Central European Teaching Program
84% Rating
(27 Reviews)

Central European Teaching Program

CETP exists to benefit young people in the formerly socialist countries of Central Europe by providing public schools in the region with native-speaking English teachers.


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I had a challenging but very rewarding time with CETP and I recommend it for those who can deal with things that aren't as smooth as home. While the fee is somewhere around $2500 (the first year -- $750 the second and later), given the complicated Hungarian bureaucracy which frequently loses your paperwork or makes mistakes and has to restructure things, it is worth it, especially if you are not fluent in Hungarian. Hajni, the in country program director, helps you IF YOU CALL HER. I was amazed how many people didn't ask for help when she could have made things smoother. She was amazing and drove all over Hungary to help those who needed help.

Another consideration is that, although you are getting the same pay as Hungarian colleagues, you are provided with FREE HOUSING (sometimes wifi or cable or phone are additional - depends on the situation). If you don't smoke or drink away your income, you have enough money. Although I had extra savings, I tried to live on my Hungarian salary and it was enough to visit local or neighboring countries. I made it to Vienna, Prague, Bratislava and Romania. But mainly I attended local festivals and nearby cities and towns.

The wide difference in experience depends on where you are placed. There are some lovely towns and there are some dirty, Soviet era industrial towns. But each location offers something.
In the northeast, it's a hop, skip and jump into the Ukraine and Slovakia. To the east and southeast you can easily visit Romania (and the beautiful Transylvanian mountains and cities) or go to Serbia. The incredible architecture of many of these cities is marvelous is you look beyond the ugliness of railway and bus terminals.

If you demand to teach Budapest, expect the cost of living to be higher and your housing will likely be out in the burbs and require some transportation challenges. If you want to live closer to where the action is, you may have to find a roommate. Or perhaps they will cover part of your housing and you'll have to kick in more because you want to be downtown. Budapest is a wonderful city, but I guarantee the rural and smaller city placements are more rewarding. I was in a town of about 25000, about an hour outside of Budapest. The first year, I clung to Budapest but by the second, I rarely needed to go there because my shopping skills in Hungarian had improved and I had made friends and developed activities with local Hungarians.
I wish I could have stayed longer.

Some schools are well organized and supportive of the native English teachers -- others less so. I am a loud teacher but very quiet once the day is done - almost introverted -- and it was heaven to go home to my own little flat and quietly work on lessons or Skype with family back home. I developed my own social groups - playing board games, bicycling, yoga - often not understanding Hungarian but making my way.

Hungarians are reserved until they trust you and you show respect for their customs, privacy, etc. By the end of the second year, my heart was broken to have to leave. The second year my lessons and cordial relationships with colleagues went so much better. I recommend this program. The biggest problems are those of getting the paperwork done and the perhaps over the top expectations of a few of the participants.

Yes, I recommend
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I was with CETP in 2013 for 6 months. I experienced both good and bad.

Here is my honest review...


The placement fee that CETP charges is high. There's no question about that. What you earn as a teacher does not offset the administrative fees. If you plan to enroll in the program, make sure you have some savings already, which will make your life infinitely easier.

The salary you're given is basically only enough to cover basic necessities, but Hungary is quite cheap especially in the countryside, which is where I was living. You can expect to eat well. I was dining out every night in restaurants as the food was incredibly cheap and delicious.

From what I understand, even full-time teachers employed by the state aren't earning that much more than foreigners. I knew many local Hungarian teachers who were holding down 2-3 jobs on top of teaching full-time, which is quite sad, but that's the situation.

Housing was sufficient and is covered by CETP. I lived in an old communist block-style building. There were some growing pains especially in the beginning with regards to malfunctioning appliances and intermittent power outtages, but a quick phone call to my in-school contact and the situation was fixed.

Unfortunately my flat was right next to a disco, which kept me up all night on weekends. Eventually I got used to the noises, but for the first month or so it was quite trying.


In my opinion, this is what you are paying CETP for, and it's worth it.

