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Teaching English in Poland....CELTA or TESOL certificate?

jon357 71 | 20,496
4 Oct 2021 #31
will they increase salary if the new hire wants to live alone at a flat

Usually no.

Also have you taught English in Poland?

For a decade or so, however now I work elsewhere though live in Poland (sounds odd, but possible in a specific circumstance, often involving sand or salt water, hard hats and a lot of hotel rooms and flights).

f so is there anything you can tell me that you wish you would have known starting out in that profession?

'Scuse the bullet points. The info below is purely opinion, however it's informed opinion based on experience

- I was lucky in that I went to Poland to work for an employer who was not Polish. I'd probably not have had such a positive experience if the employer had been Polish and would prefer a foreign boss to a 'locally-owned' school. This is true in pretty well every country.

- I'd personally avoid any company that uses the so-called 'dual method' (local teaching grammar, native teaching conversation). Similarly any company that employs a young person called a 'methodologist', which shows a lack of respect for its Teachers. All language schools employ a DOS, sometimes an ADOS too. It is always best if they're native, however all too often it's a relation/partner of someone, and local.

- Be wary of 'schools' that refer to their staff as 'natives' or 'lektor' rather than Teachers.

- Be wary of people who say they have a 'school' or a 'company' when in fact they're just registered as self employed. Be wary of any employer who wants you to do some hokey 'b2b' thing (a worker is NOT a 'business, not can one person be a 'company' as the very word implies). This is a tax avoidance scheme thing on the employer's part.

- Likewise 'method schools' like the ones who use 'callan method' or variations of the Berlitz method. Work so boring that it's soul destroying and looks bad on your CV. Berlitz however can I believe pay OK if you put the hours in. Berlitz rarely recruit from abroad though, as far as I remember.

- Cities are usually better than small towns (except Krakow, too many people chasing a limited pool of work) and small-town Poland can be great for some, can drive others crazy. Literally crazy. I have seen this happen several times. There used to be lots of private work out in the sticks which people could fill their time and fatten their wallet with; not as much nowadays.

- According to GUS (the government's statistical office), the average salary per month is 5,851.87 gross. It seems a lot, however taxes/ZUS (their NI) are high in Poland and the net average salary (especially without tax breaks) would be lower. On this wage, a local in Warsaw would be grumbling, a foreigner may find it hard unless they live like a student. It's nice to see all those lovely restaurants, theatres, concert halls, less nice if you can't afford to enter them.

- Corporate teaching (visiting offices, army bases, factories) rather than 'open' groups (classes that people sign up to in a language school) are almost always preferable. Especially if you want your income to continue over the summer. Plus, they're generally far more interesting, better students to teach, far less stressful and have far more (paid) cancellations.

- Suburban schools = kids mostly.

- The people you are teaching have almost certainly had several native speaker Teachers before.

- Poles appreciate expertise and a sort of 'slickness' but can often tell if it's just put on for show. Nevertheless put it on if you need to. Don't look vague, and be aware of arseholes.

- Never, ever, ever, apologise in Poland. Poles never do!

- If you teach a minor alone, discreetly leave a sound recorder on throughout the lesson or have a 3rd party nearby.

- Jolly games, jazz chants, interactive pschychodrama, cusinaire rods and TPR are likely to go down like a lead balloon in PL, at least with adults. 'Jedi mind tricks' about grammar and vocab, almost always go down well. If you're a good teacher, I hope you'll figure out what I mean by that. Some never do.

- Most of your students will have an above-average IQ. Many will have a higher degree.

- Private students can be great, but don't let them take the **** re. cancellations, price etc.

- If you do an hour here, an hour there, work for different companies, etc, keep the details close to your chest when chatting with other Teachers, especially in places where there's an oversupply of teachers and an undersupply of lessons. This especially applies if the Teacher is a local. Local staff are not necessarily your friends; they often privately hate you.

- Textbooks are 10 a penny and are invoiced to the client. Some come free from the publisher. If any 'school' makes you sign for using one or keeps them locked up, that is a big red flag.

- ALWAYS plan lessons (even just a bit), NEVER get into the habit of 'winging it'. You owe that to your students and yourself.

- Build up a bank of teaching materials and ideas.

