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Considerations for US Family Moving to Poland (esp. Int'l Schools)


elysiann 2 | 5
6 Nov 2010  #1
I am currently looking at moving to Poland in 2012 (this gives me time to make all the necessary preparations). I am an editor for an online journal and have edited book chapters in the past as well. I am finishing up my Master's degree in Linguistics, and will get a CELTA certification before I go to Poland. I'm used to doing a lot of work with little to live on. I've visited Poland on multiple occasions, and there may be an opportunity for me to try living in Poland for about two months next summer (which would allow me to try things out before I make a more permanent commitment). I love languages and different cultures, I am learning Polish right now, doing a lot of research into practical concerns, and I truly enjoy teaching English. I feel like I have realistic goals and plans… so I'm not worried about myself.

I am however, concerned for my family. My husband is not an English teacher, but I have looked into some options for him as he picks Polish, and he would be comfortable staying home as a house-husband/ working as an English conversation partner. (Again, I have to do a lot of planning for this still.) I also have a daughter who will turn six in November of 2012. I've looked at international schools in Poland, but I know little about them. While I don't want her to be uncomfortable/lost entering a school taught entirely in Polish, I do want her to be able to speak the language of the country she's living in, and don't want the international school to serve as a crutch allowing her to only speak English. So, my questions are:

1.) Does anyone know how good international schools are in Poland?
2.) Is there a way to transition my daughter from an international school to a Polish school?
3.) Has anyone brought their families over in a similar situation? Can you offer some insight into this process for me?

I am looking into this move because it would allow me to use the skills I have in a place I love. My family is really easy-going, and we really don't have a future where we are.
Bzibzioh
6 Nov 2010  #2
Telling us to which city are you planning to go would help.
OP elysiann 2 | 5
6 Nov 2010  #3
I have three locations that I've been strongly considering: Kraków, £ódź and Poznań.

I've heard good things about the Polish language programs in both Kraków and £ódź, which would help my family with acquiring the language. They each have other academic/career advantages for me as well (e.g. there seems to be a strong focus at the University of £ódź in pragmatics... should I decide later I want to go back to school for linguistics). I've only spent about a week in Kraków, however, and even less in £ódź. I am considering of visiting one of these locations next summer.

While I've not personally heard anything about the Polish language courses in Poznań, the reviews on this forum were less than favorable. However, I have a good number of contacts in Poznań- from my school/work and from conferences I've attended. Having professional connections would increase my chances of getting a job, and I have a social circle to help with my transition there.

Honestly though, much of this will be determined by the job scenario- what I position I can get, and whether I can afford to live in the same location as I work. I imagine with my credentials I can find a job, it's just a matter of how good of a job I can get (in either teaching English or editorial work).
zetigrek
6 Nov 2010  #4
£ódź is very depressing place. I advise you chose Kraków or Poznań.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,170
6 Nov 2010  #5
I've looked at international schools in Poland, but I know little about them.

I heard that they are extremely expensive.
poland_
7 Nov 2010  #6
I've looked at international schools in Poland, but I know little about them

Your child is six years, based on Warsaw prices, you will be paying 10-20,000 USD per year for an International school. Krakow maybe 5% less. Get yourself qualified as a school teacher and get some experience in the USA. Then apply to the international schools for a job as a teacher. There is a shortage of permanent teachers, in the international schools. The salaries are much higher as well, and maybe they will allow you to put your child in the school as part of your package.
delphiandomine 85 | 17,823
7 Nov 2010  #7
Wow, interesting topic. My thoughts...

1.) Does anyone know how good international schools are in Poland?

Outside of Warsaw, they seem to be rather poor and overpriced. There are some good ones in Warsaw, as you'd expect - with equally eye-watering tuition fees.

2.) Is there a way to transition my daughter from an international school to a Polish school?

