Central European Teaching Program

Why choose 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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No, I don't recommend this program

Save yourself the time and money

The experience I had with CETP was not the best.

While many things are dependent on placement, area, and which school you are in:
There is no support for teachers in the schools once we reach our destination, unlike so many other programs available in Europe/Hungary. This could be down to there being no actual CETP staff available for such a thing. It is run only with 3 people and "volunteers" who are teachers from previous years in the program who again – spend a majority of their time teaching their classes.
There are many things promised in relation to a contact teacher, however, I had no contact teacher after the first month and had to navigate most of the things myself.

The ($2,500) fee paid to CETP is supposed to cover your visa requirements and your placement. However, as visiting teachers, your visa is free! A benefit told to us during orientation is that if you stay on with the same school for another year, your accommodation is paid for that The fee you pay to stay on another year is around the amount of accommodation for the summer months. Also, your accommodation is paid for by your institution – not CETP. It also does not pay for your health coverage, this comes out of your monthly pay - whether you have your insurance card yet or not. There were no monthly emails from anyone in the program, a few occasional ones from Hajni.

Teacher training – the only training I received was at the start during orientation. For orientation, you are housed in a Hostel environment which is still open and serving other guests. This may or may not be conducive to your first experience in Hungary. The outings during Orientation were performed by the volunteers mentioned above, and the survival Hungarian lessons were not long enough to actually help. I would start studying Hungarian before you leave for orientation.

While CETP did get me to Hungary to teach, I would look into other programs where there is more transparency of behind the scenes, where there is an actual HR department, more staff, and where you can feel supported and able to grow as you go out to teach. You won't find that here.

What would you improve about this program?
I would take the time to actually be fully transparent of where the fee goes. I would also hire staff who can regularly check the work and living environments of your staff. Offer what you have already promised and keep checking in on it past orientation. There may be more staff members if you begin to build an actual program and services rather than just a few people here or there.
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Yes, I recommend this program

CETP is an Excellent Program

My grandfather was born in Zemplénagárd so I've always had a great deal of interest in travelling to Hungary and to learn about my roots. Out of the three countries that I've taught English in my experience in Hungary has definitely been my favorite one. The staff at CETP are very kind and understanding. Hajni, who is the country program director is always available to help and very efficient at it is well! Her help has been greatly appreciated by many, myself included! I If you ever need help with a problem, have a doubt or a question she's only ever a short phone call awaz :) I love CETP and highly recommend it!

What would you improve about this program?
I would like to see more CETP reunions! I'm sure that more of the CETP workers meet in cities like Budapest but it seems to be a bit more difficult in Miskolc (although I do love the city that I live in).
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No, I don't recommend this program

Spend your $2500 Elsewhere

For starters, CETP misleads you about where your $2500 application fee goes.
This is part of what is stated in the "Program Details" page of their website,
"Full health insurance through host country" - this is incorrect. You pay your own health insurance via deductions from your teaching salary.

"Social events and teacher training classes" - the only teacher training class I got was during orientation, which for me was just a review of strategies I already use as an experienced teacher. Social events?? I think I learned about 2 (by reading the CETP Facebook page) for the entire ten months

"Monthly teachers’ newsletter" - I never saw one.

"Ongoing support from Director in the host country, and from Program Director in US" - I would have to give this one a no. I rarely heard from the Hungarian director, either by email or by phone, although when I needed her for a medical situation I had, she drove me to two of the appointments and we had delightful conversations. I had a specific question about paid time off for holidays/vacation that I emailed Mary (the U.S. Director) about and she didn't think we got any - although at the end of the year I got paid for 12 days of time off I hadn't used during the school year.

In terms of your placement - your experience will depend almost entirely on your contact teacher (the person or persons at your school who help you when you have problems with your apartment or if you need some support at your school). Although my contact teacher told me often that she had been "doing this" for 10 years, she was rarely helpful and actually said to me twice when I needed help, "That is not my job." She took several entire weeks off from school to take her own holidays, (blaming it on her bad knee - but she actually told me for one of those weeks that she was going to Israel), but never let me or the other CETP teacher at my school know. The school was dysfunctional from the top - the headmistress never acknowledged my presence (even when we passed in the hallways, she averted her eyes). I expected to make friends with the teachers like I had when I taught in Honduras and Guatemala, but only one teacher ever invited me to go out with her.

