Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City



Getting started as an ESL teacher…


It has probably taken months of painstaking research on your part, but I’m genuinely delighted that Ho Chi Minh City, one of my personal top-three teaching destinations in Southeast Asia, has made your list of ‘worth considering’. Teaching English abroad is a privilege, regardless of the location, but teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City affords a personal and professional experience like none other. I love the place – and the people. In this blog post, I will touch on employment options and related conditions and where teaching jobs are advertised.



Teaching opportunities in Ho Chi Minh City largely come in six forms (in order of job volume): 

  1. English Language Centres (privately owned) 
  2. Government schools 
  3. International schools 
  4. Company classes 
  5. Tertiary institutions, and 
  6. Private tutoring


Anecdotally, around 90% of people who are new to teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City find their first job at a privately-owned English Language Centre or a government school. Language Centres account for around 60% (of the 90%) of total placements. You will find Language Centres the length and breadth of the country. Teaching jobs in government schools are mostly filled by Language Centres that are contracted to recruit qualified people. Independent recruiters also work in this space, but from first-hand experience, they tend to be quite mercenary. While the net income and the number of hours on offer in Language Centres and government schools are similar (around US $1,700.00 +/- a month x 100 hours +/-), the work conditions can differ markedly.




Here’s some feedback from AVSE-TESOL alumni on Language Centres and government schools:

  • Teaching hours in a Language Centre are primarily in the evening and over the weekend, whereas hours in a government school are exclusively during the day, Monday to Friday.
  • Class sizes tend to be substantially smaller at a Language Centre (15 +/-) than a government school, with 40+ students being commonplace.
  • Language Centres offer a team environment (in most cases) where people take a genuine interest in how each other is doing. In contrast, teaching in a government school typically involves doing your hours and going home with minimal interaction with other foreign teachers and local staff.
  • While problematic student behaviour rears its head on occasions in both Language Centres and government schools, it seems less prevalent in Language Centres.
  • Employment conditions in a Language Centre seem to be less stringent than in a government school. There is a ‘flipside’. Language Centres are notorious for expecting foreign teachers to do unpaid, extracurricular work of one type or another.
  • Support services and teaching resources are more readily available in a Language Centre than in a government school.

Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


English teaching jobs at international schools, companies and tertiary institutions (universities and colleges) in Ho Chi Minh City tend to be the domain of folks who are skilled at networking and have been ‘in the loop’ for an extended period. Having said this, there’s no harm in putting yourself out there. You might be lucky! If you do secure a teaching job at an international school, a company, or a tertiary institution in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll be in the ‘premier league’. You can expect a higher hourly rate and, in most cases, substantially better work conditions. Typically, international schools and tertiary institutions pay a monthly salary of well over US $2,000.00 for ‘office-type’ hours. Company classes pay around US $60.00 for a 1.5-hour class. You’d need to get a few companies on board to make a living from company classes only. It’s possible, but a daily commute from Class A to B to C to get the hours you need will require unwavering determination given the oppressive year-round heat, the daily monsoonal downpour during the wet season – and 24/7 traffic congestion.


Private tutoring opportunities in Ho Chi Minh City are readily available, but almost certainly, you’ll need to see two, three or more students at the same time to make it worth your while. Personally, I’ve never gravitated towards private tutoring. Why? Finding private students can be hard work; cancellations at the last minute (without payment) are not uncommon, and the buzz for me just isn’t the same. You may have a different view of the world. It’s certainly worth trying your hand.  


Where are teaching jobs advertised?

Teaching jobs in Ho Chi Minh City are advertised in many places, but ‘Facebook Groups’ are clearly the most popular. Simply go to the Facebook search option, type in ‘Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City’, click on the ‘Groups’ option, and 50+ relevant Facebook Groups will show up on your screen. Join the groups that appeal to you and sit back and watch the job vacancies roll in. Here’s a selection of my favourite Facebook Groups for teaching opportunities.


Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


Expat Community in Ho Chi Minh City: https://www.facebook.com/groups/169418719891105


Ho Chi Minh City ESL Teaching Jobs: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1521862661370506


English Teaching jobs in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon): https://www.facebook.com/groups/1964561920431816


Employers in Ho Chi Minh City, Language Centres and the like, have a preference for engaging teachers who are ‘on the ground’. While there’s no harm in reaching out to employers before you arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, don’t be disheartened if a response (or an interview) is not forthcoming. Assuming your credentials stack up, including quality TESOL / TEFL certification, employment applications you submit after you arrive in town will result in more job offers for teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City than you could have imagined.



In this blog post, I’ve touched on issues related to teaching English at Language Centres and government schools in Ho Chi Minh City. I’ve also noted that there are teaching jobs available in Ho Chi Minh City at international schools, companies and tertiary institutions, but you’ll need a bit of luck on your side. As a new person to teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City, joining relevant Facebook Groups, and closely monitoring what’s posted is arguably the best way to find that all-important first teaching job. Certainly, that’s the message that I hear from newbies to the teaching profession. Importantly, don’t be disheartened if job applications you submit from abroad don’t even result in a ‘common courtesy’ response. The number of positive responses you’ll receive once you’re physically on the ground in Ho Chi Minh City will more than adequately make up for earlier disappointment.  


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director and owner of AVSE-TESOL in Vietnam and Cambodia. AVSE-TESOL delivers an Australian Government accredited TESOL training programme in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Phnom Penh and Online for prospective English language teachers. Check out the AVSE website: www.avse.edu.vn  Feel free to contact Peter directly with questions about teaching English in Southeast Asia; he’d be pleased to help. Here is Peter’s email address: peter@avse.edu.vn 




6 Brilliant Schools for Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City


Securing a well-paid job teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is a realistic goal for native English speakers or near native English speakers who are over 21 and under 65 years of age. You’ll need advanced English language skills, a university degree in any discipline, a clear background (criminal record) check, a spirit of adventure and government-regulated TEFL Certification. If you’re a non-native English speaker who aspires to teach English in Ho Chi Minh City or elsewhere in Vietnam, you’ll also need to produce an IELTS score of 6.5 (or above) or an English Proficiency Test result of C1 level or higher.


Let’s assume you can meet all the prerequisites for teaching in Vietnam. What comes next? Schools in Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere in Vietnam prefer employing teachers already on the ground. If you’re not in Ho Chi Minh City, getting there will be your next move, closely followed by finding somewhere to stay, even if it’s only temporary – and then, it’s all about searching for a teaching job.


Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


With English Language Schools seemingly on every street corner in Ho Chi Minh City, you could give yourself a serious ulcer trying to figure out the decent schools and those that should be avoided. I don’t want you to suffer from a nasty ulcer shortly after you arrive in Ho Chi Minh City. Consequently, you’ll see below that I’ve compiled a list of six brilliant schools in Ho Chi Minh City that pay at least market rates, provide a safe and secure environment for teaching and learning and won’t expect you to work unrealistic hours. If you’re lucky enough to secure a teaching job at any of the institutions on my list, you’ll be in the ‘Premier League’ of ESL schools in Ho Chi Minh City.



ILA is huge in Vietnam. They have English Language Schools from one end of Vietnam to the other. Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City or elsewhere in Vietnam at ILA comes with an attractive base salary, Work Permit and Visa support, paid holidays and a range of perks including, Health Insurance, inhouse training, annual company trips to holiday destinations in Vietnam and a lot more. So, if you’re offered a job at ILA, grab it. Without question, ILA is one of the top three schools in Vietnam, and they go about their business in a highly professional manner.


Wall Street English

While ILA is huge in Vietnam, Wall Street English is huge internationally, with 420 English Languages Schools in 29 countries. Wall Street has six English Language Schools in Ho Chi Minh City and one in Binh Duong Province, which abuts Ho Chi Minh City. When you enter a Wall Street school in Ho Chi Minh City for the first time, you could be excused for thinking you’re in a flash hotel. They’re pretty ‘glitzy’. Small class sizes, defined career pathways, an outstanding teaching and learning environment and much more, make Wall Street an excellent choice for teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City.  



Cleverlearn has ten campuses in Vietnam that are evenly split between the north and the south of the country. The first Cleverlearn school in Vietnam opened in 2003, and the company has enjoyed a favourable reputation ever since.  While the hourly rate that Cleverlearn pays foreign ESL teachers tends to be less than other top-tier schools in Vietnam, it’s competitive, nonetheless. In addition to ESL classes for young learners and teens, Cleverlearn dabbles in areas like preparation for international exams, study abroad programmes and corporate English classes.


Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


Apollo English

Apollo is the oldest, 100% foreign-owned English Language School in Vietnam. They’ve been around since 1995. At the last count, Apollo had 61 schools in cities and towns all over Vietnam, employing more than 1,000 foreign ESL teachers. Unlike most large English language schools in Vietnam, Apollo only employs foreign teachers. Local staff occupy administrative-type positions. Workplace diversity, flexible work schedules and modern facilities are a random selection of reasons foreign ESL Teachers love working at Apollo.


Yola Institute

With five branches in Ho Chi Minh City and one in Hanoi, Yola is ‘itty-bitty’ compared to the likes of ILA, Wall Street and the like, but they’ve made an artform of ‘punching above their weight’ in a highly competitive market. Yola is known for investing heavily in their staff – in-house training, career pathways, flexible schedules, Work Permit and Visa support – and more. Delivering comprehensive English language programmes is the mainstay of Yola’s work, but I have noticed they’re ‘making a play’ in the lucrative exam preparation market – IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC and SAT. So, if teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City is on your radar, you’d be well-advised to check out what Yola offers.  


Language Link

Language Link is another 100% foreign-owned Education and Training business with a decent size footprint in the ESL market in Vietnam. Interestingly, Language Link only has one branch in Ho Chi Minh City and three in Hanoi, but employs 300+ foreign ESL teachers. How? Much of the teaching work takes place offsite at government schools, non-government agencies, private companies and anywhere else there’s a need for people to build their English language skills. The diversity of the teaching work on offer and an attractive hourly rate are key reasons why Language Link is rated highly by foreign ESL teachers.



In this article, I’ve named six brilliant schools for teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City. It seems to me the common denominator with the six schools that made it to my list is how they look after their foreign ESL teachers. It’s not about mollycoddling. It’s about recognising that optimum teaching and learning outcomes will be achieved when teachers feel valued. From my observations, teachers feel valued in each of the six schools.


ILA, Wall Street, Cleverlearn, Apollo, Yola and Language Link have designated staff to ensure that Work Permit and Visa applications are finalised expeditiously. In addition, all six schools are attuned to the importance of in-house training, career development, fair pay, flexible scheduling, realistic work hours, inclusivity – and meaningful, two-way feedback.


If any of the schools on this list put an employment contract in front of you, maintain your composure, sign the contract, walk out of the building, be careful crossing the road, find the nearest pub – and then celebrate!!! You’re in the ‘Premier League’, and you deserve it.


About the author: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and founder) of AVSE-TESOL in Vietnam and Cambodia. Originally from Australia, Ho Chi Minh City has been Peter’s home base for 16+ years. If you have any questions about teaching English in Vietnam or Cambodia, feel free to contact Peter directly. He’d be pleased to help. Here is Peter’s direct email address: peter@avse.edu.vn





Ho Chi Minh City – local people & opportunities…


Let’s wind back the clock to June 2006. We’re seated in a quaint coffee shop. It’s located in a cobblestone laneway off Flinders Street in Melbourne. We’re enjoying a lovely brew on a cold afternoon in the middle of winter. Small talk (and Australian Rules Football) is our thing. For some reason, you ask me: “where will you be in 2021?” I can assure you that the words “teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City” would not have passed my lips.



