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Some cold, hard facts about teaching in Poland for newbies


OP delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
18 Feb 2011 #31
I wonder about the 20 hours minimum for reputable schools.

You're right to wonder about it - I haven't heard of many people getting a guaranteed 20 hours a week this year at all. But this is something that newbies (to teaching) should be looking for as a safety net - if they come to Poland, then have their hours dropped - they may be in a world of trouble, especially with rent to pay.

Another thing to consider is that some schools insist on long-term teachers opening their own firms (gets around them paying ZUS etc). While this is normal, as i understand it, they are now not allowed to make you sign an exclusivity clause if you have your own firm.

Strictly speaking, if you only issue one invoice a month - then it's illegal too.

I'd personally recommend that newbies stay well away from any such school - usually if they're demanding that, it's a sign of something else being wrong.

Things happen in life unexpectedly, and if either one of us wakes up sick in the morning and can't make the lesson, we just notify each other. The one cardinal rule I have is that if they don't show up for a lesson and haven't notified me, they're no longer my student.

Likewise. I suspect that it depends on just how much competition there is - for me, I've built quite a decent client base through being very flexible with clients (I only ask for 30 minutes cancellation - it takes me 5 minutes to get ready, 5 minutes to walk to the tram stop/car and 15 minutes to drive/ride to my office) and offering them something that language schools won't offer.

I'd say that everyone is different really - but I find that one reason that people want private lessons is because they want the flexibility that it offers, rather than needing to stick to rigid school rules.

One thing that I want to add to this thread

7) Loyalty. There is no such thing as loyalty in Poland. Do not be loyal to the school just because they offered you a job - if they cut your hours, you're free to go elsewhere. I've heard quite a lot of emotional blackmail being used by school directors - and this should be laughed at.

Perhaps I should also revisit the "costs of living" too. There's a guy on Dave's who insists that Poland is unaffordable for teachers. Many threads are polluted with his rants about the cost of living - claiming that a "meal for 2 with wine" will set you back 10% of your monthly salary, claiming that a night out is going to cost you a fortune, etc etc. Pay no notice - Poland is just like any other country - it's as expensive as you want it to be. But do bear in mind that in your own country, you wouldn't be eating in fine restaurants and drinking fine wine as a first year professional - so don't expect to do it on a regular basis in Poland.

Talking about PoznaƄ specifically (and this is an expensive city!) - you can drink in bars during the winter months in the very centre of the city for as little as 6zl for a half litre of beer. Summer is more expensive - but even then, there are plenty of bars offering good beers for 6zl slightly away from the very very centre. Even Browaria, one of the best pubs around, only charges 9zl for a beer that's brewed on the premises.
Trevek 26 | 1,702
19 Feb 2011 #32
Strictly speaking, if you only issue one invoice a month - then it's illegal too.

Interesting, why is that?

I'd personally recommend that newbies stay well away from any such school - usually if they're demanding that, it's a sign of something else being wrong.

Hmmm, my personal experience is different. I found work in 2002 with a local school in Olsztyn. It was/is privately owned (not part of a chain) and they made it clear that at some point I would need to start my own firm. The wages, even then were around 35-40zl a month and I had as much work as I wanted/needed. For most of that time I was working at least 20-24 hours a week.

Another brit who has been working there about 3 years has only just started his firm. I think in my case there were different factors at play: 1) I was/am married to a Pole 2) I was going to be long term in Poland 3) It was pre-EU.

This school has been great and is a very professional place.

Of course, the main drawback is the summer and short months, when it's a case of "no students- no work- no pay". That's when summer schools in UK are handy.
mafketis 35 | 11,501
19 Feb 2011 #33
7) Loyalty. There is no such thing as loyalty in Poland. Do not be loyal to the school just because they offered you a job - if they cut your hours, you're free to go elsewhere. I've heard quite a lot of emotional blackmail being used by school directors - and this should be laughed at.

Very good point. A lot of private schools are slow payers and I've heard stories about those in charge acting like wanted to be paid was an act of personal betrayal. Don't let them get away with that crap!
Kazikowski 17 | 101
24 May 2011 #34
So whats better?...

