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Do you have questions about CETP in Hungary?
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Keskaa



Joined: 14 Feb 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:51 pm    Post subject: Do you have questions about CETP in Hungary? Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

I don't post on here very often, but I thought that today I would for some reason (It's probably the delirium of extreme exhaustion). I know that Hungary doesn't have its own board on here--probably because it's quite a small market. I wanted to kind of put myself out there as an independent person who has been working in a small town in Hungary through CETP--Central European Teaching Program. Here's the link if you're interested:

http://www.cetp.info/

I'm almost done with my first year, and it's been great. I've renewed for a second year already and signed my new contract. I know that those of you who have seen the $2,500 fee might cringe and say, "Dang...that sounds like a scam," or "Dang...that's ridiculous to pay," but in all honesty, it's completely fair and legit, and they are not in it to screw you over. They really do take care of you and all your EU work permits, and will not let you dangle over the precipice of uncertainty, so to speak. As a licensed American public school teacher who has taught in several countries, I can say that this is, by far, the most organized organization that I've ever worked through in EFL.

I wanted to say that anyone who is interested in teaching in Hungary is welcome to PM me with questions about CETP and/or the teaching environment here. I am NOT an employee of CETP, nor have I ever earned any money through them in any way. They did not ask me to do this, nor did I tell them that I was going to post this. I am a paying teacher, and it's all been completely worth it. Please do feel free to message me with any questions about teaching in Hungary or CETP and I'll give you my honest truth as I have experienced it.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9373
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For what it's worth from someone who has NOT got direct experience with CETP:

I've been in the area for about 15 years now and have heard only good things about this program, though my understanding is that it's not for anyone who needs to save money or pay off loans back home (but very few jobs in the region allow for that, anyway!).
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Keskaa



Joined: 14 Feb 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE

PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
For what it's worth from someone who has NOT got direct experience with CETP:

I've been in the area for about 15 years now and have heard only good things about this program, though my understanding is that it's not for anyone who needs to save money or pay off loans back home (but very few jobs in the region allow for that, anyway!).


Yes, it is most certainly not gonna get you rich or build your savings. Most Hungarian teachers' salaries I have come across range between $600-950 dollars a month, and that's before the 18% health insurance tax and 15-16% income tax.
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pglaser52



Joined: 20 Oct 2012
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keskaa,

I was just looking into CETP for the first time today. It seems pretty nice, considering that they take care of all of the arrangements for you (and I've read that you don't have to pay anything until you accept a job offer). I will soon have my master's in ESOL from an American university and was wondering what pedagogy is generally like in Hungary and more specifically, what it's like in EFL education.

You say that you were a teacher in American public schools before. How does your Hungarian school compare? How much freedom are you afforded in terms of method, materials, content, etc.? Do you like the general pedagogic atmosphere? Given that it's a former Soviet state, I presume that they may still be actively practicing drill n' kill as a method. Is this so? Could you just give a rundown of your feelings about your American experience as compared to your Hungarian one?
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Keskaa



Joined: 14 Feb 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE

PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:32 pm    Post subject: CETP Reply with quote

Hi pglaser52,

I’ll try to answer your questions in as balanced a way as possible, but unfortunately, for several of them, there isn’t really a clear-cut, black-and-white answer.

1. Payment: In terms of paying, no, you don’t need to pay anything until you accept a job offer. They will try to match you to your preferences to the best of their ability (although of course, there is only so much they can do because ultimately, it’s up to the schools themselves to select you, not CETP). They will tell you your options, and if you want any of them, only at that point do you have to pay. They do spend TONS of time trying to get you want you want though, so naturally some of the money you spend goes towards paying for their time, which is reasonable.

