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Suggestions for schools to visit in Warsaw?
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Jeggs



Joined: 02 Apr 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Minneapolis, MN

PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:24 am    Post subject: Suggestions for schools to visit in Warsaw? Reply with quote

Hi everyone! I'm new to the forum and hoping to return to teaching English in September. I used to teach in Prague a number of years ago and have been considering returning there, but the economic situation for teachers is tough. So after reading through many of your posts over the past couple years, I've come to the conclusion that Warsaw, Poland, could be encouraging.

Infinite posted a helpful thread listing the schools in Warsaw last Spring. After going through them, there are some that don't have a website, and Google searches have turned up empty.

I'm visiting Warsaw in mid-April and would like to stop by four or five schools to ask questions, gather information, and get a feel for the teaching environment. Hopefully this trip will provide a feel for whether or not teaching English in Poland is a possibility. After all, it's better to spend a few bucks now than to quit my job, show up, and simply hope for the best.

From Infinite's list, these are the schools I'm leaning towards visiting:
1. Archibald
2. Cambridge School of English
3. English Best Way
4. Greenwich School of English

Do you agree this is a good list? Any suggestions?

Are there any schools that have classes of just one-three adult students at a time?

Are there any schools that have you teach at their facility alone or do all the schools require travel to client sites?

There are too many negative posts about Berlitz and Bell so I'm planning to avoid those.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
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Louisdf



Joined: 05 Feb 2013
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Europe, teachers are almost always hired from in the country. You have to be on the ground with a local mobile phone number, address and a Polish company set up to be taken seriously. Also as an American, you will most likely be asked to show you have a residence permit or are in the process of getting one. I don't see why a school would want to waste time interviewing someone who does not have any definite long-term plan of staying in Warsaw, let alone Poland. Courses usually run for a minimum of 6 months and schools always prefer teachers who can commit to a course for this amount of time or longer instead of having to constantly look for replacement teachers.
Classes almost always take place off-site. You will always be paid a set fee per 45 minutes. You will never be paid anything extra for travel expenses or waiting time. Teachers used to be able to get paid on a umowo o dzielo (contract for a specific task 10% tax) but schools have become increasingly reluctant to hire people this way and you will need to open a business in Poland. You will have to pay 420PLN in ZUS (social security), an accountant fee (around 150-180PLN) plus of course taxes.
Things may not be fantastic in Prague, but please do not expect to see a dramatic rise in your living standards in Warsaw. Sorry, but it is what it is.
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 978
Location: Itabashi, Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Jeggs,

I think Warsaw definitely has potential for you, but I question your timing. If you come here in April, you're likely to hear the following from schools:"We'll definitely have some work for you, but come back in September." Most schools don't worry about recruitment for the fall semester until the 11th hour (i.e. September).

Even if, by some stroke of fortune, you walk into a school exactly when they have a full schedule of classes ready for you to take on, these classes will probably only continue until June. And summers are notoriously dry in Warsaw.

So, I'd encourage you to hold off on your trip until August/September.

Do you have any qualifications to teach English (i.e. bachelors degree and a teaching cert)? These are pretty important in Poland.
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Jeggs



Joined: 02 Apr 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Minneapolis, MN

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for replying, Louisdf. A couple follow-ups to your points...

Louisdf wrote:
In Europe, teachers are almost always hired from in the country. You have to be on the ground with a local mobile phone number, address and a Polish company set up to be taken seriously.


Makes sense...even in Prague you have to be there already to be considered for positions. My plan is to stay in a hostel for a couple weeks upon arriving until I get hired and then find a roommate. I'll find out from each school the importance of having a Warsaw address before the interview. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Louisdf wrote:
Also as an American, you will most likely be asked to show you have a residence permit or are in the process of getting one.


How does an American get a residence permit without being offered employment first? It seems that if this were true Americans couldn't get hired. I'll ask each school if getting a business license is required to be employed.

