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Private English Lessons by Experienced Professional Teacher in Poland (Warsaw)

jon357 67 | 17,530
10 Aug 2015 #61
I've known some absolutely excellent non-native teachers. Oddly enough it isn't even their ability to speak English that's the key; it's their ability to teach.

They are however the exception rather than the rule.
InPolska 11 | 1,821
10 Aug 2015 #62
@Jon: what about NATIVE with great skills? You know, there are many teachers like that.
jon357 67 | 17,530
10 Aug 2015 #63
There are many, plus bad ones too. I think I'd always prefer language lessons from a native unless I was lucky enough to find an excellent non-native. There are however some great teachers who aren't native speakers. Not many, but some.

It's all about how good a teacher is at getting someone to learn.
InPolska 11 | 1,821
10 Aug 2015 #64
@Jon: the ideal is NATIVES who are fully qualified and experienced. Believe me, a lot are and in all languages ;). I was told this pm by a Warsaw school owner that last Spring she met a British guy (typical scenario, meeting a Polish girl at Tesco who was homesick so to Poland) who used to be a ... coal miner and wanted to become a "teacher" here. The school owner told me that he did not even know what "present perfect" is. Yes, in such circumstances, a NON native could be better.

@All; this is very insulting to native teachers thinking they are all unskilled illeterate backpackers. Yes, there are some backpackers mostly in English but they are also a lot of most qualified and experienced native teachers.
Englishman 2 | 278
10 Aug 2015 #65
That definition simply doesn't work in a linguistics sense. There are plenty of Poles with accents that are almost indistinguishable from someone from America or England, so what about them? They aren't 'native speakers', yet they function as one.

If you re-read my post, you'll find that I was referring to the accent, not the person. A person of Polish nationality and descent who has spent so long in the UK or US that they have no Polish accent when speaking English but instead sound like a native speaker has the accent of a native speaker, and therefore someone wishing to learn English from them can be confident of learning the language without acquiring a non-native accent.

As an aside, like many British people I learned to speak French at school. My teacher came from the French-speaking part of Belgium. Consequently, when I am in France (I have a second home there), the locals joke that they should buy me some chips covered in mayonnaise - the stereotypical diet of a Belgian...
Vincent 9 | 857 Moderator
10 Aug 2015 #66
An American, Canadian, Australian or Kiwi who speaks English with the accent of their home country is a native English speaker, just as a Scottish, Welsh, Irish person or someone from the North of England is a native English speaker, albeit one with a regional accent.

Some natives from the home countries might as well have a foreign accent, judging by what I hear around me;) We all get our accents by mimicking our parents when we learn to speak. So if a foreign person was taught English by one of the so called 'native speakers' by mimicking their words to the letter, and reached a high standard in speaking, reading and writing, as well as passing exams for each level, could they not teach English in the future like a native?
jon357 67 | 17,530
10 Aug 2015 #67
Vincent, there's an interesting phenomena much discussed by linguists but no consensus yet. Noam Chomsky argues about it a lot. That is that someone can learn a language from a teacher with really ingrained errors without picking up those same errors.

Nobody knows why, but certainly something to do with natural language acquisition.
InPolska 11 | 1,821
10 Aug 2015 #68
Of course a foreigner after years in a foreign country may speak almost like a native. The OP's case in different since she does not say she has lived in any English speaking country (if she had, she would say) and therefore has learnt English in Ukrainian schools (considering the salaries there, I seriously doubt that they can hire foreign teachers). Writing a foreign language is easier since time to think between words, dictionaries, grammar books available than talking because it has to come out naturally without thinking between words so we can't really judge her English, maybe she has a neutral accent, or maybe she has a thick Russian/Ukrainian accent. This is most important to schools and to students. I would not want to to learn for instance Swedish from a Spaniard for instance with a thick Spanish accent.

Pure common sense and I don't understand why some of you don't want to look at reality and play the part of the "devil's lawyer".

The OP should concentrate on Russian clients who would love to learn English with someone who knows their language so she can anticipate likely problems they would encounter in English (non Russian speakers cannot).

PS: natives shall think, dream and count in their native language (and I do). I bet the OP thinks, dreams and counts in Russian or Ukrainian and not in English ;).

(PPS: I'm no backpacker but a qualfied language teacher with 18 years experience, in the USA (including at university) and in Poland so I know about the topic ;))

@English: the Belgians may talk "funny" with their "70, 90, "une fois", "ça va" etc...... " but as you said they ARE native speakers of French
Vincent 9 | 857 Moderator
10 Aug 2015 #69
Vincent, there's an interesting phenomena much discussed by linguists but no consensus yet. Noam Chomsky argues about it a lot. That is that someone can learn a language from a teacher with really ingrained errors without picking up those same errors.

