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Questions to ask About Teaching English in Hanoi

Questions to ask About Teaching English in Hanoi

Old Apr 25th, 2011, 09:44 AM
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Questions to ask About Teaching English in Hanoi

My good friend had an offer to teach English in Hanoi. She does not have any details yet.

She's a retired attorney, and we once spent a year backpacking around the world in the 80's. At the end of the trip she lived in Taiwan for several months.

I'm thinking she should ask whether she'll be pain in US$ or Dong, length of contract, location of school (if there is one), and housing arrangements.

Can you think of anything else?
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Old Apr 25th, 2011, 09:52 AM
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First find out if the school is legit. There are many horror stories associated with this sort of thing. The good stories are heart-warming. Someone here taught geography in Hanoi before. I don't recall her name but others might.
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Old Apr 25th, 2011, 10:10 AM
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Might want to spend some time on this site: http://eslcafe.com/
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Old Apr 25th, 2011, 03:46 PM
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I am the geographer who has taught in Hanoi. I did a semester in 2008 and 2010 and I am headed back again this coming September. I teach at a major university in Hanoi and all the arrangements are made with them. They provide housing (in a dorm complex) and I cover food and other costs. I keep returning because I love teaching in Vietnam and the students are absolutely wonderful. But--I teach at the university level--and I imagine that high school or other levels might be much different. My suggestion is to do lots of checking on the school and the other arrangements they will provide. Housing? Travel reimbursement? other expenses they might cover?

Now...with that said, I do not get paid. I do get free housing and a small stipend for food and expenses. Next fall they are going to cover my airfare, but not food costs. So basically I do it for the adventure of travel, my love for Vietnam and its people and for the opportunity to travel in the area. For me it is a win-win.

If your friend is retired and is interested in a challenge ...with lots of interesting travel on the side, then this might be a wonderful opportunity. Living in Hanoi is not for the faint of heart! But for those of us who love learning about and living in a different cultural area, than this might be the right thing to do.
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Old Apr 25th, 2011, 04:54 PM
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My primary concerns would be visa arrangements, local taxes and health/evacuation insurance.

Will the hiring party arrange a work visa or is this a quasi-legal arrangement that involves a business or tourist visa?

If there is a salary involved (or payments in kind of any type, like airfare, cost of living etc.) what are the Vietnamese tax implications?

I don't have personal experience in Vietnam, but extrapolating to similar situations in Indonesia "teaching English" covers a wide range of set ups, from the bona fide that gailmo describes to the downright dodgy. For example, sometimes the teacher pays the school and in return gets a visa. No actual teaching is involved.

Bottom line, you don't want to fool around with immigration and tax payment in a country like Vietnam. Some of these arrangements expect the foreigner to take what I would consider unreasonable risk.

Health care is a separate issue and usually is the responsibility of the employee. Especially for a retirement age person, you'd want to make sure that your insurance covers you for evacuation and repatriation.
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Old Apr 25th, 2011, 06:01 PM
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Marmot raises good questions that need to be addressed before heading into a teaching position in any country.

VISA: When I teach overseas, typically the university helps arrange my visa. For Vietnam, the university asks for my passport number and full name and then prepares a letter to the Vietnamese Embassy in DC which they then email (I think). I call their Embassy and tell them my name and passport number and they look up the letter and then let me know how much the visa will cost. I typically get a 6 month-multi entry which costs me about $100+. I find getting a visa for teaching in Vietnam is quick and easy...but of course I don't do any of the preliminary work. I also teach in South Korea in the summers and getting that visa is a whole different process and much, much more difficult.

TAXES: As I previously mentioned, I don't get any "pay"...but they do give me cash to cover my living costs. Last year this was passed to me as cash (dong) in an envelop. So, I don't know if taxes were withheld. I typically claim this as income on my US taxes because it allows me to claim my airline ticket, daily living costs and everything else associated with the expenses I have while living overseas.

MEDICAL: I still have medical coverage through my employer--although I am retired and not yet eligible for Medicare. I also have emergency evacuation insurance through DAN (Diver's Network-- which I learned about on this forum). You can also pay for additional emergency coverage through a variety of agencies such as SOS International...but it is expensive. I did check and can use the SOS facility in Hanoi --but it would be very expensive!! I opted to forgo any additional medical insurance and just pray I don't need it. I did get hit by a motorcycle while crossing a busy 4 lane road in Hanoi the first time I was there. But I was lucky and only bruised my body (badly) and my ego. Both recovered!! If I had any serious medical issues, I would think carefully about going to Vietnam for an extended period of time. If anything happened to me while there, if able, I would have headed to Singapore or Bangkok for care.

