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Vows of Poverty ?
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Infinite



Joined: 05 Jan 2013
Posts: 113

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

simon_porter00 wrote:
Quote:
Why do you have to intergrate into Polish life? Many TEFLers behave is though that is obligatory, and there can be a fair amount of one-upmanship in that regard.


Obviously you don't have to integrate although to be honest if you don't make some effort then I think you're largely wasting your time travelling in the first place - simply going somewhere else to 'look' at the pretty different buildings is a little shallow IMHO.

The problem is with the teachers (mostly American in my experience) who feel that they don't have to integrate because they feel wherever they go should be home from home i.e. everywhere and everyone there should be American, with American ideas, ideals etc. I have very fleetingly known many American (and one or two Brits) who have packed up the Poland project - because the Poles are 'rude', 'cold', 'unhelpful', Poland is 'grey' etc etc without spending anything like enough time to understand why or even adapting themselves to the conditions to allow them to experience a different side of Poland - the hospitality, the charm, the welcoming atmosphere, Christmas/Easter etc - because they think it should be given to them on a plate or they shouldn't have to try.


Great point. I think a big part of it, is also the non-teacher aspect. Vast majority of natives don't want to be teachers and they are here to check it out, get their game on, experience something different. The culture shock, once it sets in, is even bigger, because most of them think of Poland as a smaller version of their country. The vacation period runs out and all of the sudden they find themselves "a teacher". Why, that wasn't why I came here! That's when things go downhill. The "secret" here, or anywhere else in this or any other profession, is to progress and not keep repeating your first year over and over until we get sick of it.
The idea that Poland's anymore grim than any other country is silly. Just like the idea that Poles have about Americans are pretty funny - Americans are always happy! They always smile and never talk about problems. They all own a house and have a summer house by some beautiful lake reflecting snow covered caps of the Rocky Mountain tops. They ski in Aspen in the winter and sun bath on Venice beach in Cali... and of course retire in sunny Fla.
It's not the Poles, it's not Poland, wherever you go is what you make of it, and if you're a miserable ++++ then you'll bring that misery with you. The difference being that now, you're in a foreign land with no solid point of reference to your own culture other than an occasional store front name or some pop-culture icons at the local Starbucks, other than that, you're an island. Most people can't handle that. That's also not something strictly related to Poland. This is why there are places like Chinatown, Little Italy, Greenpoint etc etc... to have a point of reference and a piece of your culture available.
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dynow



Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 985

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Infinite"]
simon_porter00 wrote:
Quote:
Why do you have to intergrate into Polish life? Many TEFLers behave is though that is obligatory, and there can be a fair amount of one-upmanship in that regard.



The "secret" here, or anywhere else in this or any other profession, is to progress and not keep repeating your first year over and over until we get sick of it.


OK, but this only applies to those who plan on staying long term in the first place (or get stuck in Poland for whatever reason). The fact still remains that most TEFL'ers have no intention of staying in Poland for years and years so if you do the same thing for 2 years but accomplish what you had in mind (whether it's traveling, sleeping around and getting smashed every night, whatever it may be) there's no motivation to "do more". Poland ESL still remains a fly by night "profession" for most so you can't expect much more than what you see from the majority of the John's from the USA or Nigel's from the UK. I stayed 4 years and only knew one native speaker that put in more years than I had, the rest were 2 years or less, got sick of it and went back home. Many don't stay long so you can't expect much more from them.
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 338

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Infinite wrote:
Great point. I think a big part of it, is also the non-teacher aspect. Vast majority of natives don't want to be teachers and they are here to check it out, get their game on, experience something different. The culture shock, once it sets in, is even bigger, because most of them think of Poland as a smaller version of their country. The vacation period runs out and all of the sudden they find themselves "a teacher". Why, that wasn't why I came here! That's when things go downhill. The "secret" here, or anywhere else in this or any other profession, is to progress and not keep repeating your first year over and over until we get sick of it.


That's exactly what I keep saying.

It's no surprise that people get angry and leave when they come back for their 3rd/4th year doing something that they can mostly do in their sleep. It's no surprise that they get angry because they can't afford a car because they have a low earning girlfriend to support. It's no surprise that they get angry because they absolutely have to fly home to America every year on an entry-level ESL'er salary and so spend everything that they could have saved.

Those people tend to be absolutely fixated on the bottom line and not on developing themselves as individuals. No wonder they all end up so bitter and jaded.
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dynow



Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 985

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="delphian-domine"]
Infinite wrote:


That's exactly what I keep saying.

It's no surprise that people get angry and leave when they come back for their 3rd/4th year doing something that they can mostly do in their sleep.


after a couple years of teaching present perfect, reported speech, conditionals and definite/indefinite articles ad nauseum, 98% of all ESL classes in Poland you should be able to do in your sleep. this job isn't rocket science.
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scottie1113



Joined: 25 Oct 2004
Posts: 334
Location: Gdansk

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="dynow"]
delphian-domine wrote:
Infinite wrote:


That's exactly what I keep saying.

It's no surprise that people get angry and leave when they come back for their 3rd/4th year doing something that they can mostly do in their sleep.


after a couple years of teaching present perfect, reported speech, conditionals and definite/indefinite articles ad nauseum, 98% of all ESL classes in Poland you should be able to do in your sleep. this job isn't rocket science.


