Central European Teaching Program in Hungary

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The Central European Teaching Program represents a significant presence in Hungary. CETP has been placing conversational English teachers in Central and European Europe since 1990. Our volunteers are responsible for enhancing student's oral fluency through conversation practice, classroom drills, games, audio-visual instruction and listening comprehension, as well as through working closely with native teachers to emphasize important grammar concepts. High school teachers may be asked to help prepare students for stringent national language exams as well.

Questions & Answers


based on 30 reviews
  • Benefits 8.2
  • Support 8.5
  • Fun 7.9
  • Facilities 7.7
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 15 of 30
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Excellent experience in Hungary thanks to CETP

I just completed one year in Miskolc, Hungary as an English teacher in two schools. I had such a good time that I am extending to do another year! I would definitely recommend CETP to those interested in teaching in Europe: it is near impossible to get a working visa and support without the help of a program like CETP.

Not only is Hungary a fun place to be, it is also a springboard for some great and cheap travels. I was able to find some dirt cheap flights to other European destinations - and while the local pay in Hungary isn't great, proper budgeting can be a big help.

If you're looking for a laid back lifestyle, enjoy working with kids/teens, and aren't afraid of a challenge - sign up for CETP in Hungary!

How can this program be improved?
The orientation was unorganized.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Loved it! Worth the fee, not a scam in any way.

I taught English in Budapest through CETP this year and had a really great time! Great deal if you’re a non-EU citizen with no prior connections to Hungary, who wants to teach English in Europe and make the most out of your TEFL certificate.

There are many pay-for-placement programs out there, but CETP is not one of those. The program fee of $2500 includes:
- Your housing paid upfront. In Budapest, housing for a year would usually cost more than the total program fee, and you don’t have to do the work yourself signing a lease.
- Your immigration work. This alone is worth it, as going through Hungarian bureaucracy as a non-EU citizen without speaking the language is virtually impossible. You’d probably end up paying hundreds of dollars for a third-party service anyway.
- A week-long orientation
- A Facebook group
- A little community of other teachers
- Support from Hajni, a woman works as your go-to person in Hungary for any issues (medical, personal, and otherwise), and Mary, who is the American director.
- Etc.

CETP itself is an agency that acts as a middleman between you and your school + the Hungarian government, so your experience can vary based on the school you are hired for.

But most people are satisfied and many even come back for multiple years. Just keep your expectations realistic. Some things to note:

- Don’t expect 5-star accommodations
- Understand that the job you get won’t be glamorous or high-paying like teaching in Asia.
- You’ll have to budget if you want to travel.
- You may not have air conditioning or other luxuries.
- CETP isn’t there to care for you, and you do have to be kind of self-reliant and have some grit during your time abroad.
- If you live in Budapest, you will definitely not live in the city center unless you maybe pay extra, but public transportation is very good.
- Cultural tensions may exist, as in some Hungarian co-teachers and colleagues can be difficult to work with.
- With regards to living in Hungary, the culture and attitude is very different from the U.S. and if you’re not mindful, this can be draining. At banks and offices, service is very slow and there is no sense of efficiency. Hungarians can also come off as negative and pessimistic compared to Americans and even Western Europeans (but they’re great once you get to know them!).
- Bring some savings with you.
- Although I was paid right away, a few people from other schools didn't get their first check until November (three months of pay at once). Bring savings or a credit card with a high limit, or ask your school director ahead of time for pay details.

As long as you note these things and have a positive, resilient attitude, you should enjoy yourself. From my experience, the few people who were dissatisfied with the program usually didn’t keep one or more these things in mind, but even of those few, most adapted.

Overall, I’d highly recommend CETP!

How can this program be improved?
- Communication could be a little clearer sometimes
- Maybe throw a few happy hours during the year!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Fantastic program!

