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Vietnam becoming home to cowboy schools

Vietnam is the latest country to report an EFL teacher shortage, with language schools offering on-the-job training and existing teachers “working around the clock to capitalise on demand”, according to the local English language website, vn.express.

The South-East Asian country, which offers among the best standards of living in Asia for EFL teachers, had a large pool of resident teachers before Covid, but with all the schools closing during lockdown, many fled the country after finding themselves out of work and homeless. Others have left for better-paying jobs in Cambodia and Eastern Europe. 

Meanwhile, student enrolment in language schools has soared, with numbers in some weekend classes nearly double the pre-pandemic peak, according to one recruiter. Wage rates on offer have also risen to US$21 (£19.84) an hour for part-time teachers, according to vn.express. 

Local teachers, however, are responding to the web article by pointing out that a new surge in cowboy schools means that many so-called teachers are being hired illegally and paid under the table with no questions asked. “Any native speaker who walks in off the street can get a job at discounted rates,” according to one response. (As is unfortunately the case in many Asian countries, only native-speaker teachers can be issued a work visa to teach English in the country.)

Criminal record checks are also a legal requirement in Vietnam  where, in 2006, Paud Gadd, better known as British former popstar Gary Glitter, was imprisoned for three years  for sexual abusing children while working as a tefl teacher. 

Now the need for such checks is routinely ignored by many of the rogue schools operating illegally. One teacher writes “what scares me, is that anyone can get hired. Anyone from the street and that person is not checked in any way. 

“No background checks and no one even reads the CV. Eight out of 10 schools don’t even… ask to see an ID. Imagine now who is working with your children?” 

Image courtesy of patrick gantz from Pixabay
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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