How Couchsurfing led to Teaching English in Hanoi
Having experienced multiple Couchsurfing experiences of all kinds, I was truly surprised to learn of this new alternative teaching opportunity. I came to meet my Couchsurfing host Lee expecting a regular Couchsurfing experience, and realized upon entering the building that it was actually an english teaching community. For helping to teach by telling inspiring stories from 6.30pm – 8.30pm, I got the chance to live for free in a beautiful room (which was actually an online shoe-selling business during the day) that had wifi, a kitchen in the room next to it, and a clean shower. Pretty awesome wouldn’t you say!?
The past days have taught me a whole lot about English teaching opportunities in Hanoi, so I will share this valuable insight further down in this post, after telling you my full story about how Couchsurfing can lead to teaching english in Hanoi. Feel free to jump to the information on teaching english in Hanoi if that is what interests you most!
Living in an English Teaching Community in Hanoi Vietnam
We arrive at 6AM in Hanoi, and get off the sleeper bus all tired and groggy. Both our phones are dead – naturally – so we first have to find a way to get a bit of juice to find directions. After we finally get over the hurdle, we decide to take a taxi through the bustling streets of Hanoi. We arrive at Lee’s, who brings us up to his house, which is actually also the english teaching headquarters. This is the moment when we realize that we will need to help with teaching english. The headquarters is where all the lessons are given, and where all the marketing and business development is done. Half of the people are still sleeping, while the other half are already up and working next to those that are sleeping in the other teaching room. Have you ever seen a startup in action? I thought I had but this was next level!
We really start to crash as sleeper buses ironically rarely let you sleep, so we go into the other teaching class and lay down on a nice and (very) firm bamboo mattress to sleep on. Boy did I sleep like a baby in this wonderfully air conditioned english-teaching haven!
By 9AM everyone is working on their laptops, trying to bring in new sales through facebook ads, personal outreach, and strategic planning for future company growth. Everyone is between 24 and 28 years old, so the environment feels much more like a startup environment than that of an english school.
This is probably why I liked it so much as it gave me so much time to work on my business and write additional articles for alternative ways. Over the next 7 days, we spoke with countless students, having simple conversations with them to help them improve their conversational skills. Every night we would go out and eat great foods, such as Banh Da Cua! Most of these food I am certain I would have never tried if it wasn’t for them offering us to try new local specialties. The quality of food in Hanoi is out of this world!
I am 100% sure that most english teaching experiences will not be like this one. However I still wanted to share my own personal experience to give you an idea of the scope of different experiences and opportunities that are available for you out there, simply in the English teaching field. So go out there and explore all your incredible alternatives!
Teaching English in Hanoi
There are so many services that exist to teach English in Hanoi and all over Vietnam.
- Live in English Teaching Communities – You can either live and eat for free in exchange for 2-3 hours of teaching english every other day, or you can become a full-time teacher and get paid 2K-3K per month. This is the experience I had the chance of landing into.
- Find a job through your certification program – Use the network around your certificate to land a job; it is certain they continuously update a job board with opportunities all around the world. As South East Asia and Asia are developing at such a staggering speed, you can be sure that there will be opportunities all over the place!
- Offer private lessons in person and/or through online services – There are various online services like Cambly and RYPE that allow you to become an english teaching freelancer. Another thing you can do is go to networking events in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh and meet young professionals that are trying to perfect their english. The hardest part is finding the first few clients, and after you can expect a snowball effect (if you are good at what you do).
- Become a University Teacher – I have a friend living in Danang that has now been teaching english is a university professor for over 2 years…… He’s 26 years old!!! The way he got the job was by meeting someone in Thailand and working in a university teaching english there, and then transferring to Vietnam. If you can get this gig, it is THE golden gig. He works 2-4 hours a day, gets 3 weeks paid vacation every 8 weeks, and his pay is competitive with regular english teaching jobs (2K-3K per month).
- Volunteer in school or university – One of the best ways to get your name out there and get some experience if you don’t have it yet is by teaching as a volunteer in a community. By doing so, you will develop the necessary contacts to get you a funner and better paying job in the field. You can do this anywhere in Vietnam, as there is a huge demand for teaching English in Hanoi and in Vietnam.
- Connecting Platforms – A friend of mine in Hanoi is working on a new platform that will enable you to get in contact with large established companies that are looking for foreigners to teach English to their employees. As soon as this service is available, I will post about it. If you are interested in this send me your CV and contact me via the website and I will be able to put you in contact with the right guy!
If you are interested in teaching in Hanoi, I invite you to read My Big Fat Travel Adventure’s post about her teaching experience in Vietnam. I found the article really entertaining and educational!
For in-depth information on teaching english abroad and other great opportunities working abroad, I invite you to find some of the highest quality information on the web through Dave’s Travel Corner.
How much should you expect to make
Although this will depend a lot on your certifications and level experience, there are general guidelines to give you an idea of the price.
Volunteer – Free food and accommodation with occasional free outings on weekends
Beginner level – 1K-2K per month.
Certified with no experience – You can expect to make up to 2K USD per month if you find the right gig. If not, then you can expect to make more liked 1500 USD a month.
Certified with experience – Demand is extremely high for certified teachers that already have good experience. You shouldn’t accept anything under 2K, and push for around 3K with accommodation and even food.
Alternative Ways Tip: I think that a good rule of thumb is that if you plan on teaching English full time, invest the $300 on an online course to teach English. My girlfriend did it and she receives about 3 new opportunities everyday by email.
How is it teaching English in Hanoi?
Really depends on what you compare it to, and also depends on the gig you land. If your boss is awesome, generally the experience will be awesome. So make sure you meet your boss before taking the job (Skyping with him/her a few times should do the trick).
If you compare it to teaching in Central or South America, I would say you should expect to work much less hours than you would teaching english in these regions of the world. You will probably have 2-3 1.5 hour classes, 6 days per week.
In China you can expect even less hours than in Vietnam, with at least 1 month of paid vacation. China and South Korea generally offer the best overall conditions. Each place is a bit different, and for more detailed info on comparing different regions of the world, I invite you to read Nomadic Matt’s article on some of the best places to teach English. If you have ever taught english abroad please share your story and advice in the comments!
Until next time,
The Alternative Ways
The Alternative Ways aims to become the #1 guide to alternative travel experiences. What’s Alternative Travel? Traveling becomes alternative as soon as you leave your comfort zone and experience awesomeness. Our mission is to give you the necessary tools and inspiration to step out of this comfort zone and travel, so you may find your true way. If you enjoyed this article we invite you to like our facebook page and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
What a cool experience! I have never heard of English teaching communities before, but I would totally live here! I’m actually going to Hanoi in April so maybe i’ll check it out then! Thanks for sharing about this 🙂