TESOL Course in Hanoi

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



TESOL Course in Hanoi

TEFL Course in Ho Chi Minh City

Quality TEFL with real job support…


Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE) offers an Australian Government accredited and internationally recognised ‘in-class’ TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Holding quality TEFL certification is a prerequisite to teach English in Vietnam and many other countries. While this article focuses on AVSE’s teacher training programme in Ho Chi Minh City, AVSE offers the same in-class, Australian Government accredited TEFL course in Hanoi and Phnom Penh – and online, if you aren’t able to travel to Vietnam or Cambodia. 


If you’ve decided to teach English in Ho Chi Minh City, it makes sense to complete your TEFL training in Ho Chi Minh City, your preferred teaching location. It also makes sense to complete your TEFL course at AVSE.


TEFL Course in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


Why Ho Chi Minh City?

By doing your TEFL training in the city where you plan to teach, you’ll be: 1. more accessible to potential employers (schools); 2. in a familiar environment when you land that all-important first teaching job; 3. able to physically check out medium to long term accommodation options, and 4. surrounded by friends from your TEFL course. In addition, you’ll be able to catch up with the trainers and staff at AVSE – folks that you got to know well during your TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City – for guidance and support if the need arises. There are plenty of other reasons why it makes sense to do your TEFL training in Ho Chi Minh City, if that’s where you plan to teach, including:

  • an abundance of job opportunities
  • diversity of teaching work
  • gateway to Vietnam
  • commercial hub
  • access to services
  • nightlife x 24/7
  • proximity to popular tourist destinations, and
  • more ‘Bia Hoi’ joints than you’ll have time to visit in a single lifetime



By any measure, AVSE is the largest TEFL course provider in Vietnam (and Cambodia). They’ve been on the ground in Southeast Asia for more than a decade. Most importantly, AVSE’s TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City is accredited by the Australian Government. As someone who aspires to be a professional educator, accreditation is not an area where you can cut corners.  


TEFL Course in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


TEFL at AVSE in Ho Chi Minh City is suitable for professionally-minded people over 18 years of age – any country, any background. The TEFL programme at AVSE is also ideal for practising teachers who wish to build upon their skill set or obtain high-level certification as an English as a Second Language (ESL) educator – certification accredited by the Australian Government.


The key goals of AVSE’s TEFL programme are twofold: 1. to uphold professional teaching standards by offering certification that’s government accredited and therefore truly carries international recognition, and 2. to equip aspiring ESL teachers with the skills and knowledge they need to excel in their chosen profession. It’s all about providing the certification and hands-on experience central to securing a well-paid English teaching job.  


Practical dimension

Unashamedly, the TEFL programme at AVSE focuses on the practical dimension of teaching English as a second language in developing countries. Sure, theory is essential, and there’s plenty covered during the course, but knowing how to create an environment where students are ‘chomping at the bit’ to study English is equally important. TEFL training at AVSE in Ho Chi Minh City involves a time commitment of 150 hours over four weeks.  Trainees need to complete a minimum of 14 hours of practical experience (critically assessed) with ‘real’ Vietnamese English language students engaged in ongoing classes.


‘What about the ‘learning environment’ at AVSE in Ho Chi Minh City?’, I hear you ask. ‘What about the trainers?’ ‘Will I secure a teaching job once I’ve completed my TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City?’ These are all fair questions that warrant ‘upfront’, plain-English responses. 


Learning environment

AVSE’s TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City is co-located with a fully functioning English Language School. AVSE’s strategic location in Ho Chi Minh City means that TEFL students can complete their teacher training in a real school environment from day one of their study programme. You’ll find all the modern features you’d expect from a quality vocational training institution with a genuine Australian connection – the latest IT, superior teaching resources, air conditioning, designated areas for ‘down-time’ and suchlike. The AVSE building in Ho Chi Minh City is subject to the same occupational health, fire safety and disability access considerations that apply to schools and training centres in Australia, despite being in Vietnam.  



While teaching experience is helpful, not all experienced teachers possess the qualifications, skills, and knowledge to be a vocational trainerTeaching and training are very different activities. To illustrate this point, I’d like you to think about ‘sex’. You can teach people about sex – pregnancy, health risks and suchlike or train people…, I think you get my point. Students who are completing a TEFL course have every right to believe that the person who is taking their course is a certified Trainer in a vocational context. All TEFL Trainers at AVSE possess specialist Vocational Training qualifications and industry experience, mandated by the Australian Government.


Teaching job

Employers (schools) in Ho Chi Minh City have a distinct preference for hiring new teachers who are on the ground and ready to start immediately. By doing your TEFL training ‘in-country’ – and ‘in-city’ at AVSE, you’ll be: 1. ‘Johnny on the spot’ when it comes to employment; and 2. part of the AVSE ‘family’. When point 1 is coupled with point 2, there’s every reason to believe that you’ll be in a decent teaching job in Ho Chi Minh City – that pays market rates, provides for a safe and secure work environment, requires sensible work hours and is with a reputable school – within a matter of days of completing your TEFL course. On top of points 1 and 2, TEFL training at AVSE comes with ‘hands-on’ job help. It’s a commitment that AVSE takes very seriously. The ‘proof is in the pudding’.



In this article, we’ve touched on selected matters about the Australian Government accredited TEFL course at AVSE in Ho Chi Minh City. Eligibility, reasons to enrol, course content, learning environment, trainers and job prospects have all been canvassed. If you’d like more information about the Australian Government accredited TEFL programme at AVSE in Ho Chi Minh City, reach out to the friendly folks at AVSE today.


About the writer: Peter Goudge has been living and working in Vietnam since 2006. He is the Managing Director and owner of Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE). AVSE has TEFL training schools in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Phnom Penh. Check out the AVSE website: www.avse.edu.vn




Feedback from former students is invaluable


This morning, I did some counting and reading to better understand what motivates TEFL course customers. I was surprised to learn that 3,032 students have completed the TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City at AVSE over the past decade, and 1,007 students have completed the TEFL course at AVSE’s two other locations, Hanoi, and Phnom Penh. While number crunching, I also took the time to re-read many of the ‘end of course’ feedback forms that we’ve kept in safe storage. Some dated back to 2010.


TEFL Course in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL



While I’m not a mathematician, feedback from 3,032 TEFL students in Ho Chi Minh City and 1,007 students in Hanoi and Cambodia (combined), is a hefty statistical sample. True, not every student completed a feedback form, and some students didn’t answer every question. Let’s say that 50% of TEFL students fully completed the feedback form – then round the number down – and the total is 2,000. It’s still a good statistical sample, at least from a layperson’s perspective. What was learnt from this ‘good statistical sample’ of feedback forms? In my view, there were three lessons.


