Top tier International schools in Vietnam are the ‘cream of the crop’ as teaching jobs go. They have the best facilities, highest salaries and the longest paid holidays. If you are fortunate to get a position at one of these prestigious schools, it will open doors for a career around the world in International school teaching.
Although there are 100’s of schools that have ‘international’ in their name – the quality, management and teaching methods are very questionable.
So, for the purpose of this article we are going to look at the top tier International schools such as the Australian (AIS), British (BIS), American (AIS), International School of HCMC (ISHMC) and Renaissance – to name a few.
What’s an International School?
The top International schools in Vietnam offer international curriculums, which are set in the same frame work as countries such as the UK, US and Australia, but changed slightly for local and overseas students. These schools are expensive for many people with fees ranging from 18000 – 35000 USD per year.
International schools can be very different for teachers coming from their home countries Vietnam. You will find smaller class sizes, students from different cultures and world class facilities. International schools also put a lot of emphasis on personal development for students providing extra curricula activities on top of their normal classroom hours.
What are the normal hours for a teacher at an International School?
Teachers are expected to be in school from around 7.30am – 5pm each day with typically 4-5 hours teaching. Working in Asia means some schools have long breaks from 10.30 – 1.30 for lunch, play and nap time – hence the early starts to compensate for this time.
Some schools don’t have the long lunch and will finish at 3.30. However, teachers are expected to stay around till 5pm to do extra activities. These activities include sports, arts and music. Often the teachers will be expected to come in on weekends as well.
As well as your classroom hours you will also be expected to prepare detailed lesson plans, student reports and attend parents meetings which can be done either on evenings or weekends.
School holidays are varied depending on the school – There are many different international schools including the British, Australian, American, French and German to name a few, and these closely follow the annual holiday schedule from their home countries. The American international school may take 2 months of for summer whilst the British only 5 weeks.
Tet, the Vietnamese new year, is nationally recognized so all teachers will take this off. This usually lasts for 2 weeks.
What are teacher’s duties at international schools in Vietnam?
Although International schools pay extremely well compared to other teaching jobs, teachers are expected to take on a lot more responsibilities.
Teachers are expected to have written lesson plans organized well in advance to be signed of by the management.
Some schools have spot checks from education authorities from their home countries. For example, Ofsted, the UK’s official office for standards in education, has been known to come to some of schools offering the UK based curriculum, so it’s crucial that everything is done above board.
Other duties may include sports days, music events, parent’s evenings and ceremonies.
International school teachers not are not just expected to follow the set curriculum, they need to take great pride in nurturing the students and making them the best they can be.
Who are the main types of students studying at an International school?
You get a real mix of nationalities at international schools. Ages are from 3 years old for the early years up to 18 years old for the seniors. Apart from the Korean International or French school who generally have only children from those respective countries, you could have 10+ nationalities in one class.
Many teachers find it fascinating learning about their student’s cultures as well and vice versa. Students are also a lot better behaved in an International school with teachers getting excellent support from their management.
Students at these schools have often lived in many different countries as they move around with their families work. You will find a lot have a well-rounded experience in different cultures.
What Qualifications do you need to work at an international school?
The top international schools expect teachers to have the following minimum certificates.
- Bachelors of Education OR
- Bachelor’s degree related to your teaching subject PLUS
- Teacher training obtained at a University for the appropriate age ranges. This can be:
- PGCE (England, Wales, Aus, NZ, Canada etc)
- PGDE (Scotland)
- Higher Diploma of Education (Ireland, South Africa)
- Masters of Education
- Full (non-temporary, non-emergency) state certification (US and Canada)
- Teacher registration (NZ, Ireland)
- Bachelors of Teaching (NZ)
- Qualified Teacher Status (UK)
- A TEFL or CELTA certificate is also required to apply for the work permit.
Some schools will require a minimum of a few years’ experience either at a school in your home country or another International School.
How much can a teacher earn at an International school?
Typically International school teachers with the correct documents and experience can earn from 3000 – 5000+ USD a month. This comes with all the extras such as full holiday pay, return flights home, housing allowance, health insurance and free education for children.
Many expats will hire cooks, maids, nanny’s and gardeners due to their disposable incomes. Something they never would be able to do in their home countries.
If you don’t have the full teaching certificates but manage to get a job teaching English at an International school then salaries range from 1800-2500USD per month. You maybe be lucky and be entitled to the extra benefits as well.
Pros and cons
There are many advantages to working for an international school. Firstly, you can save a lot of money. Vietnam is cheap and your salary is the equivalent of a CEO here. With no housing to pay for and very minimal bills you will find that’s it actually hard to spend a lot. What’s more, you will be able to work with international students and colleagues and immerse yourself in a new culture.
Also, most of the top schools are in the main expat areas of Phu My Hung and District 2 and have international hospitals, western bars and restaurants and huge malls. You will never be far from your creature comforts of home.
Of course, many teachers prefer to eat, drink and live in the Vietnamese places. These can be easily found only 5 minutes away. The best thing is you have the opportunity to do both.
However, International school teaching isn’t for everyone. One of the reasons schools require teachers to have had some international school experience is the culture shock teachers get when they arrive in a new country and being far away from family and friends.
Many teachers find the culture change overbearing and often leave half way through their contract – or it’s their partners or children who can’t adapt. This is why if you plan to move overseas it’s better to visit first to get a feel of the environment and culture.
Whats more, there’s a lot of pressure on the teachers to perform well. With the expensive school fees, parents have high expectations for their children’s academic development.
Working at an international school can be a very rewarding experience and provide a much better life finacially than you could expect from teaching in your home country. However, it isn’t for everyone so always do your homework before you decide to make the move.
If you would like to find out more about life in Vietnam then you can visit our popular blog section here.