Emerging ESL Market

Why Teach in Vietnam?

What has made Vietnam an attractive destination for ESL is a dynamic, yet complicated question. To provide an exploratory roadmap, this series of short excerpts is separated into quadrants of observation: 1. Economy & the ESL Market 2. Culture & Cuisine 3. Adventure Tourism and its Natural Wonders  4. Altruism & Activism.

It’s the Economy…

Globally, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is one of the fastest growing economic zones (6.3 percent per year to 2020, provided trade momentum holds and domestic reform continue, according to the OECD). Much like the rest of its neighbors, namely, Thailand and Cambodia, globalization (trade and migration) is affecting each of Vietnam’s economic sectors. As a result, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), in efforts to re-monetize and diversify (i.e.,become more competitive), Vietnam is holding an estate sale. In other words, Vietnam is undergoing its largest divestment project to date--privatization (i.e., the ownership of previously state-owned enterprise by private actors) is becoming the norm. For example, in February (2018), Vietnam auctioned off 53.6 percent of its stake in the Saigon Beer and Alcohol Company (SABECO), making it the largest divestment in Vietnamese history; and, despite a sluggish global economy, during the first-half of 2016, increased its foreign direct investment (FDI) by 105% or $11.3 billion. Given the visible economic alternation taking place, it is worth considering what this means for ESL?

With any economic boom, comes the liberalization of domestic policy and innovation. The internationalization and spurt of Vietnam’s market provides new opportunities for Vietnamese children and thus, requires greater investment in education, in particular ESL. With 23.55 percent of its population under the age of 15, and 39.78 percent of its population under 24 (data provided by Index Mundi), English language learning, along with more tertiary-educational attainment should become commonplace. Put differently, if Vietnam rises to the occasion and becomes the next Asian Tiger (by growing by nearly 7 percent annually, and mimics the trajectory of China of the early 2000s, according to the Economist, ), education should theoretically, become its crux.

As Vietnam advances, so too will the plethora of opportunities for native ESL teachers to spread their wings and become a part of the vibrant Vietnamese ESL teaching community. Beyond the many other unique and attractive singularities, we may also look to the economy to explain why some chose Vietnam to live and work.

In sum, its fast pace growth is making the Vietnamese landscape increasingly viable for ESL. If future projections are accurate, then we should expect Vietnam to become an ever increasing hub for FDI, which will in turn give way to increased opportunities for Vietnamese students and attract teachers alike.

By Jeff Maslanik

Steam Coordinator


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