Vietnam and Thailand are some of TEFL’s most popular destinations, and for good reason. Southeast Asian hospitality, delicious and cheap cuisine, biodiversity in abundance, beautiful tropical landscapes, need I say more? Now, you’ve set your sights on either Vietnam or Thailand, but you may be asking a few questions. So here are your FAQs about teaching in Vietnam vs. Thailand.
What are the Requirements for Teaching in Vietnam and Thailand?
To teach in Vietnam and Thailand, teachers will need to be certified with a TEFL certificate. Teachers can obtain these independently, or they can apply for our internships which include 120-hour TEFL certification.
Despite the pandemic, there is no better time to gain a TEFL certificate than now. This is because the TEFL certificate is lasting with no expiry date. Additionally, Vietnam is more strict with its entry rules. They will allow ‘foreign experts’ and skilled workers which include TEFL teachers into the country.
Other than the TEFL certificate, teachers are required to hold a Bachelor’s degree and a passport from an English-speaking country. While it is possible to teach in these countries as a non-native English speaker, you must be a native English speaker to apply for these particular internships.
With the Bachelor’s degree, it isn’t relevant what the teacher has graduated with. For example, while employers might see it as a valuable skill to have graduated with a degree in English, a degree in Maths or Engineering won’t impact your chances as a TEFL teacher.
In my experience, many of my friends had a diverse range of academic and occupational backgrounds. One of my friends was a Maths graduate fresh from university, another was a Business graduate with experience in oil broking. Another was even a criminology graduate with experience working in prisons. TEFL can be for anyone as long as they have the enthusiasm to teach abroad.
What are the Biggest Differences Between Vietnam and Thailand?
As someone who initially struggled to decide between teaching in Vietnam or Thailand, the cultural differences weren’t exactly clear to an outsider. From my research, all I saw was that both Vietnam and Thailand boasted a relaxed lifestyle, pristine beaches, and fascinating landscape formations. However, after spending a good length of time in both countries, the differences become more apparent.
Both are excellent representations of Southeast Asian culture. While both display hospitality which will make teachers want to stay forever, however, Thailand seems to be ever so slightly more relaxed and informal. The mai bpen rai (“don’t worry”) attitude seems to be ubiquitous in Thailand.
This may be due to a heavier Buddhist influence in Thailand than in Vietnam. In Thailand, there are around 40,000 Buddhist temples or wats in Thailand. Buddhism is ubiquitous, as you’ll also see many monks wandering the streets wherever you are.
Thailand also seems to be more tourist-centric and has many more Western elements when compared to Vietnam. This is neither a pro or a con, it has its benefits as well as drawbacks. Thailand is one of the most frequently visited countries in the world, and has been for some time. Its tourist sector is huge, and with this comes a more accessible way of life for foreigners.
Weirdly, Vietnam’s identity remains intact despite its history of wars and colonization. While the remaining features of French colonialism can be seen around cities such as Hanoi, Vietnam is incredibly authentic and seems untouched by Western commercialism. This isn’t a big surprise considering that Vietnam has only been open to tourists since 1997.
What is the Salary for Teachers in Both Countries?
Thailand’s Western influence also means that the standard of English may be higher there than in Vietnam. While it may be easier to navigate Thailand since the standard of English is higher, foreign teachers might be more valuable in Vietnam. In turn, the salary for foreign teachers in Vietnam is significantly higher than those in Thailand.
While some teachers may earn more money finding independent work in Vietnam or Thailand, internship packages present many benefits. In Vietnam, you’ll earn around £900-£1350 per month whereas you’ll earn around £760-£860 per month in Thailand.
However, you may also receive benefits such as accommodation, accident insurance, visa assistance, and so on. Internship packages remove many of these logistical obstacles to help ease your transition into a new country.
How Long are Teaching Contracts?
Because Vietnam’s entry requirements are more strict than Thailand’s, they expect foreign teachers to commit to a year of teaching. This is because they value the foreign teachers who are deemed “skilled workers” and it also requires effort to process their visas and help them enter the country.
On the other hand, Thailand is desperate to have people enter the country. This means teachers, travelers, retirees, whoever. People like myself are able to commit to shorter contracts of 5 months or a semester of teaching. This gives people more time to consider whether they want to continue teaching in Thailand while still living, not just travelling, abroad.
Because of this, it would make sense that teachers who are uncertain whether teaching is for them should opt for the Thailand internship. This is because it will allow them to teach one semester at a time before deciding their next step. On the other hand, the Vietnam internship offers plenty of time to truly immerse oneself in a foreign culture.
For instance, before the pandemic, I committed to a one-semester contract in Vietnam. However, after 5 months of teaching, there was plenty more I wanted to see. I felt as if I wanted to continue this journey and that I had more to explore in the country.
So, I signed on for an additional year after my semester. I’d estimate that around 90% of the interns stayed on with the company we were working for simply because of the quality of life in Vietnam.
