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Advice on WHEN to go to Poland to teach English


ssjseifertom 3 | 36  
21 Dec 2008 /  #1
Hello,

My girlfriend and I will go to Poland next year, she is Polish, I am English. She is from Krakow and I understand from research that there are many English people there teaching or looking to teach as it is a very popular city. Right now I do not have a CELTA but I can take it in July if need be. Also, I know of the Callan Method which requires only a week or so of training.

My question is when do you think is the best time to go and look for a job? For most schools I guess it would be September, but do the Callan schools hire all year round or do they have a specific time that they normally hire people? We are looking to go in either April or August, obviously if I went in April I wouldn't be able to take the CELTA here so would go there completely unqualified.

All advice much needed!

Thank you
pawian 173 | 13,570  
21 Dec 2008 /  #2
I suppose you can look for a job all year round. Some teachers quit during the school year, especially women, for maternity leaves.
But August is certainly a good time to look for a job which is going to start in September/October.
Dazza 1 | 33  
21 Dec 2008 /  #3
Hi,

I'm an English teacher in Krakow and definitely get a CELTA the sooner the better- for purposes of getting experience. Callan schools exist but anybody can get a job in these if they speak English but as such the pay isn't very good.

In Krakow I recommend starting your search in the 1st week in Sept. as nothing exists before that yet most jobs will be gone by the end of Sept.

The English teaching year usually starts 1st/2nd week of Oct.l

No point in coming in April as it's the end of the year and everything is starting to close down so you'll only get a months teaching in at best. I'd recommend teaching on a summer school in England to get some experience before you have to do it for real...

International House, Kra
kow is also where you should take your CELTA......it'll help in the long run.
Anything else you want to know just ask....
OP ssjseifertom 3 | 36  
21 Dec 2008 /  #4
Thanks for the information. I think I will go in August then if there's nothing in April. I have read that most teachers get around 50z an hour, but have read different things about tax. after all deductions are made some people claim they only see about half their gross wage, then others say they only get 1/7th of their wages deducted. Can you clear up with me exactly how much is deducted from wages?

Callan teachers get paid around 30z an hour I have found. Not a bad wage I guess, but if they are only offering 20 hours a week it isn't that much.
Krzysztof 2 | 973  
21 Dec 2008 /  #5
after all deductions are made some people claim they only see about half their gross wage, then others say they only get 1/7th of their wages deducted. Can you clear up with me exactly how much is deducted from wages?

It depends on the type of contract you sign with your school, some managers use the shady umowa o dzieło, which in my opinion isn't allowed in case of teaching (but I'm not a lawyer or any kind of specialist in the contratcs field, so I may be wrong), see more in this thread (it's a link):

Older discussion about work contracts
OP ssjseifertom 3 | 36  
22 Dec 2008 /  #6
So by your calculations, on 120,000 a year umowa zlecenie contracts would earn somone 5100 a month, whereas umowa o dzieło would earn someone 8907 a month. How about the standard umowa o pracę contract, how much would someone earn on that one?
Krzysztof 2 | 973  
22 Dec 2008 /  #7
No, those weren't my calcs, I used a website to calculate the expected income, and the 5,100 a month is for months 8-10 (after you exceeded 44,000 of income in a tax year, you have to pay higher taxes, 30% instead of 19%), in months 1-7 it would be 5,900, in months 11-12 about 5,700 (the increase would be caused by reaching the maximum amount of social or health insurance paid during the year, so you'd be exempt from paying more), hence on average during the whole year your pay would be about 5,650 PLN/month. And it was "umowa o pracę".

With "umowa o dzieło" you'd earn about 8,900/month and with "umowa zlecenie" somewhere in middle (not sure how much though).

But read tonykenny's posts (in that thread and in other - just click on "member" by any of his posts and you see the list of his recent threads, those about health insurance are worth reading too)

For example this:

I'm on the nasty o dzielo and my school just told me that they will not honour the guaranteed mininum 60 hours & therefore the guaranteed minimum payment this month. In effect I have a forced holiday and the contract is to be ignored.

