justbee justbee posted September 30th, 2011 at 12:53 pm to Help!. Viewed 20 times. Answered 31 times.

Having just completed my first teaching month in Hanoi, I was curious as to how the payment worked. When i was given my contract, i was under the impression that the rate quoted per hour meant per lesson, as a class was 45 minutes,and then ten minutes break,making it 55 minutes that i am with the students.Today ,I found out that i was only being paid per literal class hour.
My question is this:Is this normal,and should i expect it?or have i been had?

Last answered by SEANINHANOI about 103 months ago.

Answers (jump to newest answer)

Otono wrote on September 30th, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I think this is normal. Otherwise, as student's view, I don't calculate the break time in course fee. Everyone wants to know what is net time per lesson not include break time.

And if you expect payment for total time you spending at the "office", it may should be asking for payment increase.

Freebird7 wrote on September 30th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Talk to your employer. If I have a 2 hour class which includes a 10 min break, I get paid for 2 hours.

justbee wrote on September 30th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

freebird,thats what i thought,having taught for three years elsewhere, i see that as the norm....guess I will have to speak to them

Davey1 wrote on September 30th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

i've heard this before in hanoi. depends on that hourly rate i think, if it's over 25 i'd say it'd probably ok, if it's under 20 then it's being cheeky. also, if ur not paid for breaks so don't work them.

Shelley wrote on September 30th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I am not surprised about that cauz any employer is the same, they find any reason to lower down your wage. You should make it clear from the beginning how much you will be paid, like if you want to buy something in Hanoi, you should ask the price and if this price includes any tax fee or not.

Hope you will win in this battle.

justbee wrote on September 30th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I feel as if i dont really have a leg to stand on , my contract states 23usd per hour. and thats what it looks like im getting.Although, i could never have imagined it to translated so literally! little pissed, as this took a big chunk out of what i expected to be my salary .

tctaft wrote on September 30th, 2011 at 3:18 pm
tctaft (elite user)

That's what's interesting about Vietnam, it's consistenty inconsistent. I teach at two locations - one taxes my salary and one doesn't. Do I ask why? No. The answer would be too confusing and take to long and I would be none the wiser at the end of it. But I'll bet the government never sees the tax money from the one that takes it. C'est la vie!

Brian22 wrote on September 30th, 2011 at 3:19 pm


You should consider finding work elsewhere. Lots of other opportunities out there.

justbee wrote on September 30th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

What I am currently busy doing.Went through lots of crap at this place, and thought it would be worth it due to the salary(or what i thought it would be!).Not worth it.Thanks for the replies!

boniusminimus wrote on September 30th, 2011 at 4:58 pm
boniusminimus (elite user)

Every school and contract is different. I've been paid per hour, where an hour is 60 minutes, but also where an "hour" is 45 minutes. Then there's the tax issue.
It's up to what was agreed when they negotiated the contract, and they (and you) should try to be as clear as possible. Good experience for next time though :) Before you actually leave the job though, tell them (politely) that you're leaving and it's because of the pay issue and the difference to what you had expected.. You may find they can come up with the money. I did that once successfully after an initial confusion about the rate of pay.

Davey1 wrote on September 30th, 2011 at 5:24 pm

true what malcolm says and is implied above about checking prices first... everything but everything is up for negotiation here. u just have to be polite, creative with why, and persistent... more persistent than u have ever been in ur life (oh, and don't lose your temper).

SEANINHANOI wrote on October 1st, 2011 at 8:21 am

My school pays me $20 and hour and that is for an hour of teaching. My private students pay me $5 per hour and I usually give them more than an hour if they are in full flow and they usually buy me a coffee.

Some schools can be funny about it. My school were using the wrong exchange rate for 2 weeks until I pointed it out. Meh.

mimilikestea wrote on October 4th, 2011 at 8:43 am
mimilikestea (elite user)

Sean, $5 an hour for private tutoring is like slave labor, what are you doing??

And yeah, that's just damn cheeky, I was getting paid $18 an hour, paid for the break as well, so that meant $36 on a Sunday morning. You're getting bled out.

Grant wrote on October 4th, 2011 at 10:22 am
Grant (elite user)


$5 per hour per student is slave labour (labour has a 'u' in it, heathen)?

5 students = ....


