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New teachers thinking of coming to Poland
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 599

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Master Shake wrote:
In mid-west America, everybody wears what they like, whether it's a dress, muumuu or suit. Jeans, t-shirts and sneakers are normal, even for going to a nice restaurant. Not so in Poland.


Oh yes, in certain situations, the Poles are unbelievably stiff. It's always struck me as a puzzle - many companies don't have dress codes, but then you'll find them dressing up for situations that really don't deserve it.

I remember being utterly mystified by the concept of 'dressing up' for random exams. Sure, an oral exam, it makes sense - but wearing a shirt and tie to go to a written exam at the university, really?

Yet oddly, for all the stiffness, teachers are only expected to wear nice clothes in certain situations. I can't say I understand it.
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wojbrian



Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 160

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I live in the Midwest and certainly can't where what I want at work.

It is business casual during the week except for Friday.

Friday is jeans and a collard shirt. Saturday is jeans and a neat t shirt.
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depechemodefan1966



Joined: 31 Jan 2015
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Everybody

I am new here to these forums, but I would like to tell you about my experience of Poland. I hope then it will help you to make a decision as to whether you go there, or not.

After working back home with unemployed people, getting tired of office politics and political correctness for everything, I started working in Poland in the August of 2009, for a school in the south of the country. The director of the school promised a lot but delivered very little. The city, although not a bad little city, was not as he told me before I went there. It soon became apparant that this guy was far from truthful. He also spoke to his Polish workers like they were dogs and assumed he could do the same to myself and another British guy, who was also working there. We soon put him in
his place with regards to this. During the first week the secretary told us that other native speakers had been and gone within a very short time because of his changeable behaviour towards them. He also tended to make rules up as he went along and when we reminded him that he did not tell us this in any pre-correspondence, he came up with the convenient
excus' that he had 'forgotten to tell us'. After seven weeks of his irrational actions and so-called apologies, I walked out. My colleague did the same three days later.

This little incident did not put me off. I simply jumped on the train and headed north. I ended up in a medium-sized city and, on-the-whole had four great, but not always productive or profitable, years there.

In my first year, I worked at two schools and basically took whatever they threw at me in terms of lessons. This is where I really learned what directors at schools can really be like. They will tell you that you need NIP and PESEL numbers and you need to do this and that to become legal, but will do nothing to help you get what you, or they, need. I had to do
everything myself. It was a good thing that where I needed to go, there was always somebody who could speak enough English.

I enjoyed my first year there and decided to stay. In the second year, I worked at three schools and was working all the hours that I could and doing everything - kid's groups, individuals. I was running all over the city. However, I was bringing home the money, and how. I needed to because Poland has lots of holidays and you need to have something to cover them. By the end of the school year I had managed to save enough to pay four months ahead on my rent and have a really good holiday travelling around. However, I almost killed myself doing it.

In the third year I decided to cut back on my hours. At one school I decided to cut out all the kid's groups and individuals that I was doing there. To be honest, I only went back because, at that time, they were the only school that I was working at that paid medical insurance. When they stopped, that was it.

My fourth year was when it all started to go wrong. The crisis had started to hit and companies and people were tightening their belts and not spending money on English classes. My hours, and money, dropped like a brick to the point where I was only earning, on average, 1,600 zloty a month. My rent was 1,000 a month. All the schools, and teachers, suffered. I knew then that my time in Poland was at an end and, with great sadness, decided to move on.

Now, onto the pitfalls of working in Poland and there are quite a few. Directors will take full advantage of you if you let them. I was fortunate in the city where I was in that there weren't many native speakers there, so I could just about call the shots where I worked. I don't suppose if I worked in Warsaw or Krakow, I would have been able to get away with what I was able to. As previously stated, Poland has a lot of holidays, and you will not be paid for these, and if you don't have the hours, these holidays will cripple you financially. The worst ones are the Christmas holdays and two-week winter break that follows soon after. This two-week winter break changes dates every year (depending on the region), but I remember in the one year I worked two weeks in six and in the following year, three weeks in eight. You don't get the choice for these holidays. You don't ask for them, and may not necessarily want them, but you are told to take them, like it or not. National holidays can also cripple you, depending on what days they fall on. I had to take five days off for two day's holiday because they fell near a weekend and because the directors said that hardly anybody would come in, they decided to close the schools. I used to have endless arguements with directors over this. All-in-all, you could lose a lot of money because of them. It was because of these holidays that I would refuse to go into the schools, in my own time, for meetings, or because directors needed to 'have a word'. I would tell them that they would either have to pay me, or any talks would have to be done in work time and if they went into lesson time, then so be it. Directors do not think of you when you are at home, without pay, on holidays you don't ask for, or want, so why should one give them anything?