Maybe wait for some "veteran" teachers of English opinions (I know "Seanus" is one, but there are probably more of them, and "ukpolska" is running a translation agency, so he might know more about different laws, maybe he was teaching too at the beginnings of his stay in Poland).
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254  
22 Dec 2008 /  #8
Callan teachers get paid around 30z an hour I have found. Not a bad wage I guess, but if they are only offering 20 hours a week it isn't that much.

I have read that most teachers get around 50z an hour

One thing to consider is the actual amount of work put in - for example, I can turn up to teach Callan 5 minutes before the lesson and have no problem, but teaching an FCE/higher class needs a decent amount of prior preparing. So when you look at it - it depends what you value more, time or money. You might be happier, for instance, doing 20 hours a week in a nearby Callan school where you turn up, teach and leave. Equally so, you might be happier to get 50zl per hour, but then be faced with having to prepare work too.

The other thing - don't discount doing a year of Callan if it's mixed in with other stuff. Callan does give you a nice easy introduction to teaching if it's at a good school - though a bad school can put you off teaching for life.

As for salaries - don't believe anyone or anything until you see it for yourself. It's certainly possible to make not bad money teaching Callan - though a school that offers decent money for that will more than likely expect you to be very flexible and proactive.

Edit : as for when, go in August without a doubt. April will be the dead season - and although it's probably nice to live here in summer, you would be much better off going over in late August.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
22 Dec 2008 /  #9
As others have said, notably pawian, people drop out to do other things. 3 Callan teachers have already left Speed Callan here in Gliwice. They usually hire for the school year in July. Still, it's worth trying whenever.

More and more people do the CELTA in the country where they want to work. I did mine at Basil Paterson's College in Edinburgh, fun it was too.

Teachers at Callan earn 30PLN in hand in their first year. In my third year, I got 35PLN in hand. Now, things have gotten much better since joining other schools. It all depends on how many hours you can command.

The 'for services rendered/o dzieło' contract is a dubious one. You pay no ZUS so that's a factor in itself. You have far fewer rights. It's better avoided if possible, or for those who intend to stay for a short time in Poland.

Without attempting to have a slight against 'Polish business', they cannot guarantee 26 hours per week, as stated in the contract. Contracts are not worth much here and you may have to resort to some threatening tactics here to get your money and to have your say. Being contract law trained, I tend to read the various provisions and the number of breaches and 'fast-ones' pulled is, quite frankly, staggering.

So, remain vigilant and know what you are signing to. Also, make friends with certain bodies who can represent your interests.
OP ssjseifertom 3 | 36  
22 Dec 2008 /  #10
Thanks for the information, its pretty much what I needed to know. However, a change of circumstance may be happening. My girlfriend will have enough money to go to Poland at the end of January and really wants to get away from here (I live in Luton, a s-hole).

With this recession happening its very hard for me to get a job here, so I don't mind leaving for Poland whenever. So will it be hard for me to get a job as a Callan teacher between the end of January and lets say the end of May? That will be the only teaching job I could apply for seeing as I was going to take CELTA in July.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
22 Dec 2008 /  #11
I know Luton, I always fly from there to Kraków.

Callan may be looking for teachers now. I know for sure that 2 teachers will be leaving later in June. Another has his last day tomorrow. Many are jumping ship here in Gliwice. They need teachers and fast.

Any specific data you need, I'm the man in the right place.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254  
22 Dec 2008 /  #12
So will it be hard for me to get a job as a Callan teacher between the end of January and lets say the end of May? That will be the only teaching job I could apply for seeing as I was going to take CELTA in July.

Shouldn't be hard, I don't think - just go out and get your CV out there. It might be that you end up getting a few hours here, a few hours there - but that's no bad thing in terms of variety of work.

The only question - will you have to pay rent in Poland?

The other thing - take Seanus's advice about 'Polish Business' as being gospel. But don't worry too much - you'll know a good school when you come across it.