Newman wrote on October 4th, 2011 at 11:00 am
Newman (elite user)

Yes, but does he get 5 coffees per hour as well?

boniusminimus wrote on October 4th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
boniusminimus (elite user)

It's disappointing to read that wages for teaching haven't gone up at all really in the last 5 years. Even for an experienced and qualified teacher, the schools seem to be offering pretty much the same as what they did in 2006.

mimilikestea wrote on October 4th, 2011 at 7:03 pm
mimilikestea (elite user)

@Grant: lurking spelling nazi of doom..

@maliusmaximus: How do you think that came to be? Though I can attest that there were less teachers in 2006 so lack of supply with high demand equals better pay? Though the cost of living and inflation was lower back then so 2006 was probably a good time to be teachin'.

SEANINHANOI wrote on October 4th, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Actually I get lunch, or cinema and coffee. The students sometimes want to hang out with a native and speak and have me correct them when they make mistakes and not be too formal. It works for me. It is a nice break from the school and gives me a social life combined with teaching. $5 is not slave labour, it is pocket money and pays for beer etc

boniusminimus wrote on October 4th, 2011 at 8:46 pm
boniusminimus (elite user)

@ mimilikestea:I think there's two reasons.
Firstly, it's the opposite and ugly side of the coin that made many people come here in the first place to teach: The primary desire of the schools to have a white face and apparent lack of much care about how experienced or qualified the teacher is.
Sure they'd rather have a more experienced and qualified teacher, but ultimately many will take the fresh teacher who only asks for $17/hour, rather than someone asking for $25/$30 or more. That eats into profits too much.
Secondly there's been an absolute flood of new language schools. Whilst yes this should increase demand, over the years the demand has been met by an increasing number of new teachers arriving here. So the good schools that do recognize the importance of skill and experience and do hire good teachers, are faced with competition and must keep fees low to compete, thus reducing the overhead available for higher wages.
That said, personally, I don't accept work for less than $25/hour at language schools.
Also If you have the experience, qualifications, passion and initiative, you can create higher paying private group contracts than the schools can offer; it can be quite common to make $50/hour in these classes. I think many teachers who have been here for a while go down this path.
Of course the fee should be consumate with the quality of lesson that you are delivering. Don't just charge this because you can.

SEANINHANOI wrote on October 4th, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I am a new teacher, only qualified a few months ago so I am more than happy with the rate and the school is happy as it gets a teacher who is also a published writer with a Masters. $20 net per hour is pretty good considering the cost of living. I am teacher not trying live like some colonial Raj.

ltmagnificent wrote on October 4th, 2011 at 11:19 pm
ltmagnificent (elite user)
Good Answer justbee marked this as a good answer

In regards to the original question; I have been here about three years and it is hit or miss with the literal hour thing. While this does not indicate the center is bad, it is a common practice among the crappy ones (as it sounds like yours is). If they have already tried to screw with you, this is something that will not end.

What surprises me is the break within a class that is less than and hour long (unless you are teaching kindergarten/supertots but even then that is odd).

In general; a qualified teacher who has been at this for more than two years should be making $22-25 an hour or have a solid contract with benefits that guarantees them the same amount of money every month and amounts to no less than $20 an hour (after tax). A new teacher should be making no less than $20 an hour (after tax). Anything less is an insult.

What I do in negotiations, is explain to whoever is in charge that paying less than the norm will mean as soon as I find someone who is willing to offer a fair price, I will take it, effectively leaving them without a teacher.

Good luck to the OP, I know it can be frustrating dealing with places that don't respect the fair market rate, but stick with it and you will find the perfect place for you.

justbee wrote on October 5th, 2011 at 7:10 am

thank you itmagnificent,I will keep what you said in mind.
And I have left the school, as its clear that they were taking a chance.

MekongHigh wrote on October 5th, 2011 at 9:49 am

I have a niece who is a qualified teacher and she heard about teaching opportunities in Vietnam. She has worked in Japan and HK and she asked me what is the expected salary here and I have no idea. After reading this thread it appears that UD20-25 / hr is probably the "norm". However I don't know how many hours per week is the "norm". Would I be correct in assuming that the average working week is about 35 hrs if working full time? Do the schools provide a housing/travel allowance or other expat benefits? Thanks...

boniusminimus wrote on October 5th, 2011 at 11:04 am
boniusminimus (elite user)

Benefits and wages vary greatly from school to school, however generally speaking, part-time/casual teachers and many full time teachers only get paid for the hours they teach. Teaching more than 20-25 hours is usually too much, because one needs to prepare lessons. To teach more than 25 hours, either the school must be doing a great deal of planning and preparation for the teacher, who simply walks in and delivers a pre-cut lesson, or the teacher is stretching themselves too think and likely not doing a very good job.
If your friend is qualified, works full time, and finds a good employer, an hourly teaching rate of $20-$25 is a very reasonable expectation, plus paid hours for preparation (usually between $5-$13). You usually only get paid for preparation hours if you are full time, and a main teacher at the school. In this circumstance you will also be organizing social events, curriculum development etc..

ltmagnificent wrote on October 5th, 2011 at 11:29 am
ltmagnificent (elite user)

Absolutely agree with maliusmaximus more than 25 "contact" hours per week is too much, especially if the hours occur at multiple locations. It is fun and profitable to do the 35-40 hour thing for about a month, after that you just want to die and end up ruining all your classes.

