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Prospects for Finding a Job Teaching English in Poland or Elsewhere in Europe


RockMaple 1 | 2
11 Feb 2014 #1
Hi All,

I'm interested in teaching English in Central/Eastern Europe and was hoping I could get some advice on where I would stand the best chance of finding a job that pays at least enough to make ends meet (ideally slightly more than that). I'd prefer to be in a large city, but I'd also consider smaller cities are close to big cities. I've spent a few days in Prague, Krakow and Budapest, and liked each, Prague being my favorite.

I'm in my mid-thirties and have solid professional experience. As for my educational background, I have a B.S. in Environmental Science, an M.A. in Public Administration, and a Juris Doctor. Most recently, I worked for three years at a large international law firm.

I do not have significant teaching experience (only a brief period doing math tutoring). I plan to seek CELTA certification.

Thanks in advance for your advice.
Lonman 4 | 111
11 Feb 2014 #2
There are other threads with answers you need.

polishforums.com/work-study-43/teaching-english-poland-64629/4/

You wont get rich. Do the course as is almost a must to getting in the door with decent pay.

Good luck. Warsaw or Wroclaw would be good large city choices for Poland.
DominicB - | 2,704
11 Feb 2014 #3
On the whole, the market for English teachers from the US dried up substantially after these countries joined the EU ten years ago, which made it far more attractive to hire teachers from the UK and Ireland instead. The economic crisis has also not helped, and now there are few schools left that are willing to offer good contracts and go through the hassle and expense of hiring a non-EU teacher. On top of that, there are plenty of locals nowadays who have learned English and can teach. So the pickings are slim nowadays. Your law degree might help somewhat, perhaps, but don't count on it.

Especially in any of the big, popular cities, like Kraków, Budapest and, most especially, Prague, where native speakers are thick like flies on a dead possum. If your dream is to become an English teacher in an attractive touristy city, basically forget about it, as the competition is fierce, the wages are therefore lower, and the cost of living is high.

If there are any opportunities to be had for a non-EU citizen, they are in small towns off the beaten track, far from the tourist centers or university towns, where there are schools so desperate to attract native-speaking teachers that they will gladly hire an American. You'll have to do a lot of job searching and digging to find these positions, though.

By the way, I'm an American who came here twelve years ago and taught English to establish my residency. The market was much kinder to Americans then. I wouldn't bother in today's market.

My advice would be to forget about teaching English in Europe, find a good job in the States, and save up to take an extended vacation in Europe. That's much more practical. As an English teacher in Poland, for example, you'd be earning about $8-10k a year, $15k max under the best of circumstances, which I wouldn't count on. As a vacationer, you won't be tied down with school duties, and you can come or go wherever you want whenever you want. You'll actually get to see a lot more of the countries you're interested in. If you want the experience of living and working in Europe, then get a job for a large American or International company that does business in Europe and work your way up until you can apply for a transfer.

Either option is far better and safer than teaching. Really, at your age and stage of development, you should be focusing on solidifying your career and on maximizing future earnings and savings prospects, and not running away to in Europe for a year to basically goof off and do nothing that will add anything substantial to your resume.

If you want to take a year off to do something good for the world, try the Peace Corps or other international volunteer programs. If you want a socially-responsible career change, it would be best to do that in the States. Have you considered, for example, working for the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior, the Forestry Service or the Bureau of Indian Affairs, for example? Or for NGOs in the States or abroad? There are a lot of possibilities for someone of your educational background and experience.

Like I said, ten, fifteen years ago, teaching English in central Europe may have been an attractive option, but that ship has sailed.
jon357 63 | 15,214
11 Feb 2014 #4
On the whole, the market for English teachers from the US dried up substantially after these countries joined the EU ten years ago

There was a place in Warsaw that specialised in US English and tended to hire American trainers. Nowadays they find it easier just to get Poles who've spent some time there.

As an English teacher in Poland, for example, you'd be earning about $8-10k a year, $15k max under the best of circumstance

People in the capital who specialise in Business, Technical or Legal English and have a very good reputation (which brings the privates in) can make quite a lot more. They are a minority though and have to do a lot of work for the money.

Really, at your age and stage of development, you should be focusing on solidifying your career and on maximizing future earnings and savings prospects, and not running away to in Europe for a year to basically goof off and do nothing that will add anything substantial to your resume.

Yes. EFL, especially at language schools rather than universities or large companies doesn't look great on a CV.
Harry
11 Feb 2014 #5
There was a place in Warsaw that specialised in US English and tended to hire American trainers. Nowadays they find it easier just to get Poles who've spent some time there.

My understanding is that their native speakers are either Yanks who don't need work permits (i.e. spouses of EU citizens) or Yanks who have a Polish passport from parent/grandparent.

People in the capital who specialise in Business, Technical or Legal English and have a very good reputation (which brings the privates in) can make quite a lot more.

120zl per hour would be the price I'd be thinking for anybody with a legal background and teaching qualifications and experience. Of course the problem is finding the people who understand that it's better to get a very good teacher and pay them about as much as a school would charge than it is to just get a school which has a smooth marketing department that makes proud boasts about methodological support etc and gives the teacher about a third of the money the client pays.

My advice would be to forget about teaching English in Europe, find a good job in the States, and save up to take an extended vacation in Europe.

Excellent advice.
DominicB - | 2,704
11 Feb 2014 #6
My understanding is that their native speakers are either Yanks who don't need work permits (i.e. spouses of EU citizens) or Yanks who have a Polish passport from parent/grandparent.

