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Native English looking for a teaching job in Poland

Ray20607 1 | 6
10 Nov 2017 #1
Good evening guys!

I am interested in working as a Tefl teacher in Poland, maybe Poznan. I have friends staying there, I was thing that residing in Poznan will be perfect to start with.

A few concerns though, I have not been teaching for some time, will this be problem? I'm South African and I have been to Poland a few times already. I am excited typing this out, as I feel Poland, has always been a 2nd home to me.

Do I necessarily have to be in direct contact with a potential school. Can I not take, an enormous amount of risk and take my chances while I'm in Poland to look for a job? I was thinking of traveling early 2018, any advice would be much appreciated.

Dzienkuje bardzo ­čśü
DominicB - | 2,707
10 Nov 2017 #2

Unless you are very special indeed, extremely few schools are going to go through the trouble of hiring a non-EU national on a real work contract and getting a work permit for them. It's a lot less hassle to hire someone from the UK or Ireland, or one of the non-EU nationals already living in Poland. Or hire a Polish non-native speaker instead.

Sorry, but the ship for teaching TEFL for green non-EU nationals sailed long ago, not only in Poland, but just about anywhere in Europe.

You might find a school in some small town far off of the beaten track in Eastern Poland that is so desperate for a native speaker that they might be willing to go through the hassle for you, but practically any school in a city.

Also, native speakers from any country are not in demand as they were fifteen years ago. Wages have stagnated while the cost of living has increased. Like I said, that ship has sailed. Certainly for non-EU nationals.
SigSauer 4 | 378
10 Nov 2017 #3
I knew people in Ukraine who made about...... I guess $1,200/month, and the cost of living is probably 1/3 that of Poland. You could also try Belorussia, since they liberalized their visa regime, you can at least go there and check it out. You'd not be able to go to Russia without an invitation and a visa.
kaprys 3 | 2,181
11 Nov 2017 #4
Keep in mind most courses start in September/October. So even if you get a job, you won't get that many hours.
You may try contacting some language schools online just to check if they'd be interested in hiring a non-EU national.
Finally, as far as I know most language schools pay peanuts.
SigSauer 4 | 378
11 Nov 2017 #5

Teaching ESL is not really a career, its for backpackers on their gap year.
Lyzko 42 | 9,507
11 Nov 2017 #6
That's unfortunately how it's often treated! Then again, what makes university native-English teaching, for that matter, accounting, history or even medicine, any more "real" fields than ESL?

Someone who's a native speaker of English has to teach it to millions of Europeans, Asians, and others, way too often relegated to non-native English teachers with fewer skills other than a big top, a nice manner, but little elseLOL
Sparks11 - | 333
11 Nov 2017 #7
According to some recent articles being a university professor isn't really a career anymore either, in America that is. They earn less than half of what you can as a TEFLer in Poland.
Lyzko 42 | 9,507
11 Nov 2017 #8
...because a certain Tweeter-in-Chief doesn't believe in funding something which he doesn't even have - namely, an education:-)
kaprys 3 | 2,181
11 Nov 2017 #9
Being on a mission to teach English to 'millions of Europeans, Asians and others' ... and someone dares say it's not really a career :) rofl

Seriously speaking, if someone's good at what they do, they're going to maintain their job. If they're crappy teachers, they shouldn't blame others for their failure.

Teachers make little money here. The op should look for other options. Do you have any other qualifications?
Dagenham Dave
12 Nov 2017 #10
Quite why any native speakers would want to waste their time trying to teach English in Poland in 2017 is beyond me. The conditions just aren't there anymore. Pay has remained the same for 20 years, whilst costs have skyrocketed. The reputation of the native speaker teacher is well and truly shot through years of incompetent, uncaring alcoholics and skirt-chasers. The competition from highly-qualified and motivated Polish teachers of English has risen exponentially.

Why waste your time? Do something else.
SigSauer 4 | 378
12 Nov 2017 #11

Other than using one of those native speakers for their accent and pronunciation, what would be the point of using an American, who is not nearly as proficient in grammar rules and cases as a European?
Lyzko 42 | 9,507
12 Nov 2017 #12
A European may indeed "know" the textbook grammar of a language such as English close to perfectly, if only through purely academic study!
The IDIOM, the flavor of English, knowing instinctively as a native speaker, when, for instance, to use proper usage vs. when not to, is something even the most ambitious European can never hope to master.

