After teaching in Vietnam for one year, I can confirm that everything you’ve seen on Instagram about the infamous “Land of smiles” is true! But before I savoured that first sip of Pho or high-fived my first students, I was scrolling through pages of information-flooded with questions.
In my recent webinar about i to i’s paid Vietnam internship, I delved into life as an intern, and tried to answer some of your Paid Vietnam TEFL Internship FAQ in the process! As with any life-changing decision, it’s only natural that you’ll have a variety of queries, and want to know all you can about the adventure that awaits. From logistics such as pay, work-life balance, to your teaching uniform, I’ll be diving into 10 of your most-asked questions and hopefully putting some minds at ease along the way!
Can I apply with a friend, family member, or partner?
Absolutely! It’s great to bring some familiarity with you to a foreign country, and experience this new chapter together. There were many people on my internship back in the 2019 intake who arrived in a couple, or with a close friend. Not only were they placed in the same city (Hanoi, or Ho Chi Minh City) but they were placed in the same accommodation, with other teachers too!
Regardless of whether you’re applying individually or as a couple, it’s important that every applicant meets the internship requirements. You can find a full list of specifications here, but the main things you’ll need for visa purposes are a degree and a TEFL certificate.
What’s the process for booking flights?
Securing those all-important plane tickets is high on the list of priorities, and the process can begin as soon as your documents are verified! Before booking anything, i-to-i will send you a checklist to complete. This will include: compiling your visa documents, deciding where you’ll be placed, and having a date for the completion of your 120 hour TEFL course. This checklist will come with a handy timeline for you to refer to and will tell you the exact point you should be booking your flight.
So, although you’ll be paying for the ticket yourself, there will be plenty of support available. If, in the event, that there are any covid restrictions in place, such as reduced flights, i-to-i will organize the booking for you, with plenty of time to spare.
What if I already have a TEFL certificate?
Firstly- congratulations on completing your TEFL course and getting certified to teach, this puts you in a great position to start a placement in Vietnam! Secondly- you can absolutely sign on to the paid Vietnam internship, and enjoy a discounted fee. To find out your exclusive markdown, I’d suggest reaching out to the student support team, whom you can email at StudentSupport@i-to-i.com .
If you completed your TEFL course a while ago and feel in need of a refresher, fear not! The internship comes with a series of mini-courses, designed to help you prepare for life in Vietnamese public schools, and foster a positive environment in the classroom.
Do all the TEFL teachers who have applied stay together or meet up?
Choosing a TEFL internship in Vietnam isn’t just about teaching, of course. You’ll have a group of fellow applicants from all over the world to share this experience with! Whether you’re based in the capital of Hanoi or the metropolitan centre of Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll live and work with a group of like-minded people- who you might even meet on your flight to Vietnam!
After spending the orientation week together, you’ll have the chance to share accommodation with the same group. Back in 2019, the teachers in my intake spent the weekdays teaching together, and the weekends travelling! We all remain close to this day, which goes to show that you really do make friends for life on this TEFL internship in Vietnam!
What’s the monthly payment, and how will I receive it?
On a monthly basis, you’ll be paid a total of 800 USD, which is 570 GBP and 11,674 SAR. This will be paid in Vietnamese Dong into a local bank account, which will be organised for you by i-to-i’s in-country partners.
Speaking from first-hand experience, this is a generous sum to live on, especially considering the low cost of living in Vietnam (a bowl of Pho is only 1 dollar!). You’ll be able to afford weekends away, meals out at restaurants, and enjoy nights out with friends at the end of a rewarding week of teaching! As we’ll touch on later, accommodation costs are covered by the in-country company, which means there’s even potential to put some money aside at the end of each month. This can combine with your contract completion bonus of $800 to fund future travels!
How will I get to my school each day?
