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Demand for native English-speaking teachers zooms post-Covid

PremiumBy Dang Khoa, Huong Ly   September 29, 2022 | 05:35 pm PT
Demand for native English-speaking teachers zooms post-Covid
Students of an English center in HCMC attend an outdoor activity at a park in 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
Language schools across the country are on a hiring spree as demand for English courses rebounds quickly to pre-pandemic levels.

Every day dozens of job listings seeking native English teachers for part-time and full-time positions are posted in "English Teaching Jobs in Vietnam" and other Facebook groups.

It has become easier than ever for applicants since there are so few of them. In fact, employers are now scouting for candidates to offer jobs instead of the other way round as it always used to be.

Some desperate headhunters say they are looking for teachers to start as soon as possible and even offer on-the-job training to first-time teachers.

Some foreigners are working around the clock to capitalize on the demand.

Alex Rieger, 33, an American who teaches English in Can Tho, is tutoring 14 students privately and working part-time at an ILA language center where he teaches three two-hours classes on the weekend. Besides, he also teaches 40 employees at a local IT company for them to be able to communicate with clients abroad.

"Demand is even higher after the pandemic," Reiger says.

He has had to turn down additional teaching requests from both ILA and new parents since he is fully booked.

The demand for foreign English teachers has been growing since the beginning of the year.

Alex Rieger poses for a photo with his students at an English language center in southern Can Tho Province on November 2020. Photo courtesy of Rieger

Alex Rieger poses for a photo with his students at an English language center in Can Tho in southern Vietnam on November 2020. Photo courtesy of Rieger

Do Thi Hong Thoan, an HR employee at BingGo Leaders, a Hanoi language center that teaches English to children under 12, says demand for foreign teachers at her school is up 60-70% from a year ago now that normal classes have resumed.

Le Thi Ngoc Lan, a recruiter for an English language center for kids in HCMC’s District 10, says: "There has been an uptick in enrollment since the start of the 2022-2023 academic year. The number of students in certain weekend classes has nearly doubled compared to before the outbreak."

The reason why foreign teachers are in high demand is because a large number of them left Vietnam when schools closed due to Covid.

HCMC’s Department of Education and Training said in February that 80 percent of language centers had to suspend operations.

It added that 68 had closed for good, and owed a lot of money to parents and teachers.

Samantha, a South African English teacher who chooses to go by one name, says many of her colleagues have landed better-paying jobs in Cambodia and Eastern Europe.

She and the other remaining teachers at her school are exhausted by having to bear the burden of the current shortage.

"My school used to let foreign teachers go home at 3:30 p.m., but now I have work until 5 p.m."

Many English teachers have chosen not to return to Vietnam.

Lucy Campell moved back to England in January after four years since "I did not want to teach forever and the lockdown made me miss my family and my country."

To tackle the current teacher shortage, many language schools are offering candidates big salaries.

According online job posts, based on their qualifications and experiences, native English teachers can earn more than VND500,000 ($20.95) per hour for part-time positions.

Those in full-time jobs can earn $1000-1500, with some bigger centers paying $1,800-2,000 and even more.

Centers in more remote localities that do not pay as much as those in HCMC and Hanoi offer accommodation support and year-end bonuses of VND30-40 million.

However, many are finding it difficult to hire foreigners.

According to Co Thi Minh Huyen of Summit, an English language center in Hanoi and HCMC, recruitment was easier before the pandemic when foreigners could visit Vietnam in person to learn about the job and directly interview before deciding whether to stay.

"[Now] many foreign candidates are hesitant to come to Vietnam due to traveling costs and slower visa processing procedures."

Back in HCMC, Samantha does not plan to pack up and leave Vietnam any time soon because she has a lot of friends here and is a member of many local volunteer groups.

As for Rieger, he strongly believes demand for English teaching positions in Vietnam would continue to rise.

"Due to globalization, I believe the demand for foreign teachers isn't going away anytime soon."

 
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