In a few months from now, I will have clocked up 15 years living and working in Southeast Asia, with Ho Chi Minh Citymas my base. Gosh, where has the time gone? How many other foreigners have I seen come and go? Many, but I’m still here for some reason. Digger from Port Macquarie in New South Wales was a terrific mate for the first 10 years, and then he called it quits. I had many laughs – and far too much amber nectar – with Chalky over four or five years in Ho Chi Minh City, then Hanoi, and the grand ‘finale’ in Phnom Penh in November 2019. Old Johnno has been holed up in Phnom Penh for 15 months due to the border restrictions.

There were seven Ho Chi Minh City ‘long haulers’ in my immediate circle of mates in January 2020. They’ve all gone, but that’s okay. I see Ho Chi Minh City as my home. I see the school community as ‘extended family’.



So, what’s my fascination with teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City? Am I just an odd bloke who likes things that others detest? I’m referring to lesson plans; the occasional naughty student; working five evenings a week and most weekends; a harsh climate; poor infrastructure; high-density housing; rivers that you can smell a kilometre away; peculiar food items – although, ‘curried goat brain’ comes highly recommended – and infestations of rats, cockroaches and geckos like you won’t see anywhere else on planet earth. It’s not uncommon in Ho Chi Minh City to see a rat that’s the size of a monkey or a cockroach that would be more comfortable in a shoebox than a matchbox. I’m not a fan of rats and cockroaches, but to be completely honest, I could watch geckos strutting their stuff on the ceiling of my bedroom for hours. While I find geckos to be funny little fellows, allow me to share a personal gecko secret. I never wore underwear to bed until that balmy evening in Ho Chi Minh City 14 years ago when I first saw a gecko on my bedroom wall. Underwear at night has been compulsory attire ever since. I figure it’s best to be careful.



Over the past 3,000 years, there have been plenty of people like me who have ventured to Ho Chi Minh City from neighbouring and far-off lands. Whilst it’s comforting to know that I’m not ‘Robinson Crusoe’, I do make a point of occasionally reminding myself that I am a visitor here. It’s not my place to tell local people how to run their country or their life. History is full of stories about entire ‘armies’ that came to this part of the world with their superiority complexes, thought they owned the place and were eventually thrown out. While I love teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City and the ‘expat lifestyle’ that comes with my work, I won’t outstay my welcome.


Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


When I first arrived in Ho Chi Minh City in September 2006, the local people and the opportunities captured my fascination and imagination. Why do I remain in Ho Chi Minh City after all these years when there is a comfortable life on offer in my native Australia? The answer is straightforward; I remain enthralled by the local people and the opportunities. 


My personal experience with local people is that nowadays they’re genuinely happy with their ‘lot in life’ – despite the harsh climate, poor infrastructure, rats the size of monkeys and other things that most westerners would find intolerable. History tells us that it hasn’t always been like this. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese ‘boat people’ are testament that there was a period, not that long ago, when remaining in the country wasn’t an appealing option. 



The cornerstone of Vietnamese society has not changed since the glorious, local hero, King Hung 1 was a lad. It was the family in King Hung’s day, and it’s the family now. In stark contrast, I’m a living example of how western culture has shifted ground to its detriment. If you get fed up with your family in Australia, the UK and elsewhere, no problem, just get a new one. In Melbourne, I always saw myself as a ‘lovely white-picket fence’ kind of chap with family and community as the foundation of a healthy society. I lost the argument in Australia, but time spent in Ho Chi Minh City has rekindled my faith.


Interestingly, the commitment that most local people have to their family, in part at least, fuels the demand for foreigners with the qualifications, skills and knowledge to teach English in Ho Chi Minh City and other cities and towns across the nation. How? Vietnamese parents want their kids to have more opportunities than they did, and English skills are pivotal to achieving this goal. There’s an insatiable demand for English language skills. This directly translates into teaching jobs in Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere across the country, for people like me.


Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


When I first arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, I was AUD $7,500 in debt and 44 years of age. The debt thing is a long story. It’s enough to say that the ‘lovely white picket fence’ was turned into kindling on more than one occasion. Despite previously holding relatively high, elected office and leading the lifestyle that comes with it, I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City with the ‘backside out of my pants’. In political life, there’s one ‘greasy pole’ with a hoard of smart, ambitious people clamouring to get to the top. Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City was my saving grace.



There’s no doubt that time spent teaching in Ho Chi Minh City has been a terrific healer. I’ve been afforded opportunities that wouldn’t have been available in Australia. Ho Chi Minh City essentially gave me the chance to ‘reinvent myself’ for the better. People who know who I am and my background, have suggested that Ho Chi Minh City has allowed me to ‘find myself’. I’ve relished the opportunity to create things. Despite working at the epicentre of power in Australia for several years, I never had the opportunity or gumption to create anything. Creating new things makes the world a better place, and it does a lot for your self-esteem.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ‘dirty’ on Australia and I have long since forgiven myself (and others) for the difficulties that occurred before I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City. I love the company of fellow Aussies – Digger, Chalky and even old Johnno (on a good day) – and I pine for time with my elderly parents and family members in Australia. I miss live Aussie Rules Football, expressing opinions on political, and social issues and there’s not much that I wouldn’t do for a paper bag, full of Aussie ‘dim sims’, fried or steamed, I’m not fussy.


Yep, teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City has been good to me. I’m grateful.


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Online. AVSE-TESOL is the largest provider of TESOL training programmes (Australian Government accredited) for aspiring English language teachers in Southeast Asia. You can contact Peter directly via email: peter@avse.edu.vn  




Ho Chi Minh City – brilliant place for a ‘Gap Year’… 


Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE-TESOL) is seeking adventurous folks, 21 years of age (plus), with no upper age limit, who are keen on pursuing a ‘Gap Year’ opportunity teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City. 


What is a ‘gap year’?

In a traditional sense, a gap year is 12-months, before or after tertiary studies, where people do something different to what they’ve been doing – or plan to do in the future. While a gap year comes in all ‘shapes and sizes’, there is one common denominator – ‘me time’. Often referred to as a ‘sabbatical year’, a gap year is about experiencing something new at a particular stage in your life because it feels right. Perhaps you’ve just completed high school, but university isn’t on your agenda at the moment. You might be a corporate high-flyer, who’s keen on an extended break from the hustle and bustle. You might be a parent who wants to devote more time to your children when they need you most. You might be a retired person who wants to experience life outside your comfort zone. Anybody can take a gap year. 


Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


At AVSE-TESOL, we use the expression ‘gap year’ loosely. Your ‘gap year’ might be a ‘gap three months’, a ‘gap six months’ or perhaps even a ‘gap who knows how long’. The decision is yours to make. We’re sufficiently flexible to facilitate paid teaching work in Ho Chi Minh City for a period that meets your needs.


First step

The first step with AVSE-TESOL’s ‘gap year’ initiative involves equipping yourself with the skills, knowledge and internationally recognised certification that’s needed for teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City. Conveniently, AVSE-TESOL offers an in-class, Australian Government accredited TESOL training programme over four weeks in Ho Chi Minh City. While TESOL training at AVSE-TESOL comes with a fee, you’ll be pleased to know that the cost for our ‘in-class’ course includes accommodation for the entirety of the four-week study programme. The price also covers a welcome dinner and drinks on day one, direct referral to a partner school when you’ve finished the course – and a lot more. If you’re unable to commit to a four-week, in-class TESOL course in Ho Chi Minh City, you have the option of completing exactly the same TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL via online study – before you arrive in Vietnam.



Second step

The second step with AVSE-TESOL’s ‘gap year’ initiative involves transitioning from the TESOL programme, in-class or online, to an English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching job in Ho Chi Minh City. Post TESOL training, some folks are determined to start teaching immediately. Others choose to spend a week or longer taking in the best of what Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere in this wonderful country has to offer before they start a paid teaching job. It’s personal choice; either is absolutely fine.


Teaching jobs in Ho Chi Minh City typically pay a salary of US $17.00 +/- (net) per hour. You can expect to teach 20 to 25 classroom hours a week. When you multiply the hourly rate by the number of hours worked, you will see that a monthly salary of US $1,400.00 +/- (net) is on offer. With the cost of living being much lower than in Australia, the US, Canada, the UK, South Africa and many other countries, you can realistically expect to save (after meeting all your living expenses) 40 to 50 percent of your salary without cutting corners. Frankly, I don’t know anybody in my native Australia who can save between US $500.00 to US $700.00 a month working full-time hours, let alone only working 20 to 25 hours a week.



If you’re looking for a ‘gap year’ experience, regardless of your age, background or the specific timeframe – three, six or twelve months, teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City is a great choice. AVSE-TESOL will be by your side every step of the way. True, the TESOL course at AVSE in Ho Chi Minh City involves some ‘heavy lifting’. You’d expect nothing less from a teacher training programme that’s accredited by the Australian Government. Once you’ve completed the TESOL course at AVSE-TESOL in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll be working as an English language teacher in no time. You’ll be saving money while living the ‘gap year’ dream. Do it!


About the writer: Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Peter Goudge now calls Ho Chi Minh City home. More than a decade ago, Peter Goudge set up a Language School in Ho Chi Minh City named AVSE. His business interests have grown to include Teacher Training Schools (AVSE-TESOL) in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh. If you’d like more information about teaching English abroad, feel free to reach out to Peter directly via email: peter@avse.edu.vn





Teaching English in Hanoi

Teaching English in Hanoi



Five things to do on arrival… 


You’ve been planning this part of your life for years and the time has finally arrived. You’re heading off on an adventure, ‘uncharted waters’, teaching English in Hanoi, Vietnam. Your first stop in Hanoi will be the Australian Government accredited TESOL course at AVSE-TESOL. You’ve read more than 200 online reviews about AVSE-TESOL, with the vast majority being top notch. Given your background, as solid as it is, bears no resemblance to teaching English in Hanoi, you figure that investing in quality vocational training – teacher training – is a wise move. I think you’re right. Not only will the TESOL training at AVSE-TESOL provide you with the knowledge, skills and quality certification you need to land that all-important first teaching job, it gives you four weeks to find your feet in a new country, surrounded by like-minded people who ooze ‘positive vibes’..


Here’s the last bit of perspective. This blog post is focused on what to do immediately after you’ve arrived in Hanoi, taken a taxi to your accommodation, had a shower and a snooze. The tips that are provided are equally relevant if you’ve chosen to do a TESOL course with a provider other than AVSE-TESOL, probably more so given AVSE’s supportive arrival process. Applying these tips should make your transition to a new lifestyle, initially as a TESOL student followed by teaching English in Hanoi, more straight-forward than it might otherwise be.



Tip 1: Fix your phone

Walking around outside without a cell-phone that’s immediately accessible and useable, for many people, is akin to being ‘butt naked’ in the street. Rightly or wrongly, these days, cell-phones are an integral part of everyday life, especially when you’re located in unfamiliar surroundings. Google maps (via your cell-phone), may well end up being your best friend, at least for a few days until you know the backstreets and alleys that characterise Hanoi. Moreover, once you’ve fixed your phone, you’ll be able to reach out to family, friends and your TESOL provider. They’ll all be eager to hear that you arrived safely. Here’s a word of warning, however, when you need to use your cell-phone in the street in Hanoi, it’s best to take some cover in a doorway or similar. Why? You’ll reduce the chance of being subjected to a ‘ride-by’ snatch – a crook on a motorbike. 