I have had experience teaching abroad in other contexts, and I can say that CETP surpassed all my expectations. They provide support, a network of other teach-abroads, and lots of opportunities to explore the region. They deal with all the annoying administrative stuff and support you when needed. A great program! I only wish that they could still place teachers in Poland & Romania, as I would re-enlist. Thank you!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Wonderful experience in a less than easy bureaucratic system

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.

How can this program be improved?
I would ask that in locations where you have more than one school to teach at, that the location of the flat or housing be in a better location. It would be nice to have a designated flat in each location, but at this point it's not possible in all towns and cities.

I also wish that the orientation focused more on dealing with issues based on problems or challenges found in the past. The American CETP teachers who have stayed on are a very important source of information.
Yes, I recommend this program
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An honest review of CETP...

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 this program
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The perfect program if you want to teach in Europe

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 this program
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Highly Recommended!

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 this program
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Response to Review

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 this program
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We are glad we found CETP and made our move to Hungary

I remember the day I found CETP while searching on the internet a few years ago. I was excited to have found such an opportunity and equally nervous about putting my trust in an organization that up until then I had never even heard of. Before moving my husband, our 8 year old daughter and myself half way across the world I wanted some reassurances that the organization was credible and not just another website on the internet. We researched and moved cautiously. Then, feeling more confident after many positive interactions with the organization over a period of months we decided to take the plunge. We are so happy that we did. Our experience with CETP as well as the school we were assigned to has been wonderful.

I specifically wanted to return to Hungary after living there for nearly two years in the 1990’s. What CETP offered seemed perfect. Neither my husband or I were teachers by profession, so we both got busy earning our TEFL certificates online to qualify. Because I already knew how difficult getting visas and finding living arrangements in Hungary could be for a foreigner I was confident the CETP fee was a very good value. We were thrilled to have found help in securing housing, arranging our visas, arranging our employment, handling the negotiations with an employer and signing us up for Hungarian healthcare. I was surprised that a program such as CETP would allow children, but they were happy to welcome our young daughter. They made a special effort to find an apartment to comfortably accommodate three of us. CETP even met us at the airport late at night and arranged our family’s transportation to our assigned apartment. They provided a week long orientation which helped our newbie-teacher-nervousness subside somewhat. Two evenings during orientation, we were CETP’s guests at two beautiful get-acquainted dinners with the other new teachers. Our experience was wonderful and made it logistically possible for our family to make the transition to Hungary from the USA. I don’t know how we would have accomplished it without them!

Mary Rose, the CETP representative in the USA, was a pleasure to work with and answered our many questions. She also has personal experience teaching English in Hungary and travels to Hungary for the orientation so we got to benefit from her stories of the classroom. Upon arrival in Hungary we met Hajni, who speaks English very well, and she has proven herself to be a miracle worker in many respects. She maintains professionalism, integrity and a delightful optimism while attending to the needs of teachers, schools and the challenges of Hungarian bureaucracy. She is well known and respected in the various immigration and national healthcare offices and can get the job done much faster than we ever could have done on our own. She keeps us informed of changes in Hungarian laws as they affect us or our contracts and helps us as needed. Hajni is also the in-country-person to call with any emergencies which is an invaluable reassurance to have built into a relocation to another country. Our family has had two separate medical emergencies and thankfully Hajni was available to assist us with language translation and support in the hospital. Although we try to be as self-reliant as we can, CETP has gone the extra mile for us when we need help. We are very happy to be in association with CEPT during our stay in Hungary.

