I get asked this question constantly by folks interested in teaching English in Poland, but who aren’t exactly sure how to go about it. They often don’t know where to look for a job, whether they need experience, or whether a TEFL certificate is necessary to teach English in Poland or not. Frankly, in short, I don’t think you do and I’ll explain why below.
As a native English teacher in Poland, you’ll be focusing mainly on conversations in the lessons. Most of your students will already know the ins and outs of English grammar and they may be fed up with the traditional type of lessons involving just typical exercises.
Also, a lot of schools are well aware that natives suck at explaining grammar compared to their Polish counterparts, so they probably won’t even expect you to teach it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least brush up/give yourself some kind of base of knowledge in case someone asks you to explain something. Nobody wants to look like an ass, especially not in front of a bunch of people who consider you an expert.
It’s important to be able to explain why something is the way it is. That’s obvious. Even if you focus on conversations during your lessons, it’s still essential to correct your students and to be able to explain to them the difference between “I run every day after work” or “I’m running every day after work”. These are little things that really make a difference. Of course you know that the first one is correct, but can you explain why? A TEFL course may help you with that, but why pay for something you can teach yourself for free?
I understand paying for something for convenience-sake, so if you want to do that, totally understandable, but if you’re looking to save some money before you make a big move overseas, you can absolutely, positively do that by using some excellent books. Some schools will require a TEFL certificate and I think if that’s the case you should ask them to sponsor at least some of the course fee. Why not? I’m sure many would be willing to do that.
My recommendation to you is to check out English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy. This guy is my grammar guru and the book is totally my go-to when a student needs grammar practice. Each unit is nicely organized into both examples/explanation and exercises, so you can read through it and learn point by point why we use which tense in which situations.
So, honestly speaking, I don’t think you need a TEFL certificate to teach English in Poland. You can definitely teach yourself some basics and learn the rest when you start teaching and understanding what kind of mistakes your students actually make. Save your money and buy some good beer when you get to Poland – or better yet – let’s meet up and have one together! Let me know if you have any insight and of course any questions I’d be happy to answer!