Teaching English in Poland

Do you need a TEFL certificate to Teach English in Poland?

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! 

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  • Reply Emma 23 November 2018 at 14:01

    Hi Leah!
    I’ve just found your blog and found myself binge reading, and agreeing with so much of what you have to say. I’ve been teaching in Poland for just over a year, so still relatively new, and I definitely overestimated my knowledge of grammar before I came – I’ve spent a lot of time panic googling before a class! It’s definitely important to brush up before you take a job.
    Look forward to reading more from you!

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 28 November 2018 at 20:41

      Hey Emma! Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m glad you found me 🙂 Where are you living and where are you from, if I may ask??

  • Reply Logan 26 December 2018 at 20:31

    Hello Leah! I moved to Orlando about two years ago, because I wanted a break from the winters up north and needed a bigger city atmosphere. I read your post about hating winters and completely understand!

    I recently started a new job at the Ritz-Carlton and met your parents. They were incredibly nice and we started talking about our mutual love for traveling, which is when they told me about your blog! I studied abroad in Europe for six months and have been dreaming of ways to get back there, but never considered teaching English. How did you decide that was the right move for you and start making a living doing so?

    • Reply Leah Morawiec 4 February 2019 at 14:32

      Hey Logan! I’m sorry I didn’t see this until now! That’s awesome you work at the Ritz! Beautiful place. Anyway, I didn’t really ever just make the decision. I did a program for two months where I taught English to kids in a village in Poland and then I met someone so I decided to stay. Then I realized I really enjoyed teaching so I kept doing it. So I just kinda fell into it 🙂 You just have to try!

  • Reply Joseph 9 July 2019 at 03:20

    Hello Leah,
    I came across your blog about teaching English in Poland and was surprised to hear that you don’t necessarily need to earn a TEFL certificate to do so. I’ve thought seriously about enrolling in a TEFL certification program. I currently live in the United States and I would like to relocate and teach English at a school in Poland. However, I don’t know exactly where and how to start looking for a place to work, or where I can plant my feet during this process. What would you recommend in terms of finding an opportunity to start teaching, keeping in mind that I will need to obtain a work visa shorty thereafter. I’d rather not be deported… I would just like to find an opportunity. I look forward to hearing from you…Thanks for all that you share…

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