I’ve been teaching English in Poland for the last 5 years and I’m extremely satisfied with my decision. I couldn’t ask for a job which suits me better – so much so that I got my Master’s degree in linguistics here in Poland. I get to talk to people all day, help them, learn all about their lives and opinions. I feel like I’m half linguist, half therapist with all details I know about my students. Sometimes I think I know my them better than my friends. I certainly talk to them more often.
To do this job, you have to like getting a lot of face time. I have something around 7-10 hours a day of face-to-face conversations with any number of people. This means no matter what’s going on you have to be charming, entertaining, and funny, even if you’re not in the mood. However, most of the time I find that even if I start a lesson in a bad mood, I end it in a good one because I have the pleasure of spending time with rad people. My fascination with people only continues to increase as time goes on.
Certainly, teaching English isn’t the same in all countries. Most people choose an Asian country like China or South Korea or somewhere in South America. Here I’m going to explain why you should choose Poland.
Poles are highly educated. For this reason, you can have high-level discussions about any topic, making your job more interesting and given you the chance to learn from your students.
You can teach from home or via Skype. This is an extremely comfortable option for teaching English and it’s becoming very popular. All you need a good Internet connection and you’re set. Most people want only conversations so it’s even better. It’s a great option for people without cars, who want to fill in their schedule, or want to teach in their pjs. Looking for a school? Try mine: www.talkback.pl
Most people already speak English on some level. Because of this, you won’t have to start from the basics of the language, which are probably the hardest things for native speakers to teach. That makes your job a little easier. Most of the time, you’re simply fine-tuning their current skills and teaching higher level grammar and vocabulary.
You can find a job really easily. There’s no lack of language schools in Poland and they’d all kill to have you work there. However, you’ll be working for less than you could on your own, with students who you can’t choose and in rather large groups, up to 10. Also, they typically hire only in the beginning of the school year around September so that’s the best time to look. It’s a good solution if you need a job fast, don’t want to bother with bureaucracy, and just want to show up and teach.
You get paid pretty well. This is due to the high demand and relative scarcity of native English speakers, especially good ones. If you’re certified or experienced, you can of course earn more.
You can teach adults. The political system in Poland changed in the late 80s, and before that, people learned Russian in school. Nowadays English lessons in school are better and better but people still need practice, mostly with speaking. That means your students can be any age, not only children. I personally prefer teaching adults since there are no limits to the conversation.
Poland is in central Europe. This is a huge advantage for traveling. Considering most Americans dream of exploring Europe, it’s the ideal location for a gap year. You can teach on weekdays and travel on weekends since everything is so close. With trains, cheap airlines, and the number of holidays in Poland, it won’t be a problem to balance those two things.
You can be an entrepreneur. Because there’s plenty of work, you can work just for yourself if you’d like, which is what I do. Having your own company is great but it’s a ton of work. You have to find the work yourself, advertise, have a website, make invoices, etc. Also, if you don’t speak Polish, you better have someone who can help you. You’ll have to speak with your accountant on a monthly basis and take occasional trips to the Tax Office, so it’s better to speak Polish with this option. However, I survived a couple years without it, so you can too.
All that said, if you want to teach English in Poland, it’s an obvious requirement to speak English but it shouldn’t be the only one. It’s not as easy as it seems. Can you explain the difference between remind and remember? How about the difference between present perfect simple and past simple? You at least need to have some basic grammar knowledge and teaching skills. Before starting, consider doing a TEFL course or reading a book geared toward ESL learners. It’ll be very helpful in not looking like a damn fool in front of a group of intelligent individuals!