The people running CETP very much want teachers to have a good experience. They also very much want the Hungarian schools to have good teachers. They will do all they realistically can to help teachers be successful. ESL teaching in Hungary is a real job in the real world complete with all the world’s usual flaws and complexities. Being adaptable is highly advised! With provided housing and healthcare the salary is enough to live here if you are accustomed to being sensible financially. You will be living at Hungarian standards, likely small spaces. Bring your professionalism and patience, an open mind to cultural differences, a sense of adventure and an unrelenting ability to see the good in all things whether or not they are logical or convenient. These things will serve you well in Hungary. If you remember that you are making a difference here and that the students need you, you just might never want to leave! I am glad we found CETP to see us through these joyful years of our Hungarian adventure!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Nothing more than a Pay-for-Placement Scheme

CETP really is nothing more than a for-profit company that charges teachers to be placed in schools. Those with good placements seem to enjoy their experience. In fact, it was the positive reviews that I read on here that led me to contact the organization last Nov. I was offered what appeared to be a great deal, a very significant discount, if I came immediately for a mid-semester replacement.
I was told I'd be "essentially lead teacher" at a bilingual kindergarten in the Buda hills and would have a centrally located apartment in the city. I was also told I'd have the same standard provisions in their general contract, i.e. Hungarian national teacher's wages/benefits, help getting permits, a bank account, health insurance, etc.
I arrived to discover the job was teaching assistant (nanny) to two Hungarian teachers that speak no English. In fact, no one in my classroom speaks English or cares to learn. Aside from a 15-minute circle time that I had to fight for, English is not spoken in the school. Since day 1, my primary job has been supervising toileting activities (which includes wiping each child after their bm's). The Hungarian teachers that I support say 'good morning' and 'goodbye', but otherwise do not acknowledge my presence.
Additionally, the school is not in Budapest but a village west of the city. Upon arrival, I was told my apartment fell through. After a week in a hotel, I was told the school director looked at more than 2 dozen apartments before finding the place they put me (which, I later discovered just happened to be owned by her husband). I have a 1 hour commute each way, am 45 minutes for the central area of the city, and have to walk more than 1/2 mile just to reach the bus stop. As a Kindergarten employee, I work 8 hour days (so 10 hours including commute).
A week after I arrived, I was told Kindergarten contracts are 6 weeks longer than others and I had to stay until end of July. My resident visa, which didn't arrive until 4 days before my tourist visa was set to expire, ends on my last day (which means I have to leave Hungary immediately). CETP is very vague about salary because teachers in the program receive a range of pay. Over a month ago, I discovered that I'm not even making the minimum national teacher's wage and, in fact, am barely making above Hungarian minimum wage. After initially doing some double-talk to justify my low wage, CETP said I'd start getting paid more...but it didn't actually happen. Moreover, I am paid in cash (so no bank account) and have yet to see any documentation of taxes paid on my behalf.
I could go on, but I've covered the most egregious points. CETP has not been helpful at all. Hajni, the in-country director, has actually lied to me so many times that I've now insisted all communication must be in writing. Twice CETP said I could transfer, only to later change their minds when a potential replacement backed out. Despite charging exorbitant fees to teachers, CETP places the schools' needs first. Oh, and if you want to leave, the schools will try to recoup all the taxes/benefits/rent costs that they claim to have spent.
There are many country-wide EFL programs in Europe (e.g. Spain, France, Georgia) that pay more and don't charge fees to teachers. If you really want Hungary and are willing to take the risk and pay the fee, be sure to speak to a former teacher at your potential placement. If there are none available (as was the case for my school), there's probably a good reason. Don't expect honest answers from CETP. They make a lot of money from this racket, and they have every intention of continuing to do so.

Response from Central European Teaching Program

Response from Central European Teaching Program to Nothing but a Pay for placement scheme

I am the US director of the Central European Teaching Program. I was heart-sick at this review from a woman who we invited to teach without paying any program fee whatsoever because the preschool needed a teacher desperately. She is a highly educated woman and I realize that this was not the ideal placement for her, but it was the only school that remained when she contacted me.
She wished to bring her dog over so the school director hunted high and low to find her an apartment that would accept an animal. She is living in one of the most luxurious districts in Budapest, where even Hungary's past president resides. And yes, it is about an hour commute from the school in a very lovely suburb but this is unfortunately the reality for most who live and work in the city or nearby. The school director's husband does not own the apartment.
She receives the mandated teacher's salary, has received her work and residence permit to be in Hungary legally, to include receiving government medical insurance.
I am most upset at her characterization of our wonderful Hungarian director, who is one of the world's truly kind and caring people.
I am sorry that this reviewer is so unhappy. We did try to replace her twice this spring, but since we were unable to find an immediate replacement for her, we felt an obligation to the school to leave her in place.
We have never been a pay-for-placement scheme. The 4 of us who comprise CETP work hard, make very little, and relish the role we are playing in providing good teachers to Hungary while giving Americans, Canadians, and others the opportunity to live in and love Hungary.

