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"the EFL industry [in Poland] is a shambles"
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simon_porter00



Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 454
Location: Warsaw, Poland

PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:43 pm    Post subject: "the EFL industry [in Poland] is a shambles" Reply with quote

A quote from another thread.

This is often said about EFL in Poland, this thread however, is for the answers to not make it a shambles.

Is it as easy as going it alone i.e. being a freelancer? Finding that school or another option?

What would you do?

THREAD RULES**
Purposeful solutions/suggestions only.
Avoidance of the same tired old 'Poland thread' arguments is mandatory.

If the following two rules are not abided by I shall personally go to Poznan and dispatch drunk old ESL teachers ala Jack the Ripper.
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ecocks



Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 886
Location: Gdansk, Poland

PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know, and know of, people having a comfortable time teaching English in Poland. None are PhD's. None are wealthy from previous employment, etc. One or two work for schools, a couple of others work independent.

I'm choosing independent contractor route plus hoping for some part-time contract work with one or two decent schools if i can be in the right place ar rhe right time, maybe some camp work or intensive classes this summer.
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simon_porter00



Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 454
Location: Warsaw, Poland

PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think from the get-go, a year or two getting a 'grounding' at a normal school and then freelancing (obviously having made the contacts at the previous school) is the way to go forward.

What I really want to explore here is:
what would make the best business model for an individual who is teaching EFL in Poland.

I think some assumptions would be needed:
This person is ambitious
This person is prepared to work hard
This person is not averse to hiring people but that doesn't necessarily mean a 'school'

Or, the other way of looking at this is why the efl situation is in such a mess - is it as simple as the schools are money grabbing badly run organisations? If so, surely one well run, well paying school would clean up?
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 533

PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
what would make the best business model for an individual who is teaching EFL in Poland.


As we're assuming freelance here, I'd suggest the following - and these rules apply for big cities and small towns

- 2 years work in normal schools to acclimatise.

That means spending two years learning about your chosen place, building a large social network (crucial - don't isolate yourself with any one group of people, particularly jaded expats or poor students) and learning as much as you can about the place in question. The time should also be used to learn as much Polish as possible. Also, time should be spent learning how business works in Poland.

- Optimise your time as much as possible.

Set your prices according to demand and stick to it. A Business English class from 7-9am should never be charged at the same rate as a class from 11-1pm. Likewise, your cancellation/flexibility should depend on the day and hours. Do not accept any nonsense from clients during 'peak' times - you can always replace it.

- Find what you're good at and stick to it.

People can see through "I can teach anything to anyone" easily.

- Go into specialist areas.

That can be teaching small children, teaching specialist EAP language, whatever. You can even make a good living from teaching conversation to nervous learners provided you know what you're doing from a psychological standpoint (and have the knowledge to back it up).

- Get involved.

Don't fall into the expat trap of earning enough money to get drunk. Attend conferences, write papers, go back to university (education is very cheap in Poland) and get your name out there. If you can, try and get your foot into teaching something serious at a public institution, as this will open many doors later on. The most crucial thing is to build a reputation and long term career out of it, rather than having to spend half your life in dodgy parts of the world.

- Stay away from the drink

I don't care what anyone says, you are not a good teacher after several beers and you most definitely won't be in the mood to do much if you've had 8 pints the night before. Drink has ruined many expats in many different walks of life - don't let it ruin you.

- Network.

Like hell. Get your name out there as much as possible, as you never know what you might fall into. I know one German guy who did just this, and now he's responsible for sales to the German-speaking markets that his company exports to. All as a result of a chance meeting at a dinner.

Quote:
Or, the other way of looking at this is why the efl situation is in such a mess - is it as simple as the schools are money grabbing badly run organisations? If so, surely one well run, well paying school would clean up?


The main problem is that most schools are run by either businessmen or methodologists - it seems very rare that schools are run by both. But there are certainly schools doing well out there - I know one that is making a hell of a lot of money by providing genuinely customised courses for well paying clients.

--

But don't count out working for that school. I gave up my own small business and a fairly decent amount of money as a freelancer teacher to work for one - and it's paid off. I do cry at the amount of money that I lose through being employed on umowa o prace, but the stability is priceless.
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sparks



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 509

PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But don't count out working for that school. I gave up my own small business and a fairly decent amount of money as a freelancer teacher to work for one - and it's paid off. I do cry at the amount of money that I lose through being employed on umowa o prace, but the stability is priceless.


