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CELTA course in Poland: Kraków vs Wrocław


Sergiusz 6 | 27
10 Nov 2018 #1
I'm considering a full-time course next year. The search gave me options in Warsaw (Language Training Center), Kraków (British Council) and Wrocław (International House). BC and IH seem to be the most reputable so my choice will fall on either Kraków or Wrocław.

I would appreciate some feedback from people with first-hand experience. Which of the two centers provides better resources and better quality training?

Assisting with accommodations is another important criterion for me.
Lyzko 24 | 6,775
10 Nov 2018 #2
I take it your track is teaching English as a Second Language For Foreigners, yes?
Lyzko 24 | 6,775
10 Nov 2018 #4
Curious as to how many classroom hours you've already "logged in", so to speak, prior to enrolling in the course.
Only asking, because, although maybe things work differently in the States, when I was going for my ESL-certificate/degree,
I was expected to have a certain number of teaching hours prior to taking the course and afterwards securing a position.

Don't recall the precise number, but it couldn't have been less than about one hundred.
The thing was that in my training, the institution wanted to insure practical application prior to getting a paid job.

Is English your first language? Not that it really matters to me, but certain teaching institutions here in New York are funny that way. While some have perfectly

qualified candidates from any number of other countries teaching ESL (and from my perspective about as well, if not better than many a native English

speaker, by the way!), a few will insist that the instructor teach only in their mother tongue, a requirement I've come to see as understandable, yet not viable

in the long run, especially in this globalized economy of the new millennium.

Be interested in your thoughts:-) Anyway, I wish you much success!
OP Sergiusz 6 | 27
10 Nov 2018 #5
Curious as to how many classroom hours you've already "logged in", so to speak, prior to enrolling in the course.

I've been teaching languages for 13 years, including 3 years of actual classroom ELT and 10 years of teaching my mother tongue to foreigners.

Is English your first language?

No.

a few will insist that the instructor teach only in their mother tongue

I am currently employed by a private language school and we have only one American teacher and one Brit. The rest of the staff are non-native speakers (Spain, Brazil, Ukraine, Polish teachers of course) and the owner is OK with that. Apparently in Poland it's not a big deal (but it might depend on a school)
Lyzko 24 | 6,775
10 Nov 2018 #6
Most enlightening, Sergiusz! Thank you for getting back so quickly.

The standards then for ESL-instructors/adjunct lecturers in Europe are rather different as compared with the US in so far as Foreign Language programs by contrast nearly always will insist that those teaching respectively French, Spanish etc. be either native or at the very least bilingual native speakers in the language of instruction.

When I was in high school, we did indeed have one part-time French teacher from Wisconsin who knew the grammar, having lived in Paris for a year, but with a distinct "American" accent, often at odds with both our textbook tapes as well as that of the other French instructor from Bordeaux. The American lasted about a month:-)

As far as ESL, the original topic, I've taught for nearly twenty-five years, one of which was spent teaching abroad in Germany at a language school in Freudenstadt.

Then, the head teacher was a Brit and I was the sole native English instructor. Most of the staff were Germans who, as with my French teacher, seemed to know the

basics cold, only with the noticable local "Badenese" accent interference, only occasionally impeding understanding, though rarely. As my correction was never solicited,
I naturally said nothing:-) It didn't seem to bother the director/principal or the other students.

My experiences in Poland have been brief and therefore won't even attempt to comment on ESL-teaching there.

Degrees and certificate training though can vary as to both the quality along with the expectations of the course.
OP Sergiusz 6 | 27
10 Nov 2018 #7
Alright, I'd like to come back to the topic. Opinions on Kraków and Wrocław centers, please.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,771
10 Nov 2018 #8
There's no real difference between Kraków and Wrocław. Both are well regarded and the courses are run by experienced teacher trainers. The only difference is that IH are a bit more proactive about finding you employment afterwards, as the IH network is much stronger than the BC one. The British Council in Poland is no longer part of the wider British Council, it's a fully autonomous Polish foundation that simply uses the name for historical reasons, and they receive no funding from the UK.

In terms of post-qualification employment, both Wrocław and Kraków have little to offer.
OP Sergiusz 6 | 27
10 Nov 2018 #9
Thank you for the comment. Wow, I didn't know that BC centers could go autonomous..

As for the post-training employment, I don't really count on finding a job in those cities. Smaller towns sometimes offer decent pay + accommodations. And I'm not that hungry for "big city life".
delphiandomine 83 | 17,771
10 Nov 2018 #10
Wow, I didn't know that BC centers could go autonomous..

Basically, what happened in Poland was that the BC stopped funding the Polish branch, and so they had no choice but to go it alone. All the libraries they had shut down, and the BC tried to aggressively expand their English classes into cities like Wrocław and Poznań through some very dubious partnerships. It failed miserably and they retreated back to Kraków and Warsaw, but essentially, they exist as a ESL/exam provider these days, not as a cultural institution.

One thing I'd say is that the BC has more "name value", as IH is notoriously cheap with their salaries.
Lyzko 24 | 6,775
11 Nov 2018 #11
Delph, I was under the impression that the BC was responsible for all English-language schools throughout the continent, sponsoring a variety
of similiar programs. If funding was indeed cut, what then in the wake of BREXIT does the UK intend to do about the entire situation of language

instruction?

