The BEST Guide to POLAND
Unanswered  |  Archives 
 
 
User: Guest

Home / Work  % width posts: 23

Advice for a worried English stranger / Native speaker who wants to move to Poland


tankacz 3 | 17
13 Jan 2011 #1
I have been looking around the PolishForums.com web site for general information and tips on Polish grammar and I am hoping that you guys won't don't mind me picking you brain on a more general question.

I have family (all polish speaking and older than me) and friends in Torun and am thinking about moving there at the end of July to find work as a 'Native Speaker'.

I have no experience as a teacher but have recently completed a TEFL course in England. I took English 'O' level
at school but that was in 1986 and things seem to have changed a lot since then !
I am in the midst of learning/relearning the basic rules of English grammar and am struggling with the glossary
involved !
Present perfect continuous. I am sure that wasn't in my English 'O' Level. Lol
I am not a grammar nerd (sadly) and am having trouble remembering even the basics. I realize that I will need
to be doing an awful lot of studying if I have a chance of pulling this off. I am finding it difficult to keep interested when the grammatical terms become, in my view, too technical :-)

My plans don't stem from a burning desire to teach English, more from a burning desire to live in Torun.
My Grandfather was born there and after his death I visited Torun and fell in love with it. I have been told by my friends that one of the jobs I would be most likely to get is a job as a 'Native speaker'.

I have been trying to learn Polish for a year or so and am finding it a bit of a challenge. I only found out today that the poles even decline their numbers ! Which gives you an idea of the level that I am at.

I am being taught Polish my a Polish friend of mine via Skype. She is a Maths teacher and describes my level as intermediate. I however think that she is being kind :-)

So, eventually to my question :

Do you think that it is possible/realistic for a 40 years old woman with very rusty English grammar to move to Poland and stand in front of a lot of enquiring minds, whilst hoping to remember my own name and get through the day ? I have gone into totally new realms of employment in the past and held my own. Eventually doing well but on this occasion I am feeling out of my depth. Is there any hope ?

At school I got the usual 'O' levels, took 'A' level Psychology via correspondence and an advanced cert in Counselling (not sure if that is an advantage or a disadvantage) :-)

I have made a few friends on my trips to Torun, most of them Polish Maths and Geography teachers or English native speakers. I am sure they could help me to get a job. My concerns are in being able to do it well.

I am waking up at night fearful of the day I am asked "Why"
Does anyone have any suggestions or tips that might make me sleep easier or am I biting off more than I can chew ?

Many thanks for reading the post of a worried English stranger.
With kind regards :-)
alexw68
13 Jan 2011 #2
Do you think that it is possible/realistic for a 40 years old woman with very rusty English grammar to move to Poland and stand in front of a lot of enquiring minds, whilst hoping to remember my own name and get through the day ? I have gone into totally new realms of employment in the past and held my own. Eventually doing well but on this occasion I am feeling out of my depth. Is there any hope ?

In a word - yes. The rust is easily polished away - and the empathy you clearly have for the place and by extension its people will get you far. Relax about your level of Polish, too. When I first arrived it was all sign language and broken German, I didn't have two words of Polish to rub together. Situations emerge which can change that - as long as you're up for them.

But never mind me. The best support for the above was the 46-year-old owner of my first school who did a bit of a Shirley Valentine - and pretty successfully too.

Very best of luck, A
Harry
13 Jan 2011 #3
Do you think that it is possible/realistic for a 40 years old woman with very rusty English grammar to move to Poland and stand in front of a lot of enquiring minds, whilst hoping to remember my own name and get through the day ?

Yes it is perfectly possible and I have worked with people who were older than you when they started teaching.

The one thing I would suggest is that you do a proper course in teaching English, i.e. either a Cambridge CELTA or a Trinity Cert. TESOL. Other courses are often not worth the paper that they are printed on (some are quite good but most aren't).
Varsovian 92 | 634
13 Jan 2011 #4
As for Harry's advice to get a qualification - yes, but get the job first. I know this sounds strange, but you might not find teaching suits you. You won't really know until you try. A qualification is a good idea generally, but you should be able to find work without it.
Harry
13 Jan 2011 #5
Yes, but the better schools will all insist on one (especially given that the OP isn't, apparently, a graduate).

