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First English teaching job in Poland (Katowice)


daytona0 3 | 10
13 Jul 2015 #1
Hey all,

I've just recently got a 1 year teaching contract with a private language school over in Poland, which is about a 1 hour drive away from Katowice (to mention no names!). It will be the first time I've been to Poland for longer than a few days and I'm just curious as to what I should be expecting. The school have provided the contract, and everything looks legitimate in that respect (I'm leaving a full time job in the UK). They are paying 1800 a month and the accommodation is included (this seems quite low, but I've got plenty of savings too).

I've just got a few questions for people who may have taught English in private language schools:

- In smaller towns, are there many amenities (there is a gym, which I'll be signing up for, but are there cinemas/bars/restaurants?)

- What is the public transport like from small towns to Katowice? Do they have buses? The train network any good?

- What sort of lifestyle can you have out in a small town with 1800 a month? Is it going to be back to the old student days?

- Will there be many English speakers, other than at the school? Would it be ideal to pre-learn some Polish?

- What are the students/staff generally like?

- Is there much to do in Katowice? Is there an expat community?

Cheers all,

John
Lyzko 34 | 8,321
13 Jul 2015 #2
Witam, Janku! Welcome to PF, John!

I for one wish to congratulate you on your attempt to teach English in Poland. Moreover, with your clear enthusiasm, I think you'll do well, only I hope you know at least enough Polish to communicate on a basic level in class:-) I also taught in Europe, but in Germany. Before I left, my colleagues from the BRD Consulate told me that German was not a necessity, that most everyone, students and staff, spoke "enough English"LOL

Boy, were they ever wrong!

I recommend scoping out the type of school district in which you'll be teaching before you start. Be prepared too for some negotiating prior to beginning, particularly as an American visitor.
Dougpol1 32 | 2,673
13 Jul 2015 #3
Hi

Train to Katowice OK. Night trains home too. I can guess where you are going to work (lived in Kato, PM me if you like). Small towns of less than 25,000 peeps are dead after 10 PM - murder if you are young.

Summers you will love, the best tennis courts in Poland; winters you wont like after the first exciting snowfalls. Unless you ski? Other Katowiceans will be along shortly, such as Smurf.

There are certain dos and donts - such as ONLY acquiesce to talk to Polish bill when sober. I leave it to the young 'uns to point you in the right direction.

particularly as an American visitor.

What makes you think John is American? He clearly isn't :)
Lyzko 34 | 8,321
13 Jul 2015 #4
I know many Yanks who've gone abroad of late, CELTA's in hand, and headed proudly for Poland!

Sorry there, mates! Yepski, Johnny O's true Brit (and true Yorkshire too, I'll bet)
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
14 Jul 2015 #5
They are paying 1800 a month

Ouch. They're making a killing on you.
DominicB - | 2,709
14 Jul 2015 #6
this seems quite low

Well, that's because it is quite low. If this were a volunteer or charity project, I'd say go for it. But why in God's name would you want to line the pockets of the owners of a private school at your own expense? Doesn't make much sense, does it?
Davey000004
14 Jul 2015 #7
I'm in the same boat moving to Katowice in September...I've been to Poland twice, once for a month and once for 9 days but I am super excited/nervous of what is to come
OP daytona0 3 | 10
14 Jul 2015 #8
@ DominicB

Well, many places in EU ask for at least 1 years experience and I didn't fancy going to China. Also, I'm giving up a fairly well paid job for this so I don't really care about the money. This job will give me valuable experience, and the money is enough to live on. I've got a nice buffer with savings, but 300 gbp (1800 pln) is plenty if you live a student life. I suppose I consider this as a "charity project, with some remuneration" :)

@ Lyzko

Close! I'm actually from Liverpool, so expect quite a few Polish speaking in a scouse accent come next year :D
jon357 71 | 20,379
14 Jul 2015 #9
In smaller towns, are there many amenities (there is a gym, which I'll be signing up for, but are there cinemas/bars/restaurants?)