Louisdf wrote:
I don't see why a school would want to waste time interviewing someone who does not have any definite long-term plan of staying in Warsaw, let alone Poland.


They don't have a choice...they take that risk with everyone they interview. If the pay is low and conditions are undesirable then they must expect turnover whether someone does/doesn't have a residence permit. From what I read on other threads...if an American has trouble getting a residence permit, they can still make a border run every three months. Is that no longer the case or are schools generally unaware of this?

Louisdf wrote:
Courses usually run for a minimum of 6 months and schools always prefer teachers who can commit to a course for this amount of time or longer instead of having to constantly look for replacement teachers.


Ok. Sounds like that can be accomplished with/without a residence permit if the border run option is still viable. For each school I visit, I'll talk to them about his issue to see how they prefer to handle it.

Louisdf wrote:
Classes almost always take place off-site. You will always be paid a set fee per 45 minutes. You will never be paid anything extra for travel expenses or waiting time.


Bummer, but that is what I expected to hear. Are there any schools that just offer classes at their own facilities? In Prague, I used to teach for Cambridge Institute, and one of the benefits is that there was no travelling involved.

Louisdf wrote:
Teachers used to be able to get paid on a umowo o dzielo (contract for a specific task 10% tax) but schools have become increasingly reluctant to hire people this way and you will need to open a business in Poland. You will have to pay 420PLN in ZUS (social security), an accountant fee (around 150-180PLN) plus of course taxes.


This is ultimately what I want (and plan) to do. Based on the experience of others, it sounds like it can be awfully difficult for an American to get a business license in Poland. Ecocks expressed having trouble with this in other threads. It seems like the best approach would be to work for a school first to get established in the area and then teach independently later. Again, I'll ask each school that I visit about how necessary it is to have a business license first before working there.

Louisdf wrote:
Things may not be fantastic in Prague, but please do not expect to see a dramatic rise in your living standards in Warsaw. Sorry, but it is what it is.


The living standards in Prague were fine, and I'm confident Warsaw's are too. The most uncertain part of this process is the likelihood of finding decent (and legal) teaching position.

Louisdf, thank you again for expressing some challenges that I can discuss while visiting each school.


Last edited by Jeggs on Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:20 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jeggs



Joined: 02 Apr 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Minneapolis, MN

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Master Shake, thank you for responding. I have to confess that I've been a lurker in these forums for a couple years trying to gauge the TEFL world since I've left Prague back in 2008. Master Shake, you're posts have been among the most encouraging, and is a reason why I'm excited to explore Warsaw as an option.

Master Shake wrote:
...but I question your timing. If you come here in April, you're likely to hear the following from schools:"We'll definitely have some work for you, but come back in September." Most schools don't worry about recruitment for the fall semester until the 11th hour (i.e. September).


Agreed. I'm not looking for work now, this is just vacation. I've always wanted to visit Warsaw and Krakow, and I have some Delta Air Miles to burn (my current job has me travel frequently) before they expire. I also want to see what Warsaw is like and get a feel for what it is like to work for an English school there.

When I was in college and wanted an internship, I would identify a manager/HR rep at an organization that I wanted to work for, offer to buy them lunch if they would be willing to tell me about what they do in their profession and what it would take to be the most qualified (perfect) candidate to work in their department. A few weeks later I'd follow up with them about my progress and ask a few more questions. More often than not, they were always happy to spend an hour over lunch discussing these matters...and on two occasions they wanted me to skip the application process and interview directly for an open position. In a sense, I was interviewing them before they interviewed me. When they saw my name on a resume, they could associate my name as someone they knew, not just a set of letters buried in a pile of CVs.

The idea here is similar, but the circumstances are different. I want to make sure that teaching English as an American in Warsaw is possible first before I quit my job, unload my furniture, etc. Therefore, I'm just going to spend a day visiting a handful of schools, see if there is someone to talk to, and get their impressions. You and others on this forum have helped me figure out which questions I should be asking.

