Imagine living in a city that actually looks like a fairy tale -- one boasting stately medieval castles, miles of cobblestone streets and some of the world’s finest beers. If that sounds good – or, in fact, amazing – then Prague, Czech Republic is certainly a metropolis worth exploring.
Fortunately for would-be English teachers, there is still a fairly high demand for native English speakers in this historical European center. The city is the home to several TEFL training programs for potential teachers, making it a top choice for travelers hoping to soak in the glamour of old world Europe, without breaking the bank.
Photo Credit: Roman Boed.
English Training schools in Asia may be knocking on doors for almost any English teachers, schools in the Czech Republic are far more selective. As a result, TEFL courses in Prague can be surprisingly strenuous, with a strict emphasis on grammar and teaching methodology. Those interested in a full-time, four-week TEFL training program through reputable centers such as TEFL Worldwide and Oxford TEFL can expect to have daily coursework and homework assignments, along with trainee-led demo lessons with local students that may begin as soon as the first week of the program. Although part-time courses are not nearly as common, those who would rather not have their training completely absorb a month of their lives can find some selected 10-week courses.
TEFL + Teach:
Many language schools in Prague center now offer hybrid TEFL training and job placement programs that reward top students with a 6- month teaching contract directly after their training ends. It’s important to note that only the best students will be receive a guaranteed job offer, while those with lower pass levels may only receive job support services. On the plus side, many of the TEFL+Teach programs also include housing assistance, visa acquisition assistance, weekly Czech lessons, and at least eight hours of classroom teaching experience during the duration of the four-week course. Oxford TEFL and TEFL in Prague by Edua Languages are some of the best choices for trainees who hope to jump right into the local teaching game. While a university degree is desired for applicants, candidates without a degree who are above the age of 18 can qualify as long as they display their English proficiency --- usually through an online Skype interview or writing test.
Part-Time TEFL Courses:
Cactus TEFL is one of the only training schools that offer part-time TEFL training, a convenient alternative for foreigners who may already be employed or otherwise occupied in Prague. Students signing up for the 10-week program meet for full-day classes twice a week, although participants are expected to dedicate additional time to written assignments and lesson preparation. Students who complete the program will earn the internationally recognized Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) – basically, a TEFL certificate offered under the umbrella of Cambridge University. Cactus TEFL emphasizes that its program does not offer “guaranteed” job placement. However, can receive job search assistance for up to three months after they earn their certificate. Housing is not available for part-time students.
TEFL courses technically only need to include 100 hours of training to earn an international accreditation, but almost all of Prague’s top training schools offer 120-hour courses. The International TEFL Corporation, a global company with a location in Prague, goes one step farther with its 140-hour iTTT TEFL course in Prague. In addition to providing more opportunities for teaching practice, this four-week course also gives students the option of boarding with host families for a truly authentic Czech experience.
When and Where to Look:
The Czech Republic’s TEFL training market is almost exclusively centered in Prague. Enrolling for a late-summer course is a good bet for teachers aiming to begin their teaching career in the city, as many language schools experience a boom with the start of the school year in September. Winter courses are also beneficial since English teachers are similarly in-demand for the January semester. Most TEFL programs require applicants to submit their applications at least 4 to 6 weeks before their desired start date.
Four-year university degrees are desirable, but they are not absolutely required. TEFL programs are open to adults who are 18 and older, and who demonstrate a solid English language proficiency. However, individuals lacking professional work experience may experience some difficulty finding employment with some of Prague’s larger language schools. Individuals can enter the country on a travel visa, but must obtain a long-term visa (sponsored by an employer) before they can begin teaching. Many foreign teachers opt for a foreign trade license known as a “Zivno,” which allows teachers to work for multiple Czech companies and change employers without fear of losing their visa status.
Prague is bursting full with TEFL training schools that offer perks in the hopes of standing out from the competition. Most programs offer job guidance throughout the entirety of a TEFL training course, while others – such as the International TEFL Academy – provide lifetime job guidance and assistance. Teachers planning on staying in Prague should expect to encounter a rigorous job interview process. Most language schools require applicants to complete a written grammar exam and perform a demo lesson before they can be considered for employment. The demo lesson should not be taken lightly, since it will most likely make-or-break the entire interview.
Cost of Living:
Prague is certainly cheaper than most of its western European counterparts, but prices are steadily increasing. Foreigners should aim to arrive with at least $1,500-$2,000 to sustain themselves through their TEFL training, job hunt and potential visa fees. It’s important to stress that individuals applying for a visa to work in the Czech Republic may need to wait for weeks until the document is approved -- meaning, you will have no legal source of income during that period. A majority of the training schools offer some kind of accommodation for trainees during their TEFL course (for an additional fee).
Those searching for housing afterwards can find a room in a shared flat for an average of $300 a month (but remember, a security deposit will also be required). American and European chain restaurants can be pricey, but an average lunch at a Czech establishment ranges between $7-$8 USD (including a drink). And yes, it’s true – the beer can be cheaper than water. A wonderful pint of local Czech beer can cost as little as $2 USD.