- Remember, teaching a 43 year old stockbroker who's lived in Frankfurt and thinks he's the bees knees and teaching a group of potty-mouthed factory women will use different skills from your toolbox but are equally important and it's rarely the factory women who'll mess you around. They may wind you up a bit however they're usually more rewarding to teach. Better human beings too.

- If you get a chance to do military teaching, snap it up. Now. Don't hesitate.

- ESP (business, financial. military, EAP, technical English) is no mystery, no matter how much anyone pretends it is. If I can, you can. Even teh textbooks used do not assume any special knowledge on the Teacher's part.

- Poles can be some of the finest and most interesting people to teach.

- They can also be arseholes. Stay off the topics of politics and religion, and if they start mentioning them, look vague as if you've no idea what they're talking about.

- Always be on time, always dress well (at least as well as your students), always look prepared. Look serious (Poles respect this), but know when to smile (they like this too).

Cor blimey, I'd just planned to write a couple of points. Some might agree, some might disagree. I doubt it differs much from what you'd see on Dave's, however it's all in one place. Here on PF, BTW, there are several Teachers and between us all there is probably at least al hundred years of experience here in PL, and it's a big place with lots of different 'contexts' for teaching, so my story and, say, Atch's or Paw's or other people's may differ.
mafketis 34 | 11,911
4 Oct 2021 #32
The college near me offers a TESOL certificate

where are you from? advice for British and Americans (and others) will be different as they tend to face different challenges in Poland...
jon357 71 | 20,496
4 Oct 2021 #33
- Understanding how threads work can be the difference between a good Teacher and a mediocre one. Don't overhype it though, less is more.

- Subtly finding out your students' hobbies, interests etc and interests and introducing them (without fuss) into lessons will make your students very happy, your teaching/their learning more effective and your job easier.

- If you do not know off the top of your head what the grammar/vocab/skills for the next couple of lessons in the course will be, you have failed as a human being.

- Workbooks are for homework, not class.

- Teachers overusing Murphy make me want to weep.

- Understand the fine balance between giving too much of yourself and keeping a professional distance. Learn how to get this right.

- Never apologise. Poles don't respect that.

- Enjoy. Poles and Poland are great, teaching is rewarding. Go for it. But don't get stuck in a rut, the world's a big place and TEFL is a passport to many many things.
Atch 17 | 4,086
4 Oct 2021 #34
Gosh Jon, what a good person you are to write such a detailed reply - hope the OP appreciates it :)

Not much one could add but I'll just say in my experience intermediate level speakers are the most difficult group to teach. They have the basics but there is such a long, long way to go and always something new to learn. They can get a bit overwhelmed and it can be hard to keep them motivated and feeling that they're making progress.

I would also advise against teaching children under twelve and in particular pre-school kids (unless you're already a qualified elementary/kindergarten teacher) as it's a whole different set of skills and most private schools focus on parental expectations rather than following the child's needs/developmental level. If you want to teach children, get the CELTA for young learners and then try to get work from somewhere reputable like the British Council.
jon357 71 | 20,496
4 Oct 2021 #35
A little story from my first ever English lesson in Poland. It was using a fairly banal textbook called International Express at a logistics office in East Warsaw. I was dropped in as Teacher at the last minute with no time to plan because they'd rejected the previous guy for just giving them Murphy etc.

Me (with a bit more 'graded to pre-int' language than I've written here): "So we've talked about the seven wonders of the modern world. Is there any building in Poland that could be the eighth wonder?"

Agnieszka or whatever: "Yes, in a town called Lichen is a very big and beautiful church. It has 365 windows, 52 altars and 7 doors.

Tomek across the room: "Yes and on the high altar is a giant blood drinking goat"

Agnieszka screams, slams her book shut and runs out of the room.

Gotta love Poland!
4 Oct 2021 #36
Thanks that was informative.
Lyzko 33 | 8,172
4 Oct 2021 #37
Not sure if this question is on-topic or not, but I'm nonetheless curious as to whether, one, BC or "English" standard is required to teach in Poland, or whether "American" usage is also accepted, if not preferred:-)

Secondly, is it necessary in Poland for a foreign-language teacher, in this instance, English instructor, to be a native speaker?

