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Czechland (Prague) or Fatherland (Berlin) ?
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spaceman spiff



Joined: 28 Dec 2012
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:06 pm    Post subject: Czechland (Prague) or Fatherland (Berlin) ? Reply with quote

Hello all,

I am a bit of a globe-trotter who has posted in these forums before asking for advice. I really enjoy teaching as a means of self-perseverance - I was recently in Brazil for 6 months (loved it - nothing but great experiences), and I have that itch again to leave boring (and unbearably cold) Canada to settle down again - though this time back to Europe.

As a Canadian citizen, who is eligible for a few work-holiday visas (which permit a stay for up to 1 year), I am beginning to look at Germany/Czech Republic as the cost of living in Western Europe doesn't appeal to me as much.

A bit about myself:
- I have a BA in linguistics at the University of Toronto.
- I am 24 years old and single - I like art/music/movies/history and such.
- I have extensive experience as a language teacher/interpreter/translator in Canada, France and Brazil.
- I am trilingual English/French/Portuguese, and can communicate in Spanish fine - though I wouldn't be able to teach/write it.
- I do not have TEFL accreditation (though I have taught the tests/courses with different schools in Brazil) nor am I particularly interested in paying more money/working more hours in obtaining one. I'm not necessarily married to teaching either, if I can find a desk (or hotel) job that requires languages and pays enough, I'll happily do that.

So my question is where to go? I am both highly interested in Germany and the Czech Republic (more specifically Berlin/Prague). Keep in mind that key aspects would be good work opportunities, a good way of life, high number of younger people - regarding languages: I'm not particularly bothered, both are interesting and after a year I will have learnt one. I plan on studying now before I leave anyway (certainly for Czech, with German I'll be okay). German strikes me as more useful than Czech however.

Personal PROS/CONS
- I already have a base in German and could learn it pretty quickly at a good conversational level. Czech (and all Slavic languages) are alien to me, though I do find its impenetrability interesting.
- I have already been to Berlin (though only for a week), I have never been to Prague.
- I love beer so I'll be happy either way I think.
- I love good food too ... dunno which city will keep my belly happier.
- I love girls too (hey, this is also important), and I do hear that Czech women are quite stunning. Germans can be hit/miss.
- Berlin strikes me as a more North American city in many ways (I have lived in both Toronto and Montreal), though there are aspects of that that I would like. Prague is well medieval looking, which is also great in a different way.
- Would prefer a low cost of living along with a wealth of artistic options and good bars with younger open-minded people.

I'm pretty sure I'll have a great time either way, just looking for some advice that any of you travelers might have to share.

Cheers!
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 520

PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are untold tens of thousands of young people in Europe just like you, and here's the news.

1) With no teaching certification, you're not going to get far in Berlin or Prague. The cities are rammed full of foreigners trying to 'teach' - to a market that is rather minimal due to the economics of the city. Both Berlin and Prague are absolutely saturated with foreigners, and employers don't need to take poor quality candidates for the kind of jobs that are open to you.

2) No place with a high amount of young people is going to offer good work opportunities for one simple reason : the young people have already taken all the jobs.

3) Berlin has a low cost of living compared to the rest of Germany, but it also has one of the worst economic bases in Germany. Combine that with the fact that you don't speak German well enough to work in a real work environment, and you're at a huge disadvantage.

4) In short, don't waste your time if you don't have knowledge and experience. Neither Prague or Berlin will have much for you in terms of earning, and if you genuinely want to come to Europe, go somewhere that your lack of formal qualifications can be overlooked.

At the end of the day, you're just another kid that wants to get drunk and get laid - which makes you very unattractive for potential employers. Hotels in those cities know fine well that they can get slave labour for next to nothing as people are desperate to live in those cities - they simply don't need to pay what you would consider a 'living' wage.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9441
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ditto. d-d hasn't been exactly politically correct, but the bottom line is the bottom line. You'd be one of literally tens of thousands here in a tough job market. Sure, if you are willing to shell out for a cert (simply because most newbies entering this job market have one and why would any employer take a risk on someone with less than the standard when there are so many standard/standard+ job candidates), you can probably find something at least subsistence level.

There's little/no cache in being from North America left here, honestly. Your origins and native English aren't enough to make you (not 'you,' specifically, but all of 'you') hot property either for employers or for women, frankly.
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spaceman spiff



Joined: 28 Dec 2012
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haha, no worries.

Was hoping that a 'certification' wasn't necessarily required. I'm still willing to believe it's not required for every single school or institution, and my multilingualism more often than not puts me at an advantage. I should say that I'm probably going to either country already teaching english through skype with an international teaching company, so I'd be getting paid in CDN dollars anyway.

I'm also not exactly 'married' to teaching, if I can work in a hotel or something, that'd be great too.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9441
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm pretty sure I'll have a great time either way,


Sure, come on over!