Firstly, it seems that I was a scallywag in my teaching days. If you’re a former TEFL student of mine who is reading this blog post, please accept my belated apologies. Yes, my teacher-training style was unconventional. However, I have mellowed with age. I no longer get around with a woman’s wig and a small trumpet.


Secondly, I was taken aback by the similarity of the written responses to the following question: “Why did you enrol in the Australian Government accredited TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City?” Almost to a person, students wrote something akin to: ‘learn how to teach English as a second language’, ‘get a job’. In short, TEFL trainees were telling AVSE that the TEFL course is a ‘means to an end’.    


TEFL Course in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


Before revealing my third point, allow me to provide some perspective.


Between 2009 and 2012, a typical 4-week TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City at AVSE would attract eight to ten students. In more recent times, AVSE has typically offered two TEFL courses a month, running concurrently in Ho Chi Minh City, with an average of 16 students in each class. While AVSE’s TEFL numbers have grown exponentially in Ho Chi Minh City over the years, you could set your clock by the 14 to 16 students enrolled each month in both Hanoi and Phnom Penh. Succinctly, one site has experienced substantial growth, our other two sites consistently cater for a similar number of students, but all three sites offer precisely the same product. Intriguing!   


While almost to a person, trainees were telling AVSE in their feedback form that they see the TEFL course as a means to an end – learn a bit and get a job (see above) – the responses related to the choice of destination (city) were strikingly different. It seems that there are ‘pull factors’ at play – ‘word of mouth’, location and climate – that heavily favour Ho Chi Minh City as a TEFL destination over Hanoi and Phnom Penh – my belated point three. This idea is evidenced by AVSE’s own numbers – in Ho Chi Minh City, 3032 students with huge growth, in Hanoi and Penh Penh (1007 students combined) with numbers that are regular as clockwork. Let’s have a closer look at these pull factors.


‘Word of mouth’

One way or another, every foreigner who joins a TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City first heard about the opportunity to do a short course and get a teaching job by ‘word of mouth’, either literally, or via the internet. Word of mouth, in a literal sense, would typically come from a family member, a friend or an acquaintance. In the context of the internet, ‘word of mouth’ would come from a Google search, social media, online reviews, chatting and suchlike.


TEFL Course in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


Ho Chi Minh City is ‘English teaching central’ in Vietnam. There are more schools, more students, more teaching jobs, more teaching vacancies and more teaching-related social media platforms in Ho Chi Minh City compared to Hanoi and Phnom Penh. With more foreigners teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City than in any other city in Vietnam or Cambodia, it follows that there will be more people spreading the good news. Over the past two decades, we’ve seen a classic ‘snowball effect’ playing out with ‘word of mouth’ related to teaching English in Ho Chi Minh City. We haven’t seen the same in Hanoi and Phnom Penh – it may well be a case of ‘watch this space’.



With a population of just under 9 million people, Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s commercial hub and international gateway. Ho Chi Minh City is conveniently located in the south of Vietnam. You can travel by bus from the central business district to Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, within six hours. Likewise, you can fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, or Indonesia within three hours.  


In addition to being Vietnam’s international gateway, Ho Chi Minh City is the transport hub for domestic travel in the south of the country. Tourist destinations in the south of Vietnam, including Vung Tau, the Mekong Delta, Phan Thiet, Muine and even Dalat, are a relatively short bus journey away. You can even fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc or Danang within a couple of hours; both are hugely popular with domestic and international tourists.  


The ‘knowledge’ aspect of a TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City is undoubtedly important, but the overall ‘TEFL experience’ is multi-faceted. Spending a month with like-minded souls from the 4-corners of the world, finding your way around Ho Chi Minh City, taking a bus to an exotic location for the weekend or flying to a neighbouring country for a short trip are all part of a brilliant TEFL experience – and a ‘pull factor’ that clearly favours Ho Chi Minh City.



Initially, it might seem counter-intuitive to list climate as a pull factor for doing a TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City over Hanoi and Phnom Penh. However, when you scratch a bit below the surface, it’s not counter-intuitive at all; it makes perfect sense.


TEFL Course in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


Ho Chi Minh City has two seasons, the dry season and the wet season. The dry season is characterised by oppressive heat and very little rain. Oppressive heat, high humidity and a daily downpour are the key features of the wet season. In contrast, Hanoi has the classic four seasons and extreme weather events on occasions that are not prevalent in Ho Chi Minh City. When it’s hot in Hanoi, it’s very hot. When it’s cold, it’s very cold. Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City are only 203 kilometres apart, and the two cities have similar latitude and longitude lines. These factors dictate that Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City have a similar weather pattern, although Phnom Penh does present an array of challenging variables. When you add dust, dirt, abject poverty, and poor infrastructure – all commonplace in Phnom Penh – to oppressive heat, high humidity and severe flooding, it’s pretty easy to understand why some folks would choose to stay away.


The weather in Ho Chi Minh City may be hot, but it’s a known quantity. So, you would have ‘built it into the equation’ before leaving home. Moreover, there’s a lot of upsides to hot, predictable weather, 24/7 – socialising with friends late into the evening, getting around in shorts and a t-shirt, flip flops rather than lace-up shoes, pursuing outdoor hobbies, trips to the beach and suchlike. Conversely, the weather in Hanoi and Phnom Penh is far less predictable and can present unwanted challenges.



In this blog post, from a layperson’s perspective, I’ve analysed enrolment numbers and feedback from students who completed AVSE’s TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Phnom Penh over a many of years. The analysis suggests that: 1. most people do the TEFL course at AVSE because they want to know how to teach English as a second language – and get a teaching job; and 2. pull-factors – ‘word of mouth’, location and climate – have driven exponential growth in AVSE’s TEFL programme in Ho Chi Minh City, while student numbers in Hanoi and Phnom have remained relatively stable.


Turning your mind to what motivates paying customers is undoubtedly a good thing.  


About the blogger: Peter Goudge is the founder and Managing Director of AVSE-TESOL in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Phnom Penh. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Peter now calls Ho Chi Minh City home. Check out the AVSE-TESOL website: www.avse.edu.vn




Do some ‘taxi homework’ before arriving in Vietnam…


I can say, with my hand on heart, that I’ve heard a taxi-tale from every continent, except Antarctica. I’ve heard some horror stories from ‘globetrotters’ of all ages and backgrounds while going about my business running a TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Equally, I’ve had my own undesirable experiences in several countries, including my native Australia.


Taxi tales

Some taxi tales are good news stories, the birth of a baby on the back seat, for example, but most are about situations that travellers dread. We’ve all heard stories, or experienced them first-hand, about getting ripped off, taken to the address, arguments about paying a tip (or surcharge), lecherous cabbies, lead-foot drivers, tailgating, jackrabbit starts, clutch dumps, modified meters, and road rage; the list goes on.