As new teachers on the scene in Hanoi or Saigon, you’ll be travelling multiple schools per week and discovering authentic Vietnamese culture in the process! The best part? Your transport is taken care of each day, and you’ll be picked up by a taxi who’ll take you to school (in, I might add, an air-conditioned car!).
As soon as you’re taken to your new accommodation, you’ll receive information about a taxi pick up point, which will be no further than a 10-minute walk from your house. Taxi drivers work for the teaching company and will know exactly which school each teacher is being taken to, so it’s simply a case of being there when your name is called! The chances are you’ll be sharing a taxi with your friends, anyway, as you’re likely to be teaching in the same area or school. At the end of the school day (usually around 4pm) you’ll have a car waiting for you at the school gates to take you home for some well-deserved downtime. Not only are these arranged taxis free of charge, they remove the stress of having to navigate a new city in the early days of your paid internship.
What’s the teaching uniform?
In Vietnam, foreign teachers are highly respected in the community and so must dress in accordance with their status. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you’ll have to wear a suit and tie in the sweltering heat- just something on the smart-casual spectrum!
Also worth noting is that you’ll be provided with a set of shirts courtesy of the teaching company, which are available in long or short-sleeved styles. If you have a tattoo, it’s definitely worth opting for the long sleeves, as schools prefer these to be covered if possible. All you have to do is choose a pair of smart black shoes, trousers or a long skirt- and you’re good to go!|
Will I have to find my own accommodation?
Absolutely not! University-style accommodation is provided, and your rent is covered, as one of the internship inclusions. After the whirlwind excitement of Orientation week, you’ll be taken directly to your new accommodation- normally a large Vietnamese townhouse that you’ll be sharing with a small group of other teachers. Each room is fully furnished, and equipped with a fan and air conditioning (hallelujah!).
You’ll be immersed in an authentic Vietnamese neighbourhood, away from the commercial tourist hubs: a rare opportunity to experience Vietnam’s most vibrant cultural scene. What’s more, all teachers are placed in the same locale, so there’s little chance of feeling isolated, and always a familiar face in a nearby coffee shop!
How much spare time will I have outside of teaching?
Ask anyone who’s completed the TEFL internship in Vietnam and they’ll have the same response: as an English teacher, you’ll have the ideal work-life balance. For starters, you’ll be working between 15-20 hours per week as part of the arranged contract, which means you’ll often have a free morning or afternoon each week! In my intake, we’d often spend this time hitting the gym, taking advantage of Hanoi’s cafe culture, or soaking up the local sights!
On top of this, you’ll enjoy Vietnam’s 3 hour-long lunch breaks, akin to the Siestas of Spain and Italy. While your TA’S and students will often take a nap to escape the heat, you’re welcome to use this time exploring the local area, or planning your next weekend away!
What opportunities are available after the internship?
While 5 months might seem a long time to commit to a TEFL internship in Vietnam, it flies by in a whirlwind daze, and your last day of teaching will come sooner than you think! Thankfully, the internship itself opens many doors and can take you down some exciting new paths. When it comes to this particular internship, there’s a very high retention rate; about halfway through the 5 months, everyone’s offered a second-semester contract, and most people end up staying for longer! Armed with a completion bonus and long summer break before the next term, people often take a few months to travel and see some more of SouthEast Asia.
If you decide to seek pastures new after the internship, you’ll receive a completion certificate and official reference! This puts you in a great position for continuing your TEFL career elsewhere, or finding a completely different job back home! Whatever you decide to do, a TEFL internship in Vietnam is a worthy addition to any CV. It shows that you’re culturally adaptable, independent, and willing to get out of your comfort zone!
If you’ve decided to become a TEFL intern in Vietnam, the most exciting five months of your life awaits! Hopefully, this post-webinar FAQ page has helped clarify any questions you may have, but if not, feel free to request a callback with a helpful i-to-i team member. With all your questions answered, All that’s left is to complete your documents, pack a lonely planet guide, and get ready for a life-changing adventure!