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Doing my course in Krakow, working in EFL in Poland (newbie questions)


leszekekert 1 | 3
21 Nov 2010 #1
Hello,

My situation:
- recent university graduate, Economics with French (!)
- will complete my CELTA soon,
- british native, with a Polish name
- survivable polish. fluent french.
- not much experience, only a few private students in the past, some experience of volunteering in a UK primary school.

As I am doing my course in Kraków, obviously it would make sense for me to find a job there.. my questions are

- How easy is it to find EFL work in Kraków, is it already saturated?
- How good or bad is February for finding work?
- How about other cities, do you know the situation in Poznan, Gdansk, Warsaw, etc?
- Should I go to a satellite or smaller cities instead?
- What is the pay like over there? All I want really is a small flat and enough to eat and maybe go for a weekend drink..

- Are there any notorious schools to avoid?
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
21 Nov 2010 #2
- How easy is it to find EFL work in Kraków, is it already saturated?

Over-saturated.

- How good or bad is February for finding work?

Not particularly good. It's fine if you're already on the ground and known to people, but otherwise, forget it - unless you're fortunate enough to chuck in a CV just as another teacher leaves. It's just not a good time to pick up anything worthwhile.

- How about other cities, do you know the situation in Poznan, Gdansk, Warsaw, etc?

Not quite so over-saturated, but at that time of year, you've got the same problem - the schools have their teachers and timetable in place for the year. If you can be flexible and are willing to work hard in building a timetable, then it might not be so bad. But - to give an example in Poznan - the schools tend to rely on calling up known faces if something comes up.

It also depends on your own financial situation - those who can pick and choose tend to be much better off at this time of the year.

- Should I go to a satellite or smaller cities instead?

Could be an option - native speakers are much more in demand in small cities/towns than in the major cities. They're also much more likely to hire you at a distance than any school in a big city. The other huge benefit is that they're much more likely to allow you to develop - unlike many school directors in big cities who expect perfection straight away.

- What is the pay like over there? All I want really is a small flat and enough to eat and maybe go for a weekend drink..

Count on 2000zl a month as a newbie. Could be lower in small towns, but generally speaking, this is what to aim for. It can go up rapidly (4000-5000zl a month in a big city is easily achievable with a bit of work) - but to begin with, 2000zl a month is realistic.
Bolle 1 | 147
21 Nov 2010 #3
- How easy is it to find EFL work in Kraków, is it already saturated?

I live in wroclaw but i hear from people teaching esl in krakow that the market there is saturated. It's worth a try though.

- How good or bad is February for finding work?

The summer is the best time to look for work. Finding work in February will be tougher.

- How about other cities, do you know the situation in Poznan, Gdansk, Warsaw, etc?

I taught esl in wroclaw for a few years (got out of it this year) and IMO there's still room for esl teachers here.

- Should I go to a satellite or smaller cities instead?

If you can't find work in the bigger cities, then yes try the smaller towns. There are more jobs there for natives speakers but generally speaking smaller towns in poland are not as fun as the larger cities.

- What is the pay like over there? All I want really is a small flat and enough to eat and maybe go for a weekend drink..

Hard to say, but i'd say not more than 3k PLN / month.

- survivable polish.

Knowing some Polish will also make it easier to find work, at least in my experience.
jonni 16 | 2,485
21 Nov 2010 #4
Check out here - it's EFL related and has the answers to your questions.

Hard to say, but i'd say not more than 3k PLN / month.

Rather more in Warsaw, even for someone new, perhaps less in Krakow where the market is saturated with young people and spouses. Poland isn't the best place to come nowadays.
OP leszekekert 1 | 3
22 Nov 2010 #5
Thanks very much for your help, though I have to admit I am a bit surprised by your less than optimistic replies. I wonder if this is a general trend for TEFL in Europe...
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
22 Nov 2010 #6
Poland is becoming just like Western Europe - there can be a lot of money to be had, but you need contacts and experience to get them.
Trevek 26 | 1,702
22 Nov 2010 #7
Thanks very much for your help, though I have to admit I am a bit surprised by your less than optimistic replies. I wonder if this is a general trend for TEFL in Europe...

There is a rather large drop in numbers of students at the moment. The school where I work in Olsztyn is suffering about 10% drop in numbers, and we're the top school. The trend is similar, if not worse, across the board. The demographic situation means that there are less teenagers, less kids taking FCE etc.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
22 Nov 2010 #8
There is a rather large drop in numbers of students at the moment.

What I've noticed is that there's significant dissatisfaction among people with schools in general - I can't help but think that this is directly caused by the Polish DOS obsession with "methodology" at the expense of keeping people happy.