Master Shake wrote:
Even if, by some stroke of fortune, you walk into a school exactly when they have a full schedule of classes ready for you to take on, these classes will probably only continue until June. And summers are notoriously dry in Warsaw.


That's fine. Based on the comments from another thread, it seems like teachers find enough work to get by during the slow season especially since many teachers leave town during this time. It is the same problem in Prague too. In fact, it would be nice to move around a little bit and work some summer camps, etc. Even if there's little work, that's not the end of the world as long as my residence permit doesn't expire due to lack of hours.

Master Shake wrote:
Do you have any qualifications to teach English (i.e. bachelors degree and a teaching cert)? These are pretty important in Poland.


Good question. This touches on something on which I need more clarification from the hiring manager at each of these schools. It seems like many on this forum really emphasize the importance of a CELTA. I looked into the program, and it seems quite impressive, however, it also costs around $1,500.

I have a TEFL from Oxford Seminars which consisted of 64 hours of in-class training. I had no problem landing jobs in Prague with this qualification in 2007. When asking former colleagues who still teach in Prague, they shrug off the necessity of a CELTA since I already have a TEFL plus experience. They emphasized that getting a CELTA would be a waste of money at this point. Since so many on this board have said otherwise, I need to ask the schools how important this is. If they insist, then I'll have to suck it up and pay $1,500 and take the class first. The extra training would be wonderful, but the price tag is what's causing my hesitation.

Otherwise, I have a BA in Geography and an MS in Geosciences. I've been a volunteer English teacher for the Minnesota Literacy Council for the last two years, teaching one night a week from 6:00-9:00. Since I came back to the States in 2008, I've been an Instructor and course author at a software company and have two COMPTIA certifications as a technical trainer in the classroom and online environments. I doubt any of this matters though, and that the TEFL certification is most significant.

Master Shake, thank you again for your time and advice, not just in this thread but in all the threads that you have participated in. I'm sure it has influenced life decisions of many people in addition to my own. Your positivity has been refreshing as well.

Cheers!
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 978
Location: Itabashi, Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the kind words, Jeggs. I'm happy to know my advice has been helpful to at least a few.

I think you raised some valid questions in response to Louisdf's reply.

As for the work permit/visa situation, you can do visa runs to Ukraine every 3 months indefinitely. However, it is illegal for most schools to employ Americans who don't have residency in Poland (one American on this forum, wojbrian, got deported + an EU wide ban for working without residency).

It used to be easy for schools to get this work permit on the basis of employing an American on a 'umowo o dzielo' but, as Louisdf wrote, schools are increasingly wary of using this type of contract.

So, this leaves self-employment (i.e. opening up their own 1-man company) as the best option for Americans in Warsaw. The costs Louisdf posted (accountant, social + health insurance) are accurate and in addition you pay 18-19% tax on company income.

Now for the tricky part: When you open your own company a school still has to apply for a work permit on your behalf in order for you to get residency. You'd think that having a business in a country would entitle you to live there, but you'd be wrong in this case - according to some, this work permit requirement goes against EU law. But this requirement was still in place in Warsaw the last time I applied for residency in 2012.

So, you will need to find a school to act as your primary employer and apply for a work permit on your behalf. However, you can work for other schools once you have this.

Getting this work permit is a long, but fairly inexpensive procedure so you should eventually be able to find a school willing to do this for you, in exchange for you working an agreed number of hours for them.

An American friend arrived in Warsaw last week and he was able to find a school willing to do this for him in 1 day. There is plenty of work in Warsaw and I get requests from students and schools (usually thru http://www.nativespeaker.com.pl/) every week asking for lessons.

As for the CELTA, I know it's a chunk of change but it's worth it since it will open doors for you, especially with the better paying schools (e.g. British Council, ACT) and clients.
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jscholar22



Joined: 23 May 2013
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello,

I thought I'd share my experience thus far. I've been teaching in Warsaw 3 years now, and I've been involved in 3 different schools.