The visa process in Europe for a non-European is ridiculously over-complicated. If not sponsored by a company already, non-EU citizens end up paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars just to secure a visa/work/residence permit, which CETP provides as part of the placement fee.

I have already experienced what it's like trying to get a work/residence permit on my own in Slovakia, and it was a brutal experience with me ending up in jail, so believe me when I say that paying CETP to do this for you is well worth it.

All of my communication with CETP went smoothly and I was helped out whenever I needed anything.

Hajni (CETP's in-country director) is very pleasant and accommodating. She visited me when I was having some trouble with my teaching placement and she was able to find a solution that worked out for everyone involved.

Hungarians in general are extremely generous and welcoming. At no point did I not feel welcome and in fact I was somewhat of a 'celebrity'. I was even asked to stay longer, but I knew it was time to move on.


I think most teachers will agree with me that teaching English in Hungary is a rewarding experience. Your attitude dictates everything. I had my good days and bad days, but in the end I came out a better person for it.

I appreciate what CETP did for me, which was show me the door to Europe. CETP didn't give me my dream placement, but they showed me how I could get it, and now I am living my dream life in a different European country.

Living in Hungary is both sad and beautiful at the same time. What CETP does is give you a taste of what life is like in a different country (and a somewhat impoverished one at that). Some people will love it, but others won't. If you come with an open mind and a few extra dollars, you will be much better off.


In my short time with CETP, I was exposed to life in a new place. It was my first time living abroad and I gained invaluable experience.

I made some life-long connections while in Hungary and I left with a heavy heart.

Would I recommend CETP?

You bet! Just don't expect the world from them, and temper your expectations, especially when it comes to choosing where you want to work.

If you truly love teaching and want to gain international teaching experience, this just might be the program for you.

Or if you just want to experience living in a new country and have some extra cash to burn, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If you're like me and just want to move to Europe, I don't think there's a better opportunity anywhere else at the moment, unless you are willing to lay the groundwork yourself and secure a teaching job and visa on your own.

Yes, I recommend
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I taught in Hungary for three years with CETP. I highly recommend this program if you are looking for a teaching job in Europe. Although the price of the program seemed high at first, I can say it was worth it because of the support I received from the program. I arrived in Hungary after the orientation and was picked up by the hungarian director of the program and driven to my flat where my contact teacher was waiting for me with food and water. For three years I had a place to live and was given support in and out of the classroom. Any time I had a problem I always had the necessary avenues available to me to solve the problem. I had help with the permit process, which can be cumbersome in Europe. I am so thankful for my time teaching in Hungary and I highly recommend this program to others who would like an opportunity to work and live in Europe.