Quite a few of my students have came to me after getting pissed off with language schools not giving them what they want.
Maybe 12 | 409
22 Nov 2010 #9
Think outside the BOX. Teaching is often at best partime. hook yourself up with a company as advertised below. Meet people at work, some of whom you can teach outside of work privately. This way all your taxes and NIP and ZUS will (hopefully) be done by your company and teaching can be extra cash in hand which you must declare (cough).

There are many multilingual call centers in Krakow, It doesn't only have to be teaching.

See the example below


Job for a Student/Graduate in HR department

Our Client, international company with the service center in Krakow, is currently looking for Student/Gradutate to join their HR Department for 6 months contract.

During the 6 months contract you will be supporting the HR team with the peak times when additional resources are needed, specifically in preparation of Certificates of Service. Moreover, you will be preparing reports on HR related data to follow-up necessary actions connected with expiration of work permit, change of address or end of probation period.

Wymagania
4th-5th year student or University degree.
Knowledge and experience in using Microsoft Office tools (e.g. Excel, Word, Outlook).
Very good knowledge of English and French. Knowledge of Italian is a valuable asset.

In addition to that you possess well developed communication skills as well as writing skills coupled with the resilience to cope with challenges.

Korzyści
Our Client is offering opportunity to work in international environment, gain knowledge of IT systems and applications.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
22 Nov 2010 #10
Very good knowledge of English and French. Knowledge of Italian is a valuable asset.

One problem - native speakers of English tend to have **** language skills.
Maybe 12 | 409
22 Nov 2010 #11
Oh I see and on what do you base that generalization?

My situation:
- recent university graduate, Economics with French (!)
- will complete my CELTA soon,
- british native, with a Polish name
- survivable polish. fluent french.

Leszakekert go for it. a well presented CV, in Three languages English, French and Polish.
Accentuate the Economics side of your CV. Be bold, because you have nothing to lose if you don't get the job you learn from the experience.

To all the nay sayers, shame on you.
Bolle 1 | 147
22 Nov 2010 #12
Thanks very much for your help, though I have to admit I am a bit surprised by your less than optimistic replies. I wonder if this is a general trend for TEFL in Europe...

Well you have to be aware that it will not be easy, but not too difficult. You just have to try because you may have a hidden skill for teaching - that's all it takes to get a teaching job in PL (or anywhere really). If you take your job seriously and don;t drink like there's no tomorrow (like many esl teachers do unfortunately) then you won't have to worry about being unemployed.

You also have to be aware of delphiandomine as he tends to put ESL teaching on a pedestal. He thinks its some kind of elite job that puts one into a superior position in society. He might also be trying to discourage more people from entering the "profession" to limit competition.

Finding esl teaching jobs in asia is much easier FYI.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
23 Nov 2010 #13
You also have to be aware of delphiandomine as he tends to put ESL teaching on a pedestal. He thinks its some kind of elite job that puts one into a superior position in society. He might also be trying to discourage more people from entering the "profession" to limit competition.

Er...it's really not an elite job at all. It can pay well by Polish standards (comparing to mid 20's Poles), but given the lack of "good" ESL jobs in Poland, it really doesn't do much for one's career.

As for competition - no sweat off my back, I don't work in-school for anyone. Most of my clients are with me because I offer stability, so really, not the same market at all. In fact, the biggest threat to most ESL teachers in Poland is from useless American "native speakers" who only want beer money while they study medicine or similar.

But the ESL market in Poland isn't a land of milk and honey either - I've heard quite a few stories this year of schools cutting natives hours. In fact, I know some very experienced teachers who are teaching Callan/other "methods" this year - why, I don't know and don't understand, but it's certainly the case.

The best advice I could give a newbie teacher is wait until September and find something stable for a year, preferably in a smaller town - because they might throw accomodation in.
OP leszekekert 1 | 3
23 Nov 2010 #14
@delphiandomine - yes, English natives are known for having poor language skills. But I am a language student and it has been a very important part of my life to date. I've been pouring over English grammar books for years. And teaching is something that I have always enjoyed. I'd like to do it for a career, not for an excuse to go on holiday.

@maybe - Thank you for the advice and for the encouragement. I also have to say that I really like your idea. It never really occurred to me of working PT for two industries at once. But you make a very decent point and such jobs looking quite attractive. Did you just quickly type that into Google, or is this from some specialist site for graduates?