Thanks Jon, food for thought.
Roger5 1 | 1,455
10 Aug 2015 #70
The same has been seen in deaf children of deaf parents with poor signing skills. The kids seem to auto correct. Fascinating stuff.
Englishman 2 | 278
10 Aug 2015 #71
@English: the Belgians may talk "funny" with their "70, 90, "une fois", "ça va" etc...... " but as you said they ARE native speakers of French

It's true :-). In my class, taught by a Belgian, we had two native French speakers - a Mauritian girl and a boy brought up in the UK but whose mother came from a very working class family in Marseille and spoke some kind of Provencal dialogue with her son at home, so his French was not of the sort normally heard in the Grandes Ecoles. So my experience of learning French was somewhat unusual...
Lyzko 31 | 7,800
10 Aug 2015 #72
I only wish to reiterate that I was in no way intimating or implying that I was grouping Professional Teacher as an "illiterate backpacker" laboring like some migrant in the vineyards of pedagogy. All I was suggesting is that it becomes all too easy in these globally mobile times to presume that a university knowledge in any foreign language, particularly English, automatically entitles every Yurii, Natasha and Jurek to call themselves "teacher", merely by virtue of some conferred title, without the sufficient grounding in the myriad fine points of the language, relying instead on a British or American-style pronunciation to wing things along.

As one who is more than ready, able and willing to acknowledge a foreign-language mistake, I'd certainly expect my Russian, Ukrainian or Polish counterpart to acknowledge their's in English.

The reason for this double-standard should be obvious. English, unlike Russian, Ukrainian or Polish, has no absolute monocentric standard, since, by its nature a pluracentric tongue, it's spoken so widely, many varieties of same have developed their OWN standard(s) with their OWN dictionaries etc..

German too is in a similar situation. What's High German in Berlin or Hanover, is not necessarily so in Vienna or Zurich.

This all can sometimes add to the frustration we English teachers face when it comes to the ticklish business of correction.
My gosh, even spellings vary so between British and American, in a number of cases, (gaol vs. jail, kerb vs. curb etc.) it's hard to even recognize the mother tongue as ours!
smurf 39 | 1,981
10 Aug 2015 #73


As you are typing and not writing the term 'post script' is not required :)

My opinion on all this: I don't care where a teacher's from, but they should be qualified in the field.

Regarding native speakers, I agree with Delph, it's a bullsh!t term. So many accents in English speaking countries proves that.

I was asked once to teach in an British accent. I just sat there and laughed. I told her I could try a Liverpool or Edinburgh or a Cornwall accent, but I'd have to kill myself if a London accent was required. She didn't get me so I had to do an impression of the accents that I meant and then she started bullsh!tting about the Queen's English, 'she ain't my Queen' says I.

Silly bint was an English teacher and I'd to explain to her that the Republic of Ireland isn't in fact part of Britain. She still offered me the gig but I told them I wasn't interested after that.
Lyzko 31 | 7,800
10 Aug 2015 #74
My wife and I know here in Queens a young Polish woman from Warsaw with an MA + TESOL training from the University of Wrocław, the London School of Economics and a translation certificate from the University of Bologna. She's mid-thirtiesh, highly articulate in English (spoken with ZERO Polish accent, so far as I've been able to detect!!), fluent in at least a half-dozen languages and fancies herself quite the cross-cultural expert. From her resume, honestly impressive by any standards, one might assume her to be both thoroughly culturally as well as linguistically competent in English.

Though her spoken English is bloody flawless, sometimes her e-mails reveal ever so few minor blemishes, though nothing to which I'd draw her attention. Just the other day, we met her in the park with her young daughter Monika. My wife remarked casually, "My Agata! Your daughter's gotten so much bigger since the last time we'd seen her!", upon which Agata knitted her brow ever so slightly and retorted "Well, ahhem, I'd certainly hope she hasn't shrunk!" and appeared mildly annoyed. We thought nothing of it. Later, my wife said to me. "Why d'you think she's so touchy? Did I offend her?" "No", I answered, both of us simply chalking it all up to cross-cultural differences.

Moral of the story? Even those who call themselves "intercultural experts" sometimes don't know the inside-and-outs of the target culture as comfortably as a native:-) And ya know what? She'd likely be a fine English teacher.....up to a given point and there's that wall again against which one goes BAM!!!
OP ProfTeacher 1 | 14
11 Aug 2015 #75
Most of us know that's it's not really relevant if someone teaches with a foreign accent: a Polish person's ability to communicate effectively with a strong English accent is well proven. I know many highly successful people in business in the US or the UK who speak with heavy French, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Israeli, German, etc. accents -- not relevant to their lives or their successes.