1) Private Tutoring
* Illegal (No Need to Pay Tax)
* Full Wages (No Brutto, just what you're paid for)
* Flexible Hours (for yourself and clients, you make the schedule)

2) Working for School
* Legal (but have to pay taxes)
* Stable Working Hours

(or does it depend on the City vs the Country?) Actually, I'm sure you'd get the same (roughly) wages in Warsaw to that of Puck. Country doesnt mean worse conditions right?
Seanus 15 | 19,706
24 May 2011 #35
My main advice would be to always bring the school back to honouring the contract as they will often forget what they signed to. Guaranteed minimum hours are often paid lip service. They will cut costs in whatever way they can but don't let them off with excuses which are mere fob-offs.
OP delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
24 May 2011 #36
1) Private Tutoring
* Illegal (No Need to Pay Tax)
* Full Wages (No Brutto, just what you're paid for)
* Flexible Hours (for yourself and clients, you make the schedule)

Of course, you're always at the mercy of "konwersacje" types who will charge 50% less than you because they just want beer money. I don't have much problems with them - but I have my own office.

(or does it depend on the City vs the Country?) Actually, I'm sure you'd get the same (roughly) wages in Warsaw to that of Puck. Country doesnt mean worse conditions right?

There's not a hope in hell of getting the same money in the countryside as in a major city. It will probably be easier to find work in a place of 25,000 people - but the money will be drastically less.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
24 May 2011 #37
You just have to put yourself in the shop window. Building a reputation is key. Pay peanuts and you'll get monkeys ;)
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,883
24 May 2011 #38
Kazikowski wrote:

* Stable Working Hours

in a perfect world. never rely on a school to pay your bills....always have multiple sources of income.
Harry
24 May 2011 #39
Pay peanuts and you'll get monkeys ;)

The reverse is also true: charge peanuts and you'll be treated like a monkey.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
24 May 2011 #40
FUZZY is absolutely right! Without my private students, I'd really have to tighten my belt. In today's freedom of association (within reason) in the EU, why restrict yourself or be restricted? This is a world of consent and screw it if it doesn't harm anyone.
OP delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
24 May 2011 #41
in a perfect world. never rely on a school to pay your bills....always have multiple sources of income.

Relying on a school (even the big, well known ones) to pay you is just nuts, if you ask me. In this entire city, there's only two schools that I'd trust - and I know both directors very, very well. The rest? Not a chance.

You've said it a lot, but it's worth saying again - relying on one school (especially if you're non-EU and without your own business) is asking for a hell of a lot of trouble.

I know at least one school here routinely uses the threat of withdrawing the work permit against their teachers.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
24 May 2011 #42
Yeah, the drive for profits will result in breaches of contract. Newbies, take notice!!
z_darius 14 | 3,968
24 May 2011 #43
3) Private classes.

These can either be easy to obtain or exceptionally difficult. I don't know the magic formula myself - but the golden rule is advertising, advertising and more advertising.

Word of mouth no good in Poland anymore?
Seanus 15 | 19,706
24 May 2011 #44
I think I had that more in mind, Harry ;)

Word of mouth very much works in a lot of places, dariusz
Kazikowski 17 | 101
24 May 2011 #45
Seanus: Pay peanuts and you'll get monkeys ;)
The reverse is also true

Pay Monkey's and you get Peanuts???

There's not a hope in hell of getting the same money in the countryside as in a major city. It will probably be easier to find work in a place of 25,000 people - but the money will be drastically less.

Well then the country seems easier to build a reputation in, less competition, less money but more potential maybe? I mean, you can make up by quantity. Charge 30zl/h working for a full time 40 hours a week over 1 month gets you 4800zl a month. Minus the 800zl tax you pay for just owning a business, minus the tax you pay on all profits (is it 20%??)...will get you 3200zl on hand, which is more than enough for a country or small town living...If you like that sort of thing.

Yeah, the drive for profits will result in breaches of contract. Newbies, take notice!!