TEFL Course in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


This taxi-related blog post comes with four tips based on ‘coalface’ experience. It’s directed at the 400+ students (annually) who travel to Vietnam from countries near and far to complete the Australian Government accredited TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City at AVSE. Having said this, three of the four ‘taxi tips’ are relevant to everyone who visits Ho Chi Minh City. 


Tip One:

Avoid privately-owned taxis at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Why? There’s a high chance your experience will result in displeasure due to aggressive behaviour, an argument about the agreed price, taken to the wrong address and suchlike.


Let’s assume you’re travelling to Vietnam to join the TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City at AVSE, with the view of teaching English after the 4-week programme concludes. Almost certainly, your first ‘taxi experience’ in Vietnam will be at airport in Ho Chi Minh City immediately after you exit the terminal building. If you choose to travel by taxi from the airport to the AVSE campus or somewhere else, you’ll essentially have two choices – a ‘taxi’ that’s privately owned or a ‘run-of-the-mill’ taxi that’s operated by one of the branded taxi companies.


TEFL Course in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


Distinguishing between the two taxi options can be tricky for a rookie, but there are tell-tale signs. The privately-owned taxis tend to come with aggressive touts, impeccably dressed drivers, vehicles parked in far-off places and zero branding. The importance of branding can’t be over-emphasised; it’s central to personal security. It’s much easier to track down a recalcitrant taxi driver when he (or she) works for a known cab company as distinct from tracking down a person who drives a ‘white Toyota’ or similar like 50% of other drivers on the road. How the service fee is calculated is another telling difference between the two taxi options. Private taxi services tend to set an arbitrary price that’s well above the market rate in the hope that you won’t know any better. People fall for it! The regular taxi services in Ho Chi Minh City charge according to a meter reading. You’ll see the meter clicking over as you travel from Point A to Point B. If the taxi you’re thinking of using doesn’t have a working meter – walk away, it’s that’s simple.


Tip Two:

Use Vinasun taxis in Ho Chi Minh City for a trouble-free experience.


If you choose to heed Tip One, you’ll find an ‘everyday’ branded taxi at the airport’s designated taxi rank – turn left when you leave the airport building and walk to the end of the concourse. There are plenty of signs to point you in the right direction. On the way to the designated taxi rank, there’s a good chance that private taxi touts will harass you (see Tip One); it’s best not to engage with them, just keep walking. The taxi touts at Tan Son Nhat Airport are very shrewd. If you engage one of them, it’s not easy to disengage. 


Okay, you’ve found the public taxi rank at Tan Son Nhat International Airport. One of the first things you’ll notice is that there are six or so branded taxi companies that want your business. Personally, I use Vinasun taxis in Ho Chi Minh City, or I walk. Why Vinasun? Here’s my response.


From my experience, Vinasun taxis in Ho Chi Minh City are clean, reliable, 100% metered, have decent air-conditioning, you’ll see them everywhere, and the drivers mostly know their way around the city. Vinasun taxi drivers are purposely trained to: 1. be polite to customers; 2. deal with language issues in a professional manner; 3. load and unload baggage; 4. check if anything has been left in the taxi before the passenger disappears into the Ho Chi Minh City crowds, and 5. give the correct change.


There’s a quirky feature about Vinasun that you’ll notice the first time you take a cab ride with them. When a foreigner sits in a Vinasun taxi, seemingly by divine intervention, a recorded message in beautiful English plays, expressing gratitude for choosing Vinasun and wishing the person well during their time in Vietnam. I have heard a few variations of the same message over the years. It’s a nice touch.


In the 10+ years that I’ve been running a TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City at AVSE, we’ve literally had thousands of students from the four corners of the world go through our programme. Almost to a person, I have recommended Vinasun taxis. I haven’t received a single complaint. Conversely, I’ve heard about mishaps with some of the other taxi companies in Ho Chi Minh City.


Tip Three:

Don’t get into any taxi that doesn’t feel right – go with your gut feeling.


Put simply, what I want from a taxi service is to get from point A to point B for a reasonable price, without any surprises. I think most commuters want the same. Certainly, that’s the message I hear from work colleagues, friends, neighbours, students doing the TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City at my school and from other folks in my orbit. Before you get into the back seat of any taxi – including a Vinasun cab – make sure it feels right. If it doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance it’s not right, so let it go. There are plenty of other taxis in Ho Chi Minh City that will feel right. Classic tell-tale signs that a planned taxi journey may leave you disillusioned, in tears or worse, include:

  • impatient driver
  • driver who appears not to listen to your instructions
  • driver who doesn’t understand where you want to go
  • dirty exterior or interior
  • unbranded ‘taxi’
  • no meter
  • meter present, but the driver wants to negotiate a set price
  • driver’s body language
  • inappropriate conversation
  • driver and a passenger in the cab when you are collected


TEFL Course in Ho Chi Minh City AVSE-TESOL


Tip Four:

If you’re enrolled in the TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City at AVSE, lock in a plan before your arrival date to be collected from the airport by an AVSE staff member (fee involved).


 If you don’t want to be harassed by taxi touts after a long flight or find your way to the public taxi rank at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, arranging for an AVSE staff member to collect you on arrival makes sense. The airport collection service comes with a fee of US $30.00, which covers the return journey for the staff member, your one-way journey to the AVSE campus and up to three hours waiting time in the event your flight is delayed. By any measure, it’s a bargain – and it’s super convenient. You can book the airport collection service by sending an email to the coordinator of your TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City at AVSE.



In this blog post, I’ve noted that: taxi-touts at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City should be avoided; Vinasun cabs are my personal favourite; you should pay attention to your ‘gut feeling’ before getting into the back seat of a taxi, Vinasun or otherwise; and last but not least, there’s always the airport collection service offered by AVSE if you can’t be bothered with taxi-related matters on arrival in Vietnam.


The reality is that all of us are only one dodgy taxi ride away from having a horror taxi tale. Do some taxi homework before you arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, and be smart when you’re getting about town. If you follow a few simple ‘rules’ with taxis, there’s a good chance that you’ll be a listener rather than a storyteller when taxi tales are the topic of conversation.  


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the owner of Australian Vocational Skills and Education (AVSE) in Vietnam and Cambodia. AVSE has been delivering an Australian Government accredited TEFL course in Ho Chi Minh City and at other locations in Southeast Asia for more than a decade. Check out the AVSE website: www.avse.edu.vn



TESOL Course in Hanoi

Teaching in Vietnam


Teaching in Vietnam – learn to manage yourself…


There’s a lot of information on the internet for the benefit of newcomers to ESL teaching in Vietnam about managing a class, writing a lesson plan, maximising the benefits of information technology and suchlike.  Regrettably, information on how new teachers should manage themselves from a mental health perspective is scarce. Your ability to manage your wellbeing is pivotal in acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to become a competent – and medium to long term – ESL educator.