As many have noted here, what is relevant is a teacher's ability to teach. Their accent is a rounding error to the point where it is fundamentally irrelevant. It's not even a tie breaker: between two teachers with similar abilities, one can make no conclusion that you should always take the native one. The idea itself is stilted and warped. So silly. What about a teacher with a NY accent -- you really want that as your role model?

The accent is totally irrelevant in terms of a teacher's ability to teach, a student's ability to learn, and ultimately, a student's ability to succeed.

If I had to chose between two teachers with similar levels of experience, I would ask them about their teaching styles and select the one I thought was best, with whom I had the best rapport, that I preferred to spend time with, and/or that I suspected I'd learn the most from....In the end, I'd never really know the "answer." I can easily make as strong case that -- on average -- foreign based teachers are more likely to be better teachers than native speaking ones...because they have had to learn the language from the outside and have more sentsity to and empathy for their students. I can also make the opposite case.

Those that profess otherwise are just being cantankerous and argumentative, at a minimum.
Lyzko 31 | 7,800
11 Aug 2015 #76
I can only respond by recalling my own (now rather distant) memories of my first Polish lesson with an Austrian-born Polish native speaker from Lwów, born to Polish-speaking Jews in that-time Bukowina. Right up front, Jolu told me that Polish was NOT her native tongue but that she had been raised as though it were!! Not being in any position to argue the point, I embarked upon what proved to be the most exhilarating language learning odyssey of my younger existence:-)

I asked once if an "American" friend might join me during one of the lessons, i.e. another client might be interested in some excellent Polish instruction. Jola didn't object (not did she suspect what I was up to) and so I had this other person "judge" my teacher's Polish, so as to see that it was "prawdziwy". My friend, naturally, wasn't American at all, but Polish "z krwi i kości"!!! She said nothing throughout the class, later confessing to me that Jola's Polish was so authentic, noone could ever tell it wasn't her first language!!

As you probably can tell by this point, I'm a tough customer to pleaseLOL
InPolska 11 | 1,821
11 Aug 2015 #77
@Proteach; Yes, the accent is important! If students learn let's say English with a Russian, or a Japanase or whatever other foreign accent, they shall NOT able to communicate with natives of said language. I have here in Warsaw met tons of Poles who had several years of French with Polish teachers and inspite of having officially reached BA or B2 levels, are UNABLE to undersdand anything in real French (= whatever accent).

If you mean to work with business, you ought to know that clients want British or American English and not Russian or Ukrainian English. The proof: you don't have enough work and try to get some through any random forum (PF for instance ;)).

There are numerous qualified and experienced teachers of English in Warsaw and therefore no need to have Russian, Ukrainian, or Madagascar or wherever else teachers. When no one available (because of small school), client in Poland shall prefer Polish instructors. As a non English speaker you'll end up with whatever qualified and experienced natives don't want....

You claim to have taught 500 students but how many in Warsaw? If let's say 15, how come none of them can help you find work?

I've been teaching in Warsaw and I don't need to look for work. From September/October through May/June I'm bombed with offers. I have to refuse a lot of them, what I don't like to do, and nevertheless, I always have 38- 40 hours' teaching (+ lessons to prepare and transportation, I'm tied up around 55 hours a week and don't have a minute off (I know it's too much but this is to tell you why I don't understand why you don't have enough work). In the summer too, I have some work (depends upon the year, this summer some 12 hours a week and it was twice as much last year). I am NO exception, I know quite a few teachers of all languages who are the same as I am, they have to refuse work. Obviously if we work so much, have to refuse work, it's because we are good (not all natives are illiterate backpackers ;)) and people like us. I know several ESL native teachers working close to 60 hours a week but (to me) this is pure madness...

I am NOT saying that you are bad (what do I know from you? Only 2 or 3 messages that you may have written with help ...) but since I know the "milieu" here in Warsaw, it does not make sense that a good teacher after 6 years in the town does not have enough work. Believe me there is plenty of work here in all major languages.

I wish you luck.

@ Lyszko: Absolutely! :) "To a NON-native speaker, another non-native might actually pass for an American, Aussie, Brit or Canadian. To a native speaker, there's always going to be a certain gap between acquired vs. organic knowledge. It's like the old saying; "To your mom you're a big shot, to you're best friends you're a big shot, to a big're no big shot!" "
Polsyr 6 | 769
11 Aug 2015 #78
@ProfTeacher; I agree with you regarding the "native speaker" in terms of learning the language.