Particularly so, the worst Callan schools are the ones that expect you to teach rigidly to the Callan format - but again, you can find these things out simply by asking the right questions. The directors that don't let you answer questions and want you to start there and then are the worst kind - it's a tell-tale sign with Poles that they expect to get their way and will thus be a nightmare to work for.

But most of all, don't worry :)
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
22 Dec 2008 /  #13
That's a good point, delph. Stand your ground at all times, you are a disposable asset for many schools, a tick in a box sometimes. Maintain an ethic that teaching is about conveying ideas and not just a business for them to earn off of. That really got my goat, the capitalist ethic underlying teaching, sickening.

Always put yourself in the eyes of the student and don't get too embroiled in school politics.
OP ssjseifertom 3 | 36  
22 Dec 2008 /  #14
Luckily I do not have to pay any rent in Krakow, my girlfriend has a flat on Al. Pokoju all paid for. I have been talking to her today about what if I cannot get a job in Krakow etc, and we decided that if I could get a job somewhere relatively close then I should. I read on one of these forums that it is hard to get a teaching job in Krakow if you are inexperienced, whereas smaller towns would be easier as they are less popular. Somewhere like Gliwice maybe!

We predicted I would spend about 1000z a month living there, thats 400z for food, about 200z for the flats bills and 400z on 'other'. That would mean I could stay there for 4 months unemployed. So, its pretty tight! Our main worry is that fact I have not got much money and am inexperienced, though I guess that doesn't matter too much with the Callan.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
22 Dec 2008 /  #15
I know Callan teachers without degrees or CELTA. They tend to favour couples at Callan, Gliwice. I was there for 3 years and can tell you that that was the case.

With Callan, you just need to listen to your trainer. I trained there once and you just need the confidence of your students. I had a nice bunch so they picked things up quickly. I was a more dynamic teacher then, a leader if you will. Now, I'm more of a facilitator. More CELTA skills are required for what I do now. Trust me, CELTA and Callan ain't real bedfellows.

As Delph said above, you will need to use teaching skills to have a good FCE class, or CAE.
OP ssjseifertom 3 | 36  
22 Dec 2008 /  #16
So, if all goes to plan I will go to Krakow and visit every single Callan School in the city and hopefully get a job. If not lets assume I go somewhere like Gliwice and get a job there. This would mean I have to pay rent, which I think is cheaper than in Krakow, yet the wages are about the same?

From what I read the Katowice area has very cheap housing yet people have about the same wages as Krakow, my girlfriend says its cheap there because no-one likes it and its ugly. But if they pay well and the accommodation is cheap then thats all fine with me! I was even looking at Kielce, but apparently the average wage there is little over 1000z a month compared to about 3000z in Krakow. Does the average wage in an area even affect how much a Callan Teacher would make?
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
22 Dec 2008 /  #17
I've heard that schools in Kraków are very strict and procedural. They also have in-built speakers to listen in to your lessons.

No, the rate of pay is fixed as far as I know. I'd maybe see what is on offer in Kraków. I could put you in contact with a guy who taught Callan there. This could be done via PM.
OP ssjseifertom 3 | 36  
22 Dec 2008 /  #18
Hmmm, Krakow doesn't sound so nice to work in, but it has to be done! Yeah that would be great if I could speak to someone who taught there.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
22 Dec 2008 /  #19
Kraków is a super city tho, I love the vibe there. Warsaw is far more drab, too many meatheads.
OP ssjseifertom 3 | 36  
22 Dec 2008 /  #20
Yeah I thought it was nice when I visited, nightlife weren't too bad either. Plenty of students around to try give private lessons to!
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
22 Dec 2008 /  #21
Well, true. However, you are not the first to stumble across that idea. You may have to dig deeper, you just never know.

The nightlife has a great reputation. I don't think my fiancee would be too happy with me sneaking away for a sampling.
OP ssjseifertom 3 | 36  
22 Dec 2008 /  #22
Yeah, i'm sure a lot of people are advertising for private lessons, i have seen a lot on Gumtree. Maybe i'll make some professional looking leaflets with a company and print off about 2500 of them! Even making a quick website with 'past students' of mine on there haha.