Even leaving aside the ethical issues of charging people money for a job which you really don't know how to do, a qualification can easily pay for itself in a single year as it means you can get the better paid jobs.
Varsovian 92 | 634
13 Jan 2011 #6
True - I found teaching English in Poland much easier because I was an experienced, qualified language teacher in England. However, some people do react badly to the academic content after 20 years out of education, whereas others can't afford not to work.
Harry
13 Jan 2011 #7
some people do react badly to the academic content after 20 years out of education

To be fair, the academic demands of a CELTA are not that much. The problem is the sheer amount of work that is crammed into those four short weeks!

whereas others can't afford not to work.

And yet other people can't afford to waste their hard earned money on lessons with a teacher who has absolutely no idea how to teach.
Varsovian 92 | 634
13 Jan 2011 #8
True again, but wasters are usually kicked out pretty quick.
Harry
13 Jan 2011 #9
I'm not so much talking about the wasters as the well-intentioned but utterly uninformed, the ones who want to be good teachers and will work in order to be that but have no clue at all about what they're doing. The problem is especially bad if the school in question doesn't have much in the way of a professional development program (which more and more schools don't have).
Trevek 26 | 1,702
13 Jan 2011 #10
I am not a grammar nerd (sadly) and am having trouble remembering even the basics. I realize that I will need
to be doing an awful lot of studying if I have a chance of pulling this off. I am finding it difficult to keep interested when the grammatical terms become, in my view, too technical :-)

You'll need to try and remember these terms because a lot of students know them and will ask you questions using them. I recall the terror of first being asked by a student, "Can you tell me about modal auxiliary verbs, please?"

We're the same generation and I know we never got taught grammar (at least terminology) at school.

Don't worry, it's not that hard to remember these things. Find a book like Heinnemann Grammar, which has simple explanations which you can use (without using te grammar you are trying to explain) and devour that.

Good Luck.

BTW: "Continuous" means a verb using the 'ing' form.
It usually suggests something is/was/will be in process at that moment (past, present and future)
jonni 16 | 2,485
13 Jan 2011 #11
Is there any hope ?

Yes.
You're obviously used to studying and seem to take it seriously, an enormous advantage. The key skill with teaching English isn't an exhaustive knowledge of the terminology and metalanguage, it's an ability to help your students learn - to make sure they leave the classroom with something new that they can use.

You shouldn't feel that a lack of appreciation of grammar is a weak point - in fact the reverse can be true - your students want to understand the meaning of something, not be blinded with jargon. Your role as a teacher is more about getting them speaking.

Harry's advice is good - get a CELTA.
OP tankacz 3 | 17
13 Jan 2011 #12
Thank you so much for your comments. They have been very helpful.
I am not a graduate and I don't think the TEFL course I did was up too much.
It was only a 20 hour course with an optional 80 hours on line.
Some of the people that passed the course I wouldn't have passed, which is
usually an ominous sign.

I believe my intentions are good and my commitment firm but as one of the replies
noted, I so don't want to be ill informed. I'm going to see it though and just try
my best to make it work. I have been invited to the Polish mountains in March as a
'Native Speaker' by my friends school, so that will give me a taster of what I might
face and some pointers on what to work on. The school has also invited me to sit in on
some lessons (English and Polish) to give me an idea of what to expect.

I have some English grammar books that explain the basic concepts quite well. My issue
is with remembering all this 'new' material. I guess I will have to work as hard as I can
and hope to do myself justice :-)

I entered a 'Talent Show' in Torun last year. It took me three months to properly learn, by
heart, the song I sang. That is a month a minute ! Do you see why I am worried. Lol.