Submitted 04/02/2015

No, I don't recommend this program
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Highly reccommended

I have been working in Hungary since August and I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my experience working with CETP. When I first considered applying for the program I was concerned about the seemingly high fee that the program charges. After all, we don't make a lot of money working here. However, the peace of mind and support that comes with teaching with CETP has been invaluable. I have always felt supported and cared for by Mary, Hajni, and Hildie and they have always been available to answer my questions.

The fee includes a week long orientation which was really wonderful. Honestly, I was leery about spending a week in a hostel with a bunch of strangers but I must say I met some wonderful people while I was there, people who have since become great friends. The hostel we stayed in was lovely and we were offered classes in Hungarian language, culture, and teaching methods. We also had plenty of free time to explore the city of Budapest and were treated to two lovely dinners.

If I had to offer one piece of advice to anyone considering applying for the program it would be to be honest with both yourself and CETP about what you want out of your time abroad. The women of CETP are wonderful but they are not mind readers. For instance, I was originally offered placements in either a town or a small city in different areas of Hungary. I talked with Mary about my options and told her that if it was possible I really hoped to be placed in a High School in Budapest. Fortunately, CETP was able to find one and I am so happy that I said something. Think about what it is that you really want. I personally wanted access to urban life. However, I have a close friend in the program who wanted to get away from it all and absolutely loves her placement in a tiny village. Be reasonable but also, you know yourself best, don't accept a placement that you don't think will work for you.

Also be aware that peoples' experiences vary greatly. I have friends who have loved their time here in Hungary and friends who were dissapointed with either their school, living situation, or town.

In my experience, my Hungarian colleagues have been wonderful. They have invited my into their lives and constantly go out of their way to help me with everything from finding a good cup of coffee to translating phone calls. My students too are wonderful and I really enjoy working with them every day.

That being said, it is a lot of work. I teach 22 classes per week and spend a good amount of my free time planning lessons or grading papers. This may vary for elementary school teachers but remember that while you should definitely take advantage of the citites' nightlife and the travel opportunities that you will surely have, you are coming here for a very real job.

Finally, other reviewers have said that we don't make enough money and by Western standards it is absolutely true. I make roughly $550 USD per month after taxes. However, it is the same amount that my Hungarian coworkers make and I also have the benefit of free housing and utilities. The cost of living here is much lower and it is more than enough money to live on. Yes, you need to budget if you want to do any major traveling but I have been out of the country at least once per month and only had a small amount of savings with me when I arrived so it is possible. Also, tutoring opportunities are usually available if you want to supplement your income.

To sum up, I highly suggest working with CETP. They will be happy to answer any questions you have before you even fill out the application and will be with you every step of the way. If you'd like to know more about my experience, please don't hesitate to send me your questions.

How can this program be improved?
I feel that CETP does a good job of accurately representing the placement opportunities to applicants but I suppose more information about what the previous teachers' experiences in a particular school were like would be helpful in allowing applicants to know what they should expect. As I said, every placement is different.
Yes, I recommend this program
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A great program

I spent last year teaching English in Hungary via CETP, and I'm going back. I think that says a lot right there. I'm not a sadist; I would not stick with a program that didn't offer support.

I've made some outstanding friends in this country, both Hungarian and American. There's some getting used to it-- it's not the U.S.A. after all. Expecting it to be anything like America isn't wise.