As for medical insurance, finding a school that will pay for this is very difficult. The directors will tell you that it costs them too much to pay for it, particularly if you are only working a few hours a week. I was fortunate enough in that I never needed to visit the doctor or have any medical treatment, but take caution with regards to this. You may have to shell out a lot of money should you need hospital treatment.

When I worked there my pay ranged from 35 to 42 zloty an hour before tax. You should take note though that your pay can vary greatly from month to month, depending on holidays and breaks, so planning things can be a bit of a pain. Please take heed though because while prices in Poland went up, the pay didn't. It remained the same the whole time I was there. Be careful of directors asking you to do groups or companies for a 'slightly reduced rate' because they have had to reduce their charges because of competition. You may find that you are doing a group outside of the city for about 20 -25 zloty an hour and you will have to pay your own travel costs. Now though, I wouldn't work for less than 50 zloty an hour.

As for the groups, in the first year you may have to tolerate being given the groups that nobody else wants to do. This is to be expected, although the majority of time, the lowest level of groups will be done by Polish teachers. In the second year you may be able to pick and choose your groups because you will have built up a bit of experience, and it also depends on the city where you are.

As for individuals, they can be a real pain in the teeth. In my first year I had to tolerate their nonsense about cancellations, etc, but after that, I started putting my foot down. The individual doesn't give a moment's thought for the teacher's time or life, nor do the directors with regards to this. In my second year, I gave the schools my own rules as far as individuals were concerened: If I was in the school waiting for the student and they phoned to cancel, then I would still insist on payment because I was there ready and willing to do the lesson. If the school said no, then I would cancel the student there and then. If the school said yes, then I would tell the school the student had one more chance. Another cancellation would result in the student being cancelled for good. This would be the same rule if the school phoned me at home to inform me of the student cancelling the lesson. If I was in the school and the student did not show up, or phone the school to cancel, and I was still not being paid, then the student was cancelled immediately. No excuses. I have better things to do then waste my time with students who have no respect with teacher's time. Again, this will depend on the city where you live and how much experience you have.

Even private individuals can be a pain too. Yes, they can be fun, and top your income. The Polish are also very hospitable people and if you have lessons in their home, they will invariably invite you to eat with them, and you will enjoy a feast with great food. However, they can be more trouble than they are worth. I've had quite a few and on-the-whole have been enjoyable, but as with everything, you get the few who spoil it. They will cancel at the very last moment and, unless you have enough hours in the schools to fall back on, there's nothing you can do about it. I've even received cancellations from students while I have been on the tram going to meet them!

You can also come across a lot of timewasters too. I have lost count on the number of people who I have given my Skype / email address to, after saying they want private lessons, only to never hear anything from them. So don't build your hopes up too much on these types of individuals.

As a rule now, I do not do individuals.

The timetable can really upset your own life too if you let it. Okay we all know that prepration time is not paid, but if that allows you to improvise in the lesson, or you can take your handouts / worksheets with you to another school, then it's worth it. However, You could find yourself in the situation where you may be timetabled for a certain number of hours but actually takes up a lot more of your life. It may be that there will be big gaps in your timetable where you will have to wait around for a couple of clock hours just to do a couple of academic ones. The hours you are waiting around are not paid. This may be a real inconvenience if those last timetabled hours are the last lessons on your timetable. Again, as with everything else, in your first year, you don't have much choice, but afer that you may be able to dictate what you are / not going to do. Personally I do not do gaps that are longer than 20 minutes. This is usually enough time to do any last minute photocopying, checking, going to the toilet or grabbing that last lesson coffee.

Guys, I hope what I have written doesn't totally put you off working / living in Poland. Despite the negativities I have wriiten I can honestly say that I really enjoyed my time in Poland. I worked with some great colleagues, none of whom I ever had a bad word with, or to say about (apart from some of the directors). I had some terrific groups and had a lot of fun with them, met some fantastic people there and made some true friends. I still consider Poland my home and always go back there for Christmas and summer holidays as I always have somehwhere to stay. If I could get the same terms and conditions in Poland as I do now, then I would go back tomorrow.

I have absolutely no regrets about going to Poland and I hope my experience has helped, and not bored you. It is here to help you to not become exploited. At the end of the day, Poland is a beautiful country and you can have a great time and meet lovely people, but the decision is yours.