It's almost certain that she'll have a difficult time - Polish private education is remarkably different to public education. Just think - how would she cope, going from a small class to a big class? It's not that simple at all. If she's to have any chance, she needs to start from the beginning.

While I've not personally heard anything about the Polish language courses in Poznań, the reviews on this forum were less than favorable. However, I have a good number of contacts in Poznań- from my school/work and from conferences I've attended. Having professional connections would increase my chances of getting a job, and I have a social circle to help with my transition there.

There are no good courses in Poznań. There are some good teachers around doing private lessons, but coursewise - nada. The only real course that exists is the one at UAM - and this is aimed at students, not outside learners. It's also taught by people who appear to have little to no training in teaching Polish as a foreign language.

Honestly though, much of this will be determined by the job scenario- what I position I can get, and whether I can afford to live in the same location as I work. I imagine with my credentials I can find a job, it's just a matter of how good of a job I can get (in either teaching English or editorial work).

You need to consider one thing - how much money do you think you'll earn?

My husband is not an English teacher, but I have looked into some options for him as he picks Polish, and he would be comfortable staying home as a house-husband/ working as an English conversation partner. (Again, I have to do a lot of planning for this still.)

There's little to no demand for English "conversation" partners in Poznań. There are plenty of students willing to charge 20-25zl an hour for this - and with this type of price, you're not going to get reliable clients. I'm not saying that you need to be qualified, but your husband really needs to bring something else to the table apart from just speaking English.

The other thing - could you really afford for him to stay at home? You're not going to get a well paid job in your first couple of years here - I can tell you from personal experience that in Poznan, there are very, very few schools offering full time hours. Even the big schools (Empik, Profi-Lingua et al) aren't offering their natives a full teaching load. There's plenty of small contracts on offer (last count, I have 7 contracts with schools!) - but this needs the ability to have the time to build these up. It's only within the last 2 weeks that I have a full time schedule this year that doesn't involve working horribly unsocial hours.

As for working as an English teacher - are you prepared to work mornings (7-10) and then 5-9 in the afternoons? Have you considered that you need a work permit for every single school you work at, and that if you move here, you'll need to obtain legal residency within 90 days?

I'm sorry, but it just doesn't sound like a good idea to move here at all with a family to teach English. The ESL market is ridiculously unstable - and while you might get a job at a university, personal experience tells me that jobs go to those who know someone - and even then, the universities are starting to cut back on natives because the competition is so fierce (and the Polish teachers are so good).

I imagine with my credentials I can find a job, it's just a matter of how good of a job I can get (in either teaching English or editorial work).

Don't be so sure of it. Finding a job is one thing - but finding a stable, well paid job is another thing.

Bear in mind that if the school cuts you midyear (and this happens more than you might want to think) - what then? It's not going to be possible to find a full time job in the middle of the year, and you'll have a husband and daughter to feed.

My advice - go somewhere like the Middle East or Asia. There'll be much more stability there - as well as there being much more in the way of money. Do you really want to risk having no money in Poland, with no access to public help?

Warszawski is bang on the money with his post. It just doesn't make any sense to come to Poland without any teaching experience (here, they'll look at post-CELTA experience) - especially when you can end up with nothing because of a neurotic director. And they are much more common than you probably imagine ;)
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,884
7 Nov 2010  #8
off topic, but I GOTTA say Delph, this last post of yours is one of those rare moments where you paint quite a realistic picture of the ESL industry along with the job market in general in Poland.....yet your next post will go on and on sounding like Poland is the land of opportunity. you're like PF's schizofrenian poster.

my 2 cents: you're not gonna make much money in Poland and don't forget the fact that Polish currency isn't worth jack squat. secondly, as far as being an editor, throw that out the window because everything is in Polish out here and you can't be the editor of a Polish magazine/newspaper or anything, so no market for you here in that respect. going to Krakow/Poznan, you'll be grouped in with the rest of the poor schlubs out there trying to scrum together enough lessons in today's shite economy to make ends meet, only you'll be doing it with no experience and a family to support. bad choice.