That's right. There are already more than enough Americans like this in the larger attractive cities to cover any eventual job openings. There isn't much incentive to hire someone who needs a work permit fresh off the plane on a real work contract basis when they can hire someone who doesn't need a work permit on a "garbage contract" basis.

Warsaw or Wroclaw would be good large city choices for Poland.

I highly advise against Warsaw and Wrocław. They're swarming as it is with native speakers who will work for peanuts, and they are the two most expensive cities in Poland to live in, so that you pay won't go very far. The same is true for Kraków, and, to a large extent the other popular attractive cities like Poznań, Gdańsk and Toruń. All of these places have huge university populations that produce loads of unemployed English philology students who give private tutoring for peanuts, as well, so that further depresses the private tutoring market.

Rule of thumb: if you can find a place featured in a tourist guide, competition there is going to be fierce. I'm very happy that I spent the first four years in Poland out in the provinces. Better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond, especially at the beginning. If I had moved directly to Wrocław, I don't think I would have lasted, and that was in better times than now.

The big, attractive cities like Wrocław, Warsaw and Kraków are wonderful to live in if you have enough cash to take advantage of what they have to offer. Otherwise, they're just as gray and depressing as Katowice and £ódź.
OP RockMaple 1 | 2
11 Feb 2014 #7
Really, at your age and stage of developmen

I'm sure why you felt it necessary to provide me with entirely useless, trite and unsolicited financial planning/career development advice. But thanks for your honest appraisal of the general outlook for Americans seeking work as English teachers.
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
11 Feb 2014 #8
I'm sure why you felt it necessary to provide me with entirely useless, trite and unsolicited financial planning/career development advice

Don't worry, he does that to almost everyone. ;o)
OP RockMaple 1 | 2
11 Feb 2014 #9
Yeah, I kind of figured. ;)
lateStarter 2 | 45
11 Feb 2014 #10
Actually, I don't find anything wrong with the suggestions offered by DominicB. The teaching opportunity in the larger cities has passed. I would loved to have been asked by an American software firm to open a branch office in Poland and move here still getting paid at US wages. I did some conversational English instruction for a few years, and it helped fill the gap. And I enjoyed it. But, I would recommend CELTA. Teaching groups English of any age, requires some additional training. One-on-one you can get away with if you are competent and open minded.

If you like to teach and are ready to move to some place off the beaten path and you have some reserve funds, it can work!

Why don't you want to stay (if I may ask) in the greatest country in the world?
InWroclaw 89 | 1,915
11 Feb 2014 #11
Why don't you want to stay (if I may ask) in the greatest country in the world?

He doesn't want to leave Wales permanently, just try things in Poland, and good luck to him!
maniak677 1 | 14
12 Feb 2014 #12
I know people getting 200pln an hour but they are long established 15 years + on the market so yes a minority. But it does show that there are some opportunities for specialist teachers. You need a USP in the market and then you can charge more. CELTA / TESOL cert would be essential if you want to earn more. I'd recommend only doing this if you have a real passion or interest in teaching as students will soon find out you don't. If it's a stop gap for a year or so then probably this matters less and then well you should only expect to make ends meet really and see a bit of Central Europe.

The big, attractive cities like Wrocław, Warsaw and Kraków are wonderful to live in if you have enough cash to take advantage of what they have to offer.

I agree on the whole. You can still do well in the big cities with a good network. Just impress a few people with good lessons at the beginning and word gets around. I have Polish friends in the big cities and they say it's not easy finding a good native speaking teacher.
DominicB - | 2,704
12 Feb 2014 #13
You can still do well in the big cities with a good network. Just impress a few people with good lessons at the beginning and word gets around. I have Polish friends in the big cities and they say it's not easy finding a good native speaking teacher.

It takes time and hard work to build up a network, and even more to build up a reputation. Sitting on your duff expecting work to come to you "because word got around" is a recipe for disaster. Networking is hard work, and you can't let it slide. You have to be an ambitious and aggressive go-getter and self-promoter, and, of course, an extremely good teacher. One of the reasons it's so hard to find a good native speaker in big cities is because there are scads of incompetent ones that you have to eliminate first. That makes it harder for qualified teachers and students to connect.
Lonman 4 | 111
13 Feb 2014 #14
Rock
Don't let all the negative types keep you from coming. Poland is great. Big cities vs small is about social life and there are more schools than ticks on a hog. Most people teaching that I know who network well and show up for classes are overworked after a few months. You just need to adjust your expectations and give it time. Do it for a year - just 9 months of your life and you won't regret having tried and lived in a interesting city.

Some people have said stay away from big cities. True are many teachers but it is where the jobs are more likely found. Yes pay levels have sunk over the years but you can live. Your JD cold be useful for legal teaching work - which comes up sometimes.

Key is be get out there and visit schools, advertise online, network like crazy and have fun! PM me if you have questions.
akos
17 May 2015 #15
I am a Ghanaian and i want to do my master in Poland at University of Wroclaw. Is there a job opportunity for me to take care of myself while i study.
Roger5 1 | 1,458
17 May 2015 #16
I know people getting 200pln an hour

That's by far the highest I've ever heard in PL. Almost too high to believe.
DominicB - | 2,704
17 May 2015 #17
Is there a job opportunity for me to take care of myself while i study.

Basically, no. Make your plans on the very safe assumption that you will not be able to work or earn even a single penny in Poland as a student. If you don't have enough money of your own, Poland is definitely not the place for you.


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