Wanted in Vietnam: Good-looking English teachers. What?

As we get closer to the start of a new academic year, the advertisements for native English speaking teachers are on the rise, particularly outside the five main cities

Students learn English with a native speaker at Le Ngoc Han Elementary School in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

As we get closer to the start of a new academic year, the advertisements for native English speaking teachers are on the rise, particularly outside the five main cities. The ads are a strange mix of promises too good to be true and schools in dire need of someone, anyone...SOON.

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All promise some mix of a good salary or hourly rate, accommodation and teaching hours – sadly few actually mention assistance with working permits, one-year visas or health and police checks. I hope the law changes in the near future to put the responsibility and liability on the hiring schools to complete the legal paperwork, as South Korea and Japan do, often through hiring companies. It’s good to have dreams, hey?

Then there’s that great ad – the one that really catches your eye with bad spelling, wild promises (free accommodation on the beach – what...a tent?) or those mad requirements – must have ten years of experience in teaching kids (I’d go mad...) or worse... must be ‘good-looking’. Oh... and under thirty five years old.

Now as much as I admire good looking people for that certain healthy glow that I absolutely hate because I don’t like exercise – it’s rather discriminatory, isn’t it? 

During the last two to three years there has been the controversy of hiring teachers from the Philippines for what was claimed to be better wages than teachers from the West. The suggestion that they would never be as popular or as professional as Western educators was also disturbing, as was the notion that they didn’t ‘look’ Western enough. 

Gee, thanks a lot. I’m 57 years old with 25 years of experience. Tragically – yes, I’m crying into my beer as I write these words…not good looking enough, as the wrinkles grow around my eyes, my chin begins to sag and my hair is a fabulous mix of George Clooney ‘salt and pepper’ and the last remains of beach boy blonde.

Sure, all my students say I’m very handsome, but I’ve been telling them for years to go to the eye doctor.

The issue also confronts older women, teachers over fifty and fat people too. How discriminating are local English centers willing to become in the heated contest to grab market shares and student dollars? Quite a lot, it seems. The stories are everywhere on Internet forums of disappointed, experienced teachers losing out to younger, more ‘hip and groovy’ backpackers waving freshly printed CELTA certificates in front of 21-year-old recruiters who can barely understand your English. 

I imagine sometimes before I go to sleep that one day there will be a MATURE certificate, Mega Awesome Teacher Utilizing Real English, which will bring equality to the level A, B and C English classrooms of Vietnam and sweep away the British teachers with their 50 different accents and the Americans (12 to 15 accents) and leave the way clear for Australian teachers with just one accent across the 3,000 kilometers of the land down under. Canadians, however, have one of the best English accents in the world – they are often good drinkers too.

So dear academic centers – consider my lonely voice of protest – hire good, ugly teachers! We do the job better, quicker, funnier, more practically and without all those horrible golden smiles. Please write a new advertisement:

Wanted: Good Teaching Person – Must Have MATURE Certificate... 


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