@ bolle and everyone else - from what you say, it seems like this, "you can do it if you really want to - don't expect it to be a party and for people to run after you - but if you really want it you can get it, and enjoy doing it." - right?
Bolle 1 | 147
23 Nov 2010 #15
In fact, the biggest threat to most ESL teachers in Poland is from useless American "native speakers" who only want beer money while they study medicine or similar.

What about brits in their 20s who come to poland to teach english for beer money and to bang polish women??? They are better for esl teachers than "useless" american med students?

Another example of you being an american hater.

@ bolle and everyone else - from what you say, it seems like this, "you can do it if you really want to - don't expect it to be a party and for people to run after you - but if you really want it you can get it, and enjoy doing it." - right?

Yes.

You might also get lucky and land some french lessons (school or private). French isnt really popular but i've met some people learning it for fun.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
23 Nov 2010 #16
What about brits in their 20s who come to poland to teach english for beer money and to bang polish women??? They are better for esl teachers than "useless" american med students?

At least the Brits know the language - and furthermore, they rely on the teaching money to live, so despite being drunkards, they at least perform in the classroom.
motylek 2 | 15
23 Nov 2010 #17
Which medical school do these evil Americans attend that they have time to be ruining the ESL industry? ESL teacher is not exactly an activity that looks good on a CV as something you did during your free time in medical school.
Bolle 1 | 147
23 Nov 2010 #18
At least the Brits know the language

So do americans. Aside from differences in accents (which not only vary within the US but also in the UK) and a few barely noticeable differences in grammar/spelling, the languages are basically the same. US english is more common around the world thanks to (unfortunately) hollywood/US pop culture.

they rely on the teaching money to live, so despite being drunkards, they at least perform in the classroom.

And americans are all millionaires that come to poland and teach just for shits and giggles because they don't need money to live?? Show me some proof that brits are more reliable teachers?? That's like saying white people are better employees than blacks - which is BS.

You are one hateful and grumpy brit, you know that?
lowfunk99 10 | 397
23 Nov 2010 #19
In fact, the biggest threat to most ESL teachers in Poland is from useless American "native speakers" who only want beer money while they study medicine or similar.

I don't drink or study medicine. :-p
jonni 16 | 2,485
23 Nov 2010 #20
I wonder if this is a general trend for TEFL in Europe...

It is indeed.

What about brits in their 20s who come to poland to teach english for beer money and to bang polish women???

That all ground to a halt a few years ago when the market changed. Maybe a few in the provinces.

In fact, the biggest threat to most ESL teachers in Poland is from useless American "native speakers" who only want beer money while they study medicine or similar.

A bigger threat is Americans who actually pay to come here on some sort of programme (which they spell 'program'. Having said that, some of the real teachers who've come from the US can be very good.

The biggest threat is from people who've met and married a Polish spouse in UK or Ireland, come to Poland, and need some work without much knowledge of the Polish language (or English grammar, teaching methodology, heuristics etc). They are often desperate for work (or are renting out their property back home and don't need to earn much), are easy prey for cheapskate language school owners, and saturate the bottom end of the market.
FUZZYWICKETS 8 | 1,883
23 Nov 2010 #21
Delph wrote:

At least the Brits know the language

what an incredibly ignorant statement. are you honestly prepared to stand by that discourse that brits simply "know the language" better than americans and that "they at least perform in the classroom", suggesting that americans simply make lousy teachers? hey, what about that backwash chopped up gobbley gook english that comes out of scotland? think that's what the EFL world looks up to? i've heard some insanely bad english come out of the irish as well and without question more of the like exists throughout that entire big island out there.....yes, even in england.

you know delph, the longer you're on this forum, the nastier and sloppier (and more anti-american) your arguments get. i guess your beloved poland is starting to really chap your ass. you're at the 2 year mark, it's the natural progression for expats in poland. honeymoon is over.

bolle wrote:

Another example of you being an american hater.

yeah. it's blatant. par for the course for this guy. you honestly have a serious America complex. honestly delph, get a grip.
PolishNutjob 1 | 74
23 Nov 2010 #22
At least the Brits know the language - and furthermore, they rely on the teaching money to live, so despite being drunkards, they at least perform in the classroom.

Not so.

Admittedly, many of these Brits are in fact pathological drunkards. This is a condition which is also augmented by an astonishingly vapid moral framework. They will cheat their way through a CELTA course, for example, and, should they con a non-discerning DOS to hire them, they will tend to use time-tested British shortcuts such as the infamous 2 minute lesson plan concocted, in telltale British fashion, during the 2 minutes before the lesson is about to start.

