Looking for a hot spot to teach in Central Europe? Look no further than Poland! Despite having a somewhat unstable past, Poland today is a bustling country ready for you to visit. This country is home to a variety of unspoiled, beautiful landscapes in the countryside as well as churches, museums, and a general rich history in the more urban areas.
Ever since joining the European Union in 2004, the demand to speak and understand English has only increased and with that the demand for those who teach English. In fact, students who are interested in a business career must pass a government mandated English test. If the Polish charm interests you, look no further and go teach!
Because English is now becoming the norm, there are a variety of places when you will be able to teach. Unless you work in a summer camp, you will typically work for the entire school year, for 20-35 hours/week; you may work more hours if you teach private lessons. There are a variety of teaching options available in Poland, these include:
Most business deals are done in English these days so companies will hire people to teach “business” and general English for those dealing with the international market. Many companies offer classes after the regular work day is finished which means work in the late afternoon/evening. Pay is generally not as good as a normal teacher and work is more difficult to find.
Private Language Schools
Teaching jobs in private schools are generally less structured than those found in the public sector, both in their lessons and benefits they provide. Some private schools care more about the bottom line than they do about providing high-quality language instruction or about the teachers they employ. Classes at private schools are usually forty-five or fifty minutes long, and students range from young kids to middle -aged adults.
State Primary and Secondary Schools
Though they rarely pay as well as the private schools, the benefits they provide more than make up for the difference in salary. As a teacher in a public school you will be better exposed to a broader segment of the community than you would in the private sector schools. For many expats, part of the experience of living abroad, especially if you pick a smaller city or rural area, is getting involved in the local community.
Language Holiday Camps
Instruction will address all areas of understanding English; it is important for these lessons to be engaging and interactive, not one-directional lectures. There is a very short time commitment. Most camps run two to four weeks. The longest time is usually 12 weeks, the period that school is out for the summer. Field trips to local points of interest are paid for by the camp. There is no cost for food or accommodations.
Where and When to Look for Jobs:
The best places to look for work are in the bigger cities like Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, the Tri area (Gdansk, Gdynia, & Sopot), Poznan, and Lodz. Recruitment usually takes place during the months leading up to the start of school, especially in August, however, some schools start looking as early as May and June.
It is quite difficult to find work online or over the phone so it is recommended that you visit schools upon arrival to discover available positions. When looking to teach private lessons, it is recommended that you travel to Poland, establish yourself, and then reach out to find opportunities.
At minimum, Poland requires a CELTA or Trinity certification to teach English in a formal setting. TEFL is not as highly recommended as it does not guarantee actual teaching experience. Also recognized are DELTA, MA TESOL, qualified teacher status in your home country, and/or any course that requires 100-120 of classroom theory plus 6-8 hours of observed teaching practice.
It is also recommended, but not required, that you take the CELTA class in Poland if at all possible to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings.
Salary & Cost of Living:
Many schools will place you on a “Contract for Work Preformed” with a salary anywhere from $650-1900. This also includes either a housing allowance or at least help with finding a place to live. Holidays and taxes are paid by your employer, but health care is not included.
Airfare is also not included in what you are paid. If you want to supplement income with private lessons, expect to be paid somewhere between $7-20. The average cost of living falls between $800-900, and will allow you to live somewhat comfortably while still going out a few nights and also staying in and cooking your own meals. Expect to pay about $2 for a pint of beer in a bar.
Classroom & Work Culture:
Greetings tend to be reserved and courteous, with a good handshake, direct eye contact and a smile. When doing business, wait to be invited to use someone’s first name, even if you have known them for a long time. Poles tend to judge on personal qualities and build their relationships upon honesty and direct communication.
As Poland becomes more westernized, you can expect a teacher to wear something similar to that of a teacher in the US. You are expected to look put together and well groomed in any sort of classroom setting. Private lessons have a bit more flexibility, but don’t look like you just rolled out of bed!
Polish students tend to be demanding and can tell if you are prepared or not, especially because English is so widely spoken now. It is best to always be on your game in any teaching instance, so Poland is really no different.
Relocating to a different country can be scary and stressful but in the end, it will likely be an immensely rewarding experience.