These are two great options for teaching English to foreigners which I usually recommend and have experienced first-hand. These are teaching English in Vietnam, and teaching English online. In terms of which one to choose? Well, that is really up to what you are looking for. And of course, you can do both. Before I get to the comparison, let me tell you how I got to Vietnam. It’s a pretty cool story, and who doesn’t love a cool story right?
It was whilst I was working 80 hour weeks on an international cruise ship as a photographer. Times on board were sometimes tough and I had always wondered about giving this teaching English thing abroad a go, specifically in Vietnam. Everybody on board thought It was a strange thing to do, but that night in the crew bar, I managed to recruit two other crew members (my friends) and we actually did it. We returned back to our home countries (USA and South Africa), kept in contact and planned our trip. We decided to start off backpacking Cambodia for a month and then move to Vietnam to live and teach English. Who knew, that a little tipsy talk in a bar could really end up materializing? Oh, and how happy I am that it did!
Teaching English in Vietnam
Living and teaching English in Vietnam was exciting, exhilarating, wild, mind-blowing and an all-time adventure. Something simple such as navigating the streets on the back of a motorbike to get to work was a unique experience. Every day, without fail, I saw something new that surprised me. It was the opposite of boring, and that is exactly why I loved it.
Should you consider teaching in Vietnam? Well, if you are looking for an adventure, to make really good money at the same time as doing a really awesome job, Vietnam is the place to go. More specifically, Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, as they are in high demand for English teachers. You can quite easily earn a $2000 salary for a 25-hour work week (yes that is basically half of a normal work week). You also will very easily save about $1200 of that per month as you can live there for as little as $800.
In my eyes, it is a hugely rewarding experience. Not only can you work less, have more time to do the things you actually want too, but you can submerge yourself in a rich new culture and learn about another part of the world. Vietnamese people are gentle and full of smiles, and they treat English teachers like gold. The appreciation and desire to learn English is so strong, that English teachers seem to be regarded as highly as doctors, or at least it felt this way.
So, in summary, Vietnam is a big YES, if this is what you are looking for :
• A real adventure
• Great life experiences
• To learn about a new culture
• To save a lot of money very easily
• To meet loads of new people (Vietnamese but also all types of foreigners)
• To gain ESL experience in a safe country with a strong expat community
Just go for it! Quit the unfulfilling job that pays you peanuts and book a ticket to Vietnam. You will not regret it, you may find it challenging in the beginning but challenges push you and make you grow and evolve.
Teaching English online
After a year in Ho Chi Minh City, I soon realized that my time in Asia was coming to a close. I had absorbed so much Vietnamese culture, spread the English language far and wide and ended up meeting a Dutchman (now my current partner), who inevitably led me down a different path to the Netherlands.
I was not done teaching ESL, however, so I quickly went full steam ahead to find a decent English teaching job online.
I eventually found a job (this was no easy feat to find - but that’s a story for another day) with a starting salary of around $14 per hour. A bit of a sharp decrease from my Vietnamese jobs, but to have the perks of mobility and flexibility - why not?
And I haven’t looked back since! I now work for a fantastic company, Hujiang, which I highly recommend and I can help assist with your application process (See my blog post on them here). I earn significantly better and have been teaching English online and travelling as much as possible. I have had the opportunity to explore new cities and new countries all while continuing with my job. Not to mention the lovely month-long trips I take here and there, just to feed my travelling soul. Good riddance to 'fixed days of leave' a year!
So in summary, if you want:
• To decide your working schedule
• To be able to travel and earn
• To work from the comfort of your own home, and comfy pants (obviously)
Then online ESL teaching is the better option to go for to suit your needs. Have a look at the comparison of the two below.
I believe going to Vietnam to gain ESL teaching experience for a year or however long you fancy is well worth it. After that, you can use that experience and find a better paying job online (It will open more doors if you do have previous ESL experience, but it isn’t a must)
If rocking up to a wildly different country isn’t up your alley, then going straight to online work is possible but the salary will start off lower. To do either option, I always advise people to do a 120-140 hour TEFL/TESOL course to get themselves certified and qualified to teach English to foreigners.
If online teaching sounds like your thing but you don’t know where to start then check out my FREE cheat sheet on HOW TO START: The First Steps to Becoming an Online ESL Teacher.
You want to take the leap and teach in Vietnam? Check out Ninja Teacher, a fellow South African friend and vlogger who helps people get set up teaching English all around Asia.
Take my word for it, you can’t go too wrong with either decision. So take a big breath and take the leap!