Why I’ll Never Teach English in Vietnam Again

As a digital nomad I like to teach English to give me something to do plus I really love working with the kids. Seriously, Vietnamese culture respects teachers and places them at a high value. Unlike in the west where if a student gets in trouble for cheating the parents will get angry with the teacher. Vietnamese students reignited my passion for teaching.

Wait a minute? Isn’t this posts’ title say I’ll never teach here again? Yup! Why? Because Vietnamese employers I don’t care for so much. I’ll list my reasons below

Many English Schools in Vietnam Overpromise

You may have seen an ad for an English school. $18 an hour plus we pay for your housing or something like that. Sounds phenomenal right? What they don’t tell you is that they will make deductions from your salary and some of them will try to make you pay for things that they should be responsible for–like your work permit. I worked at a school where the agreement (they wouldn’t put it in writing) was I would earn $19 an hour and they would pay for everything except the medical exam.  Give housing support and give me a motorbike.

Not too long afterward I got a message from my boss saying I needed to pay $30 to some extra fee related to my work permit.  They wanted me to pay for the photos and last but not least the motorbike they gave me was junk, like the brakes were not working properly junk,  and they tried to get me to pay for its repairs.  I resigned and my boss attacked me physically! Well, tried to. It was a funny site to see being attacked by a 5’4 Vietnamese guy.

Expect Weird Caveats

It wasn’t just this school though. I’ve interviewed with other schools and they all had caveats that make their seemingly good offers not so appealing. Wise English in Da Nang made me go through a 2-week interview process only to give me some crappy offer. They wanted to deduct 3 million vnd ($130) from my salary to pay for my training.

They also weren’t going to sponsor my work permit unless I signed a two-year contract. The interesting thing is they failed to mention the 2-year contract requirement until after I went through their interview process. Another school I interviewed with wanted me to do a probationary period with a lower salary for 2-8 weeks but wouldn’t put the agreement in writing.


Racism is a reality if you try to seek employment here. Schools will tell you upfront that they’re looking for white teachers. It’s a marketing thing. The parents wants to see white teachers which they associate with being a native speaker. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t find a job here if you’re not white–you can. It’ll just be more difficult.

Just to be Objective

I do want to say that hundreds if not thousands of foreigners do teach English here and are quite happy. You just need to make sure who will find a good employer. A good employer is one who:

  • Puts the agreement in writing
  • Doesn’t require more than two demo classes
  • Has been in business for at least 4 years
  • Speaks English (yes some English school owners don’t speak English!)

What’s a Better Option?

I recommend teaching online. The agreements are all in writing and you can read reviews on the various companies. It’s not as fun as teaching in real life but the salaries are comparable and it’s a lot easier than having to manage a classroom full of rambunctious little kids.  Teaching online has gotten a lot more competitive than it used to be 5 years ago so if you want to teach online you’ll need a high-speed internet connection,  an educational backdrop, and be very animated on camera. You can read my honest pros and cons of teaching with iTutor.

Whatever you decide to do just remember one thing when evaluating an offer if it sounds good to be true it probably is.

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