Teaching in Vietnam can be immensely pleasurable and rewarding, or it can be your worst nightmare. Teachers who are adept at managing themselves tend to do well; those who aren’t inevitably move on to a different profession. Managing your wellbeing while teaching in Vietnam mainly involves ‘being aware’, making subtle changes in how you approach your teaching work or both. It rarely requires folks to make drastic changes in their life, although this does happen on occasions.


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOL


While doing some rudimentary research before writing this blog post, I was surprised to see that the Australian Government accredited TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh is the only TESOL or TEFL course in Southeast Asia that has ‘managing yourself’ or similar as a ‘stand-alone’ unit. Yet another area where ESL teacher training at AVSE-TESOL is ahead of the pack.


In this blog post, I’ll shine a light on three areas where people who are new to teaching in Vietnam can positively contribute to their wellbeing – from today – managing stress, time management and building a teaching portfolio.




In plain English, stress is an adverse reaction that some people experience when subjected to excessive pressure or have demands placed on them. Why touch on stress in this blog post? Firstly, it’s a hot topic amongst people teaching in Vietnam. Bemoaning and finger-pointing are commonplace in ‘teaching in Vietnam’ social media platforms, with schools named and shamed, mostly unfairly, for being the root cause of a teacher’s stress. Secondly, and more importantly in my view, stress can have a disastrous effect on our ability to process information. This can have serious implications on a teacher’s:


  • Situational awareness within the classroom
  • Ability to make objective decisions
  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Capacity to competently discharge their duties


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOL

Like any profession, there are many elements of teaching that are stressful. Stress can manifest in various ways, including, but not limited to: working long hours; living away from home for the first time; delivering unfamiliar course content; dealing with the pressures associated with student achievement, or being ‘buried’ under a mountain of paperwork. Some or all these factors could lead to a new teacher feeling that they’re unable to cope. Whether it’s just a hint of a feeling or something more paralysing, here are some coping strategies that have worked for me in my role as an ESL teacher and may work for you also:


  1. Don’t ignore stress. If you can feel the pressure building while teaching in Vietnam, don’t wait until it’s too late to release the valve or seek assistance. It’s okay to find it hard to cope now and again, and it’s okay to feel angry or upset. These are natural human emotions. Instead, work to build your stress awareness, learn to look out for the signs and recognise potential triggers. Once you can acknowledge stress building or identify a stressor, you become more equipped to manage your responses.


  1. Gain perspective. Stress can sometimes result from a loss of perspective. When we become overwhelmed, we can lose sight of what is important. If you’re feeling stressed, then you may need a new frame of reference, whether that means taking a day off, spending some time with friends or family or simply getting away from the teaching environment for a while. This might at first feel counterproductive, especially if you are balancing lots of tasks, all of which are pressing. However, a break or change in environment can revitalise and refocus the mind.


  1. Learn to relax. Relaxation is said to restore our balance. Therefore, it’s crucial that you develop the ability to switch off at some point in your day and take the opportunity for a few moments of calm. For some people, this is through exercise. For others, it’s quiet meditation, reading a decent book or watching a film. Most importantly, don’t confuse relaxation with recreation. If you are already exhausted in daily life, trying to relax by doing even more, may not be the panacea. Relaxation techniques that could be used to reduce stress include focused breathing exercises and meditation. If you feel that you’re struggling and the sense of being overwhelmed won’t abate, make sure you seek medical assistance.

Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOL

  1. Be organised. Becoming more organised can be a useful preventive measure in reducing personal stress. It’s usually those moments when our lives seem cluttered and out of control that our coping systems become more fragile. Many of these moments of inundation can be curtailed by learning to manage time more productively.


Time management


Time management plays a pivotal role in handling the demands of ESL teaching in Vietnam. Not only will poor time management affect the quality of your teaching and potentially your ability to go on to find other work, but it can also detract from the enjoyment experienced in the process itself. Moreover, poor time management, a lack of work structure and poor course planning can lead to greater levels of stress. While much of an ESL teacher’s role is framed by the institute and school timetables, assessment frameworks and deadlines, the effective use of an individual’s time can lessen the feeling that there is simply too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Here are some hints to assist you in productively managing your time while teaching in Vietnam:


  • Create a teaching in Vietnam ‘to-do’ list. One of the fundamental tools for managing time is that list of things you need to complete and when they need to be completed. The to-do list essentially consolidates all your tasks into one place. From there, you can prioritise the tasks and tackle the important ones first. Also, by prioritising the tasks according to their urgency, you reduce the temptation to start with more manageable tasks rather than those that are most urgent.


  • Review your list. It is a matter of priority that you ensure the to-do list is monitored, reviewed, and updated on daily. The to-do list should be a rolling resource that you constantly reference to ensure its currency and relevance to your work teaching in Vietnam.

Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOL

  • Create an organisational framework. Keeping on top of your administrative tasks, including the boring stuff like filing, student reporting and associated school paperwork, will ensure your stress levels are not heightened by an avalanche of jobs and competing deadlines. Remember, stress levels can build if you leave everything until the last minute.


  • Delegate! Delegation is arguably the most crucial time management skill. If you are allowed to delegate while teaching in Vietnam, use it wisely and strategically. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should try and get someone else to do the work for you, but if your school provides clerical and/or technical support, avail yourself of the service. This will ultimately increase opportunities for you to invest in duties or tasks that provide the most significant impact within the classroom.


  • Set aside time each day for communication, such as emails and phone calls. Doing everything in an assigned block of time is far more efficient than spreading tasks out across the day in a piecemeal fashion. Moreover, you’re less likely to leave emails unanswered if you know there is an assigned time for dealing with them.


Building a portfolio


Folks who are new to ESL teaching in Vietnam often underestimate the value of creating a ‘teaching portfolio’ and developing the habit of keeping it updated. So, what exactly is a teaching portfolio? It’s a personal record drawn up and compiled by the teacher. The teaching portfolio is an effective way for teachers to reflect upon, describe and document their teaching philosophy, goals and achievements. In addition, it provides a structured means of presenting information for job search, promotion or career enhancement. Most importantly, if you make a point of keeping your teaching portfolio updated, you won’t have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ by remaking lesson plans and preparing teaching resources for topics that you’ve already taught. In short, the ‘tools of your trade’ will be in one place.


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOLHere are eight tips on how to start putting a ‘teaching in Vietnam’ portfolio together.


Tip 1. At the beginning of the portfolio, it’s important to outline your teaching philosophy via a brief statement (1–2 pages). Essentially, you should aim to explain why you make the pedagogical decisions that you do.


Tip 2. Endeavour to describe and provide a framework of the teaching responsibilities to which you’ve had exposure – if any. This can be as simple as listing in tabular form the units or courses, levels, and class sizes you have taught.