Restaurants after a fashion. Bars likewise, cinemas usually no. If it's Bielsko Biala (lots of EFL jobs there for some reason) there are cinemas and a few decent places to eat. Bars in Poland aren't usually chatty though - people go out in small groups and sit in a huddle avoiding strangers.

- What is the public transport like from small towns to Katowice? Do they have buses? The train network any good?

Usually OK. Trains best, but if you PM me, I can tell you more.

- What sort of lifestyle can you have out in a small town with 1800 a month? Is it going to be back to the old student days?

If accommodation is included you can live reasonably well (and in fact better than most people out in the sticks) - certainly not back to student days. Don't expect to save though, although you WILL be approached for private lessons which will give you a bit more.

- Will there be many English speakers, other than at the school? Would it be ideal to pre-learn some Polish?

Very few English speakers and most of them older and probably rather posh, or young people. Learn the numbers and memorise some phrases before you come and (this is most important) use those phrases from day one and don't be afraid to make terrible mistakes (as Poles speaking English ALWAYS do) - this is how to learn.

- What are the students/staff generally like?

Anybody's guess, however if it really is a small town, probably lacking in life experiences (though since they're paying for English lessons, these will be the better off. Not always nice, but you may be lucky. As for the staff, who knows?

- Is there much to do in Katowice? Is there an expat community?

Yes and yes. A big industrial conurbation. Some nice bars in the pre-war bits up the hill behind the station. Not exactly a party city though.
smurf 39 | 1,981
14 Jul 2015 #10
They are paying 1800 a month

Are you crazy? That's terrible money. Like, really, really, really bad. Even with paid accommodation. It's minimum wage.

In smaller towns, are there many amenities

Would need to know the name of the town.

What sort of lifestyle can you have out in a small town with 1800 a month? Is it going to be back to the old student days?

Yea, you'll be dirt poor on that money.

Will there be many English speakers, other than at the school? Would it be ideal to pre-learn some Polish?

I live in Kato and anywhere that's an hour away is usually some backwater. You'll probably be the only foreigner, so get learning the lingo.

What are the students/staff generally like?

A mix, some students will want to learn, some will only be there coz their parents sent them. Staff, well most will be welcoming and cool, the odd loser will be jealous of you getting 'their' extra hours, but it's the same politics everywhere, no different than back home.

Is there much to do in Katowice? Is there an expat community?

Yea, when the weather's good it's a great place to live, grim as f*ck in the winter. There's a few of us immigrants (I refuse to call myself an expat - such a nasty word), there's a fair few English teachers, then plenty of Germans & Italians working 'proper' jobs. But you might find it hard to travel into and out of Kato at night after a few pints. Is there a bus that runs at night?

But man, seriously though, that money. I wouldn't come next nor need to Poland for that. It's pittance. You'll survive, that's about it.Sorry to burst any bubbles. But trust me, I've been there and have been ripped off by schools in the past. You'd need at least double that to be any way comfortable.

Not exactly a party city though.

You've not been in a while so. There's a whole street dedicated to pubs and restaurants now.
Dougpol1 32 | 2,673
14 Jul 2015 #11
Yes - and we know it's a slum street called Mariacka. Fine if you like streets smelling of **** from all the drunks and hobos.

Avoid.
DominicB - | 2,709
14 Jul 2015 #12
I suppose I consider this as a "charity project, with some remuneration" :)

You're delusional if you consider working for a private business for mere peanuts a "charity project". "Getting ripped off in a major way" is much closer to the mark. If you don't care about the money, you should care about your self-respect.

Sorry, but who in their right mind would work for a private enterprise that pays such a rotten salary? Like I said, if it were truly a charity project (and this is as far from a charity project as you can possibly get), I would say go for it. But this is a truly lousy deal.