listen to Delph. the middle east....you'd be hooked up. I recently saw an advert for a job in the middle east, $36,000 USD per year TAX FREE, free accommodation, free satellite TV/internet, free airfare both ways, paid holidays and vacation time, on top of the money you could earn hand over fist with private students. just with your base salary alone, if you consider the fact that your accommodation is free and you're not paying taxes, that's like earning over $65,000 a year in the states. not bad.
PolishTraitor - | 20
7 Nov 2010  #9
I GOTTA say Delph, this last post of yours is one of those rare moments where you paint quite a realistic picture of the ESL industry along with the job market in general in Poland

It was indeed a good overview.

Honestly though, much of this will be determined by the job scenario- what I position I can get, and whether I can afford to live in the same location as I work. I imagine with my credentials I can find a job, it's just a matter of how good of a job I can get (in either teaching English or editorial work).

Yes, but you are very simply not going to find a position that enables you to support a three-person family and pay school fees.
delphiandomine 85 | 17,823
7 Nov 2010  #10
Ah, come on Fuzzy - we both know that if you're established here, it can be a profitable place - but for newbies, it's far more likely that Poland will chew them up and spit them out - especially in her circumstances.

my 2 cents: you're not gonna make much money in Poland and don't forget the fact that Polish currency isn't worth jack squat.

Totally agree. It's taken me until now to get to the point where people are calling me with offers of work rather than the other way round - and in the first year, I was getting around 2000-2500zl a month. Fine if you don't have any commitments, but a family? The market is totally swamped in Krakow with natives, Lodz is a dreadful place for bringing up children and Poznan is much more focused on business classes (and again, too many natives working in-school) - none of which would be worthwhile.

Don't forget the utter ruthlessness of the industry - no-one is going to care less if someone has a 6 year old daughter to feed, clothe and house, all they're going to care about is the bottom line. Even more so in Poland with such a saturated sector - if they don't have the classes to give, then goodbye. Let's not forget the amount of promises made - "it'll get better after Christmas" and so on - and we all know how much those promises are worth.

I just cannot for the life of me see any wisdom in this move, unless the OP gets a public university job - and even then, these are very much "jobs for the boys".

I'm trying, trying and trying - and I cannot see any sense in this idea whatsoever. Poland is fine for the carefree native who doesn't have any commitments, and it's fine for the native who has a partner earning good, stable money - but for a couple like this? It just sounds like a road to disaster. No Babcia to babysit and do the shopping is the least of their worries!

I'm curious though - why Poland? No stable work contracts, a weak currency and absolutely no help in terms of accomodation provided to natives except in small towns where you wouldn't want to live anyway - it does seem rather odd.
Wroclaw Boy
7 Nov 2010  #11
Delphi you really are over qualified in the art of p1ssing on some body's fire.

What are you now a friggin career expert?
PolishTraitor - | 20
7 Nov 2010  #12
What are you now a friggin career expert?

He does seem to have hit the nail on the head when it comes to one particular career.
Avalon 4 | 1,068
7 Nov 2010  #13
delphiandomine:
My advice - go somewhere like the Middle East or Asia.

Perhaps she is not able to take the United States Marine Corp with her? Americans are not exactly flavour of the month in those places. Not exactly a place to take the kids.
Wroclaw Boy
7 Nov 2010  #14
He does seem to have hit the nail on the head when it comes to one particular career.

Every time some body on here has an idea (myself included) he pops up with advice, most of the time people aren't even asking for advice. It wouldnt be so bad but his advice is almost always negative, "if this - that will happen and dont bother that because blah blah". I went to see a so called business advisory expert before i started the company that saw me first make some decent money, he trashed the idea, told me not to buy a computer and that i should print 300 fcuking leaflets. Good job i didn't listen to him.