These factors, coupled with sloppy pronunciation and the inferior British educational system, tend to make the Brits a sad, sad linguistic (not to mention social) paradigm for the diligent, industrious Polish students.
Bolle 1 | 147
23 Nov 2010 #23
programme (which they spell 'program'

Oh my god, what a huge difference! Those 2 extra letters really threw me off! /sarcasm

The biggest threat is from people who've met and married a Polish spouse in UK or Ireland, come to Poland, and need some work without much knowledge of the Polish language (or English grammar, teaching methodology, heuristics etc). They are often desperate for work (or are renting out their property back home and don't need to earn much), are easy prey for cheapskate language school owners, and saturate the bottom end of the market.

There, finally an intelligent post. Applies to any anglophone really, not just the brits/irish.

Too bad Delphi is incapable of coming up with such a post because it doesn't attack americans.
Harry
23 Nov 2010 #24
They will cheat their way through a CELTA course,

Perhaps you can explain how it is possible to do that?

Interestingly, all the people I have met who had forged CELTAs were Americans.
Bolle 1 | 147
23 Nov 2010 #25
Perhaps you can explain how it is possible to do that?

I've met several brits over the years who got their hands on lesson plans / other material from celta instructors they knew back in the UK. British celta students are also favoured when celta instructors are british nationals. I can only imagine how many brits have forged celta certificates...
jonni 16 | 2,485
23 Nov 2010 #26
I can only imagine how many brits have forged celta certificates...

I've come across it once, and he lasted a couple of weeks in the classroom before being fired and deported (not from Poland). They're actually not so easy to forge nowadays, and it's worth mentioning that they never issue duplicates if one is lost.
demonsqueaker - | 8
23 Nov 2010 #27
Warsaw is terrible at the moment for native speakers... unless you can teach technical English, you'll struggle. A lot of 'schools' advertise they need teachers and have guaranteed work - but it's only the odd hour here and there (definitely not enough to live on and usually in the evenings or weekends). However, a lot of large companies (TP, Cyfra, etc) are desperate for English speaking staff for their helplines - but this only pays 12zł ph and you are normally expected to work the full 48 hrs/wk.

Smaller towns are slightly better for jobs - and most provide accomodation as part of the deal, but you must be careful. A lot of private language schools don't register their native speakers, leaving you with little comeback when there's a problem - in my case, the owner decided that he couldn't be bothered to pay the wages he owed from a summer and then played the victim when we all walked out (he tried to deny I'd worked there - even though I taught the town mayor and 3 workers from the local tax office; then he claimed I was in breach of contract - despite having admitted he'd never given me one so he could avoid paying ZUS!) and the next was just as bad.

On the plus side - IF you can get your foot in the door and are good at what you do then you will get steady work... eventually.

The other important thing to remember is you are likely to have no income for 3 months over the summer - you're likely to be employed as a contractor so they can avoid paying holiday pay during the long summer break.

Of course, if you have a full degree on top of any EFL qualifiacation you can apply for work in a state school - but they normally want people to start in September and are usually only looking for temporary staff after that to cover maternity leave at other times.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
23 Nov 2010 #28
A lot of 'schools' advertise they need teachers and have guaranteed work - but it's only the odd hour here and there (definitely not enough to live on and usually in the evenings or weekends).

Yep, I've been taking advantage of this at the minute. It's the great thing about having your own business - you can pick and choose contracts and hours, rather than relying on a school to give you enough hours. I've more or less managed to set it up so that my mornings are taken up with corporate work, and afternoons/early evenings are taken up by private students. It means that I don't have any late nights (last class finishes at 7:30pm, and that's only one day a week) - but does unfortunately mean a lot of early mornings. Still, not finishing at 9pm regularly is a blessing.

The nice thing about this is that it also leaves me time for personal interests - by loading my timetable Monday-Wednesday, I have effectively Thursday-Sunday free for my own things. But this took a hell of a lot of work to put together!

Personally, I'd be loathe to trust any school that offers "full time" work to a native speaker. Even reputable schools won't think twice before cutting your hours - the native teacher is always going to end up worse off. About the only exception to this would be where they're offering a set salary - in this case, the wage per hour is likely to be rubbish, but it offers some sort of stability. But then again - I wouldn't call Poland "stable".

Incidentally, for what it's worth - Poles don't seem to have a strong preference for British or American English. Individually, they do - but as a nation, there's room for both nationalities :)
DarrenM 1 | 77
23 Nov 2010 #29
I've been pouring over English grammar books for years.

Poring not Pouring ;o)
delphiandomine 88 | 18,455
23 Nov 2010 #30
Now now, what if he was pouring water over them? :P

Hmm - quick question to other people - will his Polish name help or hinder him?


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