2. Pedagogy: This is hard to say because I have experienced a range of styles. The public school system in Hungary has gone through a ton of “changes” which have been mandated by changing governments, but this has had little effect on classroom practices (I know this because I am finishing my MS in Literacy Education and have had to research it, and I can confirm it with personal experience based on anecdotal reference from colleagues). Basically, you have all kinds of teachers here—lecturers, hands-on teachers, textbook teachers, etc. There is basically nothing keeping them from doing what they want, because formal observations are rare and although there ARE teaching standards here, they don’t have to adhere to them actively because the textbooks they use are aligned towards the school-leaving exam skills. It’s really barely comparable to the states. What’s more, Hungarian teachers are overworked and underpaid (600-900 dollars a month before taxes) and many of them teach 26 lessons a week plus extra, after-school lessons. They don’t have time for best practices because they’re just trying to survive, although I have yet to meet a truly uncaring or lazy teacher.

3. Hungarian vs American schools: This is a very difficult question. I am a licensed American teacher, but I have only ever substitute taught in the states. I would say that the comparisons between my Hungarian school and American schools go no further than skin-deep, and because teachers really base their lessons on the school-leaving exam while having tons of freedom to do what they want in their lessons, it’s hard to say exactly how Hungarian schools even compare to each other. However, I’ll list a few basic observations:

a. No mandatory professional development—Hungarians can do PD if they want, but this is done through a governmentally-recognized two-year university diploma program. I have never experienced colleagues leading PD sessions (not to say that they don’t do it in other schools though).

b. No collaborative planning meetings at my school—I know of only one or two other schools where regular collaborative planning happens. At my school, all teachers are required to teach 26-29 lessons a week, so planning collaborative planning is impossible. I can’t say for sure about the majority of schools though.

c. Parents’ nights—My school holds bi-yearly parents’ nights where parents can come in and meet with the teachers to get feedback about their kids, although many don’t. This happens in a group setting, not one-on-one in the homeroom. Again, I can’t speak about other schools though.

d. Emphasis on community—There are no “community literacy programs” or anything like that here. Hungarians have no idea what this is.

e. Specialists—My school has no specialists, and none of my Hungarian colleagues who have worked at several different schools know what this means, so I assume that specialists are rare indeed.

f. Professional organizations—I don’t know of any professional organizations that my colleagues are required to be in, except for one very nebulous one which came into effect at the beginning of 2014. None of them know what its name is, what its purpose is, or why they’re in it, but apparently all teachers were placed in this organization.

4. Freedom—CETP hires English-speaking teachers to serve the schools as conversational English teachers. However, it’s up to the school to decide what they want you to teach, and it’s up to the homeroom teachers of your classes to decide what you should teach and how you should teach it. I am free to do whatever I want with the kids. Most teachers told me that they want me to just work on fluency, vocabulary, and expressions, and getting the kids to come out of their shells and become more confident. I teach reading, writing, vocabulary, expressions, idioms, and exam skills. I have noticed that the Hungarian kids get squirmy when I try to teach grammar in English because they are so used to immediate understanding when they are taught English grammar through Hungarian, so I avoid it most times. It’s a sure way to shut them down, and they’re very fragile in a lot of ways.

In terms of materials and content, I am encouraged to teach to the exam topics, some of which include family life, culture and art, travel, crime, free time and holidays, etc. I can use whatever materials I want. The big thing is that I do NOT have a textbook and have to prepare everything myself. This becomes a huge problem when you teach more than 14 different groups of students each week.

5. Drill-and-kill--I only know of one teacher who does this for sure at my school, and many other teachers don’t respect her because of it. I have heard of many drill-and-kill teachers in general here, but because the students have to take oral exams in many subjects in addition to written exams, the nature of classes has to be interactive, otherwise the kids have no chance to pass the oral exam (even in maths) which require rationalization and justification. I think that, for the most part and at least in my school, the majority of teachers do not drill and kill.