One fact worth mentioning is that a large portion of call center business in the US is outsourced to India these days - and while the quality varies greatly, you can bet that nobody in these calls centers is a "native speaker" of American English (which they are required to use at work) and almost none of the people that taught them how to talk are "native speakers" of American English either. I use the term American English loosely.

Similar and more relevant to Poland; many large corporations have their English support call centers in Poland these days (and this trend is on the rise). In addition to cost, there are effective systems in place to train people how to speak as desired by the employer, and you can absolutely bet that not all the teachers are "native speakers".

Now on the subject of learning culture, that is a different issue. Native or not, I don't think anyone can truly "teach" culture. If someone wants to "learn" a specific culture - I prefer to say experience - then they just have to pack up and go there. Culture and language tend to be strongly connected, and while a non-native may very well be able to teach the language part extremely well, a native usually has the advantage that (with proper education, training and teaching talent) she/he can also teach the culturally and geographically correct use of the language, while a non-native may or may not be able to do that, depending on their experience and talent (notice I am not saying all "natives" can, also not saying all non-natives cannot).

For example, the Egyptian Arabic word that means "small & adorable" (like maleństwo in Polish) means "bastard" in the worst possible way in Syrian Arabic and means "weaving loom" in Iraqi Arabic. The average non-native is not likely to know that unless they lived with natives for a long time.

There is a whole science about this subject, and there are some highly respected consultants and researchers that work specifically to help governments (for example) train agents on understanding the culturally and geographically correct use of the language in addition to the language itself. And most of these consultants are not native by the way.

Another thing I would like to add; some "non-natives" communicate far more effectively than "natives" especially with a multicultural audience due to their better understanding of how communications are perceived by the wider audience.
OP ProfTeacher 1 | 14
11 Aug 2015 #79
@Polsyr: I agree that if you really want to learn a culture, as well as a language, then best go abroad! And, I agree that Polish call centers could be a good target audience, but the broader, general corporate and finance circles -- companies growing and expanding their business and interactions throughout Europe and beyond -- should provide significant demand and be highly receptive market to my services.

I am quite confident, having taught English to more than 500 people in Poland (most Polish) and thousands more over the years in both Poland and the Ukraine, that I am a highly effective English teacher, well-regarded by my students and employers alike.

I will stack up my capabilities and instruction against the best of them -- native or foreign -- and am proud of the results I achieve with my students...bombastic naysayers to the contrary.
Polsyr 6 | 769
11 Aug 2015 #80
companies growing and expanding their business and interactions throughout Europe and beyond

In theory you are right. But, you would be surprised at the attitude I experienced with some Polish companies that have an "export agenda". They expect to do next to no effort (not even providing foreign language education to their employees or even translating marketing material) to export themselves, then blame the government or competition from EU or even China when they fail to secure export orders. Some hire an "export manager" that already speaks a foreign language (most commonly Russian, English, or German, and demand is picking up for Arabic and Persian) but they often make no genuine effort to verify how well the new hire speaks that language. I know, for example, that some of the "Arabic speakers" can't even pronounce all 28 letters of Arabic so "sea" becomes "astonish", "container" becomes "screw", "goods" becomes "rudeness" and "freight" becomes "pluck". So instead of saying "shipping the goods in a seaworthy container by sea freight", they say "shipping the rudeness in an astonish worthy screw by astonishpluck." I would understand what they are trying to say because I live here and I know how people here talk, but there is a good chance that a potential customer might not only fail to understand but even become offended.

the Ukraine

Always wondered about that, and always been too lazy or too busy to research it. Why "the Ukraine"? Maybe better answer me in off topic thread to keep this thread on topic.
InPolska 11 | 1,821
11 Aug 2015 #81
I notice that 98% of the above messages are pure theory and they are not even from teachers and/or people living in Poland. However the reality does not change. Most ESL (just to mention English) teaching jobs in Warsaw (since we are talking about Warsaw) are held by native speakers of English and nobody can deny it. People pay and therefore want the real thing. They don't want something looking like English, they want real English. They want to be able to communicate in business situations and in daily life in native environments.

Non natives, UNLESS years of living in countries in which target language is spoken, can only teach theory, they can only teach book English and everybody knows that there is a huge difference between language in books and language actually spoken by its natives. Learning English (for instance) is learning a living language not Learning latin or ancient greek and as a result theory is not enough. Non natives, UNLESS years of living abroad, don't have proper pronounciation, have a very limited vocabulary, don't know idioms, don't know everyday culture ... According to what she writes, OP has no personal extensive foreign experience.

QUALIFIED/EXPERIENCED NATIVE teachers can teach both theory and pratice.

