 minute break in the middle.
You usually have a crappy book and will do 1 page of the book for one class.
However, a 45 minute class will begin with a 10 minute game of something like charades or slap the board. It will then end with a 5 minute game that involves English of some sort.
This means that you only have to teach for 30 minutes.
If you can’t find a way to make a 30 minute lesson with one page of a book, then you’re dumb as a rock.
I do all my “planning” in the breakroom before class begins. This planning takes about 1-3 minutes per class. It’s basically just a mental checklist of what I’ll do for that 30 minutes.
Discipline is Difficult
Remember what I said about the TA’s doing nothing?
There is that 5% of the time where the TA does something. Sometimes if the class gets too loud the TA will look up from her phone and yell at the kids to shut the fuck up.
The TA that I have a very friendly relationship with 😉 likes to pull their ears, hit them with a ruler, throw pencil cases, or slap their face when they misbehave. It’s not an effective disciplinary measure, but seeing the class clown get pimp slapped by my Asian waifu brings a smile to my face.
Most of the TA’s don’t do anything, though. I’ve seen multiple girl fights in front of the teacher and the teacher will watch and then walk away without saying anything.
This is how things work outside of school in Vietnam, so it’s not too surprising.
Huge Class Size
The classes here are massive. All the classes have 40-50 students. I’ve heard about people teaching classes with 60+ students.
The classroom is usually equipped with a microphone, but it sucks. Hell, half the time the microphone doesn’t even work.
I usually end up yelling for the entire class because I have a very loud voice. It’s gonna suck if you do not know how to project.
Also, my voice has probably dropped by an octave since starting this job, which is nice.
Early Mornings (sometimes)
Public schools begin at 7AM.
You do not have to work 7AM. You can ask your employer to only schedule you for the afternoon classes 1PM-5PM.
Long Lunch Breaks
Some people view this as a pro, but I hate it. The schools all have a 2.5 hour lunch break so the kids and teachers can take a little nap.
If you live close to school, then you can just go home and dick around on the computer or take a nap. However, if you live far away, then you will be stuck at a nearby café for 2.5 hours.
This sucks. I wish they had a 30 minute lunch and everyone got off at 3PM, but that’s just not how things work here.