A day in the life of an ESL teacher (in Vietnam)

Hello wanderlusters!

I’d like to give you an idea about a typical day (or week!) for an ESL teacher in southern Vietnam.

I have lived in Can Tho (on the Mekong Delta) for 5 months now and spend an awful lot of time doing as i please. I work an average of 16 hours a week at my ESL private college, which of course leaves plenty of time for leisure.

You can of course do many different things to keep busy or even just lie around in bed/relax on the couch like some of the teachers, however, I try to take advantage of all my free time, and living in a foreign country.

Usually, I wake up around 5/530am and go to a yoga class from 6am-7am. Vietnamese yoga is more like a relaxation stretch class with a couple of yoga poses thrown in for fun. 😛

Generally Monday mornings I sleep in, as Sunday night is the only night my school is shut, so all of the teachers are free and we generally get together (this is the most common night to drink too much).

After morning yoga I go to the market and buy food, then home to shower and eat breakfast.

Three mornings a week I go to my Vietnamese friends house and study Vietnamese with her younger cousins (free lessons – I help them learn English in return). Then, after around 2.5 hours of study together I have lunch with my friend and we chat/ play guitar. I usually go home around 1230/1pm and sometimes have a nap.
Weekends I teach both days from 8am so I don’t go to yoga, I sleep in until 630am.

The other two days I tutor privately for 1 hour in the morning after yoga, then go out to coffee with friends or do something interesting (this month I’m learning Vietnamese Watermelon carving with a friends friend in a nice garden cafe).

3 days a week I go to lunchtime Zumba class for an hour with some friends then home for lunch. Generally my afternoons are spent sleeping or lying around the house relaxing if I’m not out with friends.

From 530pm-730pm every night Monday – Saturday I teach at my college. This is only during the summer as I am currently teaching 4-6 extra hours. Usually all foreign teachers have 2-3 nights off per week. After class I go out with friends for dinner or coffee and games. Some nights we go to live music cafes, karaoke, cocktail parties or even a Latin dance club (because I LOVE to dance!!)

So you see, there are an endless amount of ways to spend your time, I have not listed half of the different things I usually do during the week.

We often go out for day trips to different cities or provinces which are always great fun, I am constantly invited to go here, there and everywhere.

Life as an ESL teacher in Vietnam is one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced and I highly recommend it!

Please comment with thoughts or even share your stories of teaching overseas if you have them, I’d love to hear from you.

If anyone has taught in another country that you recommend please let me know, you help on where to go next is much appreciated!!

Until next time


10 thoughts on “A day in the life of an ESL teacher (in Vietnam)

  1. I’d love to teach down in the Mekong at some point. I’m currently teaching in HCM and I think life here is a little different – I’ve found that with most language centres here, you have to commit to at least 25 hours a week. And with this you have to work a mixture of morning/afternoon/evening/weekend classes. The centres are generally open every day and night, including Sundays and your schedule changes on a weekly basis. As a result, it’s really difficult to make plans and do much extra stuff, other than sleeping!! I love the sound of the more laid-back approach in the Mekong though, sounds like a great way of living!

    • Hi Kerri,
      Well the Mekong is definitely a nice laid back cruisy lifestyle! We don’t have to commit to more than 12/14 hours but they usually give the foreign teachers 16 hours per week. There is also opportunity to do more or less if you ask and usually once a month I request a few days off to travel so they are great with that! We only teach nights and weekends so you have all day off Monday to Friday which is also excellent. If you move down this way shoot me an email and we can catch up for a coffee or something if you would like to.

  2. Hi Siobhan, Sounds fantastic!
    I’m heading for HCMC, Vietnam in just under a week to teach English. I spent a couple of months there earlier this year so I know my way around a few haunts. Are you able to recommend any TESOL courses in Vietnam that are reputable? Or did you already have yours sorted before you left home? Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated! Cheers :0) Celeste

    • Hi Celeste,

      Where are you at the moment? Great to hear you know your way around! I found HCM so huge, though I’ve only been a few times for around 1 day each trip haha!
      I actually studied the TESOL course back home in Australia, however I got my job through a consultant who lives in HCM, and she is partnered with my school back home. Her name is Heather Wright and she provides TESOL courses in HCM city. If you would like her contact number let me know and I will forward her details to your email, then you could see what courses she currently has available 🙂

      • Hi Siobhan, sorry for the delay – I’ve been busy with my departure.

        I’m in HCMC now! I arrived this morning – a stark contrast from the chilly winter in Melbourne 🙂

        Heather’s details would be great, Thanks!

        How are you finding it? Hopefully you’re not still boggled with the size of the place.

        I find it looks samey in a lot of areas and as a result I often get lost looking for places I’ve been to before.

        I don’t drink whilst I’m abroad but if you wanted to catch up, I could give you my number (when I find out what it is) lol.

        Celeste 🙂

      • Hi Celeste!

        Sorry for the delay in getting back to you also! I’ve been away working in a city where I had no internet connection.

        I actually live in Can Tho not HCM I’ve just been there a few times however I am heading back up there in 2 weeks on my way to Australia for a holiday – I’ll be there Sunday 26th in the afternoon and would love to catch up. I’m not really a drinker but I love coffee and tea.

        Heather’s details I will email to you.. Email to nomad4me@gmail.com ?

        I’ve been here almost 6 months and this city is big but small compared to HCM so I know my way around fairly well and love the lifestyle here.

        Hope to hear from you shortly!


      • Hi Siobhan,

        Thanks for the response. I stared a TEFL course on Monday and TGIF because I’m exhausted 🙂 lol

        I don’t drink whilst I’m abroad so a tea or coffee would be great.

        The nomad4me@gmail.com is an address that I use mostly for spam so: missoz14@gmail.com is a better one to contact me on.

        My phone number here is: 0122 704 0754. It’d be nice to catch up with a fellow female antipodean…I don’t believe I have anything planned on that day 🙂

        I passed through Can Tho several months back on my 1st trip to Vietnam.

        Nice to hear from you.

        Take care,


      • Hi Celeste!

        Have sent you an email with Heather’s email address and popped your phone number into my phone so I will call you on that day when I arrive in Saigon. Also I think I’ll be in District 1 again, do you live near or in District 1?

        Take care,

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