Thank you for reading.
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Louisdf



Joined: 05 Feb 2013
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

depechemodefan1966 wrote:


Even private individuals can be a pain too. Yes, they can be fun, and top your income. The Polish are also very hospitable people and if you have lessons in their home, they will invariably invite you to eat with them, and you will enjoy a feast with great food. However, they can be more trouble than they are worth. I've had quite a few and on-the-whole have been enjoyable, but as with everything, you get the few who spoil it. They will cancel at the very last moment and, unless you have enough hours in the schools to fall back on, there's nothing you can do about it. I've even received cancellations from students while I have been on the tram going to meet them!

You can also come across a lot of timewasters too. I have lost count on the number of people who I have given my Skype / email address to, after saying they want private lessons, only to never hear anything from them. So don't build your hopes up too much on these types of individuals.

As a rule now, I do not do individuals.
o

Unfortunately, this is the norm with private students. If they go to a school, usually a room is booked for them and they must commit to a set day and time (say Wednesday 6PM). This is not popular with students as their work/classes/social activities differ from week to week. Instead they look for private teachers who can be flexible. Therefore, it's best NOT to allocate them a set day and time, but just arrange classes week to week. That way, students who cancel at the last minute are not stopping you from earning additional income, if you get other students who request classes at around the same time of the day. Of course, this only works if you have several students in 1 area!
So it's best just to see money from private students as extra money, not regular guaranteed income which you use to pay for rent and food.

What you say about schools/students cancelling classes around holidays is also the norm. You must always remember you are simply a contractor, you are not a salaried employee of the language school. You will simply teach according to the school's calendar, and that's it. Of course, if you do not wish to accept a new class, you have the freedom to say no. This is the norm in other European countries as well (Germany, Austria, Czech Republic etc.)
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depechemodefan1966



Joined: 31 Jan 2015
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, louisdf, for taking the time to reply.

Yes, I understand what you are saying. However, I would just rather not do individuals anymore. At least if the class didn't show up, I would still get paid. I have had early morning individuals (in the schools) who wanted to meet with me before they went to work. This was never a problem for me. However, I have been let down by them because they 'forgot about the lesson' and I have been standing in the school waiting (I had a set of keys). It's not fun when you have got up really early only to be let down because they 'forgot' or simply couldn't be bothered.

I used to say to some people if you want to meet me, then meet me outside the school, we'll have a couple of beers in a bar and watch the football. Or, we'll have a coffee somewhere. That way then if they didn't show up, I could still have the beer or coffee and still watch the football anyway. That way then I didn't feel as if I lost out.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 965
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:34 am    Post subject: Depechemodefan Reply with quote

An excellent, accurate picture of life in Poland as a TEFL teacher nowadays.

Well done for getting out. There are much better ways in nicer places to earn a decent living.

What's more, you'll develop as a teacher by teaching in different countries.

I honestly believe that most lifers here have nowhere else to go for a variety of reasons. Some would be single in any other teaching environment. Many are unemployable elsewhere.

TEFL Poland has become a mug's game.
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depechemodefan1966



Joined: 31 Jan 2015
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the compliment, dragonpiwo.

I loved Poland and was sad to leave as I had just got involved with somebody (luckily she understood my predicament and why I had to go). We are still together, but is a real pain only seeing each other a few times a year.

I am in Spain now, and while it is much better here in all aspects, am very happy with things, the city where I live is a bit remote and getting to Poland and back is a nightmare. It's the same for people who want come and stay with me for a holiday. Even getting to the nearest airport is a bind.

Also, moving around is not as glamourous as it sounds. I've worked in four different countries in the last two years and, to be honest, am getting sick of having to start again all the time. Every time I move I have to sigh new contracts, not just with the school, but with new landlords (and having to look as flats is a pain), Internet companies, banks, etc.

Unfortunately you are right about Poland though, dragonpiwo (please don't take that the wrong way). I honestly can't see myself working back there now. I still look at jobs available and just about all the schools are offering the e same money as what I was getting over 5 years ago! Prices in Poland have gone up considerably, but salaries haven't.
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Louisdf



Joined: 05 Feb 2013
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

depechemodefan1966 wrote:
Thank you for the compliment, dragonpiwo.

I loved Poland and was sad to leave as I had just got involved with somebody (luckily she understood my predicament and why I had to go). We are still together, but is a real pain only seeing each other a few times a year.

