Central European Teaching Program in Hungary

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About

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

Reviews

8.5 Rating
based on 40 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 72.5%
  • 7-8 rating 12.5%
  • 5-6 rating 7.5%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 7.5%
  • Benefits 8.4
  • Support 8.5
  • Fun 8.1
  • Facilities 7.8
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 1 - 8 of 40
Default avatar
Kate
6/10
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.
Default avatar
Louis
10/10
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).
Default avatar
Cathy
5/10
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,
"WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE TEN-MONTH PLACEMENT FEE, your fee goes toward":
"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

Default avatar
Veronica
8/10
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.

Default avatar
Diana
10/10
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!

Default avatar
Colin
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Overall, worth it.

My aim here is to leave a detailed, factual, in-depth review of CETP, so that you can make an informed decision.

Your first question is likely about the steep fee. It's $2500 for all Budapest placements, all high school placements regardless of location, and $1900 for primary school placements outside of Budapest. So, is it worth it? What does this fee get you? The main things:

-A place to live. You will not pay rent. You will not pay most bills (some people have to pay for their own internet). If you look at $2500/$1900 as 10-12 months of rent/bills, then it is worth it as that is very cheap. Most teachers will get their own flat, but some people in CETP were housed with a Hungarian teacher, or on the school grounds. Keep in mind that CETP has no say-so over this. CETP does not choose your lodging, and most of the time they know very little about where you will be living. It's up to your school.

-Hajni. Hajni is your Hungarian Mom. She will help you with anything you need - problems with your school, doctor's visits, immigration questions, etc. She is wonderful and really wants the best for the teachers in the program, but you must call her and stress that whatever you need is very important.

-Paperwork. Understandably, you must send CETP a whole host of paperwork required by the Hungarian government. They then hand this off to your school, and your school will take care of all your paperwork - visa, healthcare, tax, etc. This is a big sell for CETP as this would be nearly impossible for someone who did not speak Hungarian. CETP will not do the actual submitting/filing etc, your school will do this. CETP will only be involved if you need to report to CETP that your school is not doing what they should be doing.

-Orientation. The orientation is really a blast. You'll meet most of the other teachers, have some events, learn a little bit about Hungary, and of course go out at night and have some fun.

Random musings:

The most important thing to know about this program is that CETP will match you with a school and ensure that your school provides you with what they are contractually obligated to provide to you. However, with that said, your experience will largely depend on the school. You'll only deal with CETP later if there is a problem between you and your school.

The actual teaching portion of this adventure will vary wildly from school to school. Some teachers will earn more than others. Some will be the only English teacher at the school and be responsible for the entire English curriculum, while other teachers will simply be assistants in a class taught by a Hungarian. Some teachers will see all of their students each day, while others may have 25 separate classes that only meet once a week. Some teachers will be expected to grade, write tests, and meet parents, while others won't. If you're concerned about exactly what it is you will be doing, make sure to press CETP for some answers to your questions.

You are are assigned a contact-person at your school. This is a co-worker (or possibly boss) who will be your "link" to your new world. This is also the person who will assist you with your paperwork, and who is supposed to help you with things you may need during your stay in Hungary. Some are wonderful. Some are not.

You will not be paid until 3-4 months after arriving. You will get paid for those 3-4 months eventually, just not right away. CETP suggests that you bring $500-$1000 to live off of before you start getting paid, which is a criminally low estimate. If you only bring $500 to Budapest, you will go broke real quick. $1000 is obviously better, but I would bring at least $2000 to live off of for the first few months. Again, experiences vary wildly here. Your school is responsible for getting your paperwork done, not CETP. Some teachers started to get paid in October, some not until December. Some residency permits end with your contract, some end later. No idea why. CETP will be there to push your school along should you have issues, but, you MUST contact them and stress the importance of whatever is going on.

My biggest criticism of the program is that CETP seems to be a little out of touch with what goes on at each school. They don't know what will be expected of you at the school. They don't know much about each individual living arrangement, and they don't know anything about your hours. Getting answers is very difficult. Whether this is because they don't know, or, they choose not to tell you, I don't know. Either way, this aspect needs improving.

Overall, the program is still worth it, just know that it's not perfect. Hungary is a good central location for exploring Central and Southern Europe. I've made some amazing friends, been on some amazing trips, and all the teachers in CETP are fun, adventurous, and eager to help each other. Just by being at your school you are doing the school a service, as they need a native-speaker teacher in order to meet certain government requirements. It takes a little bit of courage to just jump in with minimal details, but for the majority of people it's a positive experience, me included.

