Overall rating for KTV school in Bien Hoa, Vietnam: D
The school has a good number of students (appr 500) across a wide variety of age groups and leaner levels. So, the students are there, and there will always be a need for teachers. I was there three months and noticed a high teacher turnover rate...both local Vietnamese teachers, and native speakers. When I investigated why, it was clear...the owner of the school will tell you anything you want to hear to get you there, but the reality once you arrive is very different. Make sure to get everything in writing, including a contract, BEFORE you go. As a result of the misinformation, morale is very low and teacher turnover very high. There are visa problems too. They will generally try to keep getting you a 90 day visa, but there are no guarantees it will be renewed. You will need to go through a lengthy and laborious process to get a proper work permit. Teaching is from 6-9 PM, so most teachers there have other jobs and do KTV on the side, so this is effectively a part-time job. They will expect you to teach 7 days a week too, so though having days off is nice, you will not be able to get away. You will tire of this very quickly.
There is a fair amount of unpaid hours required, including homework every class, grading tests, giving assessments, etc., all of this in addition to your lesson planning. This reduces your pay significantly. They take out taxes too, like 20%. So, you don't make much, but the town is inexpensive. Of note, the curriculum is by ETS and mediocre at best. Most of the material is just not relevant for students from this small town. The trends at the school are negative, with the student population declining, especially with the few adult classes they have. If you're into teaching kids, you'll be ok, but don't expect any business, test prep, or adult classes, despite what you may hear from the staff. The facilities are fairly old and run down, though it is air conditioned (a necessity). The teacher's prep room is overcrowded, and smells like a sewage line has broken somewhere nearby. There is little to no camaraderie between staff members, esp locals vs. foreign teachers as locals resent that they make much less then native speakers do. It's discrimination, but apparently it's rampant in the industry I guess.
Bien Hoa is a small, blue-collar town that roles up its sidewalks at 5PM. After that, there is nothing to do. It's dirty as well, with garbage thrown everywhere, rats and roaches running around, and the sewers under the sidewalks, so it's easy to actually fall in if one of the concrete plates is loose. No one speaks English and it's difficult to manage your affairs there. If KTV was a great place to work, it would be different, but the unhealthy work environment and low morale there, along with the poor location, make this school and town a very depressing place to work.
Finally, though it's nice that the school puts you up in a 'motel' for the first 30 days (about $8 USD/day), the place (Hotel Sao Mai) is a run-down, roach infested brothel. You will need to insist on staying at another place. Pay for it out of your own money if necessary, it will be worth it. You will find that the school's motivation is to save money at every step of the way, cutting corners in order to do so. They even fill their white board markers with refurbished ink, dripping it by hand into the body of the marker, like putting oil in your car! Messy and time consuming to say the least. Oh, the one time I tried to xfer data from one of their computers to a flash drive (necessary for work), my flash drive was infected with over 20 viruses. This problem still exists. I've never seen an organisation so unwilling to spend money on their teachers or students. You need to be aware of this...come prepared with everything you need, including your own laptop.
Overall, this is not a place that anyone with standards will want to work. If you are desperate and need the experience on your C.V., that's fine, but get it and then move on to Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, or the myriad of other schools in VN. In a nutshell, there is no real reason to work here.
- Kien Thuc Viet School (KTV), Bien Hoa Vietnam -- gregg bach -- 2012-11-10