Getting your phone up and running might be a simple case of inserting a new (local) SIM card. Conversely, it might be a nightmare. If you’re a cell-phone guru, you’ll be fine. If this doesn’t sound like you, visiting a cell-phone shop close to your accommodation should be a priority. The good news is, cell-phone shops in Hanoi are seemingly on every street corner. The receptionist in your hotel or guest house will surely point you in the right direction.


In the unlikely event that you’ve travelled abroad without a cell-phone, you will need to get one. Jobs offers for teaching English in Hanoi are typically made by phone. If the employer can’t reach you by cell-phone, he (or she) will simply move onto the next candidate.


Note, fixing your cell-phone at the airport – a common ‘rookie’ error – will cost you substantially more than visiting a ‘mum and dad’ phone shop downtown.


Tip 2: Know the local neighbourhood

Now that your cell-phone is in working condition and you can tap your best mate ‘Google Maps’ on the shoulder, there is less chance that you’ll get lost in Hanoi when you venture out. So, venture out. It’s time to get to know the neighbourhood where you’re staying, even if your current accommodation is only a short-term thing. Before venturing into the unknown, even though you have ‘Mr Google Maps’ in your pocket, take a business card from the place where you’re staying or write the address on a bit of paper and put it in your wallet as a back-up strategy to avoid getting lost. Worst case scenario, let’s assume you do get lost.  For sure, you will find the way back to your accommodation sooner or later, if only because downtown Hanoi isn’t that big. Anyway, it could be argued that getting lost in Hanoi is all part of the adventure.


Teaching English in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


Where is the grocery store, the pharmacy, the bus station, a great coffee shop, an area for passive recreation and most importantly for visitors to Hanoi who have done their research, the local ‘Bia Hoi’? What’s a Bia Hoi? Do a quick Google search and then make a point of visiting one when you’re in Hanoi.


Familiarising yourself with the neighbourhood extends to working out how to get to the address where your TESOL course will take place. Again, Google Maps will come in handy, but something as simple as a ‘Mud Map’ with landmarks might be enough. Doing a ‘dry run’ from your accommodation to the training venue would be time well-spent.


Tip 3: Bond with those around you

Assuming your TESOL course in Hanoi comes with high quality accreditation, like the Australian Government accredited programme at AVSE-TESOL, you’ll be mixing with people – classmates, professional Vocational Trainers and TESOL support staff – who are on the very same journey as you, or are leading the way. You’ll be with like-minded souls. It’s within this kind of environment where life-long personal and professional relationships are formed.


When you’re in a foreign country, friends are more important than ever. Almost certainly you’ll need to reach out at some stage for guidance on visa matters, travelling around Vietnam, where to get a job teaching English in Hanoi, where not to work, employment or lease contracts and the list goes on. It makes sense to have a pool of decent people you can call on when they’re needed. Human nature dictates that people are usually happy to give a helping hand to someone they consider to be a friend. As always, people will be more likely to consider you as a friend, if you’re respectful and nice to them.


Tip 4: Take safety precautions

Statistics show that Hanoi is markedly safer than the capital cities of most developed countries, but crime, especially petty crime, does occur. Foreign ‘tourists’ are ‘standout’ targets when they ‘flash their cash’ or get around town with their valuables on display – cameras, jewelry and suchlike. You will see this kind of behaviour pretty much on a daily basis in main tourist areas in Hanoi. I suspect it has more to do with ignorance than anything else. 


Teaching English in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


When a villain is apprehended by the police – or a member of the community – there are no ‘ifs and buts’. Justice Vietnamese-style is swift and often brutal. Vietnam is one of those countries in the world where it’s not a good idea to transgress the law, regardless of whether you’re a local person or a visitor. 


While Hanoi (and elsewhere in Vietnam) has a well-deserved reputation for being safe, it’s always smart to take precautions including, but not limited to: store your money, passport and other valuables in a place that’s secure; know how to get into your accommodation after hours; be accompanied by friends when walking in the street at night; don’t use your cell-phone when standing or walking in the street; if you have to carry a bag in the street, make sure it has a long strap so you can place it across your body; if you hire or buy a bicycle (or motorbike) to get around Hanoi, make sure it’s locked when left unattended; and know who to call in case of an emergency. It’s common for folks who are teaching English in Hanoi to have evening classes that go to 8.30pm and even later. Travelling home (alone) after a late class requires extra vigilance. All of these precautions equally apply to any other city in the world.


Tip 5: Always remember that you’re a visitor

I have been living and working in Vietnam for more than 15 years. Back in 2007, my old dad visited me in Vietnam. During this trip, he mentioned in passing ‘always remember you’re a visitor’ – and to this day, I’d like to think that I’ve heeded his astute advice.


Vietnamese people have every reason to be peeved with foreigners. For 3,000+ years, foreigners have felt the need to turn up without an invitation and tell local people how to run their life. Despite what’s happened throughout history, almost certainly you will form a view that Hanoians and other Vietnamese folks are up with the loveliest the world has to offer. Those who felt the need to trespass have long since been forgiven. These days, foreigners who are teaching English in Hanoi, are revered. Personally, I’d like to keep it that way.


You and I – and hundreds of thousands like us – are now welcome in Vietnam, but as my old dad said ‘always remember you’re a visitor’. Be polite. Go about your work teaching English in Hanoi in a professional manner. Respect local customs and traditions. Don’t get involved in discussions about politics and religion. If there are language problems, be mindful that in Vietnam people speak Vietnamese and if you’re having issues with understanding something or getting your point across – they’re your issues. To drive home the importance of ‘always remembering you’re a visitor’, here’s a succinct analogy: when visiting a friend or neighbour’s house, would you take it upon yourself to rearrange their furniture? I don’t think so.



In summary, I’ve provided 5 tips that should make it easier for you to your new life as a TESOL student in the short-term and then teaching English in Hanoi. Fix your phone, know what’s available, make an effort to network, take sensible steps to enhance your safety and be respectful towards locals. You’ve been brave enough to embark on this ‘once in a lifetime’ adventure, so it makes sense to grab the opportunity with both hands.


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Online. AVSE-TESOL has been training aspiring educators for jobs teaching English in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and other parts of Southeast Asia for more than a decade. Check out the AVSE website: www.avse.edu.vn




Teaching English in Hanoi versus teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City


I am often asked if teaching English in Hanoi is better than teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City or vice versa. How do you answer that kind of question with so many variables, including personal preference? Typically, I’ll offer comparisons between the two destinations and remind the person who asked the question that neither place has to be their forever teaching location. If you’ve had enough of a particular teaching destination, move to a new one. Teaching English in Vietnam and elsewhere abroad is one of only a few professions that allow moving from location A to B to C with minimal fuss. Why? There are many more ESL teaching jobs available in Vietnam than there are suitably qualified people to fill them. This is one time in your life when ‘market forces’ will well and truly work in your favour.


Teaching English in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


Five comparisons

Immediately below, you’ll find five comparisons between teaching English in Hanoi and teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City. I trust you’ll find the comparisons helpful if you’re one of those people who’s not sure whether north (Hanoi) or south (Ho Chi Minh City) should be your teaching English abroad start point.


One – Pace of life:

Teaching English in Hanoi offers a much slower pace of life compared to teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City. With a bohemian feel, you’ll find an aspect of art, culture, or history in every street in Hanoi – in some streets, you’ll find all three. In contrast, Ho Chi Minh City is a modern metropolis and international hub. There are places in Ho Chi Minh City that provide an insight to the ‘old Vietnam’; Ben Thanh Market, and the Quan Am Pagoda are two examples, but increasingly the landscape is being consumed by high-rise apartments and offices.


Two – Weather:

Teaching English in Hanoi comes with the classic four seasons – with a Southeast Asian variation – hot and wet in the summer months and cold and dry in winter. Ho Chi Minh City has only two seasons, wet and dry. The wet season is characterised by high humidity and a daily downpour, the like of which most folks have never witnessed before travelling to Ho Chi Minh City. As the name suggests, there’s zero rain during the 6-month dry season. Regardless of the season, Ho Chi Minh City is oppressively hot 24/7.


Teaching English in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


Three – Teaching jobs:

The availability of English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching jobs is one area where Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are hard to separate. There is an abundance of ESL teaching jobs available in both locations. Moreover, the type of ESL teaching work on offer is similar. In both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, teaching jobs are available in privately owned English Language Centres, government schools and tertiary institutions. Private tutoring and onsite ESL classes for business people are also common in both cities.


Four – Cost of living:

There are some cost-of-living factors, accommodation, for example, that are seemingly more expensive in Hanoi compared to Ho Chi Minh City. Equally, there are other cost of living factors; food is one example that comes to mind, that are more expensive in Ho Chi Minh City compared to Hanoi. Overall, the cost-of-living difference between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is negligible, if it exists at all. By any measure, Vietnam is a cheap place to live. The wages and employment conditions afforded to foreigners who are teaching English in Hanoi – and Ho Chi Minh City provide for a savings capacity and lifestyle that most people can only dream about.


Five – Crime:

Personally, I have always felt safer in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere in Vietnam than I did when I was living in Melbourne, Australia – my hometown. Of course, scams and petty crime are not uncommon in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but the prevalence is not a distinguishing factor between the two cities, in my opinion. Sure, there are places where it would be unwise to walk alone at night in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and you do need to avoid rookie errors like using your cell phone in the street and carrying your wallet in your back pocket, but the same applies to pretty much every city in the world.



In this blog post, I have touched on five factors that people commonly weigh up when deciding whether to start their teaching abroad journey in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. The pace of life and the weather are obvious differences between the two cities. However, if there is a difference between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with the availability of teaching jobs, the cost of living and crime, it wouldn’t be enough to say that one of the two locations is a better place to work as an ESL teacher over the other. Overall, that old expression, ‘same, same, but different’, certainly applies when drawing comparisons between teaching English in Hanoi and teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City.


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director and owner of AVSE-TESOL in Australia, Vietnam and Cambodia. With TESOL training schools in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh, Peter has spent the past two decades working in the ESL sector in Southeast Asia. Check out the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.edu.vn




‘Me Time’ While Teaching English in Hanoi


I’ve got it pegged that you’re here because teaching English in Hanoi is on your radar. Of course, it might be a far-off ‘blimp’, a flashing red light with a deafening siren, or somewhere in between. Regardless, it’s terrific that Hanoi is on your mind. You’re in for a treat. It’s a fascinating city. I can’t think of anywhere else in the world where you’ll find so much history, art and culture in one place. Yes, it’s chaotic, densely populated, and the quirky weather – hot, humid, and wet for half of the year and dry and cool for the other half – takes time to get used to, but you’re in the market for change. Correct?   


Teaching English in Hanoi comes with a range of benefits, including: a decent salary, the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of local people, a much lower cost of living compared to western countries, and the chance for plenty of ‘me time’. Personally, I’m a big fan of ‘me time’. It’s good for the heart and soul. My version of quality ‘me time’ involves being out and about rather than sitting in front of the ‘telly’. If your version of the best ‘me time’ is like mine, being out and about, here’s a list of five places in Hanoi you’ll absolutely love.


Train Street

Train Street in Hanoi is a popular destination for local people and visitors because it’s so unusual, and there are always plenty of people ‘hanging out’. Most railway lines in developed countries come with an easement of ten to fifteen metres on both sides of the track to protect people and property. The easement in Train Street on the left and right-hand side of the track is twenty centimetres (+/-). There are rows of old houses on both sides of the track on Train Street. Many have been converted into restaurants, cafes and bars. Somehow, trains squeeze between the dwellings day in and day out with zero ‘wriggle room’. Pull up a chair, order a cold beer and wait for a train to go by. It’s a sight to behold.