6. Experience run-down—I’ve had a great time in Hungary so far. I will never teach in the states—never ever. Teaching in the states is all about paperwork and bureaucracy, and often these take priority over teaching itself, and although there is tons of the latter here, the former is certainly a lot less. I feel like the kids want me here and they appreciate what I can bring them, whereas the kids in the states just tolerate me because they have to, coming to school drunk or hung over. Yes, I am speaking from the perspective of one who is teaching at a high-level Hungarian high school with motivated students, but even the worst Hungarian students are nothing compared to the basic misbehaving American, I’ve been told. It must be a cultural difference. Hungarians are more reserved and hierarchical than Americans, I feel, and they have lots of ways of showing respect, such as students standing up when the teacher enters the room. I feel like Hungarian schools and American schools are like the difference between night and day: They’re both parts of the same concept, but they couldn’t be more different.

I hope this post has been helpful. If you have a chance to talk to CETP, I would highly encourage asking them about your options. There are several people here teaching with Master’s degrees, and many have been here for several years. It’s a great experience!
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pglaser52



Joined: 20 Oct 2012
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you so much Keskaa for such a thorough post. I wanted to reply earlier, but I didn't have time till now to do so.

I will take all that you said into consideration. One thing I wanted to note was that, in my experience, the idea of practically ignoring state mandated programs is not all that unfamiliar in the US either. Where I am student-teaching at the moment, most teachers really do their best to ignore whatever new programs get passed down, except for the absolutely mandatory things. Administrators tend to leave them alone too, just as long as test scores are consistent and morale is good. My dad who taught for 34 years can corroborate this. New teachers might get swept up amid all the buzz and worry over job security that comes with being new, but the vets call most of their own shots.

As far as how I feel about it, I'm happiest when teachers are left alone and are allowed to create their own policies. Education driven purely by popular politics (and thus propaganda and hysteria) is for the birds. It's good to hear that Hungarian teachers tend to trust their own judgement.

One clarification question here too: When you say that teachers will work with 14 different groups, does that mean that they have 14 different preparations, or does it mean that they have many sessions of the same classes and can use their preps many times over? Either way, I'll remember to bring a textbook wherever I go.

Overall it sounds like a pretty free experience. I enjoy the community aspect of American schools, however, I can see that would be hampered by the fact that Hungarian schools are likely not terribly multi-cultural (meaning that they don't quite have the need for the school to be a place where people of disparate backgrounds have encounters. They are probably more familiar with each other than to need the school to act as a meeting place).
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PC Parrot



Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 380
Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:13 am    Post subject: Cough, cough ... Splutter, splutter Reply with quote

So how much is the salary?

Indian hill villagers part with 6 months' future wages in the Gulf to pay an agent to get them a job. But they are desperate and think they are buying a ticket to El Dorado.

12 years ago, I had to give 3 days worth of my then salary to fly to an interview. That's little over a day's pay of today's salary.

How many months salary did you give?
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Keskaa



Joined: 14 Feb 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pglaser52 wrote:


One clarification question here too: When you say that teachers will work with 14 different groups, does that mean that they have 14 different preparations, or does it mean that they have many sessions of the same classes and can use their preps many times over? Either way, I'll remember to bring a textbook wherever I go.


As a CETP teacher, you'd be working with 5-7 different individual classes (approximately, of course) Because Hungarian classes are large (35-39) students usually, they break them into Group 1 and Group 2 for language lessons. This means that instead of having a Year 9.a class on Monday and Tuesday with all the kids, seeing 9.a two times a week in total, you'll have a 9.a Group 1 on Monday and and Tuesday, and you'll have 9.a Group 2 on Tuesday and Wednesday (for example). So if you are to meet your Year 9 class twice a week, it really means 4x a week because you're meeting each group 2x. And of course, each group can be at different levels. Yes, you can reuse a lot of your materials once you build them up, but you will definitely have 10-14 individual groups if you're in secondary school, and it will be a significant time challenge in the beginning. I can't speak to primary school as well because I don't teach there. And again, all my numbers are approximate, but my schedule is fairly average with my 26 lessons and my 14 different groups compromised of 7 individual classes across 7 grade levels.

Quote:

Overall it sounds like a pretty free experience. I enjoy the community aspect of American schools, however, I can see that would be hampered by the fact that Hungarian schools are likely not terribly multi-cultural (meaning that they don't quite have the need for the school to be a place where people of disparate backgrounds have encounters. They are probably more familiar with each other than to need the school to act as a meeting place).


