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Snoozer80



Joined: 25 Sep 2005
Posts: 2
Location: New Jersey, USA

PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 1:33 pm    Post subject: Your expertise is greatly appreciated... Reply with quote

First off, I'd like to quicly thank everyone on this board for giving good and insightful answers to many, many questions. It is truly a help for someone like myself who is trying to get started in the ESL business.

I have a couple questions about receiving certification in Prague and then teaching in Eastern Europe.

1) Coming from overseas without having the opportunity to scope out the scene before hand, I feel more comfortable getting cerftified with a school accredited by Cambridge/Trinity. In Prague itself, I have found three "Trinity" schools: European Language Centres (eurotefl.com), PragueSchools.co.uk, and OxfordTEFL.cz. If anyone knows anything about these schools I'd be greatful to hear about them.

2) I would like to enroll in a course for January. Despite the fact that it will be the dead of winter and the course will end outside of the prime "job season," I just need to get out of the USA. Is it likely that I will be able to find enough work somewhere in Eastern Europe to rent myself a place and begin to live? (The idea is obviously not to come back home after my course.)

3) I'd like to keep my options open. Any suggestions of other places in Eastern Europe to work besides Prague? I've heard Krakow is nice. Any others?


Thanks in advance. I haven't posted yet, but you've all been so helpful.


Brandon
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parrothead



Joined: 02 Nov 2003
Posts: 342
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brandon, Good luck with your quest. I don't have a good answer to question 1, but I'll give 2 and 3 a shot.

It depends on what kind of work you are looking for. If you are expecting a lot of employers to come-a-knocking once you have your certificate, it doesn't exactly happen that way, especially as an American. There tends to be a definite preference toward EU passport holders (less paperwork, time and hassle) for legal work anyway. Getting a valid working visa is a bit of a nightmare, but it can be done...just takes a couple of months once you've landed a job offer. You can amass quite a few private students while you are doing your job hunt. Post flyers, (preferably in Czech). Try expats.cz for departing teachers' students; keep posting on the message board. Get used to commuting about the city (in Prague anyway).
As far as finding accommodation, there are a variety of options. You can find a flatmate easily (also expats.cz, 5,000kc/mo) or rent your own. Considering the income you will be bringing in in the beginning months, Prague won't be cheap though. Figure 8,000-15,000kc/mo. for an apartment depending on the location (seznam.cz is a good place to look).
Honestly, though, there are great opportunities (cheaper rents, friendlier people, low cost of living) outside of Prague. Your money will go a lot further in Moravia. There are courses in Brno (some will find you work after your course), and I believe Via Lingua operates in Olomouc (the finest city in CR). There are 10,000 potential clients at Palacky University. Yes, go to the Czech Republic, but definitely don't limit yourself to the country's capitol.
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JimDunlop2



Joined: 31 Jan 2003
Posts: 2286
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, if you go around CR referring to it as Eastern Europe, you won't make many friends. Central Europe, sure. Eastern? Not really.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11534
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of my pet pieces of advice - but I learned it in Prague.
Don't go on a financial shoestring. Remember, you'll make nothing while on your course. If the course provides housing, you'll have to move soon after it ends. Landlords generally want one months' rent as security and one month up front. Schools generally pay monthly, at the END of your teaching month. The best case scenario is that you'll have your first paycheck somewhere around eight week+s after arriving, and you will have incurred some expenses. You should be sure you always have at least the price of a plane ticket 'home'in reserve, and also remember that if you have any sort of accident or illness, you may be responsible for payment up front for medical care.
This goes for wherever your destination may be.
As for your time of arrival, I think you should find some work, though maybe not full time contracts, in Feb/March - and Poland often has more need for immediate teachers than Prague. It's good that you are keeping your options open.
Best luck!
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Snoozer80



Joined: 25 Sep 2005
Posts: 2
Location: New Jersey, USA

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks. I certainly wont be coming to Europe without having saved up some contingency money to live on, not to mention a little bit of travel money, as well.

My main concern right now is finding a reputable course to take. There are so many. I've contacted a bunch of schools (obviously the ones that don't respond back are out of the question) and I've also contacted some of the students who have taken the courses.

Life lesson so far: EVERYONE has an opinion about EVERYTHING. And everyone tries to plug the course that they completed, understandably so. So it's a game of trying to weed out the good advice from the bad.

My dilemma at this current moment is whether or not I should be shopping around for a Trinity accredited school, or whether it really doesn't matter. It certainly is comforting, coming from overseas, to know that a course is externally validated. But on the other hand, I've heard many good things about private TEFL programs, and I believe that many of those courses are just as good.

In an idealistic world, I'm looking for people who have been on the scene and are willing to give an unbiased account of what they've learned. I'd even settle for a slightly biased account Razz

Thanks again,

Brandon
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11534
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your accreditation needs depend a bit on your future goals. If you're simply out for a year or two or three abroad, and you're aiming for Central/Eastern Europe, I think you'll find that the 'generic' certifications are readily acceptable. My own certificate is from ITC, but I got it in 1998 and haven't been in touch with the program since then, so I haven't got any educated opinion about that course to offer. 18 months ago, I monitored the new TEFLWorldwide course, and it was a good one. Before Hammett explodes in invective, I will also state that I worked on the original Via Lingua course (which is not offered in Prague currently, I don't think) and that one also carries a reasonable level of credibility.
In any case, with my 'generic' ITC cert, I was accepted for jobs in Prague, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. I have added to my training now.
A recognized cert definitely is not a bad way to go - I'm simply saying that, depending on your goals, a 'generic' cert might also be an acceptable option.
I'm sure you'll get some more direct feedback from those who have experience with the specific programs you mentioned.
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parrothead



Joined: 02 Nov 2003
Posts: 342
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd agree with Spiral. I have a generic certificate that has suited me well. Many jobs don't require one, and others just ask for anything, nonspecific. In fact, I think you could be quite successful in Prague without any kind of certification. Many Czechs speak English well enough and teach English themselves without one. And they are often more successful than native speakers because they can advertise themselves better and know the market. The certificate will help you get your foot in the door, but nothing beats the experience once you are there.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11534
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't go so far as to say that you'd be likely to be successful (especially in Prague) without any certification at all, actually. If you consider the fact that there are six or eight major certification centres in the city, and that, consequently, there are literally hundreds of newly-certified teachers hitting the streets every couple of months (obviously, not everyone opts to stay in Prague, but many do), ít's unlikely that anyone without either experience or certification is going to get much of a hearing at any reputable school. Get something!
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