Also, if this is, as I suspect, a Callan method, Direct Method, Avalon or Berlitz school, working there is not going to do anything much to enhance your resume. Many real schools do not consider working for these inferior "schools" as relevant experience.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
14 Jul 2015 #13
Well, many places in EU ask for at least 1 years experience and I didn't fancy going to China.

Jesus, if you're willing to work for that, send me a PM - I could probably get my boss to give you a job based on that salary, and the conditions will be ten million times better than in some horrid language factory an hour away from Katowice.

Can you tell us the town? I have a feeling that I know who the employer is based on the conditions...
jon357 71 | 20,379
14 Jul 2015 #14
Providing he gets a flat and not just a room in a shared flat, 1800 is about what would be left from a language school out in the sticks.

But yes, there are much better options in Poland and elsewhere. Even in Katowice.

I get the impression from his original post that he's an EFL newby - in which case International House 9the South West Poland franchise holder) has a decent reputation and do fairly decent career development (essential really unless he just wants to pick up bad habits from the start). Not a great payer either, but decent on the CV.

A 'method' school, no. Just no.

The company I worked for sometimes used to send people to factory contracts in these little towns. They generally cleared up on private lessons since there were no other teachers for miles around and frankly there wasn't anything else to do...
InPolska 11 | 1,821
14 Jul 2015 #15
1,800 ZL, gross or clear? Even gross and even with accommodation provided (what type of accommodation, most probably not a castle;)), it is very little. Sure in those one-horse dumps 1 hour from Kce, it's cheaper but as there is nothing to do (besides going to ... Church ;)), to see, need to to travel back and forth to go to Kce all the time. With this kind of money, need to count each grosz and what about (dental and other ..) emergencies? No way to sightsee around Poland.

Sorry but accepting to work for peanuts hurts fellow workers. If someone can do work for 1,800 + a lousy communist furnished kawakerka in rundown area full of alcoholics, why hiring others with better salaries and conditions?

Also, to work for peanuts show low esteem or total despair so nothing to brag about!
smurf 39 | 1,981
14 Jul 2015 #16
Yes - and we know it's a slum street called Mariacka. Fine if you like streets smelling of **** from all the drunks and hobos.

Avoid.

Doug being negative. There's a surprise!
Saying that Mariacka is a slum full of drunks and hobos just goes to show that you've not been there in ages.
Christ, the square in Krakow has far more drunks and hobos.
But yea, go ahead, be negative and make sweeping generalisations.

OP, you need to go back to this employer, or slave owner, whatever he's calling himself and demand at least 60zl per hour.
50-60zl per hour is the going rate for beginner teachers in Kato.

The fact that you'll be teaching an hour outside the city means they're probably desperate for you to work there, since they'll be able to charge their students more thanks to them having a native speaker there. You should ask for even more. Or just get a job in Katowice city, or the other cities around it....not Chorzow or Myslowice though, those places are f*ckin hellholes.
InPolska 11 | 1,821
14 Jul 2015 #17
"Slave driver"! Probably what he is.

1,800 ZL, gross or clear and for how many hours? Not only there is the teaching per se but also time needed to prepare lessons and also to do redtape (some schools are very bureaucratic and demand alot from teachers).

Basically: slavery in a sh@@@hole!

I bet the slave driver cannot find anybody to work for him.
Harry
14 Jul 2015 #18
- In smaller towns, are there many amenities (there is a gym, which I'll be signing up for, but are there cinemas/bars/restaurants?)

That depends how small the town is. There will certainly be bars (and you will certainly want to avoid some of them during the evenings) but the restaurant choice may well be limited to 'pizza' and/or kebap [sic] places.

What is the public transport like from small towns to Katowice? Do they have buses? The train network any good?

Depends on how small the town is and which town it is. If you're stuck with buses, the last one in the evening isn't going to be very late.

- What sort of lifestyle can you have out in a small town with 1800 a month? Is it going to be back to the old student days?