Tip 3. You need to show the reviewer evidence of your effectiveness as a teacher. This may be illustrated by providing examples of selected written comments from teacher evaluations, reference letters from students, summaries of peer teaching observations, and the like.


Tip 4. What teaching strategies do you deploy while teaching in Vietnam? Put simply, what kind of work do you do with your students? Examples here could include lesson plans, course plans, videos of classes you have facilitated, learning resources or handout materials you have created – the tools of your trade (see above).


Tip 5. The portfolio should also show your involvement in developing syllabi and any influence you may have brought to higher course-level planning, design or development. For example, amendments you have suggested to a syllabus, courses you have planned, learning objectives you have devised belong in the portfolio.


Tip 6. What methodology do you use to construct assessments and feedback material? This section is an opportunity to demonstrate the approaches you use to map assessment regimes to learning outcomes and how these instruments have been used to help students evaluate their progress. In the context of teaching in Vietnam, evidence might include examples of written feedback, tests and quizzes you’ve formulated, assessment mapping samples – and a precis of how things worked in practice.


Tip 7. What investment have you made in your personal and professional development? Provide descriptions of professional development experiences that you have engaged in to enhance your instructional abilities.


Tip 8. Remember to organise your portfolio so that it is easily accessible, is well structured and reflects your best work and thinking. This applies regardless of the portfolio’s medium, whether digital or paper-based. It is also important to remember that it is much easier to collate and file documents as you go along rather than trying to create a portfolio in one sitting, under a tight deadline.




Teaching in Vietnam is hard work. It’s not all ‘bells and whistles’. There’ll be times when you love the work, but like any job, there’ll be times when you’d rather be in another place. This blog post was directed at shining a light on three simple things that you start doing now to manage your wellbeing throughout your teaching journey proactively. First, learn about stress and how to manage it. Second, become a time management guru. Third, develop a teaching portfolio. Your longevity teaching in Vietnam is in the interest of all stakeholders.


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the founder and owner of AVSE-TESOL in Vietnam, Cambodia and Online. TESOL certification (Australian Government accredited) from AVSE-TESOL offers a brilliant pathway to teaching English in Southeast Asia. Here is a link to the AVSE-TESOL website:  www.avse.edu.vn




Teaching in Vietnam – it’s ‘PHO-nomenal’…


From the very beginning of this short piece, I want to confess to an abject failing on my part during the 15+ years that I’ve spent teaching in Vietnam and running my business, AVSE-TESOL. Here it is! I didn’t take to eating (or slurping) Pho until very recently. Putting together this article was the impetus for my change of heart. I suspect my dislike of Pho over the years has something to do with a medical condition called Misophonia. Folks with this condition have profound and adverse reactions to the sound of other people eating. I can feel my blood pressure rising at this moment just thinking about slurping, chewing and suchlike. While I’ve never been diagnosed with Misophonia, I am very familiar with the symptoms. The good news is that I found the perfect antidote, but more of that later.


Now that I’ve bared my soul to personal shortcomings when it comes to Pho consumption, let’s turn our mind to the purpose behind this article. The Story of Pho! What’s the origin of Pho? Why is Pho considered ‘PHO-nomenal’ by every Vietnamese person I’ve ever met, including my extended family and colleagues teaching in Vietnam? Where will Pho be in 2040 – how ‘Pho’ will it go (sorry, I couldn’t help myself)? We’ll finish off this piece with the ‘Ultimate Pho Recipe’ for you to try at home.


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOLOrigin of pho


Before doing some background reading, I was under the impression that Pho dated back to when King Hung 1 was a mere twinkle in his mother’s eye during the legendary Hong Bang period, centuries ago in Vietnamese history. No, this is not the case. Pho only dates back to the late 19th century. Gosh, what a surprise! In stark contrast, the famous Aussie Meat Pie dates back to 9500BC during the Neolithic Period. The Ancient Egyptians even ate a version of the Aussie Meat Pie, according to archaeologists.


Pho, as we know it today, gained popularity in the north of Vietnam in the mid-1880s. It brought together the key ingredients of Chinese and French cuisine at the time. Keep in mind that the Chinese have tried on a few occasions throughout history to occupy Vietnam. The French colonised pretty much the whole of Vietnam (and neighbouring Cambodia) for more than 100 years until the decisive battle at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 heralded the end of French occupation. The Chinese influence on Pho includes noodles, rice, vegetables and various spices; the French contribution was red meat.


Over time, Pho made its way from the north of Vietnam to the country’s southernmost point in Ca Mau Province, located in the Mekong Delta. On its north to south journey and over time, the original version of Pho has evolved into a contemporary ‘dish’ available in restaurants of all sizes and traditional street food outlets the length and breadth of Vietnam. It’s served up to visiting Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers and even the occasional dictator. There’s a terrific photo on the internet of Bill Clinton eating Pho at a restaurant in downtown Ho Chi Minh City during an official visit. Certainly, it’s a staple food of most long-term expats. 


Why is pho considered to be ‘PHO-nomenal’?


From what I’ve seen over the past 15+ years, Vietnamese people, foreigners I’ve met through my work teaching in Vietnam and random expats, enjoy a decent bowl of Pho for the same reasons: 1. it’s cheap; 2. it’s quick, and 3. it’s consistent with a balanced diet and healthy living.


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOL


There is no question – Pho is cheap. At a ‘half-decent’ inside restaurant, a bowl of Pho in Ho Chi Minh City will ordinarily cost no more than US $2.00. If you’re happy to sit on a small plastic stool at a small plastic table (almost universally blue in colour for some unknown reason) and eat your Pho with shared chopsticks in a shared plastic bowl, then the price will be not much more than US $1.00. The good news is that the shared utensils and bowls are washed between customers, or at least they should be. Vietnamese customers don’t seem to care. They simply take a napkin, give the utensils a quick wipe, and then ‘hoe into’ their meal. Expats teaching in Vietnam tend to a bit more discerning. I’ve seen expats bring their own bowl and utensils to an outside Pho stall – to the amusement of locals – or ask to rinse the utensils that are provided with boiling water. It’s probably wise, but I can’t imagine that I’d be bothered going to so much trouble.


Anecdotally (with my Vietnamese wife as the source), it will take an average person 5 minutes (+/-) to pull together a bowl of Pho, assuming the ingredients have been prepared beforehand, chopped, diced, boiled and suchlike. In a restaurant, it takes around 3 minutes. 


An average-sized bowl of Pho contains 350 to 400 calories – 20% of the recommended daily intake for an adult. Is Pho as healthy as people suggest? The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. ‘Yes’ – if you go light on the noodles and salt, heavy on vegetables and opt for lean meat. ‘No’, if the bowl of Pho is dominated by noodles, subject to a heavy hand with the salt and has undesirable additives for colour or flavour. I once saw a foreign chap add sugar that he brought with him, to a bowl of Pho at a street stall, but I don’t think this practice is usual.


