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Why English Teachers stay Long Term in Poland
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chuckMC



Joined: 15 Apr 2015
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 11:34 am    Post subject: Why English Teachers stay Long Term in Poland Reply with quote

Hello folks!
I was speaking to a fellow English teacher yesterday. He told me how much better his life has become since moving here with his polish wife two years ago from Scotland. They now have baby and look forward to staying here forever. During the conversation, I brought up the topic of the economic situation in Poland. I asked him whether it was a good idea to raise his child in Poland instead of Scotland. I told him that living in Poland might be fun for you, but what about for the child? When he grows up he will face the problems of low wages and high unemployment. He could resent his parents for bringing him to a poor EU country instead of a richer one in Scotland. I told him that staying in Poland and teaching English is not a good long term decision and that it would be better to go back to Scotland. He then got a little offended unfortunately.javascript:emoticon('Sad')

But I think I know why many English teachers decide to stay. Here's my take:

1. Polish girls. This is a very obvious reason.Smile Many get stuck in Poland with a Polish girl. This might seem cool in the short run, but in the long run it isn't. I, myself, came to Poland entertaining the idea of getting a polish girl. It seemed cool, but after seeing the realities of this country (low wages, high unemployment, slow economic growth, mass emigration, the infamous polish pessimism, etc..) I thought better to just treat my stay in Poland as overseas experience to use to make a career back home in the US.

2. Teaching English here in Poland still pays an okay salary. This gives the teacher a false sense of accomplishment. They feel like they are "making it in life." Unfortunately, making okay money in Poland is not the same as making okay money in the US or W. Europe. 4000 PLN to not like making $4000 or 4000 euros. The purchasing power of a Euro or USD is so much higher. I can't imagine raising a family in Poland. The cheapest laptop goes for 1000 PLN! that's a third of the average monthly income. Imagine if the average American had to pay $1000 for the cheapest, crappiest laptop. For $1000, an American can buy a Macbook pro. I couldn't imagine being 50 years old and just having 100,000 PLN in my bank account; instead I want $100,000.

3. Just ain't got nothin' else to do. Many stay because they have no idea what to do in life. They decide that teaching English is something productive and fun. They get a CELTA with the hope of making good money from it someday in Poland. Unfortunately, the only way to make good money teaching English is to head to the sandpits. These Mid East countries pay well because few people want to put their lives on hold for years and years. I was thinking about going to the ME but the social isolation and the amount of money I would have to spend to get out for vacation would eat up a lot of my income. Better to grow roots in rich countries.

4. Living overseas is exciting and stimulating. You can meet different people, learn a language, learn to live in a foreign country. Its an interesting experience for a few years. But when one lives overseas too long they can become lost and baseless. They can lose their place in the world. I fear the idea of waking up one day at age 45 and realizing you have no prospects beyond teaching English in some foreign country. Also, it is difficult to find a prospective wife if you are living in a country just for awhile or as just an English teacher. English teachers are not taken seriously in Poland as well as most other countries. I am sorry if I offended anyone. Many of you guys have lots of experience in the ESL industry. But unfortunately, people think of English teaching as a 1-3 year diversion from real life. Or, they see it as something someone does when they have no idea what to do in life. If you say you have a passion for teaching and living abroad, they will ask "why not teach back home and travel overseas during vacation?"

5. Trying to take advantage of their Western status. Many W.Europeans and Americans come to Poland with the idea that girls and money will magically flock to them because of their Western status. But once the Westerner says to a girl that they are only English teachers, they will realize how lowly regarded they are. The girl will respond with "what else do you do besides teaching?" This has happened to me a lot, and I imagine that it happens to other teachers as well. Proper women would rarely get involved with an English teacher who has no other plans beyond teaching. Also, this negativity doesn't just apply only to English teachers, but to other professionals who have left the rich world to work in the poorer world. Polish people are always suspicious of why foreigners come to Poland. The money is crap, the weather is crap, the people are pessimistic. Is it the culture? no way! Is it that Poland is an awesome country? Heck no! Most polish people see foreigners as people with bad intentions; here to take girls and jobs that they couldn't get back home. Essentially foreigners (especially English teachers) are seen as the rejects of Western societies.