For that reason, educated native, literate English teachers are a must, no arguments!!
SigSauer 4 | 378
12 Nov 2017 #13

I see......I guess my perception is based on the ESL teachers I've met at various expat events, and to be quite honest, they either struck me as 20 something backpackers (which is totally cool and legit), or middle aged LBH's (losers back home) in Europe looking to perv on young girls and negate being old, fat, ugly as sin, and broke, with their American/British/Australian passports alone. I even spoke with one guy at an expat event who was hiding out from friggin child support. I guess there is a lack of professional standards in the entire industry, because those people I met, as opposed to a few teachers from the international schools there who remain to this day some of my best friends in the world, were extremely well educated professionals, earning western salaries and benefits.
mafketis 37 | 10,913
12 Nov 2017 #14
my perception is based on the ESL teachers I've met at various expat events,

Sig, there's your problem right there! Why do you go to expat events? I went to a couple and was quickly cured.

And yes, there have been many that fit your stereotypes (unqalified and/or lowlifes) but that hardly exists in Poland anymore (because the market has mostly collapsed) and the more normal aren't likely to seek out expats (noted for their inability/unwillingness to deal with local conditions).
Lyzko 42 | 9,507
12 Nov 2017 #15
@Sig, I once met a Norwegian couple while on a Eurail Pass through Germany and Switzerland while still in my late '20's. I hadn't entered the teaching field officially and I thought I might "impress" my interlocutors with a bit of conversational Bokmaal. The dude of the couple shot back in a lame attempt at California surfer slang, seconded by his woman, who's every other thought was punctated with "Like, totally..!", along with the assorted vulgarisms. Restrained and as polite as I could be, I responded with the normally high, native-English speaker level to which I am normally accustomed to speak when addressing peers, colleagues lay people etc. It all seemed to fall on deaf ears, glanced off 'em like bullets off Superman. When I happened to inquire as to their profession, they told me they were both English teachers in Trondheim on vacation in Geneva who were returning home to rejoin their kids, excuse me, children:-)

Moral of the story? Although both seemed to have the Yank accent down pat, even indistinguishable from a West Coast older teen, their vocabulary was more adolescent than adult and their sentence structure completely spoken, almost as if they'd never READ a serious book in English, but had garnered everything they knew from contemporary rap, early hip-hop and the like.

I'd hope ESL instructors in Poland can function on a slightly higher level than thatLOL
SigSauer 4 | 378
12 Nov 2017 #16

Well, thats known as code switching and I wouldn't immediately attribute intelligence to how someone talks in a rather informal setting like that. Certainly in the environment I live in, on a military base, there is a lot of F-words in every single sentence, and sometimes every 3rd word. Outside of work I tend to speak with a New Jersey accent. At work and in other professional settings, my accent is completely sanitized, as I think any heavy regional accent tends to sound low brow. Indeed, I am admittedly part of the "bro" culture of lifting weights and shooting guns. However, I'm highly educated and am in the top percentage of earners, so I feel rather entitled to relax my speech outside of work. I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from a conversation you had on a train with some people who were vacationing, after all the point of vacation is to relax. I can certainly draw conclusions from the expats who I spoke with and told me their 'life situation,' or their educational background where it became apparent they were not at all qualified to do what they were doing. As my very close friends who work in the international school scene described them, people with degrees in sociology, photography, or some other nonsense field with some 4-week ESL certification whose name escapes me right now, which in their estimation hardly makes those people qualified to teach origami, let alone a language.
Lyzko 42 | 9,507
12 Nov 2017 #17
Yep, that's the ticket! Problem is/was, I'm still not certain nearly twenty-five odd years after the fact, whether or not that couple would have been able to upgrade to higher-level, witty, intelligible English?? They seemed mired solely in what they probably learned is the way "Americans talk" and nothing it would appear, could shake their delusion. Heck bud, I was on vacation too, and so decided to play along with them, not "teach" them a language which they ought to have known better.