A bit better than student days but not much. If you factor in 1000zl a month for food, personal items, household products, internet and phone, clothes, medical expenses, etc, that leaves you 800zl a month for entertainment and travel. Sorry but 800zl is the price of a damn good meal for two.

- Will there be many English speakers, other than at the school? Would it be ideal to pre-learn some Polish?

Probably not. Start learning Polish now.

They are paying 1800 a month and the accommodation is included (this seems quite low, but I've got plenty of savings too).

That is laughably low. You might be treating this as a semi-charity venture, but your employer won't be.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
14 Jul 2015 #19
I can tell you that schools in smaller towns are probably even more profitable than in larger places. Rent is laughably cheap in such places, while the price of lessons isn't lower.
Dougpol1 32 | 2,673
14 Jul 2015 #20
Saying that Mariacka is a slum full of drunks and hobos just goes to show that you've not been there in ages.

:) I must admit I used to go on a gig there on Saturday mornings, after the goings on the night before............... it sure does stink of a morning!

And it ain't pretty Smurf :) The buildings should be condemned, and in Ireland they would be.
DominicB - | 2,709
14 Jul 2015 #21
I can tell you that schools in smaller towns are probably even more profitable than in larger places. Rent is laughably cheap in such places, while the price of lessons isn't lower.

Agree. If anything, the price of lessons is higher than in Warsaw, Kraków and Wrocław, which are crawling with British and Irish backpackers, slackers and horny alcoholics giving lessons for as low as 20 PLN, and sometimes only the price of beer.
jon357 71 | 20,379
14 Jul 2015 #22
which are crawling with British and Irish backpackers, slackers and horny alcoholics giving lessons for as low as 20 PLN,

I've only met one person who fits those categories and he was Canadian or American or something similar. Polish name and spoke some of the language after a fashion. People like that can offer lessons, sometimes get them but can rarely keep them.

In smaller towns though, although a teacher can't usually charge as much, they have less competition - I know someone (British, and a first class teacher) who absolutely cleared up in one. In larger towns, provided they take only adult pupils, they find that they're teaching someone who has had lessons before, both good and bad.

In Katowice the OP would find this - a lot of adults there have had a lot of lessons before, in this smaller town, chances are that he won't.

If the OP would like to email me, I'd be happy to point him towards an at least half decent school that's good for a new teacher.

BTW, how many hours teaching per week do they expect for the money?
OP daytona0 3 | 10
14 Jul 2015 #23
Thanks all, some interesting information there!

I've been applying for numerous jobs over the past few months, and got some interest from various schools in the EU. They were all unwilling to negotiate the wages, and the larger schools (IH etc) didn't get back to me. Understandable when I wasn't located in the country, and only had a TESOL. I also tried France/Germany (my ideal countries) but they need experience (I have business experience, but not teaching, so that is the future goal). So I have come to accept that my need for experience outweighs my need to be paid a decent wage. It may devalue the market, but on the other hand I do suspect that everyone who has made that point is in a much stronger position than me employment-wise (being in Poland, having more experience) and this is the only way I can get my foot in the door. Come 12 months I'll either be re-training in a non teaching role, or I'll be working in a much better school. Simple as!

To question my esteem or "despair" is a bit weird, though, because if I'm being completely honest my three options at this time in my life comprises of;

1. Stay in a dead end job
2. Volunteer in UK for an IT-based company, to get my foot in the door
3. Go abroad, learn new skills and enhance my CV (ie "I went to Poland, successfully taught in a school and learnt some Polish along the way") by working in a low paid job.

I'm a young professional with no desire to be a backpacker, slack or drink copious amounts of alcohol! Also, there is little difference (initially) between options 2 + 3 :D
DominicB - | 2,709
14 Jul 2015 #24
Your being completely delusional if you think those are the only three options available to you. And that this job in Poland is going to open up doors for you. It probably won't, especially if it's at a method school.