Are there Age Restrictions to Teach in Vietnam or Thailand?
There is an age restriction to apply for the internships. Teachers must be aged from 21 years old to 50 years old to apply for the internship. However, if teachers are older, they can contact program advisors to see if there is room for maneuver.
However, teachers will be pleased to hear that there aren’t any strict age restrictions to teach in Vietnam or Thailand aside from being older than the local retirement age. If this is the case, it’s unlikely that they would find a teaching position in either country.
There is also a restriction on how young teachers can be because they need a Bachelor’s Degree to teach on the internship. This means that teachers can be no younger than 21 years old.
Despite this, young and aspiring teachers can become TEFL-qualified at any point. It is encouraged that they become TEFL certified as soon as possible because it is a certificate that doesn’t expire.
Do You Save Money on Your Salary?
The cost of living in both Vietnam and Thailand is extremely low. This means that your salary will go a long way. A meal in Vietnam and Thailand can cost as little as $1. If you are relatively frugal, you can save a lot of money teaching in either country.
However, don’t get carried away with how cheap everything is in Southeast Asia compared to your home country! While everything is cheap, recognizing this can lead to living a luxurious lifestyle and spending most of your salary.
Did You Have Lots of Spare Time?
One of the biggest benefits of teaching in either country is the work/life balance. Typically, you’ll start the day at around 8:00 and finish at around 4:00 pm or even earlier. Additionally, Vietnam’s lunch break is often three hours long. This means that you can venture down the streets and visit the cafes or restaurants, or even go home during your free time.
While working in Vietnam and Thailand, very rarely did I have administration tasks to complete outside of the classroom. You will also have free periods in your timetable in which you can use for lesson planning, or to just relax.
What is it Like Joining the Internship by Yourself?
While I was naturally apprehensive about the idea of traveling alone, the internship eased my anxiety significantly. I arrived in Vietnam with around 100 other like-minded people. This was also the case in Thailand, where I entered the country only to be greeted by many other TEFL teachers.
This is also one of the biggest advantages of enrolling in the internship. To be a TEFL teacher, you must be open-minded and adventurous. This means that you’ll enter a foreign country with people who you resonate with.
Many of the people I met in Vietnam are also teaching with me in Thailand today. This includes my partner, whom I met in Vietnam. When you arrive at the internship, people may be shy initially, however, you’ll create a strong network of teachers and many of these will be your friends for life.
Do You Follow a Curriculum or Do You Plan Your Own Lessons?
Both! In my experience, I followed a curriculum, however, I still needed to plan my own lessons. The curriculum provided a lot of structure and for the first few weeks, we were even provided example lesson plans as we eased into teaching. However, fellow teachers who worked for other companies also had their lessons planned for them.
I’m Already TEFL Certified, Are There Internships For Teaching Only?
If you are already TEFL certified, you can apply for the internships at a discounted rate. Premier TEFL’s advisor will take into account that you do not require the TEFL course linked with the teaching internship, and this will deduct the price for you.
Can Non-Native English Teachers Teach Online?
The answer is yes, non-native English teachers can absolutely teach online. In fact, this is a fantastic way for non-native English teachers to bolster their resumes and gain experience before heading abroad.
There are many online teaching companies available for teachers to apply for. Some will have more restrictions than others, however, there are options for non-native English teachers. Some examples of these companies are Engoo, Preply, iTalki, among others. Learning English is always in demand. With this demand is the unwavering need for English teachers!
Where Do You Recommend That I Start My Career as a Non-Native TEFL Speaker?
If you are a non-native English speaker, it is still possible to become a TEFL teacher in Vietnam and Thailand. While you may face more challenges than a native English speaker might, it’s important to get ahead of the game.
There are many ways you can boost your employability as a non-native English speaker. In fact, one could argue that non-native English speakers can be as good (sometimes better) than native English speakers.
One reason is that non-native speakers who are proficient will have learned the intricacies of grammar rules. On the other hand, native English speakers may know how to use their rules naturally, but not understand why we use them and may lack some technical knowledge on the subject.
Anyway, non-native English teachers can boost their employability by volunteering to earn teaching experience. By bolstering your CV with work experience, you’ll demonstrate to employers that you’ve got the ability and the enthusiasm to apply your skills within the classroom. Additionally, this could also lead to a direct job in itself if you impress your school.
Non-native English teachers can also apply to work for online companies. This is an effective and convenient way to earn experience and a reasonable salary from the comfort of your own home. Online teaching companies offer plenty of flexibility for teachers. Teachers can commit to working full-time or part-time along with academic or occupational responsibilities.
Online teaching experience is also incredibly valuable because it demonstrates to employers that teachers can connect and teach students on a 1-1 level. Additionally, it shows that you’re proactive and committed to being a TEFL teacher.