Where will pho be in 2040?


When it comes to history and fast food, Pho clearly does not match the ‘reverence’ of the Aussie Meat Pie, which we know dates back to pre-biblical times. Moreover, from my observations, Vietnamese folks’ love for a bowl Pho is yet to match the passion that the French have for a plate of snails. I have always found it to be one of life’s ultimate contradictions that the French version of ‘fast food’ is the ‘snail’, but I digress.


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOLWhile Pho has inroads to make, quite literally of biblical proportions, or perhaps I should say ‘portions’ given the context, make no mistake, it has ‘rusted on’ support. These days, those who love a good-sized bowl of Pho go well beyond local people, ‘Viet Kieu’, tourists, and expats teaching in Vietnam. Business conglomerates – large multi-business and multi-national companies – are ‘gobbling’ up the ‘Pho Market’ in Vietnam and elsewhere. Pho 24 (Vietnamese owned) now has more than 50 Pho restaurants across Vietnam and abroad. Pho Hoa (2018 Top Global Franchise List – Entrepreneurs Magazine), 70+ locations, Pho Que (rather an unfortunate name) Huong is another North American Pho Business with a sizable international footprint.


So, where will Pho be in 2040? I expect it will be every bit as popular as it is now, but increasingly it will be consumed in fast food chains rather than at small food stalls found on the street. Just as the proliferation of large shopping malls spelt the end of ‘mum and dad’ grocery shops, it looks to me that the Pho Fast Food Franchises spell the end of the small, blue plastic stools and tables and the shared utensils that I referred to earlier.


The ultimate pho recipe


After an exhaustive search online, speaking with Pho connoisseurs, taking advice from friends and acquaintances in my ‘teaching in Vietnam’ orbit and trying various concoctions in my own kitchen (while wearing earmuffs – note my earlier comment about an antidote to Misophonia), I’m confident that I’ve found the ‘Ultimate Pho Recipe’. It belongs to a quirky Vietnamese / Canadian chap named Quang Tran. While I have never met or spoken with Mr Quang, his version of Pho scores 10/10 from me, which shouldn’t be underestimated given my eating affliction, although ear muffs make a world of difference. My extended Vietnamese family – all life-long Pho eaters – also gave Quang’s Pho recipe a perfect score. You will find Quang Tran’s Pho recipe on his YouTube channel found here.




We’ve covered a lot of ground in this piece – we’ve ventured near and ‘Pho’ (again, I couldn’t help myself). I’ve bared my soul about the sound of chewing and slurping. We’ve looked at the origin of Pho and noted that it only goes back 120 years or so. Surprising for sure! We’ve turned our mind to where Pho will be in 20 years from now, concluding that the blue plastic chairs and tables (and shared utensils) are under threat from business conglomerates. It has been determined that the ‘Ultimate Pho Recipe’ belongs to the Mr Quang Tran. This occurred after an extensive research and consultation process including, crawling the internet, and reaching out to expats who, like me, are teaching in Vietnam. Arguably of most importance, it’s been determined that ear muffs allow folks like me to enjoy a good bowl of Pho. This alone is news that’s worthy of being spread ‘Pho and wide’!


About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and owner) of AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Online. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Peter now calls Ho Chi Minh City home. For more than a decade, AVSE-TESOL has been providing aspiring ESL educators with the skills, knowledge and certification they need to land well-paid teaching jobs in Vietnam or Cambodia. Check out the AVSE website: www.avse.edu.vn






Vietnam – Country Profile…


Teaching in Vietnam is something that you’ve always wanted to do and now the time has arrived where you can live that long-held dream. How lucky are you? Very lucky indeed!  Here’s some background information that might be handy to know before you set foot on Vietnamese soil for the first time.




Tip: If history is a passion, there’s a good chance you’ll be impressed with the War Remnants (Vietnam War) Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. It’s best to check the hours that it’s open on the day you intend to visit, rather than just turning up.


Archaeological artifacts indicate that humans were living in northern Vietnam 500,000 years ago, but primitive agriculture didn’t arrive until around 7,000 BC (+/-). It took a further 6,600 years (+/-) for the sophisticated Bronze Age ‘Dong Son’ culture, famed for its drums, to make an appearance.


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOLThe Chinese played a huge role in early Vietnamese history and it could be argued that in one way or another, they’ve continued to do so to this day.


History books tell us that Vietnam has had more than its fair share of uprisings, rebellion, and occupation. From 1861 through to 1957 (apart from a relatively short period of Japanese occupation), Vietnam as we know it today was occupied by the French. Walk down any street in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other cities in Vietnam and you’ll see buildings from the French era. 


Shortly after the French decided that they’d had enough, Vietnam was split into two separate countries, North Vietnam and South Vietnam. War erupted between the north and the south and millions of people died, including many civilians. The war in Vietnam came to an end on 30 April 1975 when the North Vietnamese Army overwhelmed the South with a massive offensive, peace was achieved and the country started on the path to reunification.


While the end of the war in 1975 brought a level of peace that Vietnam hadn’t known for decades, it also heralded 11 plus years of economic and political isolation from the outside world, other than a few like-minded communist states. Food shortages were commonplace. Medical equipment was scarce. Medical treatment was primitive. Tragically, people died in high numbers. How many? Nobody knows.


What we see in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and elsewhere in this wonderful country today, is a stark contrast to the reality of life in Vietnam just over 30 years ago. The transformation from a ‘lost cause’ to an economic powerhouse within three decades is miraculous. I’d like to think that those of us who chose to embark on a career teaching in Vietnam during this period, played a part, no matter how small, in the transformation that has occurred.  




Tip: You’d be well-advised to take plenty of insect repellant on a trip to the Mekong Delta. Without doubt, the nastiest mosquitos in the whole world live down that way.


Vietnam’s total land area is 331,211 square kilometres. The country has land borders with Cambodia, Laos and China.  


Crudely, Vietnam can be divided into three segments: 1. the highlands and Red River Delta in the north; 2. the central mountains and costal lowlands in the middle; and 3. the Mekong Delta in the south.  Interestingly, more than 10,000 square kilometres of the Mekong Delta is dedicated to rice farming, making the area one of the top rice-growing regions in the world. 


The coastline of Vietnam with its stunning beaches is surely one of the country’s best kept secrets. Development has taken hold in coastal cities such as Nha Trang, Danang and Vung Tau, but there are still plenty of small fishing towns and hamlets on the coast that provide insight to the ‘real’ Vietnam. Certainly, Danang and Nha Trang are popular work and tourism destinations for folks teaching in Vietnam. There are teaching jobs available on the coast, but competition is intense because of the lifestyle afforded by beachside living, especially in a country with a tropical climate. If beaches are your thing, don’t let my ‘competition’ comment deter you. Who knows? You might be in the right place at the right time.