Teaching English in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


Underground shopping mall

People go to shopping malls for all kinds of reasons – to buy things, see a movie, catch up with friends and the like. However, Hanoi is one of the few places where people visit a shopping mall to experience subterranean life. The Vincom Mega Mall in Hanoi’s Thanh Xuan District is entirely underground. The outside roof of the mall is a park, similar to a park you find in any other major city. While the 800+ retail shops at Mega Mall are the key drawcard for most visitors, the quirky design of the building is enough reason to pop down there when you have a chance.  


Hoan Kiem Lake

As much as you’ll love teaching English in Hanoi, finding the right balance between work and ‘me time’ is imperative. The Hoan Kiem Lake precinct in Hanoi is ‘me time’ central. There is always something happening at Hoan Kiem Lake and the surrounding area that will capture your interest. You’ll see people of all ages and backgrounds jogging, taking a stroll, walking their dog, ‘people watching’, playing board games and sharing quiet time with a friend. Informal, dance and exercise classes take place every evening at Hoan Kiem Lake. Step outside your comfort zone and join in. You won’t be imposing. You’ll be welcomed with open arms.


Teaching English in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


Cafe Dinh

If the walls in ‘Cafe Dinh’ could talk, there’d be enough material for a bestseller. The coffee and ambience at this place are superb. It’s like being in a time warp. Located on the second floor of an old, decaying building overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake, it’s easy to miss Café Dinh. But once you find it, I’m confident it will make it to your list of ‘me time’ destinations while you’re teaching English in Hanoi. Interestingly, a family member of the current owners created the original ‘coffee with egg’ recipe in the 1940s, that’s a favourite of pretty much every Hanoian I’ve met. Unfortunately, the ‘coffee with egg’ concoction and my taste buds don’t get on very well, but you should try it at least once.


Bach Thao Park

London has Hyde Park, New York has Central Park, Melbourne has Treasury Gardens – and Hanoi has Bach Thao Park, also known as the Hanoi Botanical Gardens. With mature trees, lakes and open space – yes, there’s grass – Bach Thao Park is like an oasis in the middle of an urban jungle. The park is very popular with Hanoians and foreigners seeking to escape city life’s hustle and bustle. I read somewhere that Bach Thao Park is the ‘lung’ (singular) of Hanoi. While I think that’s an exaggeration, you’ll undoubtedly appreciate the greenery. Lay out a blanket under one of the beautiful, old trees at Bach Thao Park, open a book, and you’ve got half a day of ‘me time’ at zero cost.



In this short article, I have identified five places that are well worth considering when you’ve got time away from your job teaching English in Hanoi. Train Street and Mega Mall rated a mention because they’re so unusual. Next, Hoan Kiem Lake and Bach Thao Park are brilliant locations for ‘me time’, offering serenity that can be hard to find in a big city. Finally, the ambience and history of Cafe Dinh make this place my personal ‘me time’ favourite location. Visit Cafe Dinh once, and it will almost certainly be your ‘me time’ favourite.


Have you already visited one or more of the five locations on my ‘me time’ list? If so, share your opinion in the comments section below.


About the author: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and founder) of AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh. AVSE-TESOL delivers an Australian Government accredited TESOL programme in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh. Check out the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.edu.vn



Don’t forget insurance


The key indicators – job advertisements, pay rates, ‘me time’, cost of living – suggest that Hanoi, Vietnam, is one of the hottest destinations worldwide for adventurous people who are keen on teaching English abroad.  If you’re somebody who is thinking about teaching English in Hanoi, here’s some advice. Do it. Assuming your credentials are in order, you’ll find a job with relative ease, earn a decent wage and only work 100 hours (+/-) a month. When the low cost of living is added to the mix, there’s a quintessential expat lifestyle on offer.



While there is every reason to believe that your experience teaching English in Hanoi will be rosy like my own over the past 15 years, and tens of thousands of others over the past three decades, travelling anywhere abroad comes with risks. Heaven forbid you have a motorbike accident, pick up a horrible bug of some kind, be attacked by a rabid dog or meet some other misfortune. We might think that we’re indestructible, but the reality is, we’re not.



The consequences of meeting misfortune while abroad, as distinct from home turf, is where problems arise. Days, weeks or perhaps even months recuperating in a Vietnamese Public Hospital do not come cheap for foreigners. There are sad stories all over the internet of mums and dads in England, the US, Australia and elsewhere being lumbered with substantial medical bills because their son or daughter had an accident, got sick or suffered an injury while teaching English in Hanoi – and they didn’t have insurance. Travelling abroad without insurance is irresponsible! If you’re unable to meet the cost of basic insurance for the time you plan to spend in Vietnam, then it’s best to put your plans on hold. It’s that important.


Like you, I’m not happy about paying insurance premiums of any kind, but the idea that my old mum and dad (both in their 80s) would be forced to mortgage or sell their house to cover my medical bills or to ship my mortal remains back to Australia, fills me with horror. Without wishing to alarm you,  I know six expats who have been shipped home in a box and two in a vase, during my time in Vietnam. In each case, the costs were passed onto the next of kin. You cannot assume that your job teaching English in Hanoi will come with insurance coverage. Some do, but 90%+ don’t.


Key features

Decent travel insurance with medical coverage is relatively easy to find with a simple Google search. ‘Compare, compare, compare’ is the key to getting a good deal. Once you think you’ve found a good deal, then it’s time to use your bargaining skills to get an even better deal. You may be surprised to learn that insurance costs are less than you expected and the inclusions are more than you expected. Personally, I’m covered by World Nomads, and I have been for all but one year of my teaching abroad journey. Here are some of the key items that a decent insurance policy will cover:


Medical: This is not an area where you can scrimp. Your insurance policy needs to cover all medical expenses – inpatient and outpatient – in the event of an accident, sickness or injury while you’re teaching English in Hanoi. The language typically used in a travel insurance policy is ‘Unlimited’, or words to that effect. You need ‘Unlimited’ medical coverage.


Baggage: It’s about the replacement cost of items that are lost, stolen or damaged while you’re abroad. Depending on the value of your possessions, this might be an area where you can reduce your insurance premium. If your possessions aren’t worth much, you should ask the insurance provider if you can obtain a cheaper fee by: 1. excluding ‘Baggage’ from the policy; or 2. only covering items that will be costly to replace.


Teaching English in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


Trip cancellation: If you need to cancel your travel plans for whatever reason, you’ll be able to claim non-refundable payments. For example, you may have paid US $800.00 for airfare from Rome to Hanoi. You need to cancel your ticket. The airline charges you a cancellation fee of US $250.00. It’s possible (depending on ‘Deductibles’) that your insurance will cover the US $250 fee. Trip cancellation is an area where you can be thrifty following a simple risk versus benefit analysis. It’s worth considering.


Death or disability: The cost of having mortal remains shipped from Vietnam to another country is astronomical, in the realm of someone having to mortgage their house. Without insurance, either a family member or friend will have to meet all expenses to get you home for burial. The alternatives are to be ‘shelved’ in a Vietnamese mortuary as an unclaimed body or to be ‘unceremoniously’ cremated and posted home. Both options are frightful. The consequences of suffering some kind of permanent disability while you’re in Vietnam are equally dire without insurance. Scrimping with death or disability cover is unwise.



Pretty much every travel insurance policy that I have seen references ‘Deductibles’ by way of a monetary sum. The term ‘Deductibles’ is insurance jargon for what you must contribute in the event of a claim before your insurance policy kicks in. For example, let’s say you’re out with your mates on a Friday night, you walk into a wall and break your nose. The total cost of getting your nose fixed in Hanoi is US $1,000.00. Your ‘Deductibles’ are US $650.00. At best, your insurance provider will reimburse you US $350.00 (US $1,000.00 – US $650.00 = US $350.00). Why have I raised ‘Deductibles’ in this post? Firstly, most people don’t know they exist until they make a claim – and receive a lower payment than they expected. Secondly, you might be able to use the ‘Deductibles’ number to achieve a lower premium for your insurance policy. The higher the ‘Deductibles’, the lower the premium. Suppose your goal is to be covered for high-cost, ‘worst-case scenario’ type situations during your time teaching English in Hanoi. In that case, you might choose to increase the ‘Deductibles’ to a sum that’s terrible to contemplate, but is manageable, in exchange for a cheaper insurance policy.  



The message in this short article is straightforward. Teaching English in Hanoi is an ‘adventure of a lifetime’, but make sure you’re covered by medical, death and disability insurance (as a minimum). If you have an accident, get sick, suffer an injury or worse – and you’re not covered by insurance – your ‘adventure of a lifetime’ may well end up being a nightmare. If you’re unable to pay for insurance before departing from your home country, put your plans on hold until you can. Shop around until you find an affordable insurance policy, that comes with the coverage you need – and ‘Deductibles’ that are manageable.


Enjoy your time teaching English in Hanoi. Most importantly, stay safe.


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of AVSE-TESOL in Vietnam and Cambodia. AVSE-TESOL offers an Australian Government accredited TESOL programme in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and online – a brilliant pathway for people looking to teach English in Southeast Asia and beyond. Visit the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.edu.vn




Teaching English in Hanoi to clear student debt


My name is Monica Willow. I’m from Denver, Colorado. AVSE-TESOL asked me to write a Guest Post for their Vietnam Blog, and I’m delighted to help out. I’ll take this opportunity to share my personal experience with teaching English in Hanoi as a way to clear student loan debt.  



Attending university or college in the United States is expensive. Every year, students take out loans to further their education. I’m no different to millions of students in America and around the world doing the same thing. Accumulating student debt is the ‘norm’ for people who want a tertiary education. Literally, millions of Americans living in the world’s most prosperous country are left debt-ridden because they pursued a university or college degree. There are reported cases of people carrying student debt from their early twenties through to retirement age.


Teaching English in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


I completed a Social Work Degree at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2014. By the time I graduated, my student debt was just shy of US $50,000. You might be surprised to learn that the debt I had accumulated was only a fraction of what some university friends and acquaintances had amassed. Within a month of finishing my degree, I moved back to Denver to live with my mum and dad. My thinking at the time was that I’d be able to: 1. find a well-paid job in Denver because of my degree, and 2. chip away at my student debt because I’ll be living rent-free at my parent’s place.


Within a week of moving back to Denver, I found the job of my dreams. Good news! Well, not exactly. It took less than two months to realize that the ‘job of my dreams’ doesn’t pay enough to cover everyday expenses, let alone to reduce my student debt. I was working long hours as a professional Social Worker and getting nowhere fast. My social life was non-existent because I was ‘penny-pinching’ and if it weren’t for the free accommodation at my parent’s place, my student debt repayments wouldn’t have even covered the interest. Was I naive? I think so. My life at the time was soul-destroying. I needed a new approach that would allow me to meet my financial commitments while enjoying a ‘normal’ life – spending time with friends, going to movies, dancing, eating out, pursuing a hobby, and doing other things that I enjoy.  


Vietnam, here I come

In April 2015, a friend of mine from university, Tory, sent me a Facebook message about her life teaching English in Hanoi, Vietnam. Tory’s message piqued my interest. I’d especially noted that I could earn more working as an English language teacher in Hanoi than working as a Social Worker in Denver. Moreover, everyday expenses in Hanoi are markedly less than in Denver. Putting the financial aspect to one side, I’d always wanted to travel outside of the United States and experience other cultures. Tory had traveled to Hanoi within days of completing her degree. The ability to make a snap decision (and live with the consequences) is one of Tory’s many positive attributes. I tend to procrastinate, but not on this occasion. Fast forward six weeks, I arrived in Hanoi on 27 May 2015.