I am not sure about other schools, but my school is NOT multicultural whatsoever. I think that you'd find a lot more multiculturalism in Budapest, and you'll come across gypsies in your school from time to time, but it's nothing like in America.
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Keskaa



Joined: 14 Feb 2013
Posts: 17
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:03 am    Post subject: Re: Cough, cough ... Splutter, splutter Reply with quote

PC Parrot wrote:
So how much is the salary?

Indian hill villagers part with 6 months' future wages in the Gulf to pay an agent to get them a job. But they are desperate and think they are buying a ticket to El Dorado.

12 years ago, I had to give 3 days worth of my then salary to fly to an interview. That's little over a day's pay of today's salary.

How many months salary did you give?


I'm not sure I understand the question, but going by a Hungarian teacher's salary, which averages around 650-900 USD before taxes, it would be about 6 months' salary to pay the CETP fee. I had a well-paid job before I came here, so paying the fee wasn't a problem. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, too.
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PC Parrot



Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 380
Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You keep talking about a Hungarian teacher's salary. Perhaps I have misunderstood something, but is this the same salary that non-Hungarians earn through CETP?

If so, you are working the first 6 months for free (?). Or do non-hungarians not get a salary at all?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9373
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PC, dunno how familiar you are with the current state of the Hungarian economy - I know university teachers there who barely get paid at all these days! I'm involved with a fellowship program that funds a few, but the economy there is dire in general and teaching is most definitely not something people are doing for the money, whether Hungarian or expat.
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PC Parrot



Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 380
Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had a quick look at the website and from what I gather:

    CETP is a for-profit recruitment agency.

    Part of the $2,500 you pay covers very basic but private housing

    Under FAQ's 'Will I be paid? How much?' they say they give you free housing, but under 'Why should I Pay' they say that part of your $2,500 is for housing - so you are paying for it. If that's not spin, what is?

    In their major FAQ, about why you should pay so much to be placed, they say that you shouldn't mind paying the $2,500 because you can't earn big money in Europe like you can in Japan - THIS IS ILLOGICAL yet this is a major reason of theirs for why you should pay them $2,500.


And here are some other real gems. In their why should I pay, they say:

Can Americans find under-the-table TESL work in Europe? Yes, sometimes, as long as you don't mind not having job security, legal status, health insurance, a normal teaching timetable, or a steady paycheck!

Firstly, your pay check for the first 6 months covers the fee you paid to them. That leaves 4 months at $500 to cover living expenses for the whole 10 months. Given that they themselves describe the salary of $500 as being adequate for day to day living expenses and some local travel, you will not be recouping the fee you paid to them.

Secondly, there are legal jobs for Americans in Europe. Check out the Polish forum and the Czech forum. Check out the Turkish forum too - half of Istanbul is physically situated in Europe. They are trying to frighten youngsters into parting with their money. It's their money, but they should remember that a fool and his money are easily parted.

Sure, the people who do these things have a great time: but they would have had an equally great time, or better, by going it alone and working elsewhere.

It's rather like comparing the people who choose to travel through Africa on the back of one of those dreadful overland trucks to the people who go it alone. The former have their scrap-book experience, the latter grow.
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PC Parrot



Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 380
Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
PC, dunno how familiar you are with the current state of the Hungarian economy - I know university teachers there who barely get paid at all these days! I'm involved with a fellowship program that funds a few, but the economy there is dire in general and teaching is most definitely not something people are doing for the money, whether Hungarian or expat.


Aren't CETP doing it for the money?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dunno - could be a way for them to pad out their own paltry teaching salaries!
Hungary is basically a special case in the region, economically. Czech teachers, for example, make a fairly reliable living wage, though it's not exactly lavish by any interpretation of the word.
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PC Parrot



Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 380
Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
I dunno - could be a way for them to pad out their own paltry teaching salaries!


Perhaps they should say that on their website.

If they are so altruistic, it should not sit well with them to misrepresent the situation and to circle around the truth.
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