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New Job at Warsaw International School as an English teacher - Advice? What should I expect?


pernumba 4 | 1    
10 Jul 2018  #1
Hey guys, I'll be starting a new job at an international school in Warsaw. I'm an English teacher. What should I expect? I'm from the US, working class background, I speak pretty fluent Polish, but the students can't know I speak it.

I have been living in Poland for a year, mainly in Warsaw, and I am slowly figuring out the culture. I realize they are much more classy and reserved than what I am used to, and I have adapted a lot, but I don't want to mess up this job opportunity. If anyone can help me out by giving tips, advice, etc. please do so.

Last year I taught English and Spanish in a corporation and all my students except 2 (out of 20 in 5 different classes,) loved me. However, this year I will be teaching kids.

Thanks everyone!
Atch 14 | 2,231    
10 Jul 2018  #2
Hi Pernumba.

Teaching children (you don't say how old they are which makes a difference) is a different thing entirely. How old are the children and what training do you have in teaching that age group? Although it's great if they 'love' you, the most important thing is that they respect you. It's quite possible to have a happy and relaxed class where children learn and have fun at the same time but it's quite a skill to achieve that and takes time. The most important thing is not to try being their friend but to set firm boundaries from day one whilst at the same time being pleasant.

You should familarize yourself with whatever school policies there are regarding behaviour etc and they'll also discuss the learning goals with you. The difference between a school and a corporation is that these are children and their learning objectives will be very specific and part of the overall school curriculum and there will be a lot of pressure on you to ensure that they're met. Be sure that you do a proper teaching plan for the whole school year. Examine the curriculum, ascertain the learning goals for each area and then do your year plan, term plan for each term and each week or two weeks you do a weekly/fortnightly plan. It's good to do it in a sort of chart form so that you can tick things as you go to ensure you're meeting your goals. You'll also need your individual lesson plans of course.

I presume you'll only be teaching English and not responsible for other subjects??
Atch 14 | 2,231    
11 Jul 2018  #3
Forgot to mention that another major difference in teaching children as opposed to adults in a business setting, is dealing with parents. Parents who are paying for a private education for their children generally have high expectations. If the child is bright the parents will expect them to be making visible progress and if they're less able, the parents may not want to accept that and may prefer to blame the teacher :) Even the nicest and most reasonable parents can get very anxious about their childrens' progress and need reassurance.

Parents can also approach you with complaints in the nature of 'little Timmy says he's bored' or 'little Timmy says he can't concentrate because little Jimmy is distracting him' and sometimes parents will bypass you completely and go straight to the school principal. Don't want to sound like a misery guts but just marking your card about some things you may not have thought of.

Also, if it's an international school your students won't all be Polish, remember that. You'll have a mix of cultures and nationalities to deal with.
mafketis 16 | 5,667    
11 Jul 2018  #4
the most important thing is that they respect you.

Very very true. Also, if you set out firm boundaries in the beginning you can occasionally, when the situation warrants it, be more lax, while if you start off to lax it's much harder to establish discipline later on.
Lyzko 17 | 4,555    
11 Jul 2018  #5
"But the students can't know I speak it."

Definitely relate, pernumba! In certain such institutions, there's an "ENGLISH ONLY!" rule and after two demerits, the instructor can be let go.
I wish you only the very best of luck and I see that you're serious because you bothered to learn the target language:-)

Have a blast!
mafketis 16 | 5,667    
11 Jul 2018  #6
I speak pretty fluent Polish, but the students can't know I speak it.

Dumb rule. They'll figure it out anyway and it makes you look like a liar.
Lyzko 17 | 4,555    
12 Jul 2018  #7
No, not a liar, rather, as a purposely cautious educator. That's been my experience.
Tempting as it was when I was teaching in Germany to chime in interpreter-like, every bloody time a student of mine was groping for the right word,

I restrained myself as much as humanly possible. Instead, I asked their classmates to see if THEY, rather than I, could help the struggling student.

It actually worked:-)
mafketis 16 | 5,667    
12 Jul 2018  #8
No, not a liar, rather, as a purposely cautious educator.

These are children, if he claims to not know Polish and then they realize he does, then they'll perceive him as another grown up liar.

Not responding in Polish during class is okay but it's rarely a good idea to outright lie to students of any age.
rozumiemnic 9 | 3,541    
12 Jul 2018  #9
Instead, I asked their classmates to see if THEY, rather than I, could help the struggling student.

pretty basic technique Lyzko...
Lyzko 17 | 4,555    
12 Jul 2018  #10
@maf, who's lying?? Just using a little child psychology on 'em, that's all.

@roz,.....yeah, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it, I always say:-)
mafketis 16 | 5,667    
12 Jul 2018  #11
who's lying?

Saying "I don't speak Polish" when you can is lying.

What happens if someone comes into the room and asks them something in Polish? (this definitely happens a lot in Poland)
Lyzko 17 | 4,555    
13 Jul 2018  #12
Speaking only from my experience in that other large country to Poland's West, I would typically respond in clear, unidiomatic English, neither too slowly (which might have been taken as condescending!) nor too quickly. If my interlocutor for whatever reason failed to understand me, I'd excuse myself to the class, go into the corridor and explain matters sotto voce in German to my colleague. This rarely if ever happened, however.

Everything went just fine. What I told was merely a "white lie", not an out-an-out fib intended to hurt or harm anybody.
:-)
Atch 14 | 2,231    
13 Jul 2018  #13
Dumb rule. They'll figure it out anyway and it makes you look like a liar.