I think that, assuming one is competent and motivated, this becomes the real choice to make. Setting your own schedule and rules or working for one school in a stable position. Eventually, the only way to make a real jump in how much you earn is to employ others. If one believes that EFL Poland is in shambles, it should be a perfect opportunity to take that knowledge and fix the broken pieces. More often than not, I believe it's a lack of motivation and gumption that drives people to complain about the standards.
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Infinite



Joined: 05 Jan 2013
Posts: 150

PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must agree, this industry is in total shambles, but not just in Poland. There are many things one can do in order to help it out. I think Delphian pretty much covered all the bases. I'd just like to add, that the best way to change things, is to lead by example. Hiring teachers or simply helping each other out by not just networking but sharing knowledge, information and contacts.
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 958
Location: Itabashi, Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:06 pm    Post subject: hmm... Reply with quote

I agree with Delph's suggestions.

I know I'll catch some flack for this, but it needs to be said as I believe it is the reason the industry is 'in shambles' (tho that's going a bit far):

Ambitious, driven, hard-working, business-minded, alcohol-abstaining types are not exactly flocking to Poland. The reasons: 1) Initial salaries are quite low 2) The market is already flooded with so many (albeit often dodgy) language schools 3) the Polish language is difficult and requires a large time investment just to get by 4) Poland enjoys/suffers from a reputation of being a land of cheap booze and babes.

In Asia, the salaries are relatively higher, the weather's better and the market is more open. Western Europe means higher salaries and a higher standard of living.

I know Simon, Delph, myself and others have managed to do well in Poland and that's great, but I wouldn't advise the type of person described above to come to Poland. Too many greener pastures elsewhere.

Of course, if someone had a good job lined up ahead of time, was absolutely dead-set on living here, or just wanted to give Eastern Europe a try, well, then carry on and move to PL.
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Infinite



Joined: 05 Jan 2013
Posts: 150

PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:50 am    Post subject: Re: hmm... Reply with quote

Master Shake wrote:


Ambitious, driven, hard-working, business-minded, alcohol-abstaining types are not exactly flocking to Poland. The reasons: 1) Initial salaries are quite low 2) The market is already flooded with so many (albeit often dodgy) language schools 3) the Polish language is difficult and requires a large time investment just to get by 4) Poland enjoys/suffers from a reputation of being a land of cheap booze and babes.


Pretty much sums it up... language is difficult but not impossible and if you''re hard working and alcohol-abstaining, then you should have plenty of time to pick it up.
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 958
Location: Itabashi, Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:53 pm    Post subject: Re: hmm... Reply with quote

Infinite wrote:
Master Shake wrote:


Ambitious, driven, hard-working, business-minded, alcohol-abstaining types are not exactly flocking to Poland. The reasons: 1) Initial salaries are quite low 2) The market is already flooded with so many (albeit often dodgy) language schools 3) the Polish language is difficult and requires a large time investment just to get by 4) Poland enjoys/suffers from a reputation of being a land of cheap booze and babes.


Pretty much sums it up... language is difficult but not impossible and if you''re hard working and alcohol-abstaining, then you should have plenty of time to pick it up.
But that's exactly my point: Who wants to come to a country in order to work their ass off learning a convoluted and counter-intuitive language? All the while, scrambling around the city teaching split-shits because these are the 'peak hours' when you school(s) have work for you. Then, after 2 years getting your feet wet, the real fun begins. You have a basic understanding of Polish now (in most other European languages you'd be a solid B2). The 'fun' consists of working even harder to get your own business up and running - farming out work to newbies, booze-addled old timers and Polish teachers with 'C2 level English' who still say 'I often am not getting sick', promoting the heck out of the school, etc. etc.. All for 8-10k zl/mo. net after taxes, if your're lucky.

To some masochists, this may sound like paradise, but to most, I think they'd rather go to the Middle East and earn more just after stepping off the plane. Or go to Asia or Russia for a less saturated market and have their money go much further. But that's just me.