Tip: With 97 plus million people living on a relatively small tract of land, in a developing country, it’s no surprise that traffic congestion is a huge problem in cities and towns across Vietnam. When you need to be somewhere at a specified time, a teaching practice class for example, make sure you allow time for traffic-related delays.   


The population of Vietnam is expected to reach 97.3 million people in 2021 – the fifteenth most populous country in the world. ‘Kinh’ is the largest ethnic group (85% plus of the total population) with the remaining 15% consisting of people from 53 distinct communities.  


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOL


With every year that goes by we are seeing more Vietnamese migrate from rural areas to larger cities, especially to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Anecdotally, the lack of employment opportunities for local people and access to services such as medical care and education (government schools and tertiary education institutions) are key push factors. Presently, around 40% of Vietnamese people live in urban areas, more than 9% in Ho Chi Minh City alone. While statistics show us that local people are gravitating to the cities, if it happens that you prefer a slower pace of life, you’ll be pleased to know that there are still plenty of teaching jobs in regional and rural areas across Vietnam.  


Interestingly, over the past 20 years the gap between the number of Vietnamese people who choose to move abroad, year-on-year, compared to the number of foreigners who take up residence, has narrowed considerably to the extent that it’s negligible. While opportunities to pursue a career path teaching in Vietnam is a pull factor for many foreigners, history tells us that when a booming economy is coupled with a ‘Welcome Mat’, people respond.




Tip: Vietnam is a hardline Communist State and officially atheist. For those reasons and others, folks who are teaching in Vietnam and other visitors would be well-advised to avoid any discussion about religion.


As a Communist State, Vietnam is officially atheist, but the reality is that religion plays a part in the lives of many Vietnamese people. Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism are the three most prominent religions in Vietnam. It’s not uncommon for those three religions to be grouped together as one religion named ‘Tam giao’ (in Vietnamese) or ‘the three teachings’.


Here’s a question for you. What percentage of the Vietnamese population is Catholic? Have a guess if you’re not sure and I’ll provide an answer further on.


In the meantime, you might be surprised to learn, as I was, that:


    • there are more than 2,200 Catholic parishes the length and breadth of Vietnam that are collectively serviced by 2,600+ ordained priests; and
    • it took the French colonists 17 years (1863 to 1880) to build the Notre Dame Cathedral in the downtown area of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). It remains a popular tourist destination to this day. 

So, getting back to my question, ‘what percentage of the Vietnamese population is Catholic’? The answer is 7%. Did you know the answer? If not, was your guess close to the mark?




Tip: If possible, try and structure your routine so that you’re under an air conditioner or a fan during the hottest part of the day as distinct from being out and about. Heat related illness including dehydration in Vietnam is commonplace.


Vietnam’s climate varies from north to south, with the north having the conventional four seasons and the south having only two seasons, wet and dry. 


It is hot and wet in the northern part of the country including Hanoi during the summer months and cold and dry in the winter months. High humidity and sunlight are weather characteristics in the north of Vietnam regardless of the time of year. Although the north of the country is either very wet or very dry, the transition months provide for the conventional four seasons.


The weather in the south of Vietnam including Ho Chi Minh City is oppressively hot and humid 12 months of the year. During the wet season you can almost set your clock by the daily downpour of rain. The rain typically lasts for only an hour or so, but long enough to cause local flooding. Usually, the flood water disappears within 30 minutes or so after the rain stops. During the dry season, as the term suggests, it’s highly likely you won’t see a drop of rain in the south of Vietnam. No rain means lots of dust and poor air quality so it’s a good idea to have a supply of surgical masks in your kit bag.


Regardless of whether you settle on teaching in Vietnam up north or down south, I’d encourage you not to wear your work shoes to and from school during the wet season. Wear sandals or similar and carry your work shoes in a bag. Why? There’s a high chance you’ll have to wade through water to get from point A to point B at one time or another. Doing a teaching shift in saturated socks and shoes from trudging through ‘pooey’ water will be unpleasant for you – and your students.  


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOLCuisine


Tip: Occupiers rarely add value to a country, but give credit where it’s due. The French baguettes that are found the length and breadth of Vietnam are simply divine. Throw in a bit of salad, meat of some sort and a drop of soya sauce and you’ve got a perfect Banh Mi for breakfast or lunch.


Putting aside the more exotic ‘food items’ that a lot Vietnamese people swear by, you’d have to say that the local cuisine is right up there with the healthiest on offer anywhere in the world. Pretty much every meal contains ‘farm-fresh’ ingredients including lean meat, vegetables, herbs and spices. Most Vietnamese dishes are testament that ‘cheap’ can also taste good. You’ll have ample opportunity while teaching in Vietnam to make up your own mind. Here’s a random selection of traditional food choices in Vietnam that you should try at least once:


Pho: a soup-like dish with rice-noodles, meat of one kind or another, bean sprouts, a sprinkling of various herbs and spices and a splash of lemon. Most Vietnamese will add soya sauce and chili to a bowl of Pho in quantities that would leave the average westerner aghast.


Bo Kho: a braised beef and vegetable stew with lemongrass and other spices. The stew is typically left to simmer for at least a couple of hours.  Make sure you’ve got a French baguette to scrape the bowl clean.


Bun Cha: is a pork-meatball (looks like a rissole) dish that’s typically eaten with salad and bread. It’s a popular ‘street food’, especially with young children in Hanoi and elsewhere in the north of Vietnam.


Banh Mi: is basically a French baguette that’s stuffed with meat, salad and vegetables of your choosing. How quirky is this? The iconic Travel Book, Rough Guides, has ranked Banh Mi right up there with the World’s best street foods.




Tip: If you go with the ‘Visa on Arrival’ option, make sure you’ve got the Approval Letter with you at your port of entry.


To enter Vietnam, you will need a passport that has at least 6 months remaining and a valid visa. These days most people who travel to Vietnam opt for a Tourist Visa on arrival, which can be finalised online from the comfort of your own living room in less than 10 minutes. You will find information about the Tourist Visa on arrival option here


Assuming you plan to complete the Australian Government accredited TESOL course at AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City with the idea of teaching in Vietnam after your training finishes, you’d be well-advised to opt for a 3-month Tourist Visa on arrival. Why? It will cover you for the period of the TESOL course, your initial employment and the transition to an employer sponsored visa. Keep in mind that Vietnam is one of those countries where the visa that’s available to be purchased today, may not be available tomorrow. The same principle applies to eligibility requirements. Visas are a moving feast in Vietnam.