Yes, I recommend
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Teaching abroad in Hungary through CETP is one of the best decisions I have made for both my professional and personal development. From the beginning, Mary Rose and Hajni were extremely supportive and offered assistance both before and during my stay in Hungary. I will always remember the first Skype conversation I had with Mary where I instantly became interested in pursuing this rare opportunity because of her great enthusiasm for the program as well as for the country of Hungary itself. Her descriptions of the community she entered long ago as an English teacher in Hungary inspired me to take the leap out of my comfort zone and into the world of international education.
As a certified, working elementary school teacher in the United States, I voiced my interest early on in developing myself professionally during my time in Hungary. Mary was quick to discuss the current openings available in the program and was able to identify the program that would work best for me. I worked for a program called “The Foundation” in Budapest, which is a program specifically for teachers who are certified. As I began to put together my paperwork, Mary continued to be extremely supportive, answering questions as they arose. I could email or call Mary anytime during the process and found that she was extremely efficient and helpful in her responses.
Mary also put me in contact with Jennifer, a teacher already teaching in Budapest through CETP. Jennifer provided valuable advice and I knew immediately that I could ask her anything about her experience or about CETP and would receive honest information in return. Jennifer’s familiarity with the CETP process, the city of Budapest, and the challenges of living in a foreign country was impressive and gave me a better understanding of the adventure I had chosen for myself. Her personable demeanor and sense of humor instantly eased the anxiety I had about picking up my comfortable life and moving to another country, which I knew next to nothing about.
Arriving in Budapest felt almost like an out-of-body experience. I was jet-lagged, anxious, and had absolutely no idea what to expect for the next 10 months of my life. When I landed Budapest I was greeted at the airport by Mary, Hajni, and a handful of other CETP’ers. While this was the first time I had met Mary and Hajni, their kindness and smiles made me feel as though I had known them for a lifetime. Myself and the other CETP’ers in the group were quickly led to an airport shuttle provided by Mary and Hajni and we were brought to our hostel in downtown Budapest. I can still remember the orientation in Budapest as one of my favorite parts of my experience in Hungary. CETP orientation was filled with information on Hungarian geography, cultural norms, and teaching expectations. Some of the cultural norms that I learned during orientation were essential to my integration into Hungarian culture. For example, I learned from Mary and Hajni that problems MUST be voiced in Hungary. They told us over and over to be vocal about issues that we encounter in order to be helped. Without question, every time I asked for help in Hungary, whether it was an issue I had with my flat or an inquiry about Hungarian health insurance, I was helped.
Orientation was also an unforgettable experience for me because it helped me to make the friends I would spend a great deal of time with while in Hungary. The friends I met through the CETP program became my travel companions and support system during this unique experience. I met some of the people I still consider my best friends today during that week of Orientation.
I taught third grade in a primary school in the heart of Budapest. From the beginning, I was welcomed by both my students and Hungarian colleagues. I worked with a Hungarian co-teacher and taught English through subjects such as Science, Mathematics, Art, and Music. I learned new teaching techniques from my teacher and shared my own strategies with her in order to create a positive learning environment for our students. The students were eager to learn and made coming to work each day very enjoyable. Outside of my 24 in-class hours, I also spent many hours a week planning engaging lessons for my students. The number of hours I spent each week was dependent on the skills and difficulty of the tasks I chose to create or implement.
Hajni’s support during my CETP experience was definitely worth the financial cost of the CETP program. When a group of my friends and I had our rental car broken into on a trip out of the county, Hajni was quick to offer her assistance. Hajni met us promptly upon our return to Budapest and used her Hungarian to ensure that we would not be charged for any damages due to our earlier purchase of zero-liability insurance. Acting as our Hungarian mother, Hanji asked us repeatedly if we were all okay and if there was anything else should could help us with before leaving the rental car facility.
Finally, I cannot express how grateful I am to Hajni for her support and guidance while I dealt with some unexpected health issues during my time in Hungary. The first time I called Hajni voicing a concern I had over my health, she dropped everything she was doing, came to my flat, and took me to see a reputable doctor immediately. The comfort of having a familiar, nurturing figure like Hajni to support me during this process was absolutely worth my investment in the CETP program. I can say with confidence that I cannot imagine my experience in Hungary without the unwavering support of the CETP staff.

Yes, I recommend
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I am writing in response to a negative review. In 2012, I was CETP participant and I lived in a small village in the southernmost point of Hungary. It was one of the most rewarding, educational, and enjoyable experiences of my life. While it requires a fee, the services and benefits the program provides are far superior to any other program in the region. Personally, I didn’t realize the bargain I was receiving until a year later when I moved to a new country and tried to attain a visa on my own.

In the summer of 2012, I flew to Europe armed with a TEFL certificate. I spent the summer working at an English language summer camp in Croatia. Afterwards I planned to move to Prague and find work. I had been told by multiple agencies that there were many English jobs in Prague and that the visa process was simple and efficient. I arrived in Prague to find out that both of these were incorrect. State schools were not looking for teachers. Language schools wanted teachers with years of experience. Most of the teachers I met worked as tutors or at day cares. The visa process was also a huge ideal. Most teachers came and applied to be the equivalent of an independent contractor. In order to apply for the visa, applicants needed to sign a lease to a flat, pay large fees, organize their own insurance, medical records, and twice travel to a foreign country to interview at a consulate. Nothing was guaranteed either. After two weeks of searching I was offered a teaching job for two hours a week. I realized things weren’t to meant to be in Prague and it was time to look for other programs. That’s when I found CETP.