I think the OP of this thread is never going to live in Poland anyway, this is a dream world scenario.
delphiandomine 85 | 17,823
7 Nov 2010  #15
Perhaps she is not able to take the United States Marine Corp with her? Americans are not exactly flavour of the month in those places. Not exactly a place to take the kids.

Ah, come on, there's plenty of safe, rich places out there - it's not like Americans are hated absolutely everywhere. Fuzzy knows more about it than me, but as far as I gather, being an ESL teacher in places that can afford to pay you a huge amount of cash (for an ESL teacher) tax free aren't going to be dangerous places.

It wouldnt be so bad but his advice is almost always negative, "if this - that will happen and dont bother that because blah blah".

It's nearly impossible to be positive about such a move - unless you count "shivering in a 1 room flat in Poland with a child that doesn't understand anything at school" as positive.
PolishTraitor - | 20
7 Nov 2010  #16
I think the OP of this thread is never going to live in Poland anyway, this is a dream world scenario.

It would very quickly turn into a nightmare world scenario if she believed some of the lies which are told to potential recruits by the shiittier school owners!
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,884
7 Nov 2010  #17
Wroclaw Boy wrote:

What are you now a friggin career expert?

it doesn't take an expert to know this is a poor decision.

Delph's an English teacher in a major city, I'm an English teacher in a major city.....we know the current market situation....if that doesn't make us experts, it at least makes us knowledgable.

I'm curious Wroclaw Boy, what would be your advice? What do you think of her idea of coming here, job prospects, her family, etc.?
Wroclaw Boy
7 Nov 2010  #18
it doesn't take an expert to know this is a poor decision.

Shes not asking for career advice she specifically asked for the price of international schooling.

I'm curious Wroclaw Boy, what would be your advice? What do you think of her idea of coming here, job prospects, her family, etc.?

I dont really know her so i cant comment.
z_darius 14 | 3,971
7 Nov 2010  #19
Not that I disagree with the comments on how tough it may be. Moving to a new country carries that risk, no matter where you go.

One thing that puzzles me is that the opinions come from people who seem to be doing just fine in Poland, and some of them indicate no intention to move elsewhere any time soon. Is the ESL market so competitive that the are afraid f a little more competition?

elysiann, your husband's inexperience in teaching English is largely irrelevant, if English is his native language. Get him to study the English grammar a little, in case he's not familiar with the terminology on the theoretical level, and I'm sure he'd be no worse than any of those giving you advice here. Eventually, he might take a shot at one of those certifications. He may not get a million dollars per hour to start with, but he'll have a foot in the door.

As for the Middle East... great advice, depending on whether you'll be comfortable with wearing beekeeper's suit in the destination country, if you choose one where this is a "safer" thing to do.
convex 20 | 3,980
7 Nov 2010  #20
They only have alcohol habits to support, not a family.

As for the Middle East... great advice, depending on whether you'll be comfortable with wearing beekeeper's suit in the destination country, if you choose one where this is a "safer" thing to do.

Jordan, UAE, Bahrain...All perfectly safe and apparently well paying.
jonni 16 | 2,486
7 Nov 2010  #21
Jordan, UAE, Bahrain...All perfectly safe and apparently well paying.

Not much work in Bahrain or Jordan (old middle-east hands tend to snap up jobs there using connections), and UAE is in a bit of a mess (plus largely recruiting locally nowadays). Oman and Saudi are the best bets. Oman has plenty of truly shite jobs and a few hard to get excellent ones. Saudi is great (I love it) if you don't mind luxurious boredom and take very great care (and time) to get the right contract. Not for beginners though, and great for families.

Delphiandomine's post fairly sums up the situation in PL - the market is changing fast, and not for the better.

Fuzzywickets' post is spot on too, except private lssons are largely a no-no and 36000 USD is at the bottom end of the market.
PolishTraitor - | 20
7 Nov 2010  #22
They only have alcohol habits to support, not a family.