I'm planning ahead for when I go to Poland next year. Will have CELTA. I'm more inclinded to offer private tutoring illegally to avoid all the Polish taxes. Is that bad? I mean, you actually have to pay 800zl a month in Poland JUST to have a business of your own PLUS all other taxes, I think its ridiculous compared to Australia. I've heard most businesses in Poland try to cheat the system anyway, so working on the side shouldn't be considered a terrible alternative....And it doesn't have to be for "beer money" or petty cash, I guess it would depend on your going rate and quality of lessons. Am I sounding logical here?
Seanus 15 | 19,706
25 May 2011 #46
I have the CELTA and do private tutoring too. It's NOT bad. They don't dish out medals for honesty here. You don't have to pay 800PLN a month in the first 2 years. ZUS will be about 350PLN for you. I pay 890PLN as I'm beyond that stage. Be sure to gather invoices with stamps for anything you can. I don't pay tax (avoidance, not evasion, so legal) due to that.

You sound very logical. Please feel free to ask anything and I'll do my best to answer.
OP delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
25 May 2011 #47
Well then the country seems easier to build a reputation in, less competition, less money but more potential maybe? I mean, you can make up by quantity. Charge 30zl/h working for a full time 40 hours a week over 1 month gets you 4800zl a month.

Some points :

40 full hours a week isn't going to be sustainable - with private classes, you'll be expected to be on top of your game at all times. As the students won't have any sort of contract or commitment to you - they won't be afraid to walk away if they're not happy. Then there's the all-too-frequent cancellations to contend with, as well as the fact that the vast majority of people will want classes between 4pm and 8pm Monday-Thursday. If you can't provide an invoice, you won't get people during the day - and weekends are not very popular at all.

The logic is sound, but the reality is different - you simply won't be able to keep up that kind of pace.

Social insurance is 360zl a month for the first two years. You'll also need an accountant, which will cost you at least 123zl a month. Tax is 18% up to 85k a year. Don't even bother thinking about doing your own accounts.

will get you 3200zl on hand, which is more than enough for a country or small town living...If you like that sort of thing.

Perhaps. But the reality will be far less - and don't forget, in a small town, reputation will spread fast. If people aren't happy with you, classes will dry up far quicker in a small town.

I'm more inclinded to offer private tutoring illegally to avoid all the Polish taxes.

Do you have the right of residency in Poland? You're not going to get a residence permit if you can't show a clear source of sufficient income.

I mean, you actually have to pay 800zl a month in Poland JUST to have a business of your own PLUS all other taxes, I think its ridiculous compared to Australia. I've heard most businesses in Poland try to cheat the system anyway, so working on the side shouldn't be considered a terrible alternative....And it doesn't have to be for "beer money" or petty cash, I guess it would depend on your going rate and quality of lessons. Am I sounding logical here?

If you're from Australia, you can't start as a self employed person here anyway - that route isn't open to you. You can only set up a limited liability company - which isn't cheap.

There's also the point that you're very, very unlikely to pick up 40 hours a week as a private teacher.

I know one guy in Warsaw who works 7am-9:30pm Monday-Friday. He has around 35-40 hours a week of classes - but also absolutely no life in the process. And that's Warsaw - with his own business - and yet he has to work very unsociable hours.

I can tell you one thing - a lot of people are looking for teachers who can provide an invoice, especially the ones who are willing to pay a bit more.
jamesb - | 7
25 May 2011 #48
Hi guys!

A friend of mine has been in Poland for a couple of years now working for two well-established schools. He has now decided to open his own private English school to complement his small but steady income. However, he says that now he feels that he's afraid of getting his name out there in fear of being found out by the schools that he works for because they might see his as being competition for them.

My friend is a genuine guy and would never steal students from other schools.

Do you think he should just keep quiet, or be honest and just say that he's doing some extra work?
Seanus 15 | 19,706
25 May 2011 #49
Delph made a good point above about loyalty. You must be loyal to them but they don't need to reciprocate by extending any courtesies to you. I'd stay quiet and run the risk. Honesty will not be seen as such in your friend's case. They will be affronted as they want to maximise their incomings.
jamesb - | 7
25 May 2011 #50
To be honest, I think the reason why he's a little apprehensive about the whole thing is the fact that he overheard the manager at one of the schools say something like: "If you want to work here, you've got to tell us exactly where you're working". And something like: "It wouldn't be in our interest to employ you again if you're thinking about opening your own school".