When you read other reviews - BEWARE!! I notice most teachers talk about how wonderful the country is (it IS wonderful) but rarely mention the actual teaching situation. I talked to about 10 teachers during the year and they ALL said the same thing...the behavior of the students is atrocious and disrespectful. I understand that during the first few weeks they might be testing your endurance and your patience, but until the last day of school, my students talked constantly, used English cuss words to get my attention, fought with each other and were often bullies to other students. It is hard to create your own culture (what you will tolerate or not tolerate in the class) because you and the students move classrooms every day and there is the general chaos that comes with taking your students to different rooms each day that aren't really theirs (or yours). In my school, there were no immediate consequences for bad behavior - the student got a black mark in their exercise book, and if, at the end of the year, their "homeroom" teacher decided they had enough black marks, their grade might reflect it. These black marks did nothing to change their behavior and of course, their grades didn't suffer, and they knew it.
My advice - take the $2500 you would have spent on the application and go to Hungary for 2 or 3 months! Hostels, food, trains and bus travel are cheap.

What would you improve about this program?
A cheaper application fee. Also, a chance to talk to former teachers at the school where you are placed. Of the last three teachers to teach at my school in Budapest, all three of them stayed to teach in Hungary, BUT LEFT THE SCHOOL and got placed in a different school. That would have been all the red flags I needed to ask for a different placement.
Response from Central European Teaching Program

I am so sorry that this teacher had such a bad experience. We do try our best, and usually succeed--this year about 60% of our teachers stayed on for an additional year and many continue for more.
I will stand up for our wonderful Hungarian director, Hajni Vancsik, who works so hard to make certain all of our teachers have a good experience. If the year goes by without needing her services, we feel our teachers should count themselves lucky. But as this teacher stated, when she was in serious trouble, Hajni was truly there for her.
I wish we didn't have to ask any program fee, but we get no funding from government or private organizations to support our program, which is surprisingly incredible to run. (In itself, a week-long orientation in Budapest for 50+ teachers costs a great deal.) I promise no one is getting rich, though I wish we were. :-)
We can't always make it right, but we will always do our best.
I would appreciate this teacher contacting me to see if we can make it right for her.
Mary Rose, US Director

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Yes, I recommend this program

CETP Review

The CETP program is an excellent route for people who are interested in living abroad. It is such a convenient way to live and work in Europe as they offer great support to American teachers all year round. It was my dream to live and work in Europe for many years but without any financial support besides my own, it seemed impossible to make such a life change. Finally, I found CETP. They were so patient and accommodating during the registration process, and they ensured that I had an apartment secured before I arrived to Hungary. They even let me bring my cat! Which was actually the most important thing for me. The program also made my arrival as stress free as possible. I was picked up at the airport by very kind CETP reps and taken to a nice hostel in Budapest. I arrived late in the afternoon and the village I was placed in was a long drive, so I stayed at a hostel for the night which CETP paid for. The hostel was very clean, the staff were so nice and accommodating, and my cat was also welcomed. We had a very comfortable private room. The next morning, another CETP rep, Lali, picked me up and drove me to my new home in Nyírpazony, about 2 hours away from Budapest. He was also very nice and we had a nice conversation during the long drive. He showed me my new apartment, introduced me to everyone at the school, and made sure I had everything I needed. A teacher at my school was assigned as my contact person and she took care of all my visa and health insurance paperwork, and also helped me with anything else I needed (like apartment related repairs and communication with the school headmaster). Such a transition couldn’t have been any easier thanks to the support of CETP. Now I’m living my dream and traveling all over Europe. I feel so secure to know that I have the support of so many kind people from my school, my new neighborhood, and most of all, the CETP community.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Heading into my third year--and looking forward to more!

I have only good things to say about CETP. I applied at a flexible time in my life: I had left my previous teaching position (in NYC) to write a book, which was now halfway done. I had just visited Hungary and was eager to spend more time there. I read about this program, wrote to Mary Rose, the director, and heard back from her the same day. She asked whether I would be interested in teaching at a high school in Szolnok. I looked it up, read about it, and responded: Yes! As it turns out, I could not have made a better choice. It's a wonderful school, and I quickly became part of its daily life. I not only teach English but offer a philosophy elective and am involved with music and drama. I bike to school along the Zagyva river; ducks, egrets, storks, and (in the colder weather) swans are part of my daily commute. The school is intellectually demanding and artistically rich; it has poets, songwriters, musicians, actors, directors, photographers, painters, athletes, and more.

