How much money an ESL Teacher can earn teaching English in Vietnam? This is a difficult question, out there are many opinions and each school pays different. Let’s see first where can you work and then how much you can get. Note that the term ESL is far more popular than EFL or any other terms related to this field. Everybody will understand ESL, not EFL, ESOL or others.
ESL Teacher for an English Center.
First of all you will work for an English Center (private schools that offers ESL courses for those who want to improve their English skills). Saigon is fulfilled with English Centers; I heard that there are over 200 of them. They offer ESL classes, usually in the evenings from 5.30 pm to 9.30 pm and in weekends all day long. You will be expected to teach kids in Saturday and Sunday mornings. It’s quite easy to find a job there. The salary differences from school to school but I will say the average salary will be somewhere around $13. If you want some examples here you have …. My colleague (British girl) is paid $12 at ACPI (American College Preparation Institute), I get even less (I am non native English speaker), a friend of mine who works for ILA Vietnam (a well known school that offers great ESL courses in Vietnam) earns $17.25 (she told me that in January 2010, things can change in time), a school called Columbus pays $15/hour (an Australian ESL Teacher who worked with me at ACPI told me that), my best friend in Vietnam, an American guy gets $13/hour from IES (there are many schools called IES but I am talking about the one in District 5).
So, I will say you should expect to get $13/hour teaching ESL courses in those centers. Definitely, better ESL teaching opportunities will be on your way as long as you are here. In an English Center you can work maximum 6 evenings and 2 mornings (Saturday and Sunday). I haven’t met someone who works 6 evenings and 2 mornings for the same school, but 3-4 evenings and Saturday and Sunday morning yes. So, at the main school you could work about 18 hours a week, which mean 18 hours X $13/hour = $234/week. That means $1000 a month, which I think won’t be a problem to get.
ESL Teacher for private ESL students.
Definitely, you will have a lot of free time and probably you will want to earn some extra money teaching private ESL students. There is another way to earn money, teaching private ESL students. There are lots of Japanese, Koreans etc who will want to study English. Taking ESL classes is like a religion for them, they are usually business people and they hire an ESL Teacher from the first day they get to Vietnam. Even I found private students …. That means everybody can find. The salary is very similar with the one you get in an English Center (even better) and you can arrange the teaching time according to your free time at the main school (if your private ESL student is available at that time). Don’t hesitate to make friends with other ESL teachers and ESL students (why not?) and let everybody know you are an ESL Teacher in Vietnam. They will recommend you to others and soon you will fulfill your free time.
ESL Teacher for a kindergarten.
Working for a kindergarten is another possibility. Kindergartens offer ESL classes for their kids and the demand for ESL Teachers is very high. It’s an easy and hard task at the same time. You won’t teach grammar there, just vocabulary (simple vocabulary such as body parts, colors, animals etc) and some simple sentences and expressions. The difficult part is you have to deal with kids less than 6 years old; they need a different approach, different than you are used with adults. You have to sing with them, tell stories for them and play a lot of games. It’s difficult but nice and more than that they are not shy which makes your teaching time easier. This kind of job is more suitable for girls. The salary is quite similar with the one you get in English Center but the advantage is you are likely to work in the mornings or in the afternoons (personally I work for a kindergarten in District 10 from 3 pm to 4.30 pm). This type of job will add some extra bucks to your income.
ESL Teacher for a public school.
Public schools also hire ESL Teachers. Usually, they have a contract with English Centers and the ESL Teachers are supplied by the English Center. Again, the same salary and the teaching time are in the morning or afternoon (usually afternoon). I like better being an ESL Teacher in a public school because the students are more polite, they keep quiet in the class and they pay attention to the teacher (things that don’t happen in an English Center).
As you can see, there are many opportunities to earn money as an ESL Teacher, teaching English in Vietnam. For sure it won’t happen from the first day you came in Vietnam’ ESL world, but sooner or later you will end up teaching 25-30 hours a week which means at least $1200 a month. All of my friends (I mean ESL Teachers) who are native English speakers earn more than $1500 a month without being exhausted. How much you can save depends on your life style and many other factors which I will detailed in the next post. As you can see ESL Teachers have many possibilities to earn a good salary and to be honest, an ESL job is not a killing job, more than that ESL student are usually very nice and you can have a lot of fun.