TESOL Course in Vietnam – Six Key Documents
If you’re anything like me, when the word ‘paperwork’ is mentioned, the ‘shutters come down’. Who can be bothered? Paperwork is tedious and reeks of boredom, but getting your documents in order before leaving your home country to join a TESOL course in Vietnam, is essential. Vietnamese officials love paperwork. They also love red stamps (occasionally blue, depending on the document). If your paperwork (or stamp) doesn’t meet the requirements, there’s a good chance your teaching abroad adventure will fall in a heap before it starts.
There are six crucial documents that you need to sort out before leaving your home country to participate in a TESOL course in Vietnam: 1. your passport; 2. a visa to enter Vietnam; 3. your qualifications (if any); 4. a background check; 5. an English proficiency test (if you’re a non-native English speaker); and 6. medical insurance. Of course, not all the paperwork I’ve mentioned comes with a legal requirement, for example – medical insurance, but it’s best to cover all your bases. I’d suggest that you use a ‘check list’ to tick off the key documents one by one, when they’re finalised.
Your passport must have at least six months remaining before the expiry date – and it must be in ‘shipshape’ condition. If your passport is due to expire within the next six months or during the time that you plan to be abroad, you’ll need to renew it before you depart. Torn pages, water damage and suchlike are also good reasons to renew your passport before you head off. If your passport gets damaged while you’re abroad, contact your embassy for advice.
Some nationalities can enter Vietnam without a visa. It’s best to assume that your nationality is not one of them. Assume you need a visa to enter Vietnam and seek guidance from the Vietnamese Embassy closest to where you live on what’s the best visa for your particular circumstances. Once you have advice from the Vietnamese Embassy about the most appropriate visa, it would be worth running the idea by a few teachers who are on the ground in Vietnam – and the entity that’s delivering your TESOL course in Vietnam. There might be quirky TEFL / TESOL factors that the embassy doesn’t know about.
If you hold a university or college degree – or some other qualification – you need to bring the original document with you. Moreover, documents of this kind must be notarised in your home country as being genuine and correct. While some foreign embassies in Vietnam are prepared to notarise documents, this is not universal. So, it’s best to do it before you leave home. There’s a division of government in every country that takes care of notarising documents for use abroad. It’s simply a matter of finding out who takes care of this process in your country.
More than 90% of the teaching work in Vietnam involves young learners aged 4 through to 17 years of age. Given the age of the students, it makes sense that employers (schools) want to know about the person they’re about to employ. One way that employers can do this is through a background check from the candidate’s home country. It will be your responsibility to provide a background check. It needs to be no more than six months old. It needs to be an original document that’s notarised in your home country as genuine and correct.
How can you get your hands on a background check before departing your home country for a TESOL course in Vietnam? Good question! Every country has an arm of government that deals with background checks. The best place to start is the Department of Justice (or similar), closest to where you live.
English Proficiency Test
If you’re a non-native English speaker, a potential employer will likely want to see hard evidence of your skill level in English. Rightly or wrongly, employers in Vietnam place trust in a decent IELTS or TOEFL internet-based test (ibt) score. Therefore, non-native English speakers should: 1. complete an IELTS or TOEFL ibt examination in their home country; 2. have the original document that contains the score notarised in their home country, and 3. bring the original document (notarised) to Vietnam.
Are you one of those TEFL / TESOL people who think they’re indestructible? If so, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. You’re not. Medical insurance with adequate coverage is crucial when travelling abroad for any purpose, to attend a TESOL course in Vietnam or otherwise. With a simple Google search, you can find travel horror stories about people who became ill or injured while abroad, incurring medical bills that they were unable to pay. Being hospitalised in Vietnam and unable to pay the bill is one way to trash your once in a lifetime teaching abroad adventure. By taking out Medical Insurance before you leave home, you’ll be able to pay your way if something untoward happens.
In this short blog post, I’ve identified six important documents that you’ll need to get sorted before leaving your home country to attend a TESOL course in Vietnam. You need to make sure the expiry date of your passport is at least six months away. Having the right visa coverage is imperative. Any qualifications that you hold should be notarised and legalised in your home country. You’ll need a background check (notarised and legalised in your home country) that’s not more than six months old. If you’re a non-native English speaker do an IELTS or TOEFL ibt test in your home country. Lastly, before heading off for your TESOL course in Vietnam, make sure you have medical insurance with decent coverage!
About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director (and founder) of AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Online. AVSE-TESOL has been delivering Australian Government accredited TEFL / TESOL programmes in Southeast Asia for more than a decade. Check out the AVSE website: www.avse.edu.vn