I came to Europe because I wanted to give teaching a try. My undergraduate degree was not in Education and in my home state I would have needed to earn a master’s degree in order to apply for a teaching job. The beauty of CETP is that it’s one of the only programs in Europe that guarantee’s a job in a real classroom. Not language school classes that meet at random hours, but a school that brings you into their community. I was fortunate enough to work at boarding school which taught students ranging in age from five to nineteen. This gave me the most complete experience, as I was able to work with all age levels. A year later I applied to work at an elite state school in another EU country where my girlfriend was living. What set me apart from other applicants was my experience teaching in a state school and working with all different ages.

My appreciation for the services CETP provided grew immensely this past year. Last spring I was offered the position at the elite school in a new EU country. However, it was up to me to secure the visa. Without the help of CETP I had to battle through the language barriers, bureaucracy, and changing visa laws on my own. I had to hire an agent, travel to five different countries to acquire paperwork and participate in interviews, and spend hours waiting in lines. It ultimately took nine months for the visa to arrive and the whole process cost about the same as the CETP program fees. Finding housing, insurance, medical services, and other assistance was whole other ordeal.

In terms of the reviewer's claims, it’s clear she had misconceptions of life abroad and probably a false sense of entitlement. For not having to pay a fee I can’t understand her audacity to complain. Granted it’s difficult to work with young children, they’re hyperactive and don’t like to sit still. It’s hard to get them to sit quietly in a circle and listen, especially if it’s in a foreign language they don’t understand. However, the benefit’s of them hearing a second language at their young age is crucial due to the plasticity of their developing brains.

Secondly, she complains that her flat isn’t in the center of Budapest. What she might not realize is that most people don’t live in the touristy areas of their home city but in the surrounding neighborhoods which are more suitable for daily life. Similarly most American’s wouldn’t want to live in Time Square. It’s also clear that she has no idea how hard it is to find an affordable flat in a foreign country where she doesn’t speak the language. From firsthand experience it’s very time consuming and pricey.

Thirdly, few teachers would complain about working eight hours, many are fighting tooth and nail to land as many teaching hours as possible. Hour long commutes are part of many peoples’ workdays whether they are Hungarian or American.

Also, she complains that as a first year teacher she is earning an entry level Hungarian teacher salary. It’s true that some teachers get paid more but that’s because they have at least two years or more of teaching experience. Perhaps she has limited real world work experience but in most professions employees who have more experience get paid more.

During orientation Hajni states very clearly that she will be your Hungarian mother. She 100% backed up this claim. During my stay she would check in with me and make sure everything was going well. If there was ever a problem she would rapidly respond and find an immediate solution. Ultimately she was there to help participants no matter their problem, whether it be medical emergencies, finding themselves lost on a train, or teachers having problems with their school. Being in a foreign country and not being able to speak the language can be scary, ultimately I took solace knowing that she was just a phone call away.

In conclusion, CETP is not a scam but a comprehensive program that provides participants with a unique life and work experience. For a reasonable price participants are guaranteed a real classroom teaching job, visas, insurance, housing, a teacher liaison at their school, and 24-hour emergency assistance. CETP also provides an orientation program to help participants adjust to life in Hungary. List of contact information of fellow participants are provided and they send emails regarding cultural events that are happening. There are many things that are easy to miss when living in a non-English country, for instance daylight savings time, but CETP always keeps you in the loop. Living overseas can at times be a challenge but that’s part of the experience. My time in Hungary was amazing and I would highly recommend the program to anyone interested. While the fee may initially seem expensive, the services provided are well worth every penny.

Yes, I recommend

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