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOLCurrency


Tip: If you plan on teaching in Vietnam after your TESOL course at AVSE-TESOL, your employer (a school) will almost certainly pay you once a month with a wad of Vietnam Dong notes. It’s best to open a bank account at the earliest opportunity and deposit spare funds. Don’t stash money in your room – almost certainly it will ‘walk out the door’.  Speak with the friendly folks at AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City if you need a helping-hand with opening a local bank account. 


Vietnam’s official currency is the Vietnam Dong (vnd). Yes, I agree, it’s a funny name for a currency! Prices are typically quoted and advertised in Vietnam Dong. ATM machines only dispense Vietnam Dong.


Sending money out of Vietnam is complicated and the rules change without notice. If you have bills to pay in your home-country, you may wish to seek advice from other expats on how to send money abroad. In stark contrast, sending money to Vietnam is a breeze with the assistance of entities like Wise, Western Union and MoneyGram. 




In this ‘Country Profile’ blog post I’ve provided a snapshot of Vietnam based on my own experience. I have touched on matters pertaining to history, population, cuisine and other areas that I thought would be useful for a ‘rookie’ to at least reflect upon in a quiet moment. If you take nothing else from this blog post, be careful with those nasty mosquitos in the Mekong Delta (Geography) and please, please, please do not store your hard-earned money from teaching in Vietnam under your bed or a similar ‘hidey spot’ (Currency).



About the writer: Peter Goudge has been teaching English in Vietnam since 2006. Originally from Australia, Peter now calls Ho Chi Minh City home. Peter is the owner of AVSE-TESOL in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Phnom Penh and Online. AVSE’s core business is delivering an Australian Government accredited TESOL programme for prospective ESL teachers. Check out the AVSE website: www.avse.edu.vn




‘Grey Nomads’ – teaching in Vietnam…


Here’s a prediction based on phone calls and emails that I’ve received in recent times. I’ve got it pegged that when it’s possible for people to travel freely again, we’ll see international Grey Nomads (50+ years of age), predominantly from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, teaching in Vietnam (and Cambodia) in unprecedented numbers.  


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOLGrey Nomad is an endearing phrase that’s commonly used Australia. Over the past few years, the phrase has gained traction in Southeast Asia. In the context of teaching in Vietnam, a Grey Nomad is a foreigner of a more mature age who has travelled to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or elsewhere in Vietnam to work as an English language teacher. Arguably, the most famous Grey Nomad of all time is Marco Polo. He travelled around Asia in the late 1300s and early 1400s. History tells us that Marco Polo took full advantage of the opportunities presented to him in Asia; it seems to me that the modern-day Grey Nomads are doing the same. 



Let’s drill down a bit on these Grey Nomads. We know they’re 50+ years of age, but what else do they have in common? What pathway do they typically follow from their former life to teaching abroad? Why is Vietnam a beacon for Grey Nomads? How are they received by the Vietnamese schools that employ them?




The pathway that leads to teaching in Vietnam for a good number of mature teachers is remarkably similar. Most are single people, professionally-minded, with a solid work history. They’re seeking a positive experience with an element of adventure in retirement or following redundancy, divorce or another life-defining moment. Interestingly, the vast majority don’t hold a university degree. 


Almost to a person, Grey Nomads that I’ve encountered through my work teaching in Vietnam are well-informed. They’ve done the necessary research. Your average will Grey Nomad has it pegged that the number of English teaching jobs in Vietnam is greater than the number of suitably qualified people to fill them – many times over. They know it’s not enough to be a native-English speaker who happens to be breathing and upright to call themselves an English teacher. Most Grey Nomads have invested in quality English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher training that’s government accredited and internationally recognised. The Australian Government accredited TESOL programme at AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is an excellent example of top-notch ESL teacher training. More ‘mature heads’ know that quality training provides the skills, knowledge and certification that are pivotal to getting a decent job in the first place – and to do the job well. Grey Nomads are attuned to the idea that job training – teacher training in this instance – is not an area where people can scrimp.


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOL


Why is Vietnam a beacon?  


Typically, foreigners who are teaching in Vietnam earn a decent salary; from my observations, the vast majority of Grey Nomads aren’t motivated by how much they can earn. On a list of motivating factors, making money would come in around number nine for most ‘Grey Nomads’. Not in any particular order – lifestyle, low cost of living, personal safety, ease of travel – within Vietnam and to neighbouring countries, diversity of experiences on offer, warm climate, decent beaches, and friendly local people – would all rate higher than making money. Most of the Grey Nomads who are teaching in Vietnam are happy if they can cover their everyday costs. I suspect this reflects their ‘stage of life’. Grey Nomads tend to be people with a long work history. Some will have worked like a ‘Trojan’, perhaps even held two jobs at the same time, scrimped and saved, bought, and sold properties, raised children, experienced heartache and suchlike. They’ve done the hard yards for the benefit of themselves, the benefit of others and the benefit of the wider community. Now it’s about ‘me time’. In a nutshell, why is Vietnam a beacon? It has ‘me time’ written all over it.


Teaching in Vietnam AVSE-TESOLHow are Grey Nomads received by employers (schools)?


Earlier in this article, I inferred that the number of English teaching jobs in Vietnam is greater than the number of suitably qualified people to fill them – many times over.  This is the case now, and it has been for the 15 years that I’ve been living and working in Vietnam. Pretty much from the time Vietnam opened up after the devastating war years, the country has experienced economic growth that’s envied around the world. This growth has led to an insatiable demand for English language skills – and qualified, foreign English teachers.


In a ‘job-seekers market’, schools welcome anyone they can get their hands-on, including Grey Nomads, who are qualified to teach English. Consequently, ‘market forces 101’ dictates that Grey Nomads are well-received by schools along with other qualified teachers. Having said this, if a School can choose between Person A – quality TESOL certification, a wise head, even temperament, professionally minded, stable work history, and culturally empathetic – or Person B – dodgy ‘TESOL certificate’, youngster, a bit of an attitude, fussy, expects ‘top dollar’, almost certainly the decision making process will be short.




I expect we’ll see an unprecedented number of Grey Nomads from all over the world taking on jobs teaching in Vietnam once it’s possible to travel without restrictions. Almost to a person, the coming wave of Grey Nomad teachers in Vietnam, like those who came before, will have done their ‘homework’, hold quality TESOL certification, and travel abroad for diverse reasons. The principal motivation for those Grey Nomads who take on jobs teaching in Vietnam will most likely be ‘me time’; it won’t be money. One thing is certain, the next wave of Grey Nomad English teachers in Vietnam will be welcomed with open arms by schools nationwide because of who they are and what they bring to the important work of teaching people things.



About the writer: Peter Goudge is the owner of AVSE-TESOL in Australia and Southeast Asia. AVSE-TESOL offers an Australian Government accredited TESOL programme in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Online – a great pathway for teaching in Vietnam, Cambodia, and other countries. Check out the AVSE website: www.avse.edu.vn