ACPI English Schools

by Gee
(Saigon, Vietnam)

Hi, I'm in Saigon and have been offered an English teaching job at a school ACPI.

I have no certificate or, work visa......I'm in Vietnam to finish a divorce. Does anyone know anything about this school and what to expect or, watch out for??


Canadian guy in Saigon


Answer from

Well, I went and had a look at ACPI (American College Preparation Institute) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and have some useful advice for you.

But I am also going to consider the fact that you are going through a divorce as part of my reply.

Sorry, I know it's none of my business but...

If you are not Viet Kieu and alone in Vietnam as a born and bred Canadian boy then you must be in a lot of pain with so little support around you in the form of family and close friends.

Being a foreigner in Vietnam means everything is your fault. Whole families join forces just to make sure you realize that, especially if there are assets to be divided up in the proceedings.

I watched a friend of mine go through a divorce in Vietnam and he isn't the same man because of it. The courts favored the Vietnamese family at every turn and in the end took everything from him (Including visitation rights for his Kids).

I think losing his kids finally broke him. So, I hope you don't have any kids or your situation is different in some way.

I say you get out of Vietnam (Unless it is court ordered that you stay). The city is such a stressful place to live on its own, especially if you drive your own motorbike to and from work everyday.

Take a return flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh is a very quiet place compared to Stress-Rife Saigon and the beaches in Sihanoukville and Kampot are beautiful.

I can also give you some names of people in PP who are in charge of hiring foreign teachers for their schools. Just ask. And I hope you take good care of yourself.

About ACPI:

ACPI is just above the bottom-feeder English schools in Vietnam. They claim to run the same curriculum as El Camino College in California. I bet El Camino knows nothing of this.

This school mainly caters to children on weekends and a few evening classes for adults. The Adult classes will be the full-time teachers' responsibility and are most sought after.

They have 2 full-time teachers and then they hire as many other foreign teachers as they can and divide the hours up according to how popular you are with the students.

You will be 'Teaching English' starting at 8am on Saturday mornings with a class of 40 kids ranging in age from 5 - 15. You will be astounded at the amount of debilitating noise they can make.

So at worst you'll get 5 hours on both Saturday and Sunday and then another 2 hour shift or 2 during the week.

So 12 - 16 hours will be where you start. Never take less than $12 an hour unless you're really desperate because most schools will at least do $12 but offer $10 at first or even as little as $8 if you are not dressed well and look like a drinker.

Your best bet is to walk into the school, ask around for whom to talk to about a job and then get the details about the job. Don't phone them or Email them. Vietnamese people seem unable to envision a situation as real until they see it with their own eyes.

Send an Email and they just see an Email. Stand at the foot of their desks and they suddenly equate you as a real, breathing human. Dunno why. Culture?

Questions to ask:

How many hours a week?
How much per hour?
What time are the classes?
How old are the students?

You won't like the answers.

If you are going to stay in Saigon and want to teach English then start by visiting the schools we listed on the Teaching English in Vietnam Page.

Tell them up front what credentials you have because you'll get hired or not hired based on how well you perform in the "Demo Class", which is part of the interview process.

Here are the people, the contact information and everything you'll need to find out more about this school.

Good luck to you and I hope you end up with some good people around you, whatever you choose to do.


About ACPI (American College Preparation Institute)


Details of the "Man in Charge" at ACPI:

Bach V. Pham
Director ACPI
33 Dinh Tien Hoang Street
Ward 3, Binh Thanh District, HCM City, Vietnam
Tel: (84 8) 841-2378
Fax: (84 8) 291-2641
Mobile Phone: 090 931 2886

If you are already in Vietnam, jump on a motorbike taxi and give him this address written in Vietnamese:

P. 33-35 Dinh Tien Hoang,
P. 3, Q. 3, Q. Bình Thanh (gon Cu Bông), TP.
Binh Thanh District (near the Bong Bridge), TP. HCM City

Comments for ACPI English Schools

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Nov 21, 2015
about Acpi
by: Anonymous