Ask me about Social Work (or movies), and I’ll ‘gasbag’ forever because it’s what I know. Teaching English abroad requires a new skill set, knowledge, and internationally recognized certification. It’s not enough to hold an American Passport or be a native English speaker to take on a job as a professional English teacher. With this in mind, I chose to follow in my friend’s footsteps and enroll in the Australian Government accredited TESOL program (teacher training) at AVSE-TESOL in Ba Dinh District in Hanoi. I loved the people at AVSE-TESOL. I also loved the intensive 4-week TESOL course. The certification that comes with the TESOL course at AVSE-TESOL is highly regarded by Vietnamese schools. With TESOL certification from AVSE, I started teaching English in Hanoi on 29 June 2015.  


Bottom line

It’s now summer in 2019. I’m sitting in Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, writing this blog post while waiting for a flight back to the US. I’ve spent the past four years teaching English in Hanoi. Where has the time gone? It has been a privilege. How lucky was I to learn about this opportunity? Very lucky! On top of making many wonderful friends, Vietnamese, and other expats, I’ve seen tangible results flow from my teaching work. I’ve traveled extensively in Asia – and I’ve managed to clear US $45,000+ of student debt. Yes, I still have another US $5,000 to go, but it’s manageable. Vietnam has been good to me. I’m grateful.


Here’s a crude outline of my financial arrangements during the almost four years that I taught English in Hanoi.


  • Average month salary (Language Center + Online): US $2,300.00
  • Number of months worked (including paid leave, excluding vacations & unpaid training): 42
  • Average hours worked per month: 108
  • Average monthly rent + utilities: US $350.00 (predominately single room in a shared house)
  • Average monthly expenses (food, personal items, socializing, motorbike…): US $600.00


Calculation: US $2,300.00 x 42 = US $96,600.00 – US $39,900.00 (US $350.00 + US $600.00 x 42) = US $56,700.00 (in the black). Of the US $56,700.00 that I cleared (after all expenses) from teaching English in Hanoi, US $45,280.00 was used to reduce my student debt and the balance was spent on airfares, my TESOL training, traveling and other sizable, one-off expenses. I should reiterate, this is a crude estimate.



Being saddled with student debt is the reality for many Americans of my generation. People work long hours for an eternity and lead unfulfilling lives because it’s the only way they know to clear their debt. If you’re anything like I was, up to my eyeballs in student debt, consider teaching English in Hanoi or elsewhere in Asia to turn your life around. This simple debt-clearing strategy worked for me. There’s every reason to believe that it will also work for you.


About the writer: Monica Willow arrived in Vietnam in May 2015 with some firm goals in mind. Working as an English teacher in Hanoi to clear accumulated student debt was one of those goals. An Alumni of AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi, Monica’s ‘good news’ story can also be yours. Check out the AVSE website: https://avse.edu.vn/



Teaching English in Hanoi

Learn about English Proficiency Exams to Study Abroad

Planning to Study Abroad? 



Studying abroad is an exciting opportunity for students to immerse themselves in a new culture, gain new perspectives, and develop new skills. One of the most important considerations for students who want to study abroad is their proficiency in the English language, as most countries where English is not the native language still use it as the language of instruction.


The purpose of this blog is to provide an overview of the most common English proficiency exams that students might have to consider if they are planning to study abroad. The blog will also provide tips for choosing the right exam, preparing for the exam, taking the exam, and understanding the results. The goal is to help prospective study abroad students make informed decisions about their English proficiency testing, and to help them feel more confident and prepared as they embark on their study abroad journey. 

Here’s one last bit of perspective. Taking exam preparation classes has been the focus of my teaching work in Vietnam since 2018. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support and encouragement from the good people at AVSE-TESOL in Ho Chi Minh City, where I originally did my TESOL training. 


Learn about English Proficiency Exams to Study Abroad AVSE-TESOL


Common English Proficiency Tests

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): TOEFL is one of the most widely recognized English proficiency exams in the world. It is designed to assess the English language abilities of non-native speakers who are planning to study in English-speaking countries. TOEFL measures reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.


International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an internationally recognized language proficiency test for non-native English speakers. It measures the language abilities in four key areas: listening, reading, writing and speaking. The test is designed to assess the English language skills of people who need to study or work in English-speaking countries.


IELTS scores are used by a variety of organizations, including universities, immigration departments, and professional bodies, as a way of measuring English language proficiency. The test is available in two formats: the Academic module and the General Training module. The Academic module is intended for people who want to study at the university level, while the General Training module is designed for those who need English for work, migration, or training purposes.


IELTS results are based on a 9-band scale, with scores ranging from 0 to 9. The test is marked by trained and certified IELTS examiners and results are available online 13 days after the test date.


PTE (Pearson Test of English): PTE Exam is an English language proficiency test for non-native English speakers. It is designed to assess the English language skills of people who need to study or work in English-speaking countries. PTE measures English language abilities in four key areas: speaking and writing, listening, and reading.


PTE is a computer-based test and uses advanced technology to accurately measure language abilities. The test is designed to be completed in one sitting, usually lasting around 3 hours. The speaking and writing sections are conducted in real-time, allowing for a more natural and interactive testing experience.


  1. CAE (Cambridge English: Advanced): CAE is a high-level English proficiency exam that is designed to assess the language abilities of non-native speakers who are planning to study or work in English-speaking countries. CAE measures reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.
  2. CPE (Cambridge English: Proficiency): CPE is the highest-level English proficiency exam offered by Cambridge English. It is designed to assess the English language abilities of non-native speakers who are planning to study or work in English-speaking countries at an advanced level. CPE measures reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.


Choosing the Right Exam

When choosing an English proficiency exam, there are several factors to consider, such as the acceptance of the exam by the institution you are planning to attend, the cost of the exam, the test format, and the availability of test dates and locations. Additionally, it is essential to consider your personal needs and goals, such as your desired level of English proficiency and your future plans for studying or working in an English-speaking country.


Learn about English Proficiency Exams to Study Abroad AVSE-TESOL


The best exam for you will depend on your individual needs and goals. Suppose you are planning to study at a university or college in an English-speaking country. In that case, you may want to consider TOEFL or IELTS, as many institutions widely accept them. If you need to demonstrate a high level of English proficiency for professional purposes, you may want to consider CAE or CPE. If you are looking for a cost-effective and convenient option, you may want to consider PTE, which can be taken at a Pearson testing center near you. Ultimately, it is important to research each exam carefully and choose the one that best fits your needs and goals.


Preparing for the Exam

To prepare for your English proficiency exam, you should start by familiarizing yourself with the exam format, content, and structure. It is also important to practice your English skills regularly, focusing on the specific skills that will be tested on the exam. This may include speaking, writing, listening, and reading exercises, as well as vocabulary and grammar practice. Additionally, you may want to consider enrolling in an exam preparation course or working with a tutor to help you focus your studies and build your confidence.


There are many resources available to help you prepare for your English proficiency exam, including online courses, textbooks, practice tests, and study guides. Official exam preparation materials, such as TOEFL iBT Practice Tests, IELTS Official Practice Materials, and PTE Official Practice Tests, can be a great place to start. You can also find many other resources, such as exam preparation apps, videos, and blogs, online. It is important to use a variety of resources to help you prepare for your exam, as this will help you develop a well-rounded understanding of the exam format and content.


Learn about English Proficiency Exams to Study Abroad AVSE-TESOL


Taking the Exam

Taking an English proficiency exam typically involves registering for the exam, paying the exam fee, and choosing a test date and location. On the day of the exam, you will need to arrive at the testing center early, bring appropriate identification, and complete the exam in accordance with the instructions provided. After the exam, you will receive your scores, which will be used to assess your English proficiency for academic or professional purposes.


On exam day, you can expect to be tested on your English language skills, including speaking, writing, listening, and reading. You will typically be given a set amount of time to complete the exam, and you may be required to complete multiple-choice questions, writing tasks, speaking tasks, and listening tasks. It is important to be well-prepared for the exam, both in terms of your English skills and in terms of what you can expect on exam day. It is also important to remain calm and focused during the exam and to follow all instructions and guidelines provided by the examiners.


Scoring and Results

Each English proficiency exam has its own unique scoring system, which typically ranges from low to high scores. For example, TOEFL scores range from 0-120, IELTS scores range from 1-9, PTE scores range from 10-90, CAE scores range from A1-C1, and CPE scores range from C1-C2. It is important to understand the scoring system for your chosen exam, as well as the minimum score requirements for your desired academic or professional outcomes.


Your results from your English proficiency exam will be used to assess your level of English proficiency and determine your eligibility for academic or professional opportunities. It is important to interpret your results carefully, taking into account the scoring system, your personal goals, and the requirements of your desired academic or professional outcomes. If you do not meet the minimum score requirements, you may need to retake the exam or consider alternative opportunities for improving your English skills. Regardless of your results, it is important to use the experience of taking the exam as an opportunity to continue learning and growing as an English language learner.



The importance of English proficiency when studying abroad, the different English proficiency exams that are available, how to choose the right exam, tips for preparing for the exam, what to expect on exam day, and how to interpret the results.


For prospective study abroad students, the journey toward achieving English proficiency can be both challenging and rewarding. It is important to be well-informed about the different exams that are available and to choose the exam that is best suited to your personal needs and goals. With proper preparation and a strong focus on developing your English skills, you can increase your chances of success on the exam and achieve your desired academic or professional outcomes. Finally, it is important to remain motivated and focused and to use the experience of taking the exam as an opportunity to continue growing and developing as an English language learner.


About the writer: Billy Atherton completed the Australian Government accredited TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL in Ho Chi Minh City. He has been teaching English in Vietnam since 2017. Preparing Vietnamese students for international examinations has been the main focus of Billy’s work over the past few few years. 


Tips for Teaching English as a Second Language

Tips for Teaching English as a Second Language

Handy tips for teaching ESL x 12


Do you have experience teaching English as a second language? Whether you are just starting or have been teaching for years, these twelve tips will help you create lessons that engage your students and help them learn the language. These ideas will help you make your ESL classes enjoyable and productive, from using games to keeping things interesting.

  1. Keep the lesson short

It might seem like adding more content would help students learn more, but this is not true. Instead of piling on the material, keep lessons short and sweet. This way, students can focus on one thing and get involved in the study programme.

Use the first 10 minutes. It’s best to start with a warm-up activity to get your students engaged in the lesson right away. Use the first 100 minutes of class for an energy-filled warm-up if you have time. This will give your students a chance to interact and communicate before starting on their learning goals.

Grammar is your friend. Make sure to mention grammar throughout the lesson. Try not to overwhelm students with too many new grammar rules at once. If you keep a few basic grammar rules in mind, the rest will fall into place naturally.


Tips for Teaching English as a Second Language AVSE-TESOL


  1. Use games and other activities

Don’t spend all of your time in front of the board! Instead, use fun games and activities to help students learn their English vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. Not only will this keep your class more interesting, but it will also ensure that students work with the language in a way that reinforces what they have learned.


  1. Keep students engaged and entertained

Put yourself in your students’ shoes: if you were taking an English class, would you want to spend all your time watching videos? Probably not! Instead, use multimedia such as songs and short films to help change it up and keep students entertained.


  1. Try out new methods of teaching

Never stop looking for new and effective ways to teach your students. The best way to do this is to make sure you understand the different ways in which students learn. Some students work well with an auditory learning style, while others need a more visual approach and suchlike.


Use real-life scenarios in your lessons. We all know that the best way to learn a language is by using it. While this is true, many students are scared that they won’t use what they learn in class outside of it. Don’t be! Instead, find fun and engaging ways to use the language outside the classroom. For example, if you teach your students about the past tense, you could play a game where students have to describe what they did yesterday.