CETP made this possible. The organization helps with the paperwork and placement; Hajni even picked me up at the airport and drove me to Szolnok when I arrived. They are also on hand to help with bureaucratic problems. Fortunately I did not run into any big issues. Like many others, I had to wait a few months for my first paycheck, residence permit, etc., but once I was all set up, all I had to do was renew the paperwork each year. I am used to the process now.

I am not involved in CETP social activities, beyond having dinner with American colleagues in Szolnok now and then--but they are open to me. The support--both social and logistical--is there if you want and need it, and if you don't, that's fine.

Some people ask: "Why should I pay the renewal fee to CETP each year? Why not just continue in my position, without CETP?" These are legitimate questions, but they involve some serious considerations. The terms of the contract more than compensate for the CETP fee. The school district pays for your apartment and utilities; in addition, if you need help with the residence permit and other official cards/papers, there's a contact person assigned to you at the school. Someone who chose to continue without CETP would have to be able to handle the paperwork independently and might have to deal with a change in the terms of the contract. If you speak Hungarian with reasonable fluency, intend to apply for permanent residence, and are willing to pay for your own place, then this might be a reasonable option. I might consider it after this coming year or the following--but know that it involves a tradeoff.

Back to the important things: Hungary can be a great place to teach, if you are well matched with a school. (And if the match isn't right, you can apply for a transfer the following year.) There's a lot of room for initiative: offering new courses, leading extracurricular activities, introducing new materials in your lessons, collaborating with colleagues, and so on. The country is beautiful and full of cultural life; it's easy to travel by bike and train, so you can visit other towns and cities on weekends (and even sometimes during the week). Other countries are easy go reach as well; this wasn't called "Central Europe" for nothing.

As for the Hungarian language: what better way to learn it than to live and teach here? Inow speak Hungarian with my colleagues at least half of the time, and I read in Hungarian as much as I can. Hungarian literature is magnificent and alive; every week, there are literary events of some kind here in Szolnok, and writers regularly visit our school.

As for the people: most of the Hungarians I have met are both kind and up front. They can be critical--criticism is part of daily life--but there's also a general goodwill and a great sense of humor. That said, you'll find the whole range of human nature here; it just expresses itself somewhat differently from in the U.S.

I heartily recommend CETP. It's great not only for the teachers, but for the students and schools. We probably underestimate how much good it does (in terms of bringing different cultures together, giving students opportunities to learn from native speakers of English, giving Americans a chance to learn about Hungary, etc.). So if you're interested, apply!


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

CETP provided visa support and is a US-based program. Unlike other programs that are based abroad, CETP really makes sure that its teachers are satisfied with what they are getting. I wanted to be in Europe, and without a placement program, it is very hard to get a foot in the door. Hungary is different in that it is not overrun by tourists and still has an exotic flare to it!

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

CETP placed me in the schools where I was teaching, and they also covered apartment costs and bills associated. They helped me get the visa and paperwork (which would have been insanely hard without them). My school contact person helped with additional things like getting a transport pass and bank account.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Bring your own hot sauce. Ranch dressing. Peanut butter. Reeses cups. Don't pack too much – it will be hard to fit it all in when you come back! Find a hobby or friends or a way to fill up time. The first few months will be lonely, but just be patient and try to find ways to make your daily life more pleasant. Get a manicure, go for a walk, etc.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

7:45 AM – 2:30 PM (on average) is spent teaching at school; afternoons vary. I also taught at a language school for supplemental income but I had a lot of free time. I traveled a lot on weekends, but when I stayed in town, I often went hiking in the local national park. Hungarians always complain about how busy they are so sometimes it was hard to make plans with people.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

This was my first experience living in a country where I don't know the language. It was so strange to be surrounded by a language that is completely unfamiliar (Hungarian doesn't look anything like French or Spanish)! It was difficult to be dependent on people for help when there is a language barrier but I had to get used to that.