Best advice?

Be friendly
Go with the flow
Have 1 or 2 people you trust who will listen on bad days and laugh on good ones.

How can this program be improved?
If I could change anything it would be regarding finances. We make a living wage, but it's not much. If you were planning on extravagant travel through Europe or spending a lot on "extras" you'll need another source of income. We do get our room & most of our utilities paid, so it's more than the Hungarians get, but it's still small potatoes compared with other programs, especially those in Asia.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Rewards Worth the Leap

My family and I have been living abroad in Budapest through a placement with CETP for the past two years. Overall our experiences have been positive and the support of CETP has been invaluable. Naturally there have been some difficulties and challenges along the way, the three most common we and many others have encountered are:

1) Low Salary: Bottom line - don’t come to Hungary if you are looking to make money. The salary native English teachers receive is above what the average Hungarian teacher makes and sufficient for day to day expenses and modest travel. However, it is not enough to fill your pockets before you leave! Do you have to budget carefully? Absolutely! Do you have to give up the creature comforts of home? Definitely some them, but for our family the rewards of humble living have far outweighed any monetary gain.

2) Frustration with Administration: CETP itself does its best with the resources it has but it is often pitted against a system that is both unorganized and unsympathetic. Hungarian administration is very inconsistent to say the least and can indeed be frustrating when you are used to a more ordered way of doing things. If you are open-minded and flexible you’ll do just fine, if not…well, be prepared to be discontent and unhappy.

3) Placement Fee: CETP is a well respected organization here in Hungary. Paying the fee for association alone is well worth it. Our family experienced very little difficulty in wading through the red tape of immigration, however colleagues and friends of ours not with CETP have had nothing but trouble with Hungarian bureaucracy.

The key thing to keep in mind (we cannot stress this enough) do not come to Hungary with the expectation that things will be anything like what you are used to. It is a FOREIGN country! Its people speak a different language, adhere to different cultural traditions/customs and have a completely different mindset based on their collective historical experiences. But isn’t that the beauty of living in another country, experiencing that which is unfamiliar and in doing so learning more about ourselves and the world? You may find yourself longing for the next new discovery or learn that travelling is not your ‘bag’. Whatever you take with you will be worth that first leap into the unknown, with CETP or otherwise.

How can this program be improved?
The accessibility to teacher resources could definitely be improved although I understand CETP and the schools do the best they can with what they have available to them.
Yes, I recommend this program
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An additional response to Sandra Jacobs

I recently became aware of negative comments left by Ms Jacobs concerning her experience living and working in Oroshaza, Hungary.

I lived in Oroshaza for three years and never experienced anything remotely connected to "neo-nazism". Ms Jacobs lived in the town for just a few months and obviously did not take the time to understand and learn about her surroundings. This is a shame, because she missed out on a great town and an even better school community.

I can only highly recommend living in Hungary and especially in Oroshaza.

How can this program be improved?
I have no personal complaints about the program whatsoever.
Yes, I recommend this program
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CETP - an excellent choice!

I am very glad I found CETP. I have an excellent placement at a high quality secondary school in southern Hungary. I spend only 20 - 30 hours working per week and enjoy living in a very comfortable flat right across the street from the school.

I moved to Hungary with my family (my husband and my 3-year-old daughter), so we have been very grateful for all the support CETP provides. As we prepared to move, the staff were very communicative and connected us with previous teachers who answered all of our questions and provided priceless daily-life details. It was so nice to have friendly faces waiting for us when we arrived at the airport, and we learned so much during the week-long orientation they provided.

The CETP in-country director is just a phone call away and is always happy to help. She has been a valuable resource for me and also for my school, who relies on CETP to help them navigate visa and paperwork issues.

We love Hungary and we love CETP, which is why we're signing up for another year. I encourage people with families to consider CETP, as we have found their placements to have flexibility and accommodations that were difficult to find elsewhere.

Yes, I recommend this program

About 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.