You're about twenty years too late for the scene you are imagining, but w.t.h.. C'mon, party til your money runs out. If your bottom line is about having a great time, why bother with some job where you'll have to actually get up and show up looking professional at some ungodly hour of the morning anyway?

Reality check: Most Germans and Czechs your age are multilingual, in the big cities. Why would a hotel hire a (transient) Canadian with dodgy or no local language skills over one of his/her own countrymen?
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spaceman spiff



Joined: 28 Dec 2012
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, it's not like I'm some sort of total louse - I do take my job seriously, and feel like I do teach well with students who are willing to learn.

My bottom line is experiencing a different country, learning a new language, and yes - having fun. I'm not middle aged quite yet, and while I am paying off my student loans, I don't have too much in the way of obligations or debts preventing me from enjoying my slightly crazy nomadic life.

For the record, I'm pretty willing to bet that most Germans and Czechs don't also speak French/Portuguese and Spanish, even in the big cities. If you're adamant that finding gainful employment will be as difficult as you make out, then fair enough. I'm going to end up going anyways and see for myself, and no I won't end up crashing and burning. I always find a way.
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taxman



Joined: 18 Mar 2013
Posts: 19
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:19 pm    Post subject: Not sure what you mean here? Reply with quote

"As a Canadian citizen, who is eligible for a few work-holiday visas (which permit a stay for up to 1 year), I am beginning to look at Germany/Czech Republic as the cost of living in Western Europe doesn't appeal to me as much."

Not sure how Germany doesn't qualify as "Western Europe", but OK......

"I should say that I'm probably going to either country already teaching english through skype with an international teaching company, so I'd be getting paid in CDN dollars anyway."

Not sure what you meant here....you teach English through Skype for a company in Canada and they are going to send you to Germany/Czech to work for them?

Never heard of that before.

By the way, getting paid in Canadian dollars is not necessarily a good thing here. The current exchange rate is about 1€ to 1.51 Canadian dollars.

"For the record, I'm pretty willing to bet that most Germans and Czechs don't also speak French/Portuguese and Spanish, even in the big cities."

I'm really not trying to crash your dream, spaceman, but you need to be realistic. Many Germans do indeed speak some French, there is no demand for Portuguese, and you said yourself you wouldn't be able to teach Spanish.
Your best bet would be a Mcschool like Berlitz, picking up freelance hours in both English and maybe some French, but as already stated, the fact that you are non-EU is going to make it tough.

"I'm going to end up going anyways and see for myself, and no I won't end up crashing and burning. I always find a way."

Best of luck to you.
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spaceman spiff



Joined: 28 Dec 2012
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I meant specifically Berlin and probably should have wrote that, but without getting into a pointless geo-political debate about what constitutes Central Europe/Western Europe, suffice to say the cost of living in Berlin is a bit different from France/Italy.

I will be teaching English through skype with a company - they are not sending me anywhere, but I am able to do this job from anywhere.

I don't expect to be rolling in money, I know how teaching abroad is/I've done it before, and I am quite realistic - but every time I ask people about a certain country, I always get a load of "nobody cares about X,Y language" comments filled with such certainty - people do care. The world over. Believe me taxman and co, being able to at least communicate in other languages is hugely advantageous and provides job opportunities. And no I couldn't teach Spanish, but I could perform pretty much any normal task in a Spanish language environment at least. I'm also willing to wager that the overall level of French in Germany isn't particularly high either, though yes I'm certain some do speak it well.

Cheers for the best wishes though! Same to you, naturally.

I should add that what I really wanted was just a pro/con analysis of the 2 cities, some advice as to employment resources/hiring schedules, and maybe some anecdotal info regarding the cities - I am appreciative of anybody who takes the time to respond however. Smile
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sparks



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 504

PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Euro forums can be a bit rough Smile Yes, the advice is sound, it isn't easy to make a good living, you aren't special, no matter how much you think you are etc. etc. You seem like a positive guy though, I'm sure you WILL, in fact, find a way and be able to enjoy your time in either country. Don't let any advice on here get you down. Come over and see. Just make sure you have some extra cash stashed away in case something goes wrong.
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 520

PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spaceman spiff wrote:
Well, it's not like I'm some sort of total louse - I do take my job seriously, and feel like I do teach well with students who are willing to learn.


Except you don't even have a basic teaching certificate.

Quote:
My bottom line is experiencing a different country, learning a new language, and yes - having fun. I'm not middle aged quite yet, and while I am paying off my student loans, I don't have too much in the way of obligations or debts preventing me from enjoying my slightly crazy nomadic life.


I think you don't quite realise how difficult it will be to even earn enough to pay off those loans. Prague and Berlin are completely saturated with foreigners willing to work for very little money - and Germany in particular makes heavy use of the so-called 'minijob' - I'm sure that 400 euro a month certainly won't meet your expectations. And at least in Berlin, there are untold thousands of foreigners living there who are funded by the parents. And so on and so on.