You know that Philip who are the man has a lot of complaints about Acpi school. Just look back.Foreigners have no certificate, no visa and anything but need to teach students in Vietnam. It's ridiculous. Moreover,you always break the promise to come to school with students but you didn't go without any announcement.The question is "Do you have the heart with your job?" Or just money for the life in Vietnam. The worst thing is to accept the schedule immediately and policy to get the job when no better job offer. Then, getting the better job you quit no announcement while the students waiting, how things were happening. The parents came in anger, shouted,took their babies home. Who had the duties at that time. The school lost prestige and even profits and then the pay time you go back school to take money. If not, ...damaged the things,shouted without control and gave the flame on school. Even though phone to the manager at midnight to threaten something. You are the foreigners work and study in the developed countries with good educational system. You know how to treat correctly. By the way, Acpi is the international school with 4 main branches : 2 branches in Thu Duc district, Ho Chi Minh city, 1 at Rach Gia Kien Giang city,1 at Tay Ninh city, and 2 new unfinished branches in Phu Quoc and Da lat. If you want to have more information please search more on the internet. The one in Binh Thanh,We stopped cooperate 3 years ago and the others called Acpi, we don't know...You know that everything is under the control from Vietnamese 'goverment and each country has commonly the council to protect their people. We can't do anything to break the finally thanks for concerning and nice day.


Good job playing the victim. People leave when they get better work, no announcement for fear that you will not pay them. Then you fire people without any announcement or notice? Double standard, yes? If you would like to know why people get angry and break things? Because you don't pay them. By the way, I'm Philip. I just take the complaints and post them to my website. I have never worked at your school. There are 3 people complaining here, I am just reporting.

Dec 22, 2012
Pham Van Bach, ACPI
by: Anonymous

I wrote many more details about ACPI, Bach, and The Evil Doctor Hai at Hong Duc; the inhabitable housing; the lies-upon-lies that awaited my notice upon arrival last Spring... There were just too many words. I'm tired now and I've got to do something. I'll post again in future about the crooks at Hong Duc University, ehm, hong Duc Money-Making Machine.

Dec 22, 2012
Pham Van Bach, ACPI
by: Anonymous

I, too, was victimized by ACPI at Hong Duc University.

For starters, the Viet Kieu named Mr. Pham Van Bach also told me to never tell anybody about the egregious housing conditions, less-than-shoddy management, being very-shorted on pay, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

A short and quite-corrupted male, who appeared to be about forty nine years of age in our Gregorian Calendar, was there. His name is Dr. Hai, Head of the Foreign Languages Department. Trained in Maths, this cretin took the proverbial cake for trying to compel me to accept a so-called room that had a broken door; a urine-stained bed that was missing one of its legs as well as its Mosquito Net; cockroaches and mosquitoes galore on the walls and floor of the room; a non-working toilet; no stove; a broken, upper-window with shreds of its glass strewn over the right-hand side of the tiny room as one walked into it-the glorified cave; and, none of the other furnishings promised to me by Mr. Pham Van Bach during our interview: computer; sofa; dining room table with chairs; and, inter-alia, a clean and new bed with a mattress.

Upon seeing the 'hole, I said that I could not possibly live there, and was I was subsequently told by the Vietnamese teacher who showed me the room that I'd insulted Vietnamese people and their culture for telling him that my own dog enjoyed better quarters in Canada (hmmm, I did say this in a neutral way).

Well, 2 days later was the first day of classes and I was given books for those 4 hours of classes only 5 minutes before the start of my first one at 07:25.

I was fired 2 days later.


Reply from

None of what you've said surprises me. These kind of things happen throughout Vietnam, every day. It is not limited to only ACPI but they lead in this Department. They will offer as little as possible in hopes of maximizing profit. I understand that business model but ACPI takes it much too far.

The things they are accused of have already been documented here.

It's pretty easy to discern the reason you were fired.

There are clear lines of conduct that you mustn't cross no matter what the school. Most Vietnamese lose face when a subordinate questions their authority.

The most offensive thing you could possibly do to a Vietnamese is use the word 'Dog' in the same sentence as their name. Dogs are brutalized in Vietnam and considered worthless and dirty animals.

You said. "I'd insulted Vietnamese people and their culture for telling him that my own dog enjoyed better quarters in Canada (hmmm, I did say this in a neutral way).

There is never a neutral way to say that in Vietnam. That's why you lost your job.

But it sounds like a good thing that you did. At least ACPI came right out and laid their cards on the table. Some schools offer you the world, only to slowly remove your privileges over time until it becomes unbearable.

Cheers and good luck.


Nov 05, 2012
ACPI Vietnam Now Blacklisted

I read on the site "Travel Budget Asia // ACPI School HO CHI MINH" yours mails exchange between "Thuy", “Anthony”, "Philip" & "Stefen Socorso"….. concerning the bad management and difficulties faced by the ACPI School in Thanh Hoa'.

I would like to inform you of some dishonest actions from his manager, Pham Van Bach.

I am Mr. VO TRUNG Tâm, I live in France and had been a friend of Pham Van Bach for 47 years.

The ACPI has serious financial problems and in a private capacity Mr. PHAM borrowed 450 Millions VND from me in February 2011, promising to pay me off within 2 months, i.e. in April 2011!