I am in Spain now, and while it is much better here in all aspects, am very happy with things, the city where I live is a bit remote and getting to Poland and back is a nightmare. It's the same for people who want come and stay with me for a holiday. Even getting to the nearest airport is a bind.

Also, moving around is not as glamourous as it sounds. I've worked in four different countries in the last two years and, to be honest, am getting sick of having to start again all the time. Every time I move I have to sigh new contracts, not just with the school, but with new landlords (and having to look as flats is a pain), Internet companies, banks, etc.

Unfortunately you are right about Poland though, dragonpiwo (please don't take that the wrong way). I honestly can't see myself working back there now. I still look at jobs available and just about all the schools are offering the e same money as what I was getting over 5 years ago! Prices in Poland have gone up considerably, but salaries haven't.

Yes but demand is generally lower as many Poles speak quite good English compared to five years ago. There are also more private language schools than ever which drives prices down. Also, compared to Spain there are a lot more competent non-native teachers with a proven track record. Many natives in Poland have no teaching qualifications and limited experience, so now students do not necessarily pick natives over Polish teachers.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 965
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 3:40 am    Post subject: Louise Reply with quote

I agree with you about local, non-native speakers here in Poland. There are many good ones. The vast majority of jobs advertised are done so in Polish on Szukaj Lektor and Gumtree. However, this is only one of the reasons for the worsening situation here. There is no doubt that the 'crisis' has hit school but the law is making it increasingly tricky to hire native speakers legally. On top of that, there are many Poles who have lived in the UK or who have 1 non-Polish parent and these are palmed off as native speakers. In addition, there are simply many more expat teachers than there were. Poland is a done deal outside Warsaw. The schools in general just take the piss out of native speakers and I blame the native speakers for allowing it.

I have a wife, son and house here and have a 20-year connection with the place, so I was here during the good times of the 90's. Now, you have to be prepared to do a lot of hours to survive. One Zloty a minute is the going rate here in Poznan and whether you are a new teacher or vastly experienced, the pay is the same and you'll live very frugally on it working your arse off.

From what I've seen recently, TEFL Poland has become a gap year job.
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 599

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do think that the rise of young people willing to start a small language school has also hurt a lot of bigger/more established schools. Even when I first came here in 2008, you didn't see many language schools in the suburbs - they were all concentrated in the centre. Now there's endless small schools popping up - they don't have to pay huge rents for 'prestige' locations, students are happier to go for lessons in the suburbs because they don't have to pay for parking and it's probably closer to their office - and small schools are more likely to offer generous terms regarding cancellations and lesson changes. I don't think there's necessarily less students, but rather that they're not concentrated in a few big schools anymore.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 965
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 12:39 am    Post subject: yep Reply with quote

That's another good point.

Let's also not forget that Poles are stingy.
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 1027
Location: Itabashi, Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 1:16 pm    Post subject: Not my experience Reply with quote

Thanks for posting your story, DMfan1966. It's nice to see you had a positive experience, despite the bumps in the road.

My experience teaching in Poland was a little different. After my first year teaching in Gdansk, I took a break from Poland and then moved to Warsaw.

Wages were alright, working conditions were usually good, and hours weren't hard to come by. The biggest conundrum I usually had with lessons was whether to take something decent early in the semester, or hold out for a better gig that might come up later on.

So all this doom and gloom tefl Poland nonsense rings a bit hollow for me. I had no problems earning a decent living there, so I may well go back.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 965
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 3:47 pm    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

Make sure you go to Warsaw or you might get a nasty shock.
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mitsui



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 796
Location: Kawasaki

PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a decent wage is depends if you are single or married.
Plus if you are not from the EU you need to be able to get a work visa.
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depechemodefan1966



Joined: 31 Jan 2015
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as pay is concerned, I wouldn't work for less than 50 zl an hour now. One school (who begins with B and ends with Z) were offering 37 after 14 months, before tax and living in Warsaw! I am single, but would still struggle today on the same as what I was getting over 5 years ago. In my last year, I was living off the bones of my ass. If it wasn't for my then-girlfriend and an individual, whose house I used to go to, I would have gone a bit hungry on a few occasions.

It's strange what you say about schools popping up all over the place, Guys. In the city where I was, in a street in the city centre, they used be practically every other door 5 years ago. Now, in the same street I could count them on one hand and I would still have fingers left.

I am still looking for that magic job, where I get 50 an hour, medical insurance and holiday pay, but I don't hold out much hope.
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