There are probably more reasons. These are the things that I have learned during my, so far, 8 month stay in Poland. I look forward to learning more about Poland and its people. Living abroad is eye-opening both positively and negatively. I would greatly appreciate if you guys could offer some opinions on why people stay and on your general observation of Polish society.

Thanks!
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scottie1113



Joined: 25 Oct 2004
Posts: 375
Location: Gdansk

PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your experience after eight months and mine after eight years are-please pardon the pun-poles apart. Then again, I'm a little older than you.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1638
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sun May 10, 2015 4:53 pm    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

I think a lot of what he said is bang on for the younger crowd Scottie. Didn't you do something for a long time then get into TEFL. Always makes me laugh. In Poland, many TEFL teachers try to sell themselves as editors or writers or musicians because they themselves are ashamed to admit to it.

He's wrong about the Middle East. Some of it is really good and that's why people pay good money to go on holiday there/here.
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Sgt Bilko



Joined: 28 Jul 2006
Posts: 136
Location: POLAND

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can respond as an ex-IH teacher. Most people who came here had no intention of teaching in Poland when they went to the recruitment centre in London. They asked about Seville or Milan and were told they needed experience. They were then sold IH Poland which had, at that time (late 90's/early 00's), an excellent reputation for training and advancement. This was because the schools could only attract newly qualified teachers, who needed a lot of training, and because, if anyone stayed more than two years, they would almost certainly advance to a position of responsibility because they were suddenly one of the most experienced people there.

Every year, about half the teachers left, either to Spain or Italy or wherever they had originally wanted to be or to the 'real' (non-ELT) world. Those that stayed usually left at the end of their second year because they had got everything they needed from the in-house training. That left about ten percent who wanted to get subsidised DELTA training and move up to ADoS/DoS level or start training to be CELTA trainers. Most of these were in Katowice, which was full of very keen ELT types.

I left IH several years ago so I don't know what the situation there is now. I would guess it's quite similar but with worse wages (they peaked around 2000). People come out of college, do the CELTA, rush off to IH full of excitement about tapas and sangria and come out half an hour later with a 9 month contract in Poland.

The people I know who have stayed in Poland are no longer teachers although they are in ELT - university lecturer, ELT publishing, IH visitor, writer, CELTA/DELTA trainer. I can't remember anyone branching out into teaching independently from IH - the choice was always stay at IH for the training or leave Poland for the money.

I live here because my wife doesn't want to leave. I'm happy enough, the kids are getting a good education and my earnings go further here than they would in the UK. If the neighbours think I'm mad for living here, they are polite enough not to say it to my face.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1638
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 1:23 pm    Post subject: lol Reply with quote

I got Bydgoszcz Bilko. Wanted Poznan. LMAO.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11452
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

chuckMC wrote:
Unfortunately, the only way to make good money teaching English is to head to the sandpits. These Mid East countries pay well because few people want to put their lives on hold for years and years. I was thinking about going to the ME but the social isolation and the amount of money I would have to spend to get out for vacation would eat up a lot of my income. Better to grow roots in rich countries.

The Mid East pays well because it can rather than your assmption that salaries are high as "few people want to put their lives on hold for years and years." Plus, the majority of positions in the region are in university EFL programs as opposed to low-paying, generic language schools. It also may surprise you that some of the posters on the Saudi forum have been in the Gulf for a half dozen or more years; two posters collectively clocked in more than 35 years---most of it in the kingdom. Additionally, your assumption of all the countries in ME as having the same conservative culture as Saudi Arabia is a stereotype; I'm a single female and have taught in several Mid East countries thus far and each was unique.

Anyway, you were made aware on the Saudi forum that your present qualifications are too minimal for even a decent paying albeit bottom-feeder job in KSA. That's the reality. So your idea of going to the ME but "spending a lot to get out for vacation" due to some perceived social isolation wouldn't likely happen anytime soon.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11525
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2015 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The OP has been away from 'home' for only 8 months. Major grain of salt needed here.

BTW, it's not only the 'sand pits' where one can make a very reasonable living in TEFL. But newbies won't walk into the better jobs anywhere, basically. Just like they wouldn't at 'home.'
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 1202
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 4:16 am    Post subject: I have a dream... Reply with quote

[quote="nomad soul"]
chuckMC wrote:
Anyway, you were made aware on the Saudi forum that your present qualifications are too minimal for even a decent paying albeit bottom-feeder job in KSA. That's the reality. So your idea of going to the ME but "spending a lot to get out for vacation" due to some perceived social isolation wouldn't likely happen anytime soon.
Totally. You'd need to spend years gaining experience and do a master's before you earn the right to become socially-isolated bottom feeder in a sandpit.