Perhaps I asked before, but it was so long ago I've since forgotten the answer!
Apologies for the inquiry.
Novichok 3 | 7,131
4 Oct 2021 #38
Why Poland insists on teaching British English is a mystery. American English wins in spelling, pronunciation, popularity, and everything else.
It is natural and lacks the phoniness of the British version.
jon357 71 | 20,496
4 Oct 2021 #39
Do you know anything about the shared accommodation issue I posted above?

Thinking about it, it's one of those things to best sort out after arrival. Some employers may be helpful, others own the flats themselves or get them from a friend/relative and may be less helpful. If there's any suggestion that you live with non-native teachers as part of a 'cultural exchange', run for the hills.

BC or "English" standard is required to teach in Poland, or whether "American" usage is also accepted

English, a language so popular that they named a country of 40 million after it. In the battle of textbook marketing, the Brits won. Our friends across the Atlantic have the space programme, we have the language teaching. Some countries (especially South Korea and places in South/Central America) prefer Americans, most (including Poland) prefer subjects of Her Majesty. Everyone likes Canucks, Kangaroos and Saffers less so. Plus one of the two countries is 20 quid away on Ryanair and one isn't.

Secondly, is it necessary in Poland for a foreign-language teacher, in this instance, English instructor, to be a native speaker?

Not necessary but often much preferred. That's why your local colleague hate natives so much.
pawian 188 | 17,916
4 Oct 2021 #40
Why Poland insists on teaching British English

Check the map.

American English wins

Yes, among lower classes. Coz American English is plebeian, British English is regal. :):)

It is natural

A lot of things are natural. E.g., shyt. Yet, we don`t elevate it and erect monuments to it. :):):)
jon357 71 | 20,496
4 Oct 2021 #41
Check the map.

In large part yes, however there are still (a very few) places that do TOEFL or TOEIC . Usually now it's either the Cambridge suite or increasingly IELTS (British/Australian and liked by Universities and HR Depts) and I don't see that changing any time soon.
pawian 188 | 17,916
4 Oct 2021 #42
Check what happened in this year.
jon357 71 | 20,496
4 Oct 2021 #43
I will. I know the names of some things have recently changed as have the testing protocols, including in Warsaw.
4 Oct 2021 #44
Has anyone ever dealt with any recruiters who place applicants into ESL jobs in Poland? I am currently applying with one whose internet address is but I am not sure about them. Has anyone every heard of or dealt with them? Are there other firms like this anyone would care to mention?
jon357 71 | 20,496
4 Oct 2021 #45

This looks like an online platform, and a very general one. Interesting that they have an English language bit, aimed at people abroad.

Most people use, a UK-based platform, 7 current jobs in PL, new ads come and go every few weeks, or Dave's ESL Cafe, a US-based platform, 4 current jobs in PL; Dave's also has a (moribund or even deceased) forum which is nevertheless very worth a look. On both of these, the employer has to pay for and write an ad. in particular screen all the adverts and I have used them myself rarely recently to recruit staff. I'm not sure about the one you mention and don't know how specifically they "place" people or how they make their money. Most just run ads and forward the responses on to the advertiser.

If you don't mind me asking, why Poland? It's a great place but not quite the EFL destination it used to be 20 years ago.
5 Oct 2021 #46
I was born there, really like teaching and would like to return It seems to me that the natural place to look would be in the ESL market. This forum has provided some really good insight into the workings of the schools there. I would never have known about the dual teaching pitfall if it were not for your lengthy post above. Most of the schools that I have looked at outside of Warsaw seem to employ this method. Overall I've found that most of the schools currently advertising teaching gigs are aimed at young learners so I'm kind of bummed that Cambridge got rid of its YL certification. The reason I asked about ProWork.Pl is that they currently advertise a position that pays 7000zl monthly which is this highest pay offering I have seen and this immediately made me suspicious.