The link for it is below if any of you would like to hear it and critique my accent :-)
I was a proffessional singer for ten years but you can't tell from this clip :-0

youtube.com/watch?v=olRfllfJsms
Wroclaw 44 | 5,384
13 Jan 2011 #13
I have some English grammar books that explain the basic concepts quite well. My issue is with remembering all this 'new' material. I guess I will have to work as hard as I can and hope to do myself justice :-)

learn what the student has to learn and nothing more. for the time being that is.

write the rules in a book.

example.

Present continuous: something happening now (i am sitting)
.......................... future arragement (i'm meeting tom next week)
.......................... annoying habit (you are alwaysshouting at me)
.......................... something happening around now, but not at the moment of speaking (i'm reading a good book)

Do the same for other tenses and you'll only cover a few sheets of paper. simples.
OP tankacz 3 | 17
13 Jan 2011 #14
Thank you. So glad you said that. I have the tenses among other things pinned up all around my desk at home and at work. Luckily I have an understanding employer.

I was beginning to wonder if my grammar notes were becoming a little obsessive. Now I am hoping they will serve a purpose :-)
Also in the UK I give singing lessons. Would there be any call for singing lessons (in English) in Poland ?
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
14 Jan 2011 #15
Do you think that it is possible/realistic for a 40 years old woman with very rusty English grammar to move to Poland and stand in front of a lot of enquiring minds, whilst hoping to remember my own name and get through the day ?

Yes. For one simple reason - there are very, very few women in Poland teaching English, and even less who have some decent experience in life. The industry is dominated by male native speakers - which will make you stand out, especially in a place like Torun.

It's worth pointing out that while knowing the grammar is good, many people aren't interested in being taught grammar from a native, but rather connecting with the language itself. You're in a really great situation - you won't be perceived as a "kid" by ageist Poles who feel that age = respect, and you're also very sellable as a female native.

Also - unlike male native teachers, you'll have the great ability to persuade parents to sign up for lessons with you, especially with younger children. You can make a hell of a lot of money from parents of youngish children :)

I entered a 'Talent Show' in Torun last year. It took me three months to properly learn, by heart, the song I sang. That is a month a minute ! Do you see why I am worried. Lol.

The fact that you had the guts to do this tells me that you'll be a great success in Poland. :)

The key skill with teaching English isn't an exhaustive knowledge of the terminology and metalanguage, it's an ability to help your students learn - to make sure they leave the classroom with something new that they can use.

And in all honesty, that's what works for me. I'm not a great grammar teacher (I don't like it, don't have any passion for it) - but I seem to be able to help people learn new things. Everyone is different - you really don't have to be a great grammar teacher in the beginning in order to be a success.
mafketis 29 | 9,959
14 Jan 2011 #16
I pretty much agree with delphiandomine, there aren't so many women native speakers (especially from the UK?).

Your market position isn't going to be with explaining fine points of grammar. Tell students that up front (always be very clear about what you can and cannot do).

Your strength is in helping learners connect with real usage (and not textbook language). You can help ultimately help them sound more natural and idiomatic (and improve their overall communication skills as they can't fall back into Polish as soon as the going gets rough). You might not appreciate just how needed that kind of instruction is, but once you start working you will.

And if you like being around small kids you should be able to get lots of work that way. Again, make it clear you're not giving the kinds of lessons they can get in school but first hand direct experience. You might make a point of collecting materials for fun language games and other ways to keep small children entertained.

Maybe things have changed recently but even though I'm a man when I was still doing private lessons people were constantly trying to get me to teach their kids and I did do some lessons (it could be fun but since the kids knew I knew Polish it was often a chore keeping them on task).

Don't get discourage by the naysayers you have some real strengths (from what you've written). The biggest question has to do with your people skills and adaptability. If those are reasonably functional then you'll do fine.
OP tankacz 3 | 17
14 Jan 2011 #17
Thank you so much for your well thought out comments. It has reassured me somewhat. Always good when you are starting to panic ! I have somewhere to live (rent free) for a while when I arrive. My Polish (maths teacher) friend does a lot of private maths lessons and tells me the parents of her students are often asking about extra lessons in English. I have been offered some hours by her school (but not many) and so I am hoping to build an income gradually.