I guess we all can have dreams. Different strokes for different folks.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11452
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Master Shake wrote:
Totally. You'd need to spend years gaining experience and do a master's before you earn the right to become socially-isolated bottom feeder in a sandpit.

I guess we all can have dreams. Different strokes for different folks.

You're way off. A related MA and a few years of experience meets the requirements for the better/coveted direct-hire positions in KSA as well as Qatar, Oman, and the UAE. However, the bottom-feeder positions are with contracting companies, and at minimum, generally require 1-2 years of experience (which the OP doesn't yet have), a CELTA or equivalent TEFL cert (which the OP also lacks), and a BA (which the OP has but it's unrelated to TEFL). As for those who can't hack Saudi Arabia, most of the whining and complaining on the Saudi forum is by male expats rather than women. Go figure.

Anyway, the OP is right to turn his attention to gaining experience in countries more likely to accept newbies.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1638
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2015 3:35 am    Post subject: lol Reply with quote

The UAE is way better than Poland. Social isolation? I think not and ten times a Polish teaching salary per month.

I know which one me and the wife have chosen and it ain't the land of crazy bureaucracy, parochial people and dodgy employers. Getting visa cards, loans and doing the sh*t you need to do to have a life is way easier in the Middle East.
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 1202
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2015 2:13 am    Post subject: Not my experience Reply with quote

Regarding the OP, the 5 observations he mentions don't match my experience of teaching in Poland at all. I'm in my early 30's now and taught in PL for a good deal of my 20's.

Especially #5: Most Poles I meet are shocked that anyone from the west (especially the USA) would want to come and live in Poland. They're also pleasantly surprised when you tell them the good points of life in Poland.

And looking down on tefl teachers? No way. Keep in mind that most tefl teachers do earn well above the national average in Poland. The question I was always asked after I told a Pole I was a teacher was "Which school?". They're well aware that there's a big difference in quality amongst the schools.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1638
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2015 5:16 am    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

Polish teachers think the EFL mob are a joke. Saw it with my own eyes. They might not say it to you but when they talk among themselves, you can hear it.
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 674

PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2015 10:42 am    Post subject: Re: erm Reply with quote

dragonpiwo wrote:
Polish teachers think the EFL mob are a joke. Saw it with my own eyes. They might not say it to you but when they talk among themselves, you can hear it.


They would be mostly correct, too.
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 1202
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 4:48 am    Post subject: Yea, but... Reply with quote

Sure, most native speaker EFL-ers are kind of a joke, but that's not to say they all are. Most EFL 'teachers' in Poland are unqualified random dudes.

Now, given the choice between two qualified, experienced teachers - one native speaker and a Pole - I'd be inclined to hire the native speaker, especially if I needed them to teach higher-level classes.

A lot of Polish teachers are really good teachers, but I've also seen some who have a tendency to lecture, overuse L1 and make everything grammar-focused. Especially when they think no one is looking. Wink
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chuckMC



Joined: 15 Apr 2015
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey guys, thank you so much for your posts. About the Middle East thing, I was thinking about pursing teaching positions there after a few years of teaching and getting qualifications. But I figured that it would be better to build a career back in the USA. I was lucky to be born in the richest country in the world, so I must take advantage of it! Most Poles would give their right arm to have the opportunity to work in the USA. Personally, i think Poland is a good place to live if you are 1. Young and looking for overseas experience in Europe for just 1-2 years. 2. For early retirees who have lots of savings since its a cheap country. TEFL in Poland (or anywhere else) should only be for 1-2 years. TEFL is only supposed to be a cultural exchange between the native learner and the foreign guest teacher. After this 1-2 year period, the foreign teacher loses their "specialness" and wares out their welcome. Those who overstay and teach for many years often are stressed by stagnating wages and lack of advancement. Many of whom head to the Middle East when they reach their 40s because they have no real skills to offer back home that would provide them with good income to support their family. I AM NOT SAYING ANY OF YOU GUYS ARE LIKE THIS! This is just my general observation.
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