For Teachers: Teaching English in Warsaw
You may be thinking about teaching, or if you're already teaching thinking about moving to Poland, and particularly Warsaw. After 2 and a bit years of teaching in Warsaw, I am bowing out of Warsaw and thought I would write what it's like to teach, how to find work, and give my honest opinion on all of the areas of the city and what it's like to live and work there.
I'm actually writing this on a train out of Warsaw as I say my final farewell . Am I sad? No. Not in the slightest. But I think Warsaw is a Marmite city. You either love it or hate it. I don't think there are many in the middle. Let me take you back briefly before I was a language teacher and I was a tourist in Warsaw. I remember thinking what a cool place it was. All the high buildings, wide roads, people running everywhere, many shops and restaurants – I'm not from a city. It was the first city where I thought ' I could live here' but never thought that would become a reality. Many moons later, when I become a language teacher and had a few years experience under my belt as a teacher. I was thinking about taking that step of leaving my school and heading to Warsaw.
The first thing to point out, is you are extremely unlikely to find a school that will offer you a proper contract where you don't actually have to do anything and they will do everything for you. It's just not going to happen unless you go and get a job in a state school. If you're going to go down the school route, you will find yourself in a situation where you will be responsible for invoicing the school for the work you do and you will be responsibly for every other aspect. To do this you need to set yourself as a company. This is a whole new can of worms and I'm not the guy to go into all that, but Google is your best friend in this situation. There are some companies out there that you pay a monthly fee and then you are able to issue invoices via them. The one I used was https://twojstartup.pl/
But, the reality is this. You don't need schools. There is 1.7 million people in Warsaw and it seems almost all of them are looking for an English teacher. Music to your ears right?
Work: There are three ways to get work in Warsaw and they are as follows.
Schools. There are loads of schools in Warsaw and simply sending them and email or stopping by when you're there will probably get you some work. The better schools will ask for a lesson plan and a demo lesson, and the more relaxed ones won't. You will find schools littered all over Wasrsaw, not just in the centre. The amount of hours will vary from school-to-school, but some will be able to offer you full-time schedules. It's not uncommon to work for a few different schools.
Middle-men: These are companies who score big contracts with businesses, the only thing is they don't have teachers to fill the contract they've just signed, so they are constantly on the look out for teachers. I personally never did any work for middle-men, but did interview with a couple to see what they were offering. One company called Advantage - http://advantage.edu.pl/ were very professional and willing to pay me a much higher rate than the others. You will have to travel to companies on your own
Direct: Finding students is extremely easier in Warsaw. There are two main websites I used. One is www.nativespeaker.com.pl registering for a profile on here will get you a full schedule on its own. You do have to pay to be on the premium list, but you will make that money back. It around £30 for the year. Two is Gumtree. Simply post and advert and wait for the emails and calls. Paying for a sponsored advert will get you more interest. A 30 day advert will cost around £8. These were the only methods of advertising I used. I went from 0 students to 15 new students in a two week period in January
Lessons: It will depend on the route you go down, but inline with the above it will look something like this
Schools: Most schools have a system where you share a group with Polish teacher. Co-teaching as I call it. You work with another teacher to follow a syllabus or book. Or you could be a floater – someone who only teaches the group once or twice a month. Your job will mainly be 'focus on speaking' - get over it ;). Some schools offer exams, so you will be required to teach all areas of the preparation. The good thing about working at school is you'll be working from one location and your lessons are likely to be in blocks.
Middle-men: As these guys have all the business contacts the lessons you will be mainly doing with them is business English. It will always be off-site, meaning you have to travel to a company and do the lesson in a conference room. They will also hound you on NativeSpeaker too with emails offering work.
Direct: The majority of students who contact you will more than often say they want to practise their speaking. Basically anyone can do this, but I personally like to have some structure behind it. You might get the odd student asking for exam preparation or specific English lessons. You can obviously charge these lessons at a higher price. They will take more time to prepare. If you have a decent place that is easy accessible, students will probably come to you, some will ask you to come to them which will involve some travel. It's also likely they will ask you to come to their office if they work in one. Cafes and shopping centres are also popular locations for English lessons.
Schools: This will depend on the school, some will offer 35zl an academic hour and others will offer 80zl. It's always a good idea to set a minimum before you talk to a school. They will ask you how much you expect to be paid at an interview.