Way to talk shiit about people you've never met and have no idea about: exemplary behaviour, congratulations.
delphiandomine 85 | 17,823
7 Nov 2010  #23
One thing that puzzles me is that the opinions come from people who seem to be doing just fine in Poland

It's more that the ESL market is so fragile that it's no place for someone in her position. So many schools are full of nonsense and false promises - fine and well if you're like me or Fuzzy, who can simply turn up, explain the situation to the students, then wait for the fireworks. But someone who absolutely needs the money at the end of the month to pay for the rent, the child, etc doesn't have this luxury - because if they get fired, they'll be in a tough spot.

elysiann, your husband's inexperience in teaching English is largely irrelevant, if English is his native language.

Sure, it's not a bad way in. But who looks after the daughter if both parents are working? His first job is going to be a badly paid Callan-esque job - and those kind of jobs will almost universally demand evenings and mornings. She has more of a chance (there is a distinct lack of female native speakers) - but again, with teaching, it's mostly mornings or evenings. Childcare isn't that cheap in Poland, and to make any reasonable amount of money, you'll have to commit to the 5-9pm shift.

Likewise, she's inexperienced - so she's going to have to get to grips with the Polish mentality towards business (worthless promises, made up stories, etc) - again, that's not a nice situation to be in. I'm sure if someone like Fuzzy was told "we can't pay you, we don't have the money" - he'd know how to deal with it. But someone new to Poland would be all "...****, now what?" - which is probably ok if you're single and carefree, but not ok if you have a daughter to house and feed.

The best advice I can give is that if she's set on Poland, then she needs to find something with accomodation included. It's just too risky otherwise.

They only have alcohol habits to support, not a family.

As is the case for the vast majority of newbies in Poland. Don't get me wrong, there are people doing very well for themselves who have families - but they have the distinct advantage of having lived here for a while, they know how Poles behave and most crucially - they have plenty of contacts with a partner who has a stable job with a permanent contract.
convex 20 | 3,980
7 Nov 2010  #24
Way to talk shiit about people you've never met and have no idea about: exemplary behaviour, congratulations.

I've met a couple of English teachers, most of them are younger folks, don't have families, and often enjoy going out and having a drink or seven. Most of those people are doing fine. I doubt you could care for a family on that money though.
jonni 16 | 2,486
7 Nov 2010  #25
I doubt you could care for a family on that money though.

Quite. Then they fall in love, marry, have kids and usually leave Poland.
Bolle 1 | 147
7 Nov 2010  #26
One thing that puzzles me is that the opinions come from people who seem to be doing just fine in Poland, and some of them indicate no intention to move elsewhere any time soon. Is the ESL market so competitive that the are afraid f a little more competition?

Delphi brought up some good points. Poland is a terribly unstable place for a family to come to teach ESl.

I recently quit teaching english due to boredom and the fact that i found a better paying job with better hours (unrelated to teaching). There's still a market for natives to teach ESL, however you will have to do a combo of working for a school and doing private lessons to live a more comfortable lifestyle. You'll have to work odd hours which will no doubt conflict with you family life - i only have a girlfriend, no kids, so it wasn't too much of a problem.

Your husband will have to work for you guys to make things work. I have some Polish colleagues who have kids and pay anywhere from 1K - 1.5K PLN for a nanny to watch their kids - but you're a foreigner so don't be surprised if you have to pay more - and you'll probably want an english speaking nanny. If you're only making 2-3K PLN / month when you start off, rent varies but lets say you get lucky (bachelor pad) - 1K PLN / month, well ... hmmm i think you can do the math.

But I must caution you OP, Delphi is also afraid of competition and is staunchly anti-american. People do find success in the ESL market here. It would really help if you or your husband could speak Polish.