I will be taking equipment so that I can eventually do some gigs to supplement my income if necessary. A local guitarist, with a lot of musical contacts, has agreed to play for me if required. I will need to learn some gig related vocabulary (what to say in between the songs) and am hoping that will come naturally with time.

I was thinking about advertising 'Conversational English' lessons - one to one - and see where I go from there.
As newbies go, I have quite a bit of support in one way or another and am hoping this will be a new and exiting period in my life.

I will miss my family and friends in England but have somewhere to return to if it doesn't work out. So essentially I have very little to lose. It can just feel a little daunting at times but what is life with out fear :-)
Polcymrounig - | 4
14 Jan 2011 #18
May I suggest that you look up the 'Callan Method' of teaching English which does not require any formal qualifications. So long as you can 'read' English. The majority of people, whatever their native language, were taught to speak by non language qualified people; mums, dads, brothers, sisters, etc. People either strongly deride or support this method and it is really your choice. I taught English in Poland by this method for 4+ years and loved it.

Look up 'Callan Method' in Google and select the sites you need. Between them you will get the information you need including demonstration lessons as they are taught. Your stage experience is probably the most valuable and to prospective employers most attractive.

Callan lists 69 schools in Poland that use this method, there are probably double that number who do not 'pay' Callan the registration fee. The school I taught in used to be registered but not now. They probably don't need to since they are so well established. To my big surprise I could not see one in ToruĊ„.

Good luck, let us know how you get on.

Mike.
OP tankacz 3 | 17
15 Jan 2011 #19
Thank you for that.
I will let you know how I get on :-)
richbeata
18 Jan 2011 #20
Hi.
I am considering the exact same life change and wish to relocate to Krakow with my Polish fiance.I too have no teaching qualifications and left school with an English O level in 1984!My determination to succeed and willingness to totally commit far outweigh my lack of qualifications and I have a positive can-do attitude.Is it really feasible to teach English in Poland without teaching experience or qualifications?Is the 20hr TEFL Course a waste of time?I would appreciate any advice.

many thanks!!

My e-mail is richard.wright@live.co.uk
Harry
18 Jan 2011 #21
Yes a 20 hour TEFL course is a complete waste of time, you'd do better spending the money on books and reading them all twice. If you really want to teach, do a CELTA course.

Krakow is by far the worst place in Poland to teach English: there are loads of people who want to live in Krakow and think that teaching English is the ideal way to get by before they go back to their real lives. This means that wages are low and schools can treat teachers badly because there will always be a new face through the door next week looking for work.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
18 Jan 2011 #22
I am considering the exact same life change and wish to relocate to Krakow with my Polish fiance.

One very simple question you should ask yourself - what do you bring to Krakow that there isn't there already?
Polanglik 11 | 303
4 Mar 2014 #23
there are very, very few women in Poland teaching English, and even less who have some decent experience in life. The industry is dominated by male native speakers - which will make you stand out, especially in a place like Torun

I agree wholeheartedly with Delphs comments - also the fact that you are hoping to stay for a while in Poland, and not be a transient 'native speaker' will help; I know of quite a few friends who are doing 'English conversation with a native speaker' - none of them have completed any TEFL courses and are doing fine.

I'm sure you'll make a success of this - let us all know how you get on - I often visit Poland, mostly Warsaw, and do 'English conversation with a Native Speaker' and have no problems at all. I am 50yrs old guy, graduate & postgraduate studies in Psychology, but no formal qualifications for teaching English as a foreign language; I do speak Polish fluently although it is my second language, which does help a bit - if you want any advice then pm me .

Polanglik


Home / Work / Advice for a worried English stranger / Native speaker who wants to move to Poland
BoldItalic [quote]
 
To post as Guest, enter a temporary username or login and post as a member.