So....these are important issues that should be addressed if considering teaching overseas. If the organization or school is reputable, they should help with visa and have an established protocol for most other things. Of course, it is Vietnam--and sometimes you have to just "go with it" if things are not as clear cut as you think they should be.
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Old Apr 25th, 2011, 11:10 PM
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Thanks everyone. I'll share this post with her!
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Old Apr 26th, 2011, 01:11 AM
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Hi Icuy,

I have a friend, Canadian, used to teach English in Hanoi Vietnam. After that, he dicided to live in Vietnam and get married with a Vietnamese girl.

And he is my english teacher at Hanoi Open University, Faculty of Tourism. Even I graduated but we still keep in touch.

Being a Vietnamese person, living in Hanoi, I know that we really need and respect to the people who is brave to come our country and do the good thing, supporting us in some way.

If you are wondering about the living in Hanoi. I'll give you a brief descrition in Hanoi:

1. Working hour nomarly from 9 am to 5 pm. But for the school, university, a little bit earlier, 7am - 12am for the morning class or 1pm to 5pm in the afternoon class.
But the university student just study one class, morning or afternoon, not both.

2. Living cost is quite cheap.
Supermarket, market, shop is every where.

In the supper market, we have fixed price. But in market or stand stall, you should bargain, but not too much, 10 - 20% off.

We have many famous brand in the world in Hanoi, from Gucci, Louis Vuiton, Channel to KFC, Lotteria...
So don't worry, you don't have to change your taste.

3. One problem is the traffic. The public transportation is not very good. The bus is so crowded. The traffic is crazy. but if you get use to with Hanoi traffic, you'll find out the interesting thing. You'll never get hurt in a crazy traffic, because it's crazy in order.

Believe me. I'm a Hanoian, and go to work everyday.

4. People is friendly. And I must say, Hanoi is a peaceful and safe city. Every tourist coming here talked to me that: Hanoi is less crimer and seem to be have no pick pocket.

And you can enjoy the night life, walking to street at 12 pm at night or 2 am in the morning, that's ok evan you are a girl.

5. Beside that, Hanoi has many feature: custom, traditon,architecture, life style, tourist attraction... that you will feel never regret when you come here.

Some time, i'm fed up with the life in Hanoi. But just 2 days far from Hanoi, I miss Hanoi so much, really much, like a lover.

Sometime, changing is good.
So, think about it.

Don't hesitate to ask me questions if you're confusing about Hanoi.

Best wishes,

A Hanoian person.
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Old Apr 26th, 2011, 08:33 AM
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gailmo, I want you to know that people who go to China, South Korea, Thailand to teach English get a salary big enough to live on. Not all stories are good but there are some.

halongbaytour, I love your country and the people, crazy about the food and trying to learn to make it. Your traffic situation is unique and it takes lots of getting use to. Maybe you never get hurt in the traffic, and you see order but for some of us it's chaotic. We are just trying not to get kill in the process of learning or crossing.
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Old Apr 26th, 2011, 12:05 PM
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<<<Maybe you never get hurt in the traffic, and you see order but for some of us it's chaotic. We are just trying not to get kill in the process of learning or crossing.>>>

We never got hurt, but in two weeks in Vietnam, we saw 7 motorbike accidents (not all in Hanoi), some with pedestrians and some with other bikes.
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Old Apr 26th, 2011, 03:52 PM
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I agree about salary. I also teach in Gwangju, South Korea each summer and get paid very well for one month of teaching. Plus they provide room and board and cover all transportation costs. So, each country is a bit different. For me it really is more than the salary I receive. I really find teaching overseas to be a joy compared to my thirty-three years at the university level in the US. Teachers are respected; education is valued; students are hungry to learn. It is really a breath of fresh air for me to work overseas. Plus I manage to travel extensively. Heck, I even met Bob and his wife (rhkkmk) at the departure area in Bangkok!
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Old May 31st, 2011, 02:04 AM
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Icuy, just remind your friend all above advice. Living in Vietnam, i see that all of them are correct. Anw, it's not easy to move to a new place, it's even harder to live in a totally different culture. Have to seriously and carefully consider everything, fr visa, tax, living standard, medical insurance, traffic to people, culture,students, university, housing, supermarkets, shops,etc. When a university/ school/ English center is willing to hire yr friend, they'll also willing to provide all information your friend needs. Ask/require them to describe everything: Pics of university, class-size, dormitory, students' test result,etc. If you have some friend living in Vietnam, ask them to find some more info for you. Though some things may be crazy in Vietnam such as traffic, some local food,etc. if you're open enough, you'll see Vietnam a very interesting country. Nowhere else that teachers are so highly respected as in Vietnam, honestly. The students are friendly and helpful. You'll love them. Anw, last reminder for your friend: take care.
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