I have met a few teachers of English from Ukraine and Bulgaria at some cheap private bull sh... schools in Warsaw but this was so only because the pay and conditions were so lousy that they could not hire Britons, Americans, Australians, Canadians, .... I have friends whose kids go to a very expensive private elementary school in Warsaw which last school year hired someone from ... Belarus to teach English. All parents complained and the school gave up.

We don't live in Alice in Wonderland and have to face reality and adjust to it. In Warsaw and other cities in Poland, there are tons of native speakers of English, mainy of them are qualified and experienced (it is high time to stop with the (stupid) cliché of the illiterate alcoolic backpacker teacher (there are fewer and fewer of them, and when they are, they work in lousy small shi3333holes for a few coins)) and as a result, qualified and experienced native teachers always have the best jobs. (normal).

In Poland there are quite a few foreigners who speak good or even great Polish but nevetheless, all Polish courses are taught by Poles. You'll never see someone from Belgium, Greece, Paraguay, Japan or New Guinea teaching Polish in Poland. So why should it be normal for a Ukrainian/Russian to teach English in Poland?

OP should concentrate on Russian clientèle.

If I wanted to learn let's say Japanese, I would take a QUALIFIED EXPERIENCED NATIVE rather than someone from Spain or Denmark or wherever. If I wanted to learn how to play the violin, I would not hire a piano teacher ...

Well, no need to go around and around a situation that shall not change. The OP has trouble to find work because she is not a native, now she says she has a thick accent, and also because she cannot offer students REAL English.

Sorry I'm too old to believe in Santa Claus and I know that life is not easy, that it is not always fair but in order to make it, I do my best to adjust to it. The OP does not want to adjust to reality and as a result she does not have enough work.

PS: I notice that NOBODY is able to give her tips to find work.
Roger5 1 | 1,455
11 Aug 2015 #82
Well, no need to go around and around a situation that shall not change.

Alleluia. This was getting boring and repetitive.
InPolska 11 | 1,821
11 Aug 2015 #83
@Roger: Absolutely and that's why "konieć" for me. The OP is so convinced that she is so much better than anybody else so I let her in her s...t ;)
jon357 67 | 17,530
11 Aug 2015 #84
What puzzles me is why she's blowing her own trumpet here. This isn't a place to find students (and if she's so good, whys she advertising - I never had to) and why she thinks she is any better than some of those here who are language trainers; often with stellar qualifications and experience.

Surely a non-native teacher would do better putting a card up in Tesco or on a lamppost.
InPolska 11 | 1,821
11 Aug 2015 #85
@Jon: thanks! After Lyszko, at last, someone that makes sense!
Lyzko 31 | 7,800
11 Aug 2015 #86
@InPolska & Co.,

I'm just sharing some of my experiences over the years, that's all. Not trying to insult anybody, I'm only reflecting on my colleagues from various lands who believe themselves to be G-d's gift to English......oodles of mistakes and all:-)
InPolska 11 | 1,821
11 Aug 2015 #87
@Lyszko! Cool! What I really liked was your message re that professor who translated word for word. It is obviously most common among non natives.

Nevertheless, Jon said what had to be said ;).

Life for sure is not perfect but we need to adjust to it (what I try to do)
Lyzko 31 | 7,800
11 Aug 2015 #88
'Couldn't agree with you more! A pity that certain among us don't like to 'fess up to their errors:-)
InPolska 11 | 1,821
12 Aug 2015 #89
@Lyszko; the message is so far away from reality in Warsaw (+ all big cities in Poland) that I even think it's a troll.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
12 Aug 2015 #90
Always wondered about that, and always been too lazy or too busy to research it. Why "the Ukraine"? Maybe better answer me in off topic thread to keep this thread on topic.

I'll answer here because I want to reply to the rest... mods, don't kill me ;)

It's wrong to say "the Ukraine". It comes from the days when Ukraine was a region rather than being a country - so you would say "ah, in the Ukraine, there be dragons" - as Ukraine was simply a geographical region and not a state in its own right. These days, it should be Ukraine without "the". It probably comes from Polish - as the Poles say "na ukrainie" as opposed to "w". Same with "na litwie" - it implies that Lithuania is a region and not a country.

There's a discussion here about it in Polish -

Well, no need to go around and around a situation that shall not change. The OP has trouble to find work because she is not a native, now she says she has a thick accent, and also because she cannot offer students REAL English.

The accent is the killer. No matter how great someone's English might be, if they've got a thick accent, it's unlikely that someone would take them.

PS: I notice that NOBODY is able to give her tips to find work.

I'm confused why she needs help to find work in Warsaw, to be honest.

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