Polish teachers who teach M&M-style English aka "American" are doing as much a disservice to the language as a Polish teacher in the States teaching Polish rapster slang to Americans, something they'll probably never use. Do you see the analogy?
SigSauer 4 | 378
12 Nov 2017 #18

Lol yea fair enough Lyzko....I actually remembered one guy I had been asked by a mutual expat friend to intervene on his behalf because he was getting deported, as these guys never seem to get proper visas for some reason. Anyway, it was right before I was leaving the country, and someone had sent me a YouTube video of this mouth breather doing one of his amazing 'english lessons,' suffice to say that after I saw the first 1 minute and 30 seconds, I was for one pissing myself laughing, and for two not using any of my contacts with the ministry for this neck beard. It was so memorable, I was able to find the clip for you Lyzko, at least watch the first 2 minutes.
Atch 20 | 4,167
13 Nov 2017 #19
thats known as code switching

No, code switching is when bilingual/multil-lingual people switch between languages, sometimes in the same sentence, during conversation. What you're referring to is speaking in the vernacular, that is, in a colloquial manner rather than in standard English:)
kaprys 3 | 2,181
13 Nov 2017 #20
1. Poles learn British English at school. I personally love RP.
2. It's normal for people to pick some words as they watch American films etc. So it's not about trying to sound American. Come on, don't be so self centred.

3. I'm sorry Lyzko, but if we ever met, you would probably think of me what you thought of the Norwegians and I think I know their perspective, too. If your Norwegian is similar to your Polish, I would probably think it'd be a better idea to speak English. You would feel that I didn't admire you enough and start making things up about my English (bad accent, problems with the articles and so on).

4. Being a native speaker of a language doesn't equal being a good teacher of this language. I know I wouldn't be able to teach Polish.

5. I don't know if you're really a teacher of English but I wonder if it's possible to be a good esl teacher expressing so much disdain towards esl learners ...
mafketis 37 | 10,913
13 Nov 2017 #21
Poles learn British English at school

Except that they pronounce the r's in words like 'car' and 'park' which is not mainstream British usage

I personally love RP

I thought RP was deader than last week's w─ůtrobianka - and many/most British people I've known are none too fond of it and resent foreigners using it as some kind of model....

I'd hope ESL instructors in Poland can function on a slightly higher level than thatLOL

Well here's the thing. At least 90% (probably over 95%) of Poles (this is very much in line with other Europeans in my experience) are not interested in learning ESL or reading books in the original language and they don't find national or regional differences interesting. They're not interested in following the latest developments in the language and they're indifferent to the expressive power of English. They have their own language for all that.

The overwhelming majority of Poles just want to be functional in a kind of neutral international English that they can use when needed and disregard at other times. An English teacher in Poland or more broadly in Europe (outside of a university department of philology or related field) will fail to attract or keep classroom students. They may find some private students who are interested in the byways of the language but private lessons are exhausting and generally not steady enough to be a person's economic base.
Atch 20 | 4,167
13 Nov 2017 #22
thought RP was deader than last week's w─ůtrobianka

I think Kaprys is probably referring more to standard English, that nice, neutral RADA style spoken by trained actors. Charles Dance is a good example of that, so is Sir Ian Mckellen, Kenneth Branagh etc.
Wulkan - | 3,172
13 Nov 2017 #23
Except that they pronounce the r's in words like 'car' and 'park' which is not mainstream British usage

That's good, we don't have "r" phobia, it's a nice sound, no point skipping it. What he meant is British vocabulary which is "rubbish" for "garbage" etc...
mafketis 37 | 10,913
13 Nov 2017 #24
we don't have "r" phobia, it's a nice sound, no point skipping it

I agree, but it doesn't fit with

British vocabulary which is "rubbish" for "garbage" etc...

It's a weird mismatch between form (pronunciation) and content (words used) a little like someone using normal modern Polish vocabulary but consistently using the 'kresowe' ł. And that's okay for productive usage, but learners do need to know lots of American vocabulary at least passively because Americans won't stop saying elevator or line or sidewalk or a bunch of other things.

thinking of my own usage, I think I distinguish rubbish, trash and garbage.... but I'm not sure how common this is for other Americans

rubbish (always marked and stilted) maybe old broken things that should have been thrown out long ago, not really discarded things

trash (discarded items in the home, put in the trash can) what gets taken out

garbage (discarded items when put in a garbage can and left at the curb for garbage men to pick up) and the contents of landfills and garbage dumps

metaphorically the rubbish is about old worn out ideas, trash is immoral art or lifestyles (or the people following them) and garbage is useless and/or damaging ideas....
kaprys 3 | 2,181
13 Nov 2017 #25
There's another thread here about Profi-lingua - it should help you to find out what to expect from a language school.
Yes, I meant Standard English. But as much as I love listening to Brits, I have no intention to sound like one.
English is a medium of communication. That's why so many people learn it. Only few will be interested in learning about its phonetics. I guess it applies to other languages, too.