Two of them still give me an "umowa o dzielo." That was their proposition, not mine. I haven't had to start any "business activity" or "business license," therefore I haven't had to incur any of those extra costs.

I also don't know any Americans who have done this.

As far as I see, schools/companies are desperate for experienced native speakers in Warsaw. Every American I know is getting work from school AND enjoying private students without any issues.

The tricky part: the work/residency permits. Some schools were willing to help, others were not. None asked me about my long-term plans though, and none asked me for my paperwork.

I feel that teachers in this city are really in a powerful position, but they don't realize it. Don't take crap from the schools, don't cave, and you can go far.

Jeggs, you also mentioned your housing situation plans. I actually have an apartment in Warsaw with my Canadian fiancee, and we have an extra bedroom that will be available in September. If you're interested, let me know. And good luck Wink
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sparks



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 522

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Jscholar,

Check your private messages, I sent you a message about your expat teaching group, I know a lot of people who are interested in your idea and would like to talk to you about it.
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 555

PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In respect to the work permit/residency permit situation - do not, under any circumstance, attempt to work without one. Do not even begin working without one - they are quite proactive when it comes to hunting down such workers, and if you get caught, you'll be offered either a year's ban from Schengen and no fine or a trip to court with uncertain consequences.

Border runs work as far as keeping yourself legally in Poland, but as ecocks has found out, they are useless in terms of other Schengen countries.

I'm dealing with the work permit issue right now - I've found a good candidate for next year, but as a non-EU citizen, she's almost certainly going to be denied the work permit as it simply isn't for enough hours.
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Jeggs



Joined: 02 Apr 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Minneapolis, MN

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you to everyone who replied with information and advice. Just as a quick follow-up, I've been in Warsaw for a couple days now and have a positive impression of the city itself...especially after hearing negative comments about the city for years.

For those who are considering Warsaw and have never been here, one of the biggest differences is the amount of car traffic, wide roads and unused empty space. Public transportation is alright, but other European cities seem to have more convenient routes. In most Euro cities you can get around just fine without a car, but I wonder how much that is true for Warsaw, especially if you're travelling all over the city to teach. Can some Warsaw forumers provide their thoughts on the convenience of public transit?...as this is one of my primary concerns.

Today I visited Cambridge School of English, British Council and Archibald. It is proving to be more difficult than I thought to talk to the right people. The receptionists are usually willing to tell you what they know, and the only questions that they couldn't get help with were related to VISA issues. All of them said that they definitely hire Americans.

The receptionist for Archibald was very encouraging and wanted me to apply right away...and that school was very impressive IMO. It was busy with many students waiting for classes to start, and the school had a professional - sharp image. They host classes in-house. It doesn't appear that a CELTA is required, just that a methodology has been adopted. I'm emailing them to find out what they mean by this, but the receptionist didn't think it needed to be a CELTA. She encouraged me to email the school with questions even though I live in Minnesota....she said that they take all teacher candidates seriously no matter where they live.

The lady at the British Council was more annoyed by my presence, had attitude, and wasn't as helpful. However, I went upstairs and wondered down a couple hallways and watched a couple classes in session. It seems to be a very professional environment, the teachers were sharply dressed, class sizes about 4-10 students, they use computers and projectors, and it appears that most classes are taught in-house for adults. A CELTA is required and they prefer additional training as well, plus a minimum of two-years professional experience. The receptionist said that these requirements are absolute and that few exceptions are made. When I asked her about VISA help, her eyes squinted and she fired back, "Why would we do that? The teachers need to sort that out with the proper authorities." Wow, OK, point clearly made. She added that they do have Americans on staff.

Cambridge School had less going on and didn't have as professional of an image. The receptionist admitted that most classes were taught off-site and they do hire American teachers. She had no idea about CELTA qualification requirements or VISA help. One interesting point...most teachers are only teaching one or two 90-minute lessons per day. That doesn't seem like much, and she agreed. Thinking back on this, I wonder if she was talking about the schedule for just this week since Easter is upcoming...not sure.

