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Teaching English in Poland

Royal Bath Park in Warsaw, Poland

Central Europe has not always been the destination of choice for holidays, let alone living and working. All that has changed since many of the Central European countries have entered the European Union. Poland, a member since 2004, offers vast opportunities for native TEFL teachers who want to work in their major cities. And finding a job is not that difficult. In fact, once you have your EU passport or work visa, finding employment is a piece of cake.

The good thing about working in Poland as a TEFL teacher is that if you are hired as a native you don't necessarily require a full TEFL qualification. A university degree in any field and a certificate TEFL course like those offered through www.onlinetefl.com are enough to land you a job that pays approximately 50 zloty per sixty minute lesson. Converting this to pounds, euros or dollars may not leave you with a huge sum but if you want a decent standard of living during your stay abroad then Poland is the place for you. By working 20 hours per week, you can collect 4,000 zloty plus per month, enough to cover rent, food, bills, entertainment and still leave you with money to save. It all depends on your goals Editor's note: as of 11/2010 www.onlinetefl.com also offers teaching internships in Poland for U.S. citizens as well.

Gazeta Wyborcza, one of the major newspapers in Poland, offers job pages every week. On Mondays, when the classifieds are full, you can usually find ten or twenty job advertisements for qualified TEFL teachers, those with an English degree as well as native speakers.

Many students enjoy the fact that they can speak with a native speaker and pick up accents and dialects, which they wouldn't do with a TEFL teacher from their own country.

English is now a prerequisite for most jobs and fields in Poland, that's why there is a demand for TEFL teachers between September and June. July and August can be rather quiet but that also gives you an opportunity to enjoy the warm sunny weather and take a break from running around the city teaching your native tongue.

The types of TEFL jobs include those based in primary and secondary schools. Students can be difficult but if you only think about the job at hand it's not a problem. There are also many language schools located in the major cities like Warsaw, Poznan, Krakow and Gdansk among others which offer positions usually in the morning or evening hours. Many schools also send out their TEFL tutors to different companies around the city so you have to make time to commute to each company. If you get lucky, you might get a few lessons in a row within one company. This saves you time and allows you to take on more lessons and more money at the end of the month. To earn extra cash outside of business hours, some TEFL teachers advertise on notice boards and obtain private lessons, which you can charge at about 50-80 zloty per hour depending on your experience and location.

Prepare Yourself for Work in Poland

  • No EU passport? Apply for a work permit through the Polish Embassy in your own country. EU citizens can live and work in Poland without a work permit or visa.
  • Save up some money to get you started. You'll need at least one month’s living expenses. About 2,000 zloty should be enough but the more you have the better. You will get paid monthly so be prepared not to see a cent for a few weeks.
  • Get a TEFL qualification through a recognized institution. A basic certificate course is usually enough if you're being employed as a native. CELTA courses will be welcomed as well. Bring a copy of your qualifications to show to the school.
  • Check out the classified ads in the Monday paper if you're looking for work, or approach the schools directly by either sending a CV via email, calling them up or visiting them in person. You might get lucky and land a job on the spot.
  • Organize your own health insurance. As a native speaker you won't be hired on a full time basis, but as something called an “umowa odzielo” which means you will pay tax but you won't be making retirement or health care payments. Visiting a doctor privately can set you back about 80 zloty per visit so it's worth getting some type of health insurance.
  • Sharing accommodation with someone in the cities will be a lot cheaper than renting on your own and will give you an opportunity to meet people and get to know the locals. They may come across as snobby and rude sometimes but they're usually really friendly to foreigners.
  • Worried about competition? Don't be. At the moment there are many job opportunities for native English speakers. If you are friendly and  can demonstrate that you can actually teach than you won't have a problem getting a job It is not about being the best, but about having the ability to teach and communicate with people.
  • Speaking Polish is not necessary. Many native speakers in the country have a limited or non-existent knowledge of Polish and they get by fine. Most of your classes will be taught using the communicative method and deep immersion, which means only English will be required.