Teaching in Hanoi can be amazing. It’s an affordable way to experience a beautiful culture and country. The jobs are plentiful and easy to get, but if you’re planning on teaching in Vietnam, you might be asking yourself what is best: a part-time or full-time teaching contract. I know a lot of teachers in Hanoi that have done both, so I’m well aware of the pros and cons of each. Hopefully this post will help you make a decision about the type of teaching position you’d like to take in Vietnam.
|Full-Time Teaching||Part-Time Teaching|
1. Stability – If you have a full-time contract, then you’ll be guaranteed a certain number of hours per month which is great when Tet rolls around and all the students stop going to class for the month-long holiday.
2. Work Visa – A lot of full-time teaching jobs will help fund a work visa for Vietnam, so no expensive visa runs for the full-timers.
3. CELTA paid for – Schools like Apollo and Language Link help to pay for the CELTA for those students who complete the course and then sign on for a 12-month teaching contract with the school.
4. Health insurance – Being in a new country can be scary, especially if you get sick or injured. Most full-time contracts offer health insurance which can be great for peace of mind.
5. Flights reimbursed – Some language schools offer to pay for flights for those teachers who are hired from outside Vietnam.
6. Teacher Development – Some schools that hire full-timers (although not all) will work hard to make sure their teachers are prepared for the classroom and give their teachers lots of opportunities for teacher development.
1. 12-month Commitment – Most full-time contracts in Vietnam require a 12-month commitment. This can be a real pain in the bum for teachers who want use their teaching as a means for travel as they’ll be locked to one city for a full year.
2. Hard to Quit – Sometimes for whatever reason a school just isn’t working out. If you are locked into a full-time contract with a school it can be very difficult to get out of the contract without paying through the nose for all of the benefits that they’ve given you. Some teachers are forced to stick with a school they hate because they can’t afford to leave.
3. No vacation time – Part-timers can take vacation whenever they like; full-timers are stuck with whatever the school allows them to take, and in some cases this can get pretty regimented. I personally felt that I did not have near enough time to explore neighboring cities and countries this year because I had a full-time position that allowed only a few days off at a time and under certain conditions only. I found this extremely frustrating about full-time work.
4. No weekends – A lot of full-time positions in Vietnam require five days of teaching per week, but often the two days off are not consecutive. Although I know Apollo gives all of their teachers two days in a row, most schools don’t do this. This lack of weekend put a crimp on a lot of my travel plans this year.
5. Pressure to meet minimum monthly requirements – Most full-time teaching positions guarantee a certain amount of hours per month and the schools will pay for those hours regardless of whether you actually had the teaching hours or not. This is great in some respects because you’ll never be paid less than a certain amount. However, there is a lot of pressure to make up these guaranteed hours, so full-time teachers can find themselves doing unpleasant tasks, like making materials for the school, being pressured into hosting events, or doing lots of substituting for sister centers in order to make up the lost hours.
1. Instability – If you are a part-time teacher, then there are no monthly guarantees and you simply teach whatever classes are available, which some months might be very little.
2. Visa Runs – Part-time teachers are not often offered a work visa by their employers. This means doing a visa run to another country every few months. Some teachers love this because it’s essentially a vacation that their employers have to allow, but because you are part-time you will be funding the visa runs.
3. No benefits – A part-time teaching position will offer no benefits in the way of health insurance, flight reimbursement, or CELTA reimbursement.
4. No teacher development – Part-time teaching employers tend to care a bit less about their employee satisfaction and/or performance. Therefore, a lot of part-time teachers’ employers won’t offer professional development. This can be particularly scary for new teachers because they might be thrown into a classroom like a VYL class and not offered any training on how to teach the very young learners.
1. Set your own start and end date – Part-time jobs require little to no commitment on the teacher’s part. These jobs are great for the teachers who are just passing through because they can essentially pick the length of their own contract.
2. Easy to Quit – Hate the company your working for? Give them two weeks notice and leave. It’s that easy if you’re a part-timer.
3. Vacation time – Your employer might dump you if you are constantly taking time off, but generally part-time teacher employers have to accept that their teachers can take time off whenever they like.
4. Set your own hours – Part-time teachers have the luxury of setting their own hours, particularly if they are working for several schools or individuals at once. Don’t want to work Saturday through Wednesday? Fine, only accept classes that take place on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. As a part-timer you can really set your own schedule, although I have noticed that a lot of part-timers actually take it to the other extreme and work constantly. As a part-time teacher you can take on as many classes as you want and save a lot of money, although of course you’ll be working a lot to do so.
Getting a teaching job in Vietnam is still easy and lucrative regardless of what some jaded expats like to say. It can be a great gig if you like teaching. I personally love all of my funny, quiet, loud, smart, or struggling students, but deciding whether you want to teach Vietnamese students full-time or part-time can be a challenge. In the end, it comes down to the amount of support versus freedom that you want from your position. I enjoyed my full-time position this year, but as its coming to an end I’m thinking that if I ever return to Vietnam I will try for a part-time position as I no longer need the support of loads of basic teacher development, help with visas, or help meeting a minimum monthly teaching requirement.
Let me know what you think. If you are a TEFL teacher, do you prefer part-time or full-time work? And if you have been to Vietnam, which is better in your opinion?