If all funds in fact are controlled by Britain, wouldn't that mean that finances would have to be split up among those European countries participating

in CELTA?
mafketis 21 | 7,458
11 Nov 2018 #12
what then in the wake of BREXIT does the UK intend to do about the entire situation of language instruction

For better or worse, English instruction has been localized throughout Europe there is not much need (or much of a market) for things like BC anymore...
Lyzko 24 | 6,775
11 Nov 2018 #13
No oversight body any more, nobody awake at the watch to make sure folks in local (English) school admin. aren't sleeping at the switch?

Little surprise at the often questionable quality of English instruction in many countries.

Wonder what the reasons are, apart from the obvious, namely funding.
mafketis 21 | 7,458
11 Nov 2018 #14
Wonder what the reasons are, apart from the obvious

British "textbooks" are the worst, this is the European problem, take those worst at learning foreign languages and put them in charge of the largest sector of the foreign language sector, this makes sense how?

I cannot imagine trying to actually learn anything with the British texts I've seen, but that's the point - the only purpose of any book is to lead learners to the next book in the series...
delphiandomine 83 | 17,771
11 Nov 2018 #15
British "textbooks" are the worst

Ugh, if I ever see another copy of Headway or that ghastly Hot Spot series, I'll cry.

I've just seen that there's also a 'American File' series - ever seen it? I'm only familiar with the (New) English File ones.
mafketis 21 | 7,458
11 Nov 2018 #16
also a 'American File' series - ever seen it?

Nah, I only used authentic materials (sometimes edited a bit)
delphiandomine 83 | 17,771
12 Nov 2018 #17
Ah, that would explain why you find those British books so jarring!

Wonder what the reasons are, apart from the obvious, namely funding.

Generally speaking, the BC was always a form of British soft power. The UK used to be interested in the CEE region, but about 20 years ago, they more or less started diverting funding into Asia and the ME. The same thing was seen in Germany - what used to be a powerful cultural institution is now a shell of what it used to be.

It's a shame, because the French and Germans have continued heavily funding their cultural presence here.
mafketis 21 | 7,458
12 Nov 2018 #18
why you find those British books so jarring!

Well the main reason is that they don't seem to be teaching anything, it's just practice meant to keep (paying) students running in place and eventually graduate to the next book.

There's a place for that kind of thing (I would have loved something like that for Polish when I needed it and it didn't exist) but it's not something you can build a meaningful curriculum around.....

And the writing "advice" is almost all entirely wrong... (don't get me started....)
delphiandomine 83 | 17,771
12 Nov 2018 #19
they don't seem to be teaching anything, it's just practice meant to keep (paying) students running in place and eventually graduate to the next book.

And of course, doing exams after each step too. I noticed recently just how hard they've been pushing the low level exams, even though they're worthless.
JackRussell - | 1
12 Nov 2018 #20
Please note some corrections to the information above regarding the British Council and its funding and presence in Europe.

Firstly, it is not the case the British Council centres in Poland are 'autonomous' - they are still very much a part of the BC network and overseen by their HQ in the UK. The Polish centres took on 'Foundation' status a number of years back simply for legal purposes, due to this status having certain advantages in the context of Poland. Similar changes in status have happened in many other countries, but this hasn't changed the fact that they are still firmly within the BC network and all regions still receive a percentage of funding from the UK government (although this funding is decreasing over time - see below).

Secondly, it is also not the case that "BC stopped funding the Polish branch" (this is based on a possible misunderstanding of how BC operates). The fact is that funding of BC overall has indeed reduced in terms of that portion of funding that had been sourced from HM Government - in other words, overall funding of BC from state coffers has decreased over the last two decades with BC doing more to be self-funded and less reliant on UK Government support.

Here is a quote from their website: britishcouncil.pl/en/about/history

As of 1 April 2014 British Council in Poland is represented by Fundacja British Council.

On 16 September 2015 the British Council has opened its new location in Warsaw. After almost 70 years of operating in Aleje Jerozolimskie British Council has moved premises to a more customer friendly and modern building at Koszykowa 54.

The new British Council Teaching and Examinations centre's design creates a sense of space and openness. It is equipped with more classrooms for learners of English, and technologies which support learning. A computer-based testing room is available for examination candidates.


You can find some sources for much of this here but I encourage you to Google for more:
britishcouncil.pl
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Council#
museumsassociation.org/museums-journal/news/05092017-british-council-work-with-developed-countries-under-review
Lyzko 24 | 6,775
12 Nov 2018 #21
Thanks, JackRussell!

However in my teaching experience, British texts tend to be even more transparent, not to mention just plain thorough, in grammar presentation, usually omitted as "unimportant" for some reasons or other in US books. Ann Arbor Press in Michigan might be the one exception in the States.

The 'Grammar in Use' series, especially the red volume for beginners, covers topics from "do + infinitive" etc. with such clarity, the book seems to almost teach itself:-)

My European students swore bit it, and then of course, there's always Mr. Swan and his 'Practical English Grammar', along with 'Learner English'.

The latter two though ARE for teachers, not learners, I realize!


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