  1. Use specific language-learning strategies

To ensure that your students are successful English learners, be sure to teach them specific language learning strategies. These will allow your students to apply the skills they’ve learned in class, outside of it. Some useful approaches include the following:


– Using mnemonic devices to learn new words

– Learning words in context

– Making eye contact with others when speaking


  1. Challenge your students

Use games to teach new vocabulary and challenge your students with more difficult questions. This will help them learn the language and test their understanding of it simultaneously!


Tips for Teaching English as a Second Language AVSE-TESOL


  1. Keep things short and simple

While you don’t want to bore your students or put forth too much information, you also don’t want to overwhelm them. Keep things short and simple so that your students can understand the lessons without too much trouble.


  1. Be consistent with pronunciation

This is very important if you are teaching English as a second language: be careful with how you pronounce words and speak! Your students can’t learn from what they don’t understand, so cautious pronunciation gives them the tools to succeed.


  1. Use visuals and gestures

Your students have a different perspective than you: while English might be their first language or even their second (if they are learning it), they may not be used to the same words and phrases that you are. Use visuals and gestures to help them understand the language in context, which will make it easier for them to put their new skills into practice with others.


  1. Simplify your lessons

Sometimes complicated examples are helpful, but they are confusing to students who are learning English as a second language. Try using simple words and phrases to help students better grasp the language.


  1. Don’t be afraid to use English around the classroom

While it’s good for students learning English as a second language to hear you speaking in their native tongue, sometimes this isn’t possible. If there is no other choice, don’t be afraid to speak English around the class! It will help students learn the language they are hearing and using, not to mention that it can be helpful for you too.


  1. Don’t forget about pronunciation

When pronouncing words, make sure to use correct stress, tone, and intonation. This is especially important when speaking with your ESL students because it can be harder to understand the language if you aren’t speaking clearly. For example, when teaching English learners about phrasal verbs, it’s important to stress the correct syllable when saying words such as “turn off.” Also, whenever you emphasize a word or phrase in your sentence, make sure to use the correct tone of voice.



English as a second language can be difficult to learn, but it can be a fun and rewarding experience with the right techniques. These twelve tips will help you make the most of your lessons and keep your students engaged and interested in learning. 


About the writer: KC Raj is a career counsellor and recruiter with many years of experience. Interested in topics like human development, education, immigration, inequality, and many other international issues. Reachable at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kc-raj-kcr/ 


Vietnam Blog Review

Vietnam Blog Review



Teaching English in Vietnam Blog – Review 


The Teaching English in Vietnam Blog on the AVSE-TESOL website is well-worth visiting if you have any passing thoughts about teaching English as a second language (ESL) in Vietnam, if you’ve already locked in your trip to Vietnam, or if you’re simply curious about teach and travel opportunities. You’ll surely find something on AVSE-TESOL’s Vietnam Blog page that will capture your interest.  There are posts for all-comers, with enough riveting reading to occupy the better part of a weekend.


Vietnam Blog Review AVSE-TESOL


Most of the posts in the AVSE-TESOL Teaching English in Vietnam Blog were written by Peter Goudge. He’s the Managing Director (and owner) of AVSE-TESOL. Peter comes from Melbourne, Australia, but he has called Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, ‘home’ for the past 16+ years.


When Peter first arrived in Vietnam, he took an ESL teaching job in Vinh Long Province in the Mekong Delta. At the end of the twelve-month contract in Vinh Long, Peter moved to a Director of Studies position at SaigonTech, a highly respected tertiary institution in Ho Chi Minh City.  SaigonTech is located at the end of Quang Trung Street in Go Vap District, Ho Chi Minh City. While commuting to and from SaigonTech Peter noticed a vacant, three-story building at 1300 Quang Trung Street – the home of AVSE-TESOL in Ho Chi Minh City since 2009.


What you’ll find

Here’s a quick summary of posts that you’ll find on the Teaching English in Vietnam Blog on the AVSE-TESOL website:


  • Teaching English in Vietnam without a degree – Yes / No?
  • An Alternative to Teaching English in Vietnam without a Degree
  • Teaching English in Hanoi – five things to do on arrival
  • Teaching English in Hanoi – don’t forget insurance
  • Teaching English in Hanoi to clear student (loan) debt
  • Teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City – getting started as an ESL teacher
  • Ho Chi Minh City – local people and opportunities
  • Ho Chi Minh City – a brilliant place for a gap year
  • TESOL course in Hanoi – four important inclusions
  • How to notarise and legalise your TESOL Certificate in Vietnam
  • Eight questions to ask before you sign up for a TESOL course in Vietnam
  • Prepping for ESL Job Interviews
  • Quality TEFL with real job support
  • Feedback from former students is invaluable
  • Do some taxi homework before arriving in Vietnam
  • Tips for teaching English as a second language


Vietnam Blog Review AVSE-TESOL


Regularly updated

The team at AVSE-TESOL in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi make a point of adding new posts and freshening up old posts on their Vietnam Blog with noticeable regularity. Conversely, most other Teaching English in Vietnam Blog pages I found while researching this article are full of excitement at the beginning but left to fade into obscurity in the bowels of the internet. In fairness, this might have something to do with the transient nature of the profession. TESOL providers and ESL teachers from the four corners of the world come and go, but AVSE-TESOL has stood the test of time – and the global pandemic that decimated the ESL teaching and learning industry. Equally important, I’m advised that AVSE-TESOL in Vietnam (and in Australia and Cambodia) has the next generation of leaders already in place, most of whom are women. Just as AVSE-TESOL has been around seemingly since Jesus was a boy, you can be confident that their Vietnam blog will figure prominently in Google search results for years to come.


I asked the good people at AVSE-TESOL about posts that are currently ‘work in progress’. ‘Watch this space’ was the initial response, but persistence did provide some insight. Among other things, look out for posts on:


  • ‘Freebies’ with the TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL in Vietnam and Cambodia
  • The five best Language Schools to teach ESL in Vietnam
  • Pay later options with the TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL
  • Affordable travel insurance options for AVSE-TESOL trainees


There’s no doubt about it. The Teaching English in Vietnam Blog on the AVSE-TESOL website contains fascinating articles that readers will enjoy. Most posts have been crafted by AVSE-TESOL’s Managing Director, Peter Goudge. His years of experience in all matters ‘teaching ESL in Vietnam’ are on display for all to see in AVSE-TESOL’s Vietnam blog – what to do on arrival, gap year opportunities, pay off your student debt, tips for teaching ESL in Vietnam – and the list goes on.  So, if you have some time spare this weekend, have a look at AVSE-TESOL’s Vietnam Blog. You’ll be pleased that you did.


About the writer: Pamela Cove is a university student at Charles Darwin University in Darwin, Australia. Pamela met Peter Goudge, the Managing Director (and owner) of AVSE-TESOL, by chance at the Sailing Club in Darwin when he visited there in July 2022. Pamela agreed to check out the Vietnam blog on the AVSE-TESOL website and share her views in a post. As a result, she’s planning to teach English in Vietnam from mid-2023, with help from AVSE-TESOL.  


Tips for Teaching English as a Second Language

TESOL Course in Hanoi

TESOL Course in Hanoi – four important inclusions


If you’re considering which TESOL course in Hanoi, Vietnam will be the best fit for you – and represents value for money – I’d encourage you to reflect on the following four points: 1. quality accreditation, 2. precourse support, 3. accommodation, and 4. meaningful job support. Let’s ‘drill down’ on these four points.


Quality accreditation

When it comes to the accreditation status of TESOL (and TEFL) courses in Hanoi, and elsewhere in the world, you could be excused for thinking that one size fits all. If a course says that it’s accredited by entity ‘XYZ’, then it must be legitimate; there’s no need to worry! Correct? Incorrect! You might strike it lucky, but anecdotally there’s a 90%+ chance that a course you think looks fine, is at best, a glorified personal development programme with certification that carries zero ‘qualification’ value. The 90%+ figure encompasses all those TESOL and TEFL courses that come with ‘private’ accreditation and, in some cases, no accreditation whatsoever.


You need TESOL certification that’s a product of ‘Nationally Recognised Training’ in the country of origin; certification that comes with government-sanctioned accreditation. For example, the Australian Government accredited TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh (Cambodia) meets this core requirement.


TESOL Course in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


“What’s the problem with ‘private’ accreditation”? I hear you ask. Any random person over the age of 18 who can put their hands on a phone bill in their name (or similar) for ‘proof’ of identification can set up a private ‘Limited Liability Company’ (that costs around US $25.00) and call themselves a TESOL accreditation entity. Regrettably, the TESOL Training industry is full of these dodgy, private ‘accreditation’ entities that are nothing more than ‘Diploma Mills’. If you opt for a TESOL course in Hanoi that offers ‘Nationally Recognised Training’, all being well, you will end up with a legitimate teaching qualification that can be used around the world.


Precourse support

Precourse support includes everything that happens from the moment you sign up for a TESOL course in Hanoi through to the first day of your TESOL programme. In the precourse phase, there’s a lot of things to organise, including: a visa, medical insurance, important documents (degree, background check and the like), vaccinations (if necessary) and booking an airline ticket. You’ll also need to think about what you should (and shouldn’t) pack, how to navigate immigration and customs on arrival at Hanoi International Airport, transport from the airport to your accommodation and settling into a new environment where people speak a different language.


Arguably, there isn’t anyone better placed to guide you through the precourse phase of your TESOL programme than the person (or their delegate) who signed you up for your TESOL course in Hanoi in the first place. Presumably, they’ll be on the ground in Hanoi. There’s a good chance they’ve provided precourse support to plenty of other TESOL students over time. They’ll know what to do. They’ll know where to go. They’ll know who you need to speak with.


Not all TESOL providers in Hanoi offer ‘free’ precourse support. Some say they do, but it doesn’t happen, or it falls well short of what is promised. Before you sign on the dotted line and lock yourself into a TESOL course in Hanoi, you must know exactly what support you will receive. You’re throwing caution to the wind and heading off to teach English in Hanoi; you can do without surprises and disappointments in the lead up to your TESOL programme.


Free precourse support from AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi includes, but isn’t limited to: visa and insurance guidance, help with essential documents, up-to-date advice on vaccinations and travel-related Coronavirus testing, where to find cheap air tickets and how to move through the arrivals process at Hanoi Airport with a minimum of fuss. The team at AVSE-TESOL will even send a representative to the airport to personally collect you and make sure you’re settled into your accommodation if that would be helpful. AVSE’s precourse support also includes a Welcome Dinner on Saturday evening and a City Tour on Sunday, before your course starts on Monday – at no additional cost.



Hotel or Guesthouse accommodation in Hanoi can be expensive. With a basic online search, you will see that it’s tough to find somewhere to stay in Hanoi for less than US $25.00 a night; and with this kind of budget, you’ll probably have to share a room and a bathroom with a bunch of random people. What will this mean for you if the fee for your month-long TESOL course in Hanoi doesn’t include accommodation? Put simply, it means that you need to add around US $700.00 (28 nights x US $25.00 = US $700.00) to the cost of the course. You’d also need to add the cost of transport to get to and from the training centre for the duration of the course. Depending on the distance between the accommodation you found and the training centre’s location, your transport costs could be as high as US $300.00.


TESOL Course in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


When you add US $700.00+/- (accommodation) and US $300.00+/- (transport) to the programme fee, that ‘cheap’ TESOL course in Hanoi doesn’t seem so cheap after all.