As for native and non-native esl teachers, most of the people who taught me were Poles. Some were good at their job, others weren't. I also had two American teachers of English. One was really good, flexible and committed while the other wasn't. He taught our group for one semester. Most of the classes were peer teaching ... we were supposed to prepare classes. Not a bad idea but not in every class while the teacher is sitting with his legs on the desk just observing the class ...
Lyzko 42 | 9,507
13 Nov 2017 #26
@Kaprys, as long as my students realize that they are "practicing" English until they can speak without honest assistance, I've never once disdained their often valiant efforts or belittled their attempts to learn what is admittedly a terribly difficult language to speak on an educated adult level. For this reason, I have been successful, not to mention being blessed, at least in the classroom, with the patience that comes from imperturbably self-confidence from having plied my trade now for some twenty-years and counting:-)

On the other hand, those Norwegian tourists were so arrogant about their English skills, they never seemed once to consider that possibly non-stop babble is hardly a decent substitute for intelligent, thoughtful conversation, be one twenty-five or fifty-five. Justifying their ignorance is merely an excuse. If the tables were turned, and I were an exchange student of Norwegian in Trondheim, I'd scarcely rest on my laurels and assume I was next to perfect in Bokmaal; I'd be eternally grateful for as much tactful correction as was necessary! After all, the native speaker ALWAYS knows better.
Dirk diggler 10 | 4,572
13 Nov 2017 #27
am interested in working as a Tefl teacher in Poland

Don't do it. The people from Western countries i.e. US/UK/etc who come to Poland to teach 'native English' are considered losers by Polish society. Not only do they make peanuts, but they don't get any respect. Teachers, especially grade school and high school, are low on the social totem pole in Poland. Professors are more respected but still have rather low wages, especially compared to teachers/professors in the West. Unless you're planning to make a beer money salary and just travel around Europe and have fun for a few years, being a teacher in some Polish grade school/high school is a terrible career move.

The only way you could potentially make a middle income salary is maybe by teaching like business, IT or more advanced English for professionals and offering translation services. Even then though, you'll make a fraction of what an Indian dude in IT makes. You may even end up washing cars or cleaning toilets on the side just to make ends meet.
kaprys 3 | 2,181
13 Nov 2017 #28
Oh, come on. Why would anyone doing their job right be considered a loser?
The thing is that most native esl teachers are not employed by state schools but language schools that offer junk contracts and little social security. Teaching in-company courses is usually done by language schools that get most of the money paid by the company in question. The teacher gets just a fraction ...
Dirk diggler 10 | 4,572
13 Nov 2017 #29
Oh, come on. Why would anyone doing their job right be considered a loser?

I never said that English teachers in Poland are losers - what I stated is that in Polish society they are at the bottom of the social totem pole and often considered losers. That's different from me saying straight up like 'Teacher in PL are losers.' Nonetheless, it is known they get slightly more respect than say a Ukrainian taxi driver.

Jobs and careers are treated differently from country to country, culture to culture. For example, a garbagemen in the US is a quite well paid blue collar union type of job. Some garbagemen may make even up to 70-100k a year. On the other hand, garbagemen in India are paid pennies and generally belong to the 'dalit' or 'untouchables' caste.

In Poland, grade/high school teachers simply don't receive the type of respect nor do they have the same financial security when compared to other Western nations.

I'm simply stating facts, it's not meant to be an insult.
kaprys 3 | 2,181
13 Nov 2017 #30
I didn't say you'd said they were losers :)

My point is that everyone doing their job right and contributing to the country's budget should be respected both by the society and their employers. No matter how much they're paid.

There are far too many people who choose to live on benefits because they wouldn't work for little money. And they don't work for years. It's frustrating to realise one's taxes are spent on those who choose not to work at all.

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