The nightlife is a bit different to England I think, here we have huge superclubs, in Krakow it seemed it was mainly bars. The best place I ever went to was when I lived in Nottingham.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
22 Dec 2008 /  #23
Ways and means my son, ways and means
OP ssjseifertom 3 | 36  
22 Dec 2008 /  #24
Thanks very much for all the information provided anyway. I'll let you know how it goes with everything, if you have anything more you can tell me in the future, i'm always willing to listen to advice. Thanks again
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254  
23 Dec 2008 /  #25
One thing that's notable - are you registered unemployed in the UK? If not, then do so! now! - the reason is that you can continue to be paid Jobseekers Allowance at the UK rate for up to 3 months if you decide to jobseek abroad. Considering 45 quid a week is about 200zl, it's well worth doing.

With Callan, you just need to listen to your trainer. I trained there once and you just need the confidence of your students. I had a nice bunch so they picked things up quickly. I was a more dynamic teacher then, a leader if you will. Now, I'm more of a facilitator. More CELTA skills are required for what I do now. Trust me, CELTA and Callan ain't real bedfellows.

The trick, as I've found (and this is speaking without CELTA...yet) is to gain the support of the boss in introducing new things to Callan classes every once in a while - mine is perfectly happy and trusts me to teach them something relevant, which usually involves photocopying worksheets or playing a game to make them think quickly. Not entirely teaching - but it does make things far more interesting.

Another thing is the ability to change the questions when being revised - if a school expects you to stick rigidly to the books, then you know it's a money machine and not a school with the students interests at heart. One of the most effective ways (in Callan) to scare people senseless is to change a question :)

No, the rate of pay is fixed as far as I know. I'd maybe see what is on offer in Kraków.

Depends on the school really - but 35zl-45zl an hour seems to be the going rate in Poznan for Callan teachers. If you find a school in a small town willing to hire you as a Callan teacher, I'd even negotiate conditions - you might be able to blag a few traditional lessons a week out of them if you show interest.

I've heard that schools in Kraków are very strict and procedural. They also have in-built speakers to listen in to your lessons.

Goes without saying that you should never work in such a place ;)

But crucially, don't jump at the first job you get offered - make sure you're happy with the place first. Be very cynical as Seanus suggests - and even little things like looking to see how happy the secretaries are will say a lot.

If you're not sure - then ask to observe a lesson before making up your mind. A good school that genuinely wants you will be happy to do this, but a bad school will refuse the request. Again, this gives you the opportunity to speak to the teachers, and their attitude will tell you a lot.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
23 Dec 2008 /  #26
Callan is ancient, that's why they drafted in Avalon to revitalise the market. Shame that it's just a rehashed version of the same old stuff.

The great majority of teaching here is about money.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254  
23 Dec 2008 /  #27
Avalon is hilariously bad - I don't actually think it was written by native speakers at all, or even advanced English speakers.

Money and power, I would say. It's quite funny how many of these directors are either fantastic teachers who can't manage, or good managers who have no idea what it's like to teach a class.
Seanus 15 | 19,706  
23 Dec 2008 /  #28
Rumour has it that I wrote some of the chapters for it but, after some checking, I dismissed that. I wrote part of a new method but it's inane stuff. I'd much rather enter the world of ESP, no, not Extra Sensory Perception, but English for Specific Purposes. Or EAP, English for Academic Purposes.
delphiandomine 85 | 18,254  
23 Dec 2008 /  #29
The word 'method' alone brings me out in cold sweats, as it makes me think of pyramid schemes...hmm, some of these schools could definitely be called 'schemes', I think ;)

Have you seen/heard anything about this SITA method? It's an interesting development, but only in terms of how much money they can get for it.
OP ssjseifertom 3 | 36  
24 Dec 2008 /  #30
I did some research on jobseekers allowance, I would only be able to claim it if it was contributions based, I would get nothing with income based allowance!

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