So that's the latest...nothing too discouraging. I haven't come across many Polish people who speak English very well, not in restaurants, not on the street, not anywhere really. There were a few political protests yesterday and I tried asking several younger pedestrians what was going on, and the majority shook their head that they couldn't understand me. Only two hostel workers seemed comfortable speaking any English, and that was pretty broken as well. So it definitely seems like English learning won't be drying up anytime soon.

Hope someone finds this helpful. Cheers!
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Jeggs



Joined: 02 Apr 2014
Posts: 6
Location: Minneapolis, MN

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jscholar22 wrote:
Hello,
Jeggs, you also mentioned your housing situation plans. I actually have an apartment in Warsaw with my Canadian fiancee, and we have an extra bedroom that will be available in September. If you're interested, let me know. And good luck Wink


Thanks for providing this as an option, jscholar22. The two hostels that I've stayed at so far haven't been impressive and I wouldn't want to live in one for several weeks...two days each was enough. So your offer is tempting. However, at this point I don't feel sold on the idea of living in Warsaw as I'm leaning more towards the CETP program in Hungary. So, being indecisive, I shouldn't hold you up.
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 555

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="jeggs]It is proving to be more difficult than I thought to talk to the right people. [/quote]

On the whole, this is quite normal. Most schools in cities have more candidates than jobs, and they will always have a reserve bank of CV's to hand. As a result, they've got little interest in talking to someone that comes in off the street, particularly in big operations like the British Council.

Quote:
just that a methodology has been adopted


In other words, you'll be expected to follow their system. Whatever their system is, I don't know, but anyone willing to hire teachers without CELTA and with a "methodology" usually suggests some sort of pre-written materials.

Quote:
A CELTA is required and they prefer additional training as well, plus a minimum of two-years professional experience. The receptionist said that these requirements are absolute and that few exceptions are made.


You're wasting your time trying to get in at the British Council, as you simply won't meet their requirements.
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sparks



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 522

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For Archibald you will need to pass a 60-100 question grammar test first. If you didn't do that already go back and ask if you can. That's how it's always been unless they've changed it recently. It's not too difficult providing you know your phrasal verbs and have a grasp of perfect and conditional structures, can identify the differences in use of various future tenses, etc. It's basically just to weed out the idiots who wander in. Their methodology isn't really anything strict, it's just about little techniques that help students learn, like using different colored markers to indicate various parts of speech, error correction techniques and so on, other than that it's just communicative approach.
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Louisdf



Joined: 05 Feb 2013
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jeggs wrote:


One interesting point...most teachers are only teaching one or two 90-minute lessons per day. That doesn't seem like much, and she agreed. Thinking back on this, I wonder if she was talking about the schedule for just this week since Easter is upcoming...not sure.


That would be correct, most people have classes before work (7:30-9 or 8-9:30) or after (4-5:30 or 4:30-6 or 5-6:30) as companies still want people to work at least 8 uninterrupted hours every day and most company rooms are taken in the middle of the day for meetings and conferences. Additionally as many people live in Warsaw only on weekdays, they try and get out of the office by 3 or 4 on Friday so classes after 9AM are usually not popular with students.
Of course, there are people in higher positions who can have 1-1 classes between 10-4 but these courses are unfortunately not easy to get.
Also remember many courses are only 60 minutes not 90!
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 555

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jeggs, I think you need to remember that while people on this forum might talk about good employers, most people living in the cities will also know who the good employers are. They're usually not going to hire people off the street because they simply don't need to.

I'd say it's almost normal in Poland to work in a rubbish school in the first year in a major city. No different to any job market, really.

I get paid as normal during holidays now, but certainly the first two years of teaching here, I had to put up with a fair bit of nonsense, just like most people. My favourite was working for one school that couldn't understand why a group of late 20's/early 30's married guys preferred the female teacher who dressed rather provocatively over me.
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