International schooling is bloody expensive btw.
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,884
7 Nov 2010  #27
jonni wrote:

36000 USD is at the bottom end of the market.

which is what a newbie can expect to get.
f stop 25 | 2,514
7 Nov 2010  #28
Americans are not exactly flavour of the month in those places.

LOL

International schooling is bloody expensive btw.

looks like there might be a market in starting international schools..
OP elysiann 2 | 5
7 Nov 2010  #29
I want to thank you all for the comments thus far. While no one has accused me of this, I did want to clarify: this is something I was considering well before it would be a possibility (not like, 'Hey, I'm going to dump my family in Poland next summer!'), giving me an opportunity to either get more certifications/experience or look elsewhere. The purpose of offering an idea on a forum in its early stages is to prevent myself from building up too much of a plan without consulting people in the field. It's a matter of being careful. I am not so impulsive or delusional that I would put my daughter in a harmful situation only to meet my own dreams. I am not that stupid, I promise! ^_^

I mean this in no offense, but I do agree with z_darius about the Middle East- I find it about as appealing as someone telling me to move to inner-city Detroit because the real estate is so cheap. Sure, sometimes the reputation is grossly exaggerated, but there is the religious aspect to consider in many of these countries. I am female, as is my daughter, and there needs to be some thought into what that would mean for us in different countries. Furthermore, the problems of her being unfamiliar with a language persist in any other location. At least I am familiar with the Polish language, social norms and practices; and I was raised in a Catholic family. Using the logic provided here, it would make little sense to move to a country for TESOL at all in my situation.

So I was in fact eliciting advice on the possibility of doing any such move for TESOL as well- and I am not upset with the responses. I am aware that the more 'Western' a country is, the less demand there is for native speakers. I toyed with the compromise Eastern Europe may have provided, but only know what I've experienced. I have witnessed TESOL in Poland and had worked with teachers preparing lectures/tests/etc. (I am not one of those native English speakers who thinks breathing makes me a decent TESOL teacher- I had to learn the technical labels for different grammatical features just like any non-native speaker… you don't just KNOW that from speaking, and I can appreciate that.) I was aware that TESOL teachers can work horrendous hours for multiple schools, and still need to supplement their wages with private lessons. When I said I am used to working hard on next to nothing, I was serious- I have been a student worker with a full courseload and my contract prevented me from work more than 20 hours a week (or at least be paid more than that), during which my husband has lost jobs. You pick up second/odd jobs in the meanwhile if they're available (Michigan isn't exactly great for this), and get creative like taking in roommates to pay the rent. But you're right, I only have experience teaching some linguistic and philosophy classes at the university level, I've yet to teach an English class, and had no idea just how expensive the international schools would be.

While I don't begrudge anyone for their insight (I am ASKING for it), it is naturally disheartening to hear this. I really do love Poland, and have some background in Polish linguistics/philology, which I would have loved to explore more in the country. I'm not going to throw out all plans I had for Poland from one day on a forum, but if there is any viability for any of them, it would involve drastic changes to my career plans… and I have plenty of 'half-baked' backups not involving Poland as well. ^_^ I've got time to really think.

I'll discuss more some of my other ideas if they are still relevant later, but I thought I should explain a few things first.
z_darius 14 | 3,971
7 Nov 2010  #30
They only have alcohol habits to support, not a family.

Fair enough.

Jordan, UAE, Bahrain...All perfectly safe and apparently well paying.

You haven't checked US gov. travel advisories lately, have you?

Sure, it's not a bad way in. But who looks after the daughter if both parents are working?

I have some Polish colleagues who have kids and pay anywhere from 1K - 1.5K PLN for a nanny to watch their kids - but you're a foreigner so don't be surprised if you have to pay more - and you'll probably want an english speaking nanny.

Read these two, elysiann.
One person's problem can become another person's business opportunity. Isn't that the adage in the West?

Get hubby to take one of those child care courses in the local community college, so that he's got some paper to show to people. I'm sure he'll get some customers for the right price and your problem will become your income.


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