After many and hard claims from me, Mr. PHAM reimburses me dribs and drabs! To date, 4 November 2012, he still owes me 430 Millions VND and postpones indefinitely his promises to pay his debt to a 47-year friend by telling lies again and again.

It is not surprising that the SAIGON managers do not pay the salary of their teachers of English in Thanh Hoa' ACPI and that these are working in appalling conditions!

Through this message, I would like to warn everybody against PHAM VAN BACH’s intentions! To whom might be interested, I have in my possession acknowledgements of debt signed by PHAM himself.

Signed: VO TRUNG TAM Toulouse / FRANCE Email :


Reply from

Thank you, Mr. Tam. I find your post to be on a personal nature and is not something that would affect Teachers who are considering working there.

Please reconsider who you call a "Friend".


Your post is one of many complaints that I have received either through private emails or are posted on this board.

There are just Too Many.

That is the final nail in the Coffin for ACPI in Thanh Hoa and to a lesser degree in Ho Chi Minh City.


  • Do Not Always Pay On Time

  • Is Run By A Man That Cannot Get His Finances In Order

  • Maintains A Reputation For Treating Their Staff Poorly

There could be many more points added here but until ACPI proves to me that they have improved, they are now Blacklisted and will remain as such until we hear otherwise.


Philip (

Apr 08, 2012
Vietnamese Culture in the Workplace
by: thuy

"Send an Email and they just see an Email. Stand at the foot of their desks and they suddenly equate you as a real, breathing human. Dunno why. Culture?"

Hi, Philip

I don't know how long you have lived in Vietnam but your knowledge about this place is amazing.

Actually, what you said above is true. Vietnamese people consider sending an email or calling for a job is rude. It means that you're not serious about your job. And one more thing, we don't like "talking with machines". We prefer a face-to-face conversation.

I saw some foreigners came in person for an interview but they wore a T-shirt and shorts. Just looking at them and I know what will happen then.

The first impression is kind of important here.


Reply from

I have lived in Vietnam for just 3 years but I love to observe people. Thank you for the compliment, Thuy. It is perhaps the greatest reward.

I always knew that Vietnamese employers looked down upon emailed resumes but had no idea that it was considered rude. It just shows how important it is to have some understanding of how Vietnamese culture affects hiring practices.

I think it is obvious that wearing a t-shirt and shorts to any interview is unacceptable. I guess some people figure that the schools are so desperate to hire foreigners that they will overlook what is universally unacceptable.

That is far from the truth. Look your best if you are in need of work and are asked to attend an interview. Vietnamese people put huge value on personal presentation. It is an indication of how well you care for yourself and how well you will perform in your job.

The best way to get work in Vietnam is fairly simple. Dress and look your best, then walk into the schools and personally pass your resume to the person who does the hiring.


Feb 28, 2012
ACPI English School Ho Chi Minh City
by: Anonymous

Has anybody worked for this outfit since then? I spoke with Mr. Pham and he struck me as a straight-forward man.

The pay rate he offered me was much more than what was stated in the OP.


Reply from

A straightforward man to you is another man's nightmare. I talk to teachers still working there quite regularly. There are always happy teachers and some that just have trouble getting on with some of the staff.

ACPI is a decent place and as I have said before, your pay offer is usually pretty reasonable. I hear that Mr. Pham can become unhappy quite quickly if you were to publicly make him 'lose face'.

None of them like 'losing face'. Expect to be treated quite poorly if you venture there with anyone who has the capability of firing you.

Personally, I just focus on the students. Office politics in Vietnam are best ignored. The students are mostly a good bunch.


Jun 14, 2011
I'll Never Trust ACPI Vietnam Again!
by: stephen socorso

I've worked for ACPI; was one of the first to assist in opening both of their schools.

I haven't worked for them in the 2 years of more, but was requested to assist in teaching at a University in Thanh Hoa recently (May 2011). I went. Transportation provided. The berthing for the teachers is a 2 out of 5 rating. The classes are on the 5th floor, no elevator. The course requested was TOEFL to two groups of Grads looking for completion to go overseas.

The Administration and management from both the university and ACPI are poor. There is a 'schedule' for classes, if you can actually call it a schedule. No syllabus of any kind. The computers are operated at Windows 2003 and are full of virus material. The students pretty much run the speed of what is done.

I was there only three weeks and couple days...did not and have not received any pay for such. As it has happened to another who traveled with me. He's still looking for two weeks pay. I have been told that some 13 individuals have been in and out as teachers since August being the major problem...or lack of such.

I've known them for four years now...never thought this would happen.

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