There are four good reasons why you ought to choose a TESOL course in Hanoi – like the one offered by AVSE-TESOL – that includes accommodation. First, you’ll have your own bedroom and bathroom, befitting someone who’s enrolled in a quality teacher training programme, without having to pay a penny more than the advertised programme fee. Second, almost certainly the accommodation that’s included in your programme fee will be within walking distance of the training centre. This means your course-related transport costs will be zero. In fact, you might even be able to pop ‘home’ at lunchtime. Third, there’s a good chance that your classmates will be staying at the same place – great for bonding and socialising. Fourth, if your TESOL provider is anything like AVSE-TESOL, they will have thoroughly vetted the accommodation – safety, security, cleanliness and the like – before booking you and other TESOL students into the place. This vetting process effectively means that you’re not walking into something that’s an ‘unknown’ quantity.


Meaningful job support

While most TESOL providers in Hanoi speak in glowing terms about the extent of their job support for folks who enrol in their programme, what’s delivered, often doesn’t match the rhetoric. Job support should start in the precourse phase, in my view, continue throughout the month-long course and culminate in placement once the TESOL course is ‘done and dusted’.


Job support is a lot more than fax-streaming your curriculum vitae (resume) to random schools. Among other things, it involves making sure you have the skills, knowledge and quality certification to work as an ESL educator; understanding your aspirations; working with you to put a curriculum vitae together that meets the employer’s expectations; engaging in mock interviews and making appointments for you with specific employers. If ‘employer one’ doesn’t offer you a job, your TESOL provider needs to understand why you were unsuccessful, so you’ll have a better chance with ‘employer two’. Of course, negotiating an employment agreement is a personal matter between you and a potential employer, but it would be comforting to know that your TESOL provider is open to being a ‘sounding board’ if it’s necessary.


Meaningful job support from your TESOL provider will positively impact your overall ‘teach English abroad’ experience. In stark contrast, if job support falls short of the mark (or is non-existent), there’s a chance that you’ll be left to your own devices in an unfamiliar environment. What’s the message? Make sure that meaningful job support is part of your TESOL package, have a clear understanding of what support will be delivered – and speak up if you receive less than what was promised. 



You won’t have any trouble finding a TESOL course in Hanoi with a simple Google search, but you may well have trouble working out which course is best for you. As you’re flicking through website pages, blog articles, online reviews and suchlike, I’d encourage you to hone in on four points: 1. quality accreditation, 2. precourse support, 3. accommodation, and 4. meaningful job support. If you come across a TESOL programme that doesn’t tick all four ‘boxes’, best to keep looking. Teaching is a profession. You need a qualification, not a ‘personal development certificate’. Precourse support (at no cost) from someone who has helped others embark on a ‘teach English abroad’ adventure is invaluable. When you weigh up the issues associated with having to find your own accommodation (time, added cost, safety, security, walking into the unknown …) against accommodation that’s included in the TESOL programme (zero added cost, classmates at the same location, walk to the training venue, known quantity….), the choice is an easy one to make. There are words about ‘job support’ on a website page or in a flashy video, and then there’s real job support that’s multi-faceted and targeted. Don’t accept anything less than the latter.


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of AVSE-TESOL in Vietnam (Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City) and Cambodia (Phnom Penh). AVSE-TESOL has been training aspiring ESL educators for jobs teaching English in Vietnam and Cambodia for more than 15 years. Check out the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.edu.vn




How to notarise and legalise your TESOL certificate in Vietnam


Let’s say that you completed the Australian Government accredited TESOL course in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City at AVSE-TESOL, and you’re out and about talking to potential employers. Once you’ve found a teaching job that’s a good fit for you, there’s a high chance that your Vietnamese employer will ask you to have your TESOL certificate notarised – and possibly legalised. I say, ‘possibly legalised’ because more often than not, the employer (or an agent acting on behalf of the employer) will take on this task themselves. Regardless of whether you’re asked to arrange for your TESOL certificate from AVSE-TESOL to be notarised only or notarised and legalised, you’ll see in this blog post that it’s all manageable.


This post is only about the notarising and legalising processes in Vietnam. There are separate processes altogether for notarising and legalising your TESOL certificate in Australia and other countries.


TESOL Course in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL



Before touching on the notarising and legalising steps related to your certificate from the TESOL course in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City at AVSE-TESOL, it’s worth considering the purpose behind the two distinct processes. You could be excused for thinking the purpose has glaring shortcomings, but ‘it is, what it is’.


Notarising your TESOL certificate from AVSE-TESOL will occur at the Australian Embassy in Hanoi or the Australian Consulate-General in Ho Chi Minh City. Succinctly, notarising is about confirming that the name on the certificate matches the name of the person who presents the certificate. Hence, the notary will want to see your passport (or similar). Notarising is also about confirming the entity that issued the certificate is a legal entity (only). It’s not the responsibility of the notary to determine if the legal entity has the necessary authority to issue or accredit TESOL certificates in Vietnam (or elsewhere) – or to offer vocational training programmes in the first place. While AVSE-TESOL ticks all the necessary boxes, many entities that provide a TESOL course in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or both, ‘fly under the radar’.


The Department of Foreign Affairs (Vietnamese Government) in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City is responsible for legalising ‘foreign’ documents for use in Vietnam. The city – Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City – where you have your certificate legalised is an important consideration, but I will come back to that later. The legalisation process essentially involves certifying that the notary’s signature and stamp (see above) are legitimate. You might be surprised to learn that ‘legalising’ is not confirmation that the document is what it purports to be – for example, a legitimate teaching qualification.


We have touched on the purpose of notarising and legalising your certificate from the TESOL course in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City at AVSE-TESOL. Now, let’s look at how to complete the tasks in Vietnam in two easy steps, with a minimum of fuss.


Step one:

Step one involves obtaining a notarised copy of your TESOL certificate from the Australian Embassy in Hanoi or the Australian Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City.  If you did the TESOL course in Hanoi and then moved to Ho Chi Minh City or vice-versa, there’s no need to travel back to the city where you did the course for notarising (and legalising) purposes. However, both the embassy and the consulate require visitors to make an appointment beforehand. You can make an appointment in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City via the relevant website address noted below. You will be charged a fee by the embassy or the consulate for providing a notarised copy of your TESOL certificate. The fee is payable in cash or by card. Here are the contact details for the Australian Embassy in Hanoi and the Australian Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. 


Hanoi: Australian Embassy

Website: https://vietnam.embassy.gov.au/
Location: 8 Dao Tan Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/TZF2Sa8JF1qY89jy6


Ho Chi Minh City: Australian Consulate 
Website: https://hcmc.vietnam.embassy.gov.au/

Location: 20th Floor, Vincom Center, 47 Ly Tu Trong Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/HrtdeH4k2NNHfDhY8


TESOL Course in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


Step two:

The process of legalising a TESOL certificate in Vietnam is ordinarily completed by an employer (or an Agent), but your employer might ask you to do it yourself. If you are asked, take the notarised copy (Step one) of your TESOL certificate to the Department of Foreign Affairs (Vietnamese Government) in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. This is where the location issue does become important. You must visit the Department of Foreign Affairs in the same city your TESOL certificate was notarised (Step one).  There’s no need to make an appointment. The process usually takes 24 hours to complete, and it only costs a few dollars. Here are the contact details for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. 


Hanoi: Department of Foreign Affairs – Consular Section

Location: 40 Trần Phú, Điện Bàn, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/2bRbh9bbxNcDJzg5A


Ho Chi Minh City: Department of Foreign Affairs – Consular Section
Location: 184B Pasteur Street, Bến Nghé Ward, District 1, Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/rrGK3BK6gDr4bY1q7



In this blog post, I’ve touched on what’s involved when having your certificate from the TESOL course in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City at AVSE-TESOL notarised and legalised in Vietnam. Your employer will likely ask you to complete the notarisation task, and then he (or she) will take care of having your TESOL certificate ‘legalised’. If you’re asked to complete both the notarising and legalising, it’s simply a matter of following the two-step process that has been outlined in this blog post.


About the author: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and founder) of AVSE-TESOL in Vietnam and Cambodia. AVSE-TESOL offers Australian Government accredited TESOL courses in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Phnom Penh. Check out the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.edu.vn




TESOL course in Hanoi: Eight questions to ask before you sign-up


It might come as a surprise to some people, that not all TESOL programmes in Hanoi are equal. Moreover, not all TESOL programmes and related certifications are what they appear to be. In this short blog post, I’ll provide eight key questions that you should ask a potential TESOL provider before parting with your hard-earned money. Doing a TESOL course in Hanoi is an experience that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life. With a few carefully worded questions, see immediately below, you’ll be better placed to make an informed decision on which TESOL course is best for you.


TESOL Course in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


Key Questions


Question one: I noticed that your TESOL course in Hanoi is accredited by (name of entity) in (name of country where the course is ‘accredited’). Is this entity a privately owned Limited Liability Company? Moreover, how much do you pay (name of entity) for each certificate you issue.

Pretty much every TESOL course in Hanoi claims to be ‘accredited’ by an entity of one kind or another. On the surface, this might seem like good news, but there’s a catch. Most TESOL courses in Hanoi are accredited by a random Limited Liability Company (around US $25.00 to establish). Any person with a gas bill, a driver’s licence or other proof of identification can establish a Limited Liability Company with a flashy name like ACCREDIT TESOL and call themselves an ‘independent’ (insert – US $25.00 company) ‘accrediting’ authority. If you were so inclined you could do it yourself, but please don’t. These ‘independent authorities’, in the main, are no more than old-fashioned ‘diploma mills’ that are a blight on education and training – worldwide.   

Question two: What’s the difference between ‘Nationally Recognised Training’ (in the country of origin) with accreditation by a government and ‘accreditation’ by a privately owned Limited Liability Company?

If it’s not a product of ‘Nationally Recognised Training’, it follows that the certification cannot be internationally recognised. Words on a website page can be helpful. Well-made videos and other forms of marketing can be enticing, especially when the provider is selling a teach English abroad (or similar) adventure. TESOL ‘training’ in Vietnam, Cambodia, and other developing countries is one of those industries where the adage, ‘buyer beware’ definitely applies. Questions directed at confirming accreditation status are best asked directly by making an appointment to speak with a ‘real person’ at the training venue if you’re already in Hanoi or via Zoom if you’re not in Hanoi. Meeting with a real person will help with warding off ‘weasel lines’ like:


‘Certification’ from our TESOL course in Hanoi is accepted for Work Permit purposes’.

– Does this mean that the certification is a legitimate teaching qualification? No it doesn’t. It might mean that the Vietnamese public servant who processes a particular Work Permit application doesn’t know about accreditation and related teaching credentials, doesn’t care, or both. By way of example, if a policeman (government official) unwittingly accepts a bogus driver’s licence during a regular traffic stop, does that mean the licence morphs into a genuine driver’s licence? Of course not.


‘You can have your certificate notarised at the United States Embassy (or another embassy)’.

– Does this mean that the certificate is a legitimate teaching qualification? Nope! It may mean that the privately owned ‘accrediting’ entity is a Limited Liability Company (cost factor of around US $25.00) in the United States (or elsewhere) – like millions of other ‘mum and dad’ companies. Any suggestion that the notarisation process at an embassy is directed at establishing the legitimacy of the TESOL course in Hanoi, a teaching ‘qualification’ or related certification, is simply untrue.


– ‘Accreditation doesn’t matter – there’s no ‘worldwide authority’ that presides over TESOL / TEFL courses.