Also agree with malius about the hours for full time, most places will consider 20-25, though I have heard full time being described as low as 16.

ltmagnificent wrote on October 5th, 2011 at 11:31 am
ltmagnificent (elite user)

one more thing, there is no "norm" as to housing and travel benefits, but I would say most places do not offer this or the offer is pretty much a joke.

mimilikestea wrote on October 5th, 2011 at 11:35 am
mimilikestea (elite user)

Normally, people work 10-15 hours a week, but you can definitely work 35-40 hours, but it does take away from ones social life.
The way to get more work with less stress is, as I've come to realize, is teaching kids in the morning or afternoon and then teaching adults at night. So that's about 30-40 hours, half teaching kids and half teaching adults. Good luck everyone!

MekongHigh wrote on October 5th, 2011 at 11:48 am

Thanks for all the helpful replies. I will definitely pass the info to my niece for her consideration.

Thanks again...

Bloodaxe wrote on October 8th, 2011 at 7:18 am

@ MekongHigh.....I think your niece would love it here. I hope what I have to say is useful to her. My wife and I came here almost 2 years ago with no Language Teaching experience at all, she had been a Dance Teacher for 10 years and I had taught martial arts for 15 years.

From the moment we arrived we said we wouldn't work for any less then $20 per hour, and always started our negotiations at $25. We worked for 3 Language Schools at the start and the lowest we were paid was $22, with the schools paying the tax (or however they don't pay it!).

Then we were then poached by an International School through one of their Teachers who observed us at our Language School classes. Due to our inexperience, we negotiated what we thought was a good contract which included free schooling for our children. At a later date we found out that we were getting paid more than the better qualified and experienced Teachers that were there.

When we re-negotiated this year we got more money and benefits plus 2 year contracts. And again we found out that we are on $300 a month more then the other Teachers.

So what I would recommend to anyone coming here to work in Teaching is : (1) Negotiate HARD!!! Have a lowest figure that you will work for and never go below that, there are so many jobs out there that you will get what you want. (2) Decide what type of lifestyle you want. Language Schools are good for hours at work/pay as you have a lot more days off to explore this beautiful country. Schools require Monday to Friday work, which limits time off, but on the plus side at least you know each month the exact wage you will be getting so you can plan a lot more.

Davey1 wrote on October 9th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

re why wages are same as 2006, there were less better teachers then (at least that were willing to stay in hanoi for any length of time which is needed to adjust to teaching style and build reputation) and fewer schools therefore they were desperate for anyone who could function like a teacher and would pay as such.

now we have more and better qualified teachers coming and hanoi is an easier city to live in therefore no need to increase pay as teachers are more willing to stay.

hanoi (maybe vietnam) is also over-paid for the sector. spain and italy are paying around the same or slightly lower per hour than here with a much much higher cost of living. only places i know of paying more a PNG, Iraq, Saudi Arabia etc... and u get what ur paid for in those places...

i would expect, as hanoi develops, that pay will remain the same or even come down (i am hearing some large, low cost/low quality centres are giving opening offers of 12usd/hr to experienced teachers - needless to say they don't accept).

also worth remembering many larger centres are struggling for students as a recession/economic problem starts to bite - by far their biggest cost is the foreign teachers, therefore, logic stand that's what gets "adjusted" first. note centres like LL and Apollo preferring newly qualified teachers, therefore cheaper, to experienced ones.

SEANINHANOI wrote on October 9th, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I think those of us here on a TEFL course should consider ourselves lucky to get $20 an hour net. Vietnam is a poor country. I budgeted for $15 net per hour before I came so I am doing ok with 12 hrs per week at school and 5 hrs per week private teaching. If I cannot manage on $300 a week net I am a fool. You can claim higher salaries when you have proved yourself. Expecting $25 straight off the plane after a short TEFL course is kind of arrogant.

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