Quote:
For the record, I'm pretty willing to bet that most Germans and Czechs don't also speak French/Portuguese and Spanish, even in the big cities. If you're adamant that finding gainful employment will be as difficult as you make out, then fair enough. I'm going to end up going anyways and see for myself, and no I won't end up crashing and burning. I always find a way.


You'll be just another one who ends up going back and cursing Europe for making it so difficult for you.

Let me spell it out to you : Brazil was easy to find work in for one simple reason - there are a lack of native speakers there in general and a huge population that is getting richer very quickly. Berlin has so many foreigners that it's not even funny - speaking French or Spanish is really no big deal there. Prague on the other hand - the Czech Republic has been stagnating economically for years, and the market demands qualifications.

By the way, just to stress this - Czech girls have no interest in young foreign men who live in a small apartment. They know the score these days, and they're looking for rather more than someone who spends their days travelling around on the Metro.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12219
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. Non-EU
2. No language skills
3 No certification

Why would anyone hire you when they can get a EU citizen with language skills and TEFL cert ?
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9329
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scot, could you re-edit your three points so that they all have a dot after the numbers, please. Then all the N's will be aligned much more pleasingly.

Thank you!
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 520

PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

scot47 wrote:
1. Non-EU
2. No language skills
3 No certification

Why would anyone hire you when they can get a EU citizen with language skills and TEFL cert ?


Exactly.

I don't think he quite realises just how many foreigners there are in Prague/Berlin, and more to the point, how skilled those foreigners are. Portuguese and French is nothing particularly special - I know quite a few Portuguese here in Poznan, and there's not much demand at all for French speakers.

If he just wants to come and drink beer and get laid, Prague is fine. But he's not going to find anything worthwhile there with his attitude, and he's certainly not going to save enough to pay off student loans.

As for Berlin, a friend of mine has a great story of how he was using foreigners for very low cost education. 5 euro an hour for guitar lessons in his flat from an Aussie, 5 euro an hour to learn Spanish, the list goes on.

To the OP : would you consider 400 euro a month to be an acceptable wage? And if not, what kind of money do you think you'll get?

I rather suspect that your opinion of your value is rather inflated. The harsh reality is that both of those cities are full of similar people who thought that they could just roll up and teach some good English to the dumb locals for 20 euro an hour. They soon realise that the reality involves them working to the bone for a salary that local girls laugh at.
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kpjf



Joined: 18 Jan 2012
Posts: 171

PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

delphian-domine wrote:
5 euro an hour to learn Spanish, the list goes on.



5 euros! Didn't think it was that bad!

spaceman spiff wrote:
I always get a load of "nobody cares about X,Y language" comments filled with such certainty - people do care. The world over. Believe me taxman and co, being able to at least communicate in other languages is hugely advantageous and provides job opportunities. And no I couldn't teach Spanish, but I could perform pretty much any normal task in a Spanish language environment at least. I'm also willing to wager that the overall level of French in Germany isn't particularly high either, though yes I'm certain some do speak it well.


But, is one of the problems not that people would be taught French in German? So, German native speakers would be preferred, no? (However, of course I'm sure some language centres teach the language via the direct method). Furthermore, wouldn't a German prefer to give a fellow German the job in these difficult economic times?

Maybe a better bet would be going to Saarland to teach French! http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/24/france-germany-alliance-new-era But, of course the main problem is that Saarbrücken, its capital, is so damn ugly!! Or, why not try a less 'popular' city in Germany, then you can visit Berlin from time to time. However, maybe more experienced posters can say whether or not the OP would still have problems finding work (?).

Quote:
I'm not necessarily married to teaching either, if I can find a desk (or hotel) job that requires languages and pays enough, I'll happily do that.


With all due respect you don't speak the host country's language. I mean it would be different if you were going to France speaking both English and French fluently. Who would employ someone who doesn't speak much German for a 'desk' job? Plus the 1 year visa thing implies you're only looking temporary work; in other words that you're not sticking around. Sorry if I sound negative here!


Quote:
- I love girls too (hey, this is also important), and I do hear that Czech women are quite stunning. Germans can be hit/miss.


I don't think any women reading this thread would be too happy to read such comments. So, you're Brad Pitt, eh! Wonder what German women would think about you.

Quote:
Would prefer a low cost of living along with a wealth of artistic options and good bars with younger open-minded people.


But, at the same time this low cost of living is reflected by a low salary, no? Do you make much from your Skype lessons? I hardly think that would cover that much would it?

Berlin is a great city, but like I say why not try somewhere else in Germany?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9441
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, I was extremely gentle in comparison!

I doubt a smaller city in Germany will prove an easier nut to crack. Native English speakers are still quite prevalent in most, unless you are really going rural - defeating the purpose of lots of girls and etc. Wages will also be relatively lower - if the OP needs to make payments on student loans, that's likely a deal-breaker for the whole region, honestly.

Not having the local language is also a bigger handicap in a smaller city, obviously. 'My' small city in the Czech Rep absolutely requires functional Czech to get about, and it's the same in small town Germany.
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