Totally agree. You should always be as honest and straightforward with children as possible. The teacher doesn't need to tell the children that he/she speaks Polish unless they ask directly. In that case you just say 'Yes I do, but we have a rule here in the school that we only speak English' - simple as that. It actually improves your relationship with the children because they realize that you also have had to struggle with learning to communicate in an unfamiliar language. Empathy goes a lot further than lies :))
mafketis 16 | 5,667    
13 Jul 2018  #14
I would typically respond in clear, unidiomatic English

Which makes you look like an incompetent boob to the class (and/or an unsuccessful language learner, hardly a great role model). I just take care of the interruption as quickly as possible and get back to the lesson.

There's a lot of weird folklore about teaching languages that doesn't help learners in the slightest - the idea that a teacher should pretend to be monolingual is one of them. It's perfectly possible to have a monolingual classroom (except for extraordinary circumstances) without that silly charade.
Lyzko 17 | 4,555    
13 Jul 2018  #15
Students want to believe their teachers/instructors/professors are role models. They too realize that there's plenty of PR in language teaching and that their pedagogues

don't always say EXACTLY what they mean. I can't quite agree with you there one hundred percent.

The main thing is/was that my charges saw that my native language was English, the language in which I was engaged to teach.
Rich Mazur 5 | 756    
13 Jul 2018  #16
Did you teach in American English or that other one?
Lyzko 17 | 4,555    
14 Jul 2018  #17
American English exclusively, although we all realize full well that "that other one" continues to represent the world standard, look at the UN, EU, NATO etc.

America might lead the world in industry, however, Britain still retains her crown of bearer of the English mother tongue to millions:-)
CANPOL - | 4    
16 Jul 2018  #18
[Moved from]: job opportunities at international schools in warsaw

Looking for advice:

I have years of experience in teaching in the Primary Division/Junior Division in the Canadian school system. I am not a Native speaker, since I moved to Canada as a high school student. I would like to work in an international setting. Since I am not a native speaker, I am afraid that I will face some kind of disadvantage when looking for a teaching job. What are your thoughts on that? Thanks!
CANPOL - | 4    
16 Jul 2018  #19
It all depends on the age of your students.
There should be clear rules and expectations set at the very beginning. Also, it is important to think about classroom management techniques - after all you will be dealing with kids and they like to test boundaries.

My husband is a native speaker but has no background in teaching English, what courses would you recommend so he can work in a corporate setting? Please advise.
Lyzko 17 | 4,555    
16 Jul 2018  #20
Adult learners don't really need "teaching technique" in the classroom as compared with children or under-age teens, I'll grant you that much.
However, any number of international institutes of the kind described in the thread will doubtless prefer someone with either a degree in CELTA, TESOL or any similar degree from a certificate-bearing, accredited college which will confer same on those teaching ESL abroad (the operative word here)!

If your husband has no background further in the language of country where he will be teaching, this might pose a problem.
Sure, I realize bribery runs rampant nearly everywhere on the known planet nowadays, many Polish schools DO indeed require at best a minimal standard for their teachers, albeit the pay probably won't be that terrific in contrast with the States, particularly Germany for instance, doing the same job.
Lyzko 17 | 4,555    
16 Jul 2018  #21
If your first language isn't English (in your case I'd assume Polish, yes?), this oughtn't pose much of a problem either, considering the ultra-globalized world we live in.

Some twenty-five or more years back, I might concede that even the hint of not being native to the language being taught could in fact understandably be seen as a barrier, today, I'd have to say no.
CANPOL - | 4    
16 Jul 2018  #22
thank you ;). I hope you are right!
CANPOL - | 4    
16 Jul 2018  #23
Currently, on top of my Bach. in Education, my additional qualifications include ELL ( Teaching English Language Learners ) . That should be ok I hope.
Thanks! Good luck in your new job.

Hi Pernumba,

Atch's answer has summarized everything a school teacher should know There is a lots of planning and more planning. Also, it is worth adding that with a good paying check, comes a lots of responsibility and expectation ( which I assume a teacher at the WIS would receive).

Teaching at an international school is a very different gig than teaching adults - now, you will represent the teaching community not only yourself.
Expect the first year to be stressful, but if you are young, love your job and are surrounded by supportive staff, you will be fine. The last advice, be careful what comes out of your mouth! Kids tell on teachers,especially when the parents pay big bucks for the program.
Dirk diggler 7 | 2,971    
16 Jul 2018  #24
albeit the pay probably won't be that terrific in contrast with the States, particularly Germany for instance, doing the same job.

The pay wont even be considered decent by polish standards for a new comer. The only teachers that make somewhat decent money by pl standards are those who have a big network and started like a decade ago and got in early. And even then many tutor on the side to make ends meet. It's nearly impossible to make 10k zloty plus a month which is basically the starting level for 'decent' pay by pl standards as an English teacher especially one just getting in. Maybe those who have a contract with some corps and have a good network but majority of English teachers in Poland make at or below the national average.

Even uni professors don't make ****. I have an aunt and uncle that are both PhDs and both taught for a long time, the wife still teaches. Their german colleagues who are professors make more in a week than the polish professor makes in a month.

It's gotta be a passion - not a job or career for the money. Kind of like the doctors and nurses working at polish hospitals. Overworked and underpaid.
Lyzko 17 | 4,555    
17 Jul 2018  #25
This confirms then what I've long suspected. Maybe this too helps to explain the proverbially low quality of English instruction in Poland.



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