Personally, I agree with you there Seanus- Keep shtum!
Seanus 15 | 19,706
25 May 2011 #51
He made a mistake in opening a school. Private teaching is, IMHO, by far the better option! More discreet, cash in hand and fewer expectations. Not to mention no bureaucratic obligations. He is now stuck between a rock and a hard place. His school will find out in due course.
Trevek 26 | 1,702
25 May 2011 #52
He is now stuck between a rock and a hard place. His school will find out in due course.

I'd agree. This isn't the best time to start a school. Numbers of enrolments are falling across the board and prices are rising.

Another point which we haven't really considered here (for employers and employees) is the quiet period during holidays. The school where I work offers summer courses but the price is cut... as are the teacher's wages. Even those are not always enough to manage on when you still have to pay ZUS and tax.
ukpolska
25 May 2011 #53
These can either be easy to obtain or exceptionally difficult. I don't know the magic formula myself - but the golden rule is advertising, advertising and more advertising

Of course there is another way in this but as your post is directed towards newbies I can agree with what you have written.
One thing though other schools/natives can be terrible territorial and putting your advert up on another persons 'patch' can see the advert mysteriously disappear lol

When I came here 12 years ago I spent a day printing and putting adverts all around Lublin's student town/high street/bus stops anywhere where they would be noticed and the next day almost all of them were gone.

Anyway returning to my 'another way', I haven't advertised for eight years now and have people coming to myself by recommendation, but if you make the lesson interesting and keep the student stimulated then you will within reason quickly build a loyal group of recommender's.

Just thought I would add this link as well that I did a few years ago, not sure if all of the links are still live put it was a useful post with a quite a few people contributing to it.

Teaching resources for English language teachers in Poland
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,883
25 May 2011 #54
delphiandomine wrote:

Social insurance is 360zl a month for the first two years.

which can be very deceiving when you get settled and think all is good with your finances and then the 2 year honeymoon is up and POW, 800zl per month. it's like paying for rent.....twice.
ukpolska
25 May 2011 #55
it's like paying for rent.....twice

Christ alive where do you live for 400pln then a shoebox lol
guesswho 4 | 1,289
25 May 2011 #56
40 full hours a week isn't going to be sustainable - with private classes,

I wonder how many of you (English teachers) actually have the "40 full hours a week"? I remember back in 2003-2007, my dad had about 20 - 30 (max) but the pay was better back then (according to what you say now), he was making between 35-55 an hour (depends on where it was).
pawian 200 | 21,164
25 May 2011 #57
I don`t understand it why people spend such horrendous money drinking beer in bars, instead of buying it in a supermarket and gulping at home.
Seanus 15 | 19,706
25 May 2011 #58
Guesswho, when I combine my privates with my regular school work (teaching hours), it only comes to 27 or 28 typically. You can't leave things in the Lap of the Gods. When I'm not teaching I'm planning, planning and planning some more. As John Lennon said in Beautiful Boy, and I quote for the umpteenth time, "life is what happens to you whilst you're busy making other plans". This is a cold and hard fact IMHO.
guesswho 4 | 1,289
25 May 2011 #59
Guesswho, when I combine my privates with my regular school work (teaching hours), it only comes to 27 or 28 typically.

this is what I thought too. Even back then, it wasn't easy to get the hours together. He worked in Krasnik on Mondays and Tuesdays (they paid there better though) and then he also worked in Lublin too. I do have to say that if we had to really depend just on that money, it would be a struggle but as it was, we used the money to party :-)
Seanus 15 | 19,706
25 May 2011 #60
Privates drop off (that sounds bad, LOL) but you have to roll with it for as long as you can and be flexible. I always have my timetable at the ready for any sudden change of plan on their part. It's often a good idea to get cash for 2 lessons in advance as they feel obliged to come to the 2nd lesson.

Other good advice? Well, be crystal clear about what THEY want. Write it down somewhere and use it as a comeback should they express any dissatisfaction in the future. I work from core textbooks and branch out from there. Recap what they have learned at the start of the next lessons. Building this continuity aspect will hopefully ensure that they see a progression curve and that they are working towards sth. Being too loose will make them grow restless.


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