Your best options are either to find a much more rewarding job in the UK or a richer country than Poland, and/or to reschool, retrain or otherwise beef up truly salable qualifications in the UK.

this is the only way I can get my foot in the door.

Sorry, but that's just crazy talk. You seem to be acting out of sheer desperation and aren't thinking straight at all.

And the idea of working for slave wages for a private business is just plain icky. And referring to it as a "charity project" is downright loathsome. It's simply wrong on so many levels, from practical to ethical. There is ZERO charity involved in working for a private business, as well there shouldn't be.

Sorry, but I think you have to have some serious talks with some seriously qualified responsible adults with abundant serious experience in career counseling. You're thinking with blinders on, and can't see that you are in a mental trap.
InPolska 11 | 1,821
14 Jul 2015 #25
@Dayton: have you considered countries like Turkey (just to mention nearby places)? There are a lot of language (not only English) teaching jobs there and you can expect 1,500 euros (not ZL). I don't know about the other conditions but they'll be far better than what you can expect in Poland. Suppose you can get a job in Istanbul, believe me, you'll have more fun than in the sh###hole you are considering (you may be as bored as a dead rat).
jon357 71 | 20,379
14 Jul 2015 #26
This is heading away from Poland so I'll PM you Daytona.

he larger schools (IH etc) didn't get back to me.

Just a quickie - if you want work at IH in Poland don't apply centrally to them in London; they are a pain to deal with and yes ignore you in favour of people who did the CELTA with them. It's better to contact the franchisees directly. There are several in Poland including in Silesia, and the biggest franchisee there has a good reputation.

I do suspect that everyone who has made that point is in a much stronger position than me employment-wise (being in Poland, having more experience) and this is the only way I can get my foot in the door. Come 12 months I'll either be re-training in a non teaching role, or I'll be working in a much better school. Simple as!

Spot on - you should do fine. Have a look at the two websites I mentioned in the PM. Remember also that recruitment (this is certainly true in Poland and also in some other places) can often be last minute when a school or training company knows its requirements.
Dougpol1 32 | 2,673
14 Jul 2015 #27
more fun than in the sh###hole you are considering

InPolska:

John is a young chap.

The ladies are just fine.
The beer is cold.
The tennis is the best to be had in the whole of Poland.
The mountains are very pleasant.
He can ride his bike in cracking forests and get lost. Intentionally.
He will meet interesting people and teach bored desperate housewives (see first point)

Only joking with the stupid sexist stuff, but I can think of worse ways to spend a few months/couple of years (Crow's for instance in his pariah State).

International House..........who did the CELTA with them

They insist on a B Jon - or did. I managed to tolerate 4 weeks of my group/ or rather they barely tolerated 4 weeks of me - and I was grudgingly awarded a C for my 800 quid. Plus IH are intolerable young snobs on the whole, don't you find, what? It takes one to know one though, doesn't it?

It does though take the teaching of question tags to a higher, more authentic level :)

No seriously - I couldn't stand all IH's weekly meeting mumbo jumbo and all the report filling. Almost makes one prefer Profi-Lingua...............

Or not :)

Both at opposite ends of the spectrum. Glad to have got away from all that commendable TEFL career stuff and just plodding :) Anyway, no English/TEFL degree or Delta, no real future in that game.
OP daytona0 3 | 10
14 Jul 2015 #28
....

One day I'll be dead and I won't regret taking this opportunity, irrespective of the seemingly infinite cons there are! That isn't to say that I don't understand everything you are saying, but ultimately it is my life and my decision to make.

Thank you all for the insight into Poland, and what I'd be expecting. The posts are really informative!
DominicB - | 2,709
14 Jul 2015 #29
but ultimately it is my life and my decision to make.

Knock yourself out! I wish you luck!
smurf 39 | 1,981
15 Jul 2015 #30
Something that hasn't been asked OP,
Will the school be paying your social and health insurance payments?
They amount to about 400zl per month I think.
Without them you're likely to get kicked out of a hospital should you need treatment.


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