Thanks for all the advice so far. I have another question about a posting on One of the seven ads is for a school named Quaderno. In the ad the employer states, "The teacher is paid on hourly basis. We offer 25 to 30 hours per week. 55 PLN per 60 minutes" under Salary & Benefits. Then I found that the school is only open Monday through Thursday from noon until 4:45. How much shadiness is there in these adverts? Am I being overly suspicious is this instance?
jon357 71 | 20,496
5 Oct 2021 #47
They're probably OK. Those might just be their office hours. I looked at their ad and website, and nothing stood out.

ost of the schools that I have looked at outside of Warsaw seem to employ this method

That's often because they simply haven't got any/many native speaker Teachers so have to make do. If you're a Polish speaker as well, they might follow a different route. Most schools are small and a bit ad hoc.

7000zl monthly

That's a lot if it's in the sticks, credible if it's in Warsaw, before tax and for in-company.

hey currently advertise a position that pays 7000zl monthly

If it's for one of this group of schools (the ProWork advert was vague, however it did say well-established/Mokotow and this one has an 02 postcode) they are very respectable. Hard to find better. It may be worth approaching them directly, especially if you've got school teaching experience/certification. The work seems as much CLIL as EFL.
Atch 17 | 4,086
5 Oct 2021 #48
a position that pays 7000zl monthly

the ProWork advert was vague, however it did say well-established/Mokotow

That ad, or one very similar, has been on there since before the pandemic in various forms! The vibe I get from Prowork is that they have a couple of bogus too-good-to-be-true ads on there to suck people in and then they try to offer candidates something not quite so good.

@janbe, as I said in my earlier post, if you don't have any training or experience in teaching/working with children, try to avoid it if you can. Cut your teeth with adults. Incidentally, as you're Polish by nationality, do you speak Polish? If so, why not look for some other kinds of jobs, not just teaching? There may be better opportunities for you in another field.
5 Oct 2021 #49
That assessment of ProWork seems spot on. I couldn't put my finger on it but it seems like you saw through it.

As far as a field outside of teaching--my Polish is conversational at best. No writing skills to speak of.

I've emailed a couple of places asking about what kind of hours they offer to new teachers and have yet to hear back. Is this typical? Are ESL employers reticent to reveal terms of employment until an offer is actually made?
jon357 71 | 20,496
5 Oct 2021 #50
More that they don't actually know. Some language schools are smaller than they sound and don't have a clue who they'll need unti they've got the classes set up. It's usually a better sign than ones that overpromise.
Lyzko 33 | 8,172
5 Oct 2021 #51
When I was starting out in the field, I was required to furnish a linguistics degree, pedagogy courses, logged-in classroom hours and at least one evaluation from a former institution and/or letter of recommendation from a professor. All this, by the way, pre-TESOL!

Are requirements for an ESL-teacher in Poland as stringent?
I should add that prior to my current college position, I began at a language school.
janbe - | 3
5 Oct 2021 #52
I don't know how stringent it is. Many people seem to claim that the CELTA is the gold standard but that appears to be insufficient. That's part of the reason I'm here. I want to find out what people had on their CVs when they landed their ESL jobs in Poland. At Dave's there is a much discuessed avenue into the Polish ESL scene which is CELTA then employment with one of the International Houses there. These together give employees the experience to move onto other jobs.
jon357 71 | 20,496
5 Oct 2021 #53
International Houses

Lyzko 33 | 8,172
5 Oct 2021 #54
Besides CELTA, which certificate program is as acceptable, or is documented experience and similarly transferrable course work with corresponding grade point average sufficient?
janbe - | 3
5 Oct 2021 #55
Don't know. I haven't worked any ESL jobs yet.
Lyzko 33 | 8,172
6 Oct 2021 #56
Thanks all the same-)
jon357 71 | 20,496
6 Oct 2021 #57
Besides CELTA, which certificate program is as acceptable,


grade point average

What does that even mean?
janbe - | 3
6 Oct 2021 #58
Is May and June peak hiring season? My impression is that schools start in September and October with student uptake occurring during the summer months. I can't remember where on PF I read that May and June were the peak but found this strange and wanted to verify.
jon357 71 | 20,496
6 Oct 2021 #59
Is May and June peak hiring season?

Not really.

My impression is that schools start in September and October

In my opinion that's correct. A lot happens at the last minute.

Other times of year can br OK to come though.
Lyzko 33 | 8,172
6 Oct 2021 #60
@jon, grade point average refers to one's academic standing.

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