Middle-men: They will usually pay 80-100zl for an hour. Although they're probably charging the company about 300zl
Direct: This is up to you. You can see all the difference prices on Nativespeaker and get an idea. On average people charge 70-80zl an hour
Students: Most people who contact you will be professionals. They will have good jobs, be able to afford the 70zl upwards price, and be well educated. You might get a teenager contact you about lessons or parents asking for a teacher for their children.
Qualifications: You don't need anything to become an 'English teacher' if you plan on teaching conversational English to private students. I know people who simply came to Warsaw, untrained and without knowledge of grammar, and have full schedules and make a comfortable living. Of course, if you want to work for any reputable school, a CELTA is usually needed.
Accommodation : One of the good things about Warsaw is this is pretty easy to find and the prices and standards are all usually reasonable to good. For a room expect to between 700 – 1300zl inclusive of bills and for a flat of your own expect to pay between 1800-2500. Location is really important. If you plan on having students come to your place, make sure it is very easy to get to because travelling around Warsaw can be a nightmare. Again, Gumtree helps here. You can find rooms for rent in the centre here and flats here – Also another good way of finding a flat share is posting your own advert there saying you looking for a place and your a teacher and how it could be a good chance for someone to practise their English..... it works ;) and flats
Transport: At first glance, the trams, buses, and north-to-south underground may seem fancy and cool. It's not. It's absolutely horrible. There is no real centre in Warsaw. The streets are wide – it can take 2 years just to cross the road – there is lots of empty space, so if you actually walk somewhere it can feel like you're not moving very far – like a desert. The thing is, you can''t survive without public transport. This is what breaks most teachers. Having to spend so much time travelling around the city to get to your students can be soul destroying. This is why the location of your accommodation is so important. You will need to get a monthly pass. It's very easy to get one you can do it online here and it costs 110zl (22£) a month. This will allow you to jump on any bus, train, train, bus, or metro in the city. It's essential – like air
Food: Polish food is great, but it can be quite hard to come across in Warsaw unless you know where to go unless you head to the touristy restaurants. Warsaw has choices of many types of international cuisine and the prices are pretty good. The best thing is the business lunch menus that they have during the day during the week. These cost between 15-25zl and they offer a soup, main, and a drink. Some also offer a desert too. Outside of a business lunch, you can expect to pay around 30zl in your average restaurant. The supermarkets are packed with choice, but if I'm honest, I ate out every day during those 2 and bit years
People: Without a doubt Polish people are the most hospitable people I have met. They are always willing to help and are easy to talk to, and open. If you're heading there without knowing anyone, pubs and clubs, English speaking meetings and events adversed in groups like this help. And don't pretend you don't have Tinder and Badoo installed ;)
Girls: Of course, if you're a guy reading this, this is what you really want to know. I will say Polish females have a great mixture of brains, beauty, and independence. You're not going to 'wow' them because you're a native speaker, they are well travelled and they aren't going to spend your money on high-heels and jewellery. They will probably earn more than you, but drink beer like you, albeit with cherry syrup, so you best get your a-game on.
Language: Not once during my time in Warsaw did I have any problems with someone NOT speaking the language. Warsaw is a city where you can live without learning Polish. They appreciate you making an effort, but it seems everyone speaks English, including the homeless who ever so articulately ask for you money.
Mobile and Internet: You shouldn't really need to spend more than 30zl a month on your mobile. There are many companies offering really good deals. Internet is fast and not expensive. Wifi is also everywhere. Free wifi spots are all over the city without the hassle of entering your phone number or registering your life away.
Nightlife: I have always said outside of the UK and in Europe, Poland has the best nightlife. Poles, know how to party. The beer is much cheaper, and better compared to the UK. You can expect to pay anywhere between 5-15zl for a beer. There are many pubs and clubs in Warsaw, and they are always full at the weekend. The only problem is they are quite spread out, like almost everything in Warsaw, so you might need to jump in a taxi a few times during the night.
Travel: Warsaw is an excellent hub for travelling to other parts of Europe and it is also a great country to travel in itself. Ryanair and Wizzair constantly have deals from Warsaw airports, especially to Italy I've noticed. A return to Milan can cost as little as 80zl But you don't have to go to Milan, Poland has so many brilliant cities to visit during the weekend. It's a very diverse country with its beaches in the north, its mountains in the south, and its forests in the north west
Shopping: Poland is a very modern country and with modern places comes all the shops and brands. You can get anything in Poland you can in the UK and more.... there isn't even Marks and Spencer's food. Clothing and foot is cheaper in Poland, but I found electronics to be a little more expensive
I hope the above helps and if you're feeling kind, please donate at least a pound for the info. Don' worry you'll make it back
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