How much money an ESL Teacher can make teaching English in Vietnam? This is a difficult question because each school pays different and each individual is paid differently according to the set of skills he or she posses.
Let’s see first where you can work and then how much you can get.
You will probably 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 English classes, usually in the evenings from 5.30 pm to 9.30 pm and on the weekends all day long (but not Sunday afternoon and evening).
You will be expected to teach kids on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It’s quite easy to find a job there. The salary varies from school to school but I will say the average salary will be somewhere around $15. My colleague (British girl) is paid $12 at ACPI (American College Preparation Institute), 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).
Update October 11th, 2015 – So, I will say you should expect to get $15/hour teaching ESL courses in those centers. Definitely, better ESL teaching opportunities will be on your way as long as you are here. At 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 is very likely. So, at the main school you could work about 18 hours a week, which mean 18 hours X $15/hour = $270/week. That means somewhere around $1100 a month, which I think won’t be a problem to get.
Definitely, you will have a lot of free time and probably you want to earn some extra money. There is another way to earn money, teaching private ESL students. There are lots of Japanese, Koreans etc who 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.
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 let everybody know you are looking for some extra teaching jobs. They will recommend you to others and soon you will fulfill your free time.
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 that is you have to deal with kids under 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 higher than the one you get working for an English Center but the real advantage is that you are likely to work in the mornings or in the afternoons (personally I work for a kindergarten in District 10 from 3.30 pm to 4.30 pm). This type of job will add some extra money to your income.
You can work 6-10 hours a week and you can get $100-$200 per week (but don’t forget, there are 4 weeks in a month).
Public schools also hire ESL/EFL teachers. Usually, they have a contract with an English Center and the ESL Teachers are supplied by the English Center. Again, the same salary and you usually teach in the mornings or afternoons (usually afternoons). I like teaching for 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 to you from the first day you arrive in Vietnam, but sooner or later you will end up teaching 25-30 hours a week which means somewhere between $1500 to $2000 a month.
All of my friends (I mean ESL teachers) who are native speakers of English earn more than $1500 a month without being exhausted. How much you can save depends on your lifestyle and many other factors. As you can see ESL teachers have many possibilities to earn a good salary and to be honest, an ESL job is not that difficult. More than that, ESL students are usually very nice and you can have a lot of fun teaching them.