If you hear this line from a TESOL provider, I’m genuinely sorry to say – you’ve hit the bottom of the barrel. No worldwide authority presides over courses for lawyers, doctors, dentists, and every other profession on planet earth. The ‘no worldwide authority’ line is a classic red herring. We have ‘Nationally Recognised’ training and related qualifications in individual countries. If your TESOL certification is a product of ‘nationally recognised’ training in the country of origin, certification issued by AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi is a good example, you have every reason to believe that it will be recognised in other countries, although you might have to jump through a few hoops.


Question three: I see that your TESOL course in Hanoi comes with employment support. Let’s say that you send me to VUS, ILA (or similar) in Hanoi after I complete the course. Will you receive a commission payment from the school if they employ me?

‘Double-dipping’ – payment at the frontend by the TESOL student (you) and payment at the backend by the employer (VUS and the like) – is common practice from TESOL providers in Hanoi. You might be okay with this practice because placing someone in a job involves work, and people should get paid for their work. I get it. If receiving commission payments for referring people to an employer is not publicly acknowledged on the TESOL providers website, at a minimum, it shows a lack of transparency. I’d go further and say it shows disrespect for TESOL students, if only because you wouldn’t have known about the ‘backhander’ if you didn’t ask the question.


Question four: Does the course fee include accommodation?

Accommodation in Hanoi isn’t cheap. For example, if the TESOL course in Hanoi goes on for four weeks and doesn’t include accommodation, you can add US $700.00+ to the course fee. Moreover, you can add an additional US $300.00+ if you need to pay for transport to get to the training location.  


Question five: Is your business licenced by the Vietnamese Government to deliver Vocational Training programmes, in general, and specifically, teacher training programmes and related qualifications sourced from abroad?

If the answer is not a resounding ‘yes’ to both parts of the question above, you should vote with your feet immediately. If the answer is ‘yes’ to both parts of the question, ask to see the relevant documentation. It’s your right. Legitimate Vocational Training providers in Vietnam and companies that import products and services (teacher training programmes in this instance) must hold the relevant licences. The licences are separate to a ‘run-of-the-mill’ company registration certificate, a taxation notice and suchlike.


TESOL Course in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


Question six: Can you show me a copy of your Public Liability Insurance policy so I know that I’m covered if I have an accident or get injured at your training venue?

Reputable Vocational Training providers worldwide, including in Vietnam, are compelled to have Public Liability Insurance for their training venue. It provides a level of protection for those people who use the venue. If you’re injured or worse, you (or your family) may be eligible for financial support. Unfortunately, TESOL providers who ‘fly under the radar’ in Hanoi tend not to be bothered about what happens to you on their premises. In the event something untoward occurred, they’d simply shut up shop, and there’s a good chance that you’d never find them. Will your medical insurance provider cover the costs of an injury, accident or worse on a property owned or rented by a company – the TESOL provider – legally compelled to take out Public Liability Insurance but didn’t bother? I suspect not, but you should know the answer beforehand.


Question seven: What is the failure rate with your TESOL course in Hanoi?

Obviously, nobody wants to fail, but with any serious qualification, some people inevitably will. Tertiary institutions around the world budget for a 20% (+/-) failure rate. If the provider tells you that nobody fails their course, it will provide an insight into the legitimacy of what’s on offer. If you’re told (insert a number) % of people fail the course, you may wish to ask the provider why people fail. In the same vein, it would be worthwhile asking the TESOL provider when you can expect to receive your certificate. If the provider says in the last week or the course, the last day of the course and the like, it raises questions about the independence of the assessment process – which goes to the heart of legitimacy. It also raises questions about how the provider got a certificate with your name on it from the United States, the United Kingdom or wherever the accrediting entity is based, in what amounts to lightning speed, perhaps even before you’ve finished the course. The answer is pretty obvious.


Question eight: Tell me about your TESOL trainers.

Teaching and training are different activities. Some folks are brilliant teachers, but poor trainers and vice versa. To illuminate this point, for a moment, think about sex education. You can be a sex education teacher or a sex education trainer – these activities require a markedly different skill set. Most TESOL providers in Hanoi employ a ‘garden variety’ teacher as their TESOL Trainer.


Regardless of whether the TESOL Trainer is an Oxford Don or footed the bill to do a short, online course at Harvard (open to anyone prepared to pay), if that person doesn’t hold formal certification in vocational training, they’re not qualified to preside over a TESOL course in Hanoi. As an example, if you accept the premise that someone who holds a US driver’s licence isn’t qualified to train law enforcement folks in tactical driving, then it follows that you accept the assumption that people who do not hold a specialist vocational training qualification, are not qualified to preside over a TESOL course. Certainly, that’s the view of the Australian Government, the US Government, the Canadian Government, and the list goes on.



There are two or three Vocational Training entities in Hanoi, including AVSE-TESOL, that offer a Nationally Recognised TESOL course that comes with a TESOL qualification that’s genuinely internationally recognised. Unfortunately, there are many more ‘TESOL courses’ in Hanoi that simply don’t stack up. Thorough due diligence is imperative. Look beyond the ‘sharp’ videos and words on a website page. If the course (and related certification) is not Nationally Recognised in the country of origin, it follows that it cannot be internationally recognised. Armed with a few targeted questions (accreditation, double-dipping, notarisation, and other issues covered in this post) – and determination to sort the ‘wheat from the chaff’, I’m convinced that you’ll find yourself in a Nationally Recognised TESOL training programme in Hanoi. Equally, I’m confident that you’ll land a brilliant teaching job once the course is over, in part at least, because you didn’t scrimp on your training.


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the owner (and founder) of AVSE-TESOL in Vietnam and Cambodia. AVSE-TESOL offers an Australian Government accredited (Nationally Recognised Training) TESOL course in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Online. Check out the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.edu.vn




TESOL course in Hanoi – prep for job interviews


While this short blog was written for the benefit of folks who are completing the Australian Government accredited TESOL course in Hanoi at AVSE-TESOL, the concepts equally apply to others who are in the hunt for a brilliant teaching job in Vietnam. 


From my own experience as someone who employs English as a second language (ESL) teachers, a single job vacancy can attract 50+ Curriculum Vitaes (also known as a ‘CV’ or ‘Résumé’). Anecdotally, large English language schools in Hanoi receive 100+ random CVs a day from folks looking to secure a teaching job. Numbers like those tell us that: 1. your CV needs to stand out in the crowd; and 2. you need a quality CV that’s ‘ready to go’ before the end of your TESOL course in Hanoi. What exactly is a CV?  In layman’s terms, a CV is a written summary of a person’s background, qualifications, and employment history.


The significance of a quality CV that’s responsive to local expectations cannot be overemphasised. Arguably, your CV is the single most important document that you’ll submit to a potential employer. Given the number of CVs and related documents that a single employer processes daily (note my comments above), your CV needs to be ‘noticed’ by the decision-maker in less than two seconds. It must include relevant information in a compartmentalised format and an engaging (professional) photo. Your CV should be no more than one page and easy to visually scan. I’d suggest that you put some time aside during your TESOL course in Hanoi to develop a decent CV that’s formatted in a manner that local employers expect. Check out the sample CV below.


TESOL Course in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


Let’s look at the sample CV in more detail, starting from the left-hand side of the document.


Photo: Your photo must show that you’re a professional person with an engaging disposition. It needs to strike a balance between formal and informal. If you’re not photogenic, here are some tips: choose the background carefully, don’t look at the camera, find your good side, place the camera slightly above eye level, avoid a double chin, make sure your eyes are wide open – and get the lighting right. You’ll find plenty more photo tips on the internet. You might even find someone in your TESOL course in Hanoi who’s pretty handy with a camera.


Profile: This section of the CV provides you with an opportunity to sell yourself to the employer in two short paragraphs, totalling no more than 120 words. Most employers are smart people. They can see through ‘fluff’. Be honest. Choose words that show you’re an engaging person who’s qualified for the job. The employer needs to know that you’re attuned to the importance of lesson planning, inclusivity, delivering a highly interactive, fun classroom environment and reflective thought. 


TESOL Course in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


Contact: Include a local phone number on your CV. Suppose a Vietnamese employer has a choice between calling a candidate with a local phone number or a candidate with an international number. In that case, even if it diverts, they’ll almost certainly go with the local number. Make sure your email address presents you in a professional manner. If your email address is something akin to hotboy@yahoo.com, allnightlong@gmail.com or similar, it would be a good idea to get a new one for your CV.


Your name: Some folks have long names that take up a lot of space. If you’re in this camp, I’d suggest that you shorten your name so the text sits nicely on the CV. Let’s imagine your name is Trixibelle Maryanne Esplanardo. It’s lovely, but it’s wordy. How about going with something like Trixibelle Esplanardo? The letters will fit comfortably in the available space.


Education: In my opinion, the certification from your TESOL course in Hanoi should be listed first. Why? It’s essentially your ‘licence’ to teach. Your highest degree should come next – Doctorate, Masters or Bachelors. If you don’t hold a university or college degree, shine a light on other qualifications that you hold, training programmes that you’ve successfully completed or both. Note the examples below.  


Certificate IV in Carpentry (4-year apprenticeship)

Dandenong College of TAFE

Dandenong, Australia

02/02/02 – 31/12/05


Warrant Officer Training

Australian Defence Force

Canberra, Australia

01/01/00 – 31/12/01


TESOL Course in Hanoi AVSE-TESOL


Teaching Experience: This heading presents some challenges for people who are completely new to teaching English, at least until you scratch below the surface.


Imagine you’ve worked as a Cashier at Walmart in San Antonio, Texas, for the past five years. Almost certainly, your Cashier’s job would involve training others. When a new Cashier starts at Walmart, they need to be taught what to do – correct? For example, if you’ve trained newcomers at Walmart, use it to your advantage in your teaching CV. Schools that are seeking to employ a teacher in Hanoi or elsewhere in Vietnam want to know about your experience teaching people things. If necessary, scratch below the surface, and you will find that you have more teaching experience than you think. Keep in mind that you can also quite legitimately refer to your teaching experience while completing your TESOL course in Hanoi.


Here’s what you might put under the Teaching Experience heading on your CV if you: 1. were the Cashier at Walmart that I mentioned earlier, or 2. choose to include your teaching experience during the TESOL course:


Trainer: Cash Management & Customer Service

Walmart Pty Ltd

San Antonio, United States

05/05/15 – 04/05/20


English Language Teacher


Hanoi, Vietnam

03/03/22 – 02/04/22


Referees: Ideally, you should include the name, job title, place of employment and contact details of two people who’d be prepared to attest to your ability to work as an English teacher. Your referees should not be family members. You may wish to ask the Trainer at your TESOL course in Hanoi if he (or she) is prepared to be a referee. Importantly, make sure that you have permission from the folks you list on your CV as a referee. Including referees on CV should look something like this:


Mr David Jones

Manager: Human Resources

Walmart Pty Ltd

San Antonio, United States

Email: davidj@walmart.com


Ms Wendy Jarvis

Senior TEFL Trainer

TEFL in Hanoi Training School

Hanoi, Vietnam

Email: wendyjarvis@tefl-in-hanoi.vn




Your transition to a great teaching job in Hanoi or elsewhere in Vietnam, will much smoother – and quicker – if you have a quality CV ready to hand out to employers immediately after your TESOL course finishes. Your CV needs to be really sharp! It should be no more than one page. It should include a decent photo, two short paragraphs about who you are and what you do – and your name, contact details, education, work history and referees. Give this important task your full attention and there’s every reason to believe that you’ll be living that ‘teach abroad’ dream quicker than you might think.


About the writer: Peter Goudge has been delivering TESOL / TEFL training programmes in Southeast Asia for more than 15 years. He is the Managing Director (and founder) of AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Online. Check out the AVSE website: www.avse.edu.vn