What would you improve about this program?
(Copied from above)

My biggest criticism of the program is that CETP seems to be a little out of touch with what goes on at each school. They don't know what will be expected of you at the school. They don't know much about each individual living arrangement, and they don't know anything about your hours. Getting answers can be very difficult. Whether this is because they don't know, or, they choose not to tell you, I don't know. Either way, this aspect needs improving.
Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Live Your Best Life!

Hello everyone! If you are interested in teaching English abroad, I have just the program for you. It’s called Central European Teaching Program, or CETP. Due to this amazing program, I am living my best life teaching English in Mateszalka, Hungary! I started September 1, 2018, after a week of orientation at a hostel in Budapest. Upon arriving at the airport, I was welcomed by the CETP staff and driven to the hostel, where current English teachers of all ages and backgrounds were waiting to greet me. Each day, we had a schedule of classes and speakers to help prepare us for our new lives in Hungary. It was so interesting to learn about the culture and language. We were each given a phone to use while living in Hungary, with instructions on how to apply money. CETP paid for a welcome dinner at a beautiful restaurant along the river and another at the completion of orientation. It was wonderful. I made fast friends and tons of memories that week.
CETP found out exactly what experience I was looking for and matched me up with my perfect location. There are schools all over the country, but I wanted to dive into the culture of a small town. My Hungarian contact teacher picked me up from the hostel and we drove the 4 hours to my new home. My head was spinning at this point, so I really appreciated CETP taking care of everything. I asked my contact teacher so many questions on the drive, and she was patient, kind, and courteous. I was taken right to the school, and on a tour of the town. It reminded me a lot of Indiana, so I immediately felt right at home. Another benefit of CETP, is that lodging is free for the year. I have a cute little flat that fits all my needs. The CETP staff frequently calls, texts, and emails to make sure everything is running smoothly. All of the paperwork sent to CETP was given to my contact teacher and she made sure I had all the legal documents necessary to live and work in the country. I get paid once a month and it is just enough for me. I have to transfer money home for monthly bills, but I am never struggling. My coworkers are amazing and always make me feel included. The children are the best part. I teach 1st-8th grade, and I love them so much. I try to learn as much Hungarian as possible, and use it regularly. I just signed up to work another year and couldn’t be happier. I highly recommend this program and hope you found this review helpful.
To start, you need a 4 year degree and to be TEFL certified. Do some research, and find out if CETP is for you. There is excellent information about the program online, and many helpful reviews. Next, reach out to Mary Rose, the Director of CETP. She is very kind and will guide you in the right direction. Good luck!

Default avatar
Cvijeta
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best way to experience Europe

There are several reasons why I would recommend CETP: placement in a school, provided accommodation, their vast experience with the visa process and of course the invaluable network of other CETP teachers.

Some people are more comfortable than others with jetting off to another country and hoping to land a job offer relatively soon and sort out accommodation and visa paperwork etc. Myself, I am not so adventurous, so I certainly appreciated the peace of mind of being able to sort out where I would be working before even leaving the US. Not to mention knowing that there would be accommodation when I arrived, and that the program is very experienced in securing your work visa, makes CETP an incredible value.

We have also found the program to be very helpful for our situation. More specifically, we wanted to be sure that we would have an apartment large enough for two people; my husband would be joining me in Hungary of course, but only I would be teaching (he works as a programmer remotely). We were provided with a very excellent apartment, and in addition, I know if I ever needed help with anything I could contact Hajni and Mary Rose immediately.

The network of other CETP teachers for tips and advice for all things related to Hungary, teaching and Europe is also fantastic. If you need some ideas for a class project or a lesson plan or even just suggestions on where to go in Europe for your next holiday (and what to do), you have access to a wonderful, responsive and helpful network of teachers. Even if you don't have much teaching experience yet (or are a bit overwhelmed with teaching in a new culture), just ask away, we're here to help :)

Overall, I would say that CETP has been a very positive experience. We have been here since January 2017, and as of now (May 2019) still plan to be in Hungary next year. I've always wanted to teach in Hungary because my grandmother was born here, but honestly from a more practical point of view, I think CETP is the best way to explore Europe. For most people, visiting places like Vienna, Prague, Athens and Salzburg are once-in-a-lifetime experiences they dream of for decades, for you, it'll be something you can knock off on the next 3-4 day weekend :)

What would you improve about this program?
Perhaps some more emphasis on Hungarian classroom management during the orientation, since they have some different cultural norms here (though can certainly be taught some new ones!) :)