And what's this about abstaining from booze helping you to learn Polish? At least 50% of the Polish I've learned has been through conversations over a beer. It's called 'lowering the affective filter' Wink
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hvalur87



Joined: 16 Apr 2012
Posts: 4
Location: Lodz, Poland

PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 12:45 am    Post subject: Re: hmm... Reply with quote

Master Shake wrote:


Who wants to come to a country in order to work their ass off learning a convoluted and counter-intuitive language?



That's why I moved here!
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dynow



Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 1033

PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mastershake wrote:

Quote:
I agree with Delph's suggestions.


sure, they make sense, but they're hardly specific to TEFL.

I'd say that things like "stay away from the drink", "network", "Optimize your time", "stick to what you're good at", "get involved", "specialize", are pretty much what anyone should do in any career.

Mastershake wrote:

Quote:
But that's exactly my point: Who wants to come to a country in order to work their ass off learning a convoluted and counter-intuitive language? All the while, scrambling around the city teaching split-shits because these are the 'peak hours' when you school(s) have work for you. Then, after 2 years getting your feet wet, the real fun begins. You have a basic understanding of Polish now (in most other European languages you'd be a solid B2). The 'fun' consists of working even harder to get your own business up and running - farming out work to newbies, booze-addled old timers and Polish teachers with 'C2 level English' who still say 'I often am not getting sick', promoting the heck out of the school, etc. etc.. All for 8-10k zl/mo. net after taxes, if your're lucky.

To some masochists, this may sound like paradise, but to most, I think they'd rather go to the Middle East and earn more just after stepping off the plane. Or go to Asia or Russia for a less saturated market and have their money go much further. But that's just me.

And what's this about abstaining from booze helping you to learn Polish? At least 50% of the Polish I've learned has been through conversations over a beer. It's called 'lowering the affective filter' Wink


here here!

I completely agree. why do it here when I have the option of doing it there.

as for the "convoluted and counter-intuitive" part, let's not forget that it's essentially useless outside of Poland unless you have aspirations of moving to the UK, buying a farm and hiring Polish laborers.
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john123



Joined: 29 Jan 2012
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not a shambles. Where's the competition for serious-minded teachers who have at least some desire to actually collaborate with their students to develop their English?

And competition from fluent Polish teachers of English, I think not. The same ones who attend IATEFL workshops and sit at the back of the class like little monkeys and constantly talk over the leader of the workshop. Personal observations.

Regards

John
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john123



Joined: 29 Jan 2012
Posts: 83

PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not a shambles. Where's the competition for serious-minded teachers who have at least some desire to actually collaborate with their students to develop their English?

And competition from fluent Polish teachers of English, I think not. The same ones who attend IATEFL workshops and sit at the back of the class like little monkeys and constantly talk over the leader of the workshop. Personal observations.

Regards

John
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scottie1113



Joined: 25 Oct 2004
Posts: 351
Location: Gdansk

PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

john123 wrote:
It's not a shambles. Where's the competition for serious-minded teachers who have at least some desire to actually collaborate with their students to develop their English?

And competition from fluent Polish teachers of English, I think not. The same ones who attend IATEFL workshops and sit at the back of the class like little monkeys and constantly talk over the leader of the workshop. Personal observations.

Regards

John


Valid observations, in my opinion.
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 958
Location: Itabashi, Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

john123 wrote:
It's not a shambles. Where's the competition for serious-minded teachers who have at least some desire to actually collaborate with their students to develop their English?
Good, dedicated, responsive teachers will always be in demand. And there are many keen, ambitious students in PL. The key questions are: 1) How do the two find each other? 2) Is a teachers who goes above and beyond the call of duty going to be rewarded for it, both financially and professionally in PL? 3) How do the opportunities here compare to EFL markets in other countries?

Simon suggested that a well-run, well-paying school would clean up financially amid all the money-grabbing, get rich quick outfits. But I think, opening such a school, this would be quite a challenge. Rent in PL is quite high, competition is already fierce, and competent, reliable native-speaker teachers are not all that easy to come by. You'd quickly find yourself having to cut corners in order make ends meet, and your school could easily end up like all the other 2nd rate schools. Take Bell Warsaw as an example.

john123 wrote:
And competition from fluent Polish teachers of English, I think not. The same ones who attend IATEFL workshops and sit at the back of the class like little monkeys and constantly talk over the leader of the workshop. Personal observations.
I think there will always be a healthy percentage of Poles who insist on having a native speaker teacher.
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