True, The challenge is to avoid repeating the first year by improving the lessons year after year to make classes both challenging and interesting. Good teachers get better with each year they teach. The others pack up and go home.
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ecocks



Joined: 06 Nov 2007
Posts: 780
Location: Gdansk, Poland

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm still working on understanding Poland but will say that normally when TEFL teachers move on it's been more because of looking for a new experience rather than tucking their tail between their legs and running home.

If they truly return home from Poland then I suspect they had other motives than dedication to education, job satisfaction and dreams of riches.

Some here seem to have gone on to Russia, Saudi, Emirates, Ukraine, etc. That seems to be the normal turn of events in my estimation.

Maybe some people should consider why Poland may have a different pattern rather than continually be carrying on about the same things that are common throughout the TEFL world.


Last edited by ecocks on Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 11724
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The route from Warsaw to Riyadh is well-travelled !
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 338

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="dynow"]
delphian-domine wrote:
Infinite wrote:


That's exactly what I keep saying.

It's no surprise that people get angry and leave when they come back for their 3rd/4th year doing something that they can mostly do in their sleep.


after a couple years of teaching present perfect, reported speech, conditionals and definite/indefinite articles ad nauseum, 98% of all ESL classes in Poland you should be able to do in your sleep. this job isn't rocket science.


Which is why it is paid as it is and why most jobs offer laughable contracts and job security. It is - on the basic level - an entry level job. There's nothing special or particularly difficult about it - in fact, I'd even argue that salaries are somewhat out of sync with the demands of the job. But then - it's the teacher's obligation to progress, either in terms of reputation or in terms of position. If you stay doing the same thing (present perfect, reported speech, et al) year after year - then of course you aren't going to progress.

An example - in my job, I have to decide on a 2nd foreign language to be taught. I have total freedom to decide what the language should be and how it should be taught - except I (and no-one else, except one Latin speaker) in my school don't actually speak any other languages apart from Polish and English. I could just say "ah, German" and make it up - or I could spend a lot of time researching and deciding what language would be best to offer and how to offer it. What's going to help in the long run when I want to earn more money and get a better job?

There is certainly money in Poland, but you're not going to earn it by running back home every summer and refusing to put any extra effort in.

The route to Riyadh may be well travelled, but Poland does present an excellent place for someone to develop from beginner to someone that is able to take on a position that pays very very well. If they want it, of course.
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Infinite



Joined: 05 Jan 2013
Posts: 113

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Being a teacher, just like any other profession offers opportunities. It doesn't matter where you are. The great thing about being an English teacher, is that you have a rare opportunity to choose your location on this planet based on what you personally enjoy.

Dynow said that he's never met anyone who stayed here longer than him. That's odd to say the least, I've met plenty, from the very first school that I'd worked for in a metro area to the small town area where I now reside.

There are thousands of native speakers in Poland right now; I'm willing to bet that hundreds of them are actually real teachers.

At one point few of them actually posted on this board, some still do.

Teaching tenses and their aspects is part of the job, it's what teachers do, if you don't enjoy it, then this is definitely not the profession for you.

I've said it before - there are two types of native speakers - back packers and teachers. That's that.
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PeterParvo



Joined: 18 Dec 2011
Posts: 98

PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just happened to strike up a conversation at an airport somewhere on the planet with a young Danish couple. I asked them about their perceptions of life in Poland and they said that the standard of living has significantly increased over the past few years, although it's not up to what Danes are accustomed to.

From my first contact with Poland 20 years ago, I have heard about the money problems Poles have there, and I hear it today just the same. Are Poles destined to always being underpaid and over-charged, or are things looking up as my Danish conversational partners seem to think?
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Master Shake



Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 859
Location: Warsaw, Poland

PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PeterParvo wrote:
I just happened to strike up a conversation at an airport somewhere on the planet with a young Danish couple. I asked them about their perceptions of life in Poland and they said that the standard of living has significantly increased over the past few years, although it's not up to what Danes are accustomed to.

From my first contact with Poland 20 years ago, I have heard about the money problems Poles have there, and I hear it today just the same. Are Poles destined to always being underpaid and over-charged, or are things looking up as my Danish conversational partners seem to think?

Good question.

I think things have improved dramatically for those (relatively few) who have found work in a big international company or achieved a higher level management position.

European Union work contracts may not pay that much by international standards, but the benefits are substantial.
There is also security as it's hard to fire people.

The standard of living is slowly creeping up for the rest. But many Poles are still earning low wages and paying high taxes.

Unfortunately, even those Poles that have 'made it' often don't feel satisfied with their success. So even though they complain about being ripped off and not paid enough, it's often not true.
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delphian-domine



Joined: 11 Mar 2011
Posts: 338

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PeterParvo wrote:
I just happened to strike up a conversation at an airport somewhere on the planet with a young Danish couple. I asked them about their perceptions of life in Poland and they said that the standard of living has significantly increased over the past few years, although it's not up to what Danes are accustomed to.

From my first contact with Poland 20 years ago, I have heard about the money problems Poles have there, and I hear it today just the same. Are Poles destined to always being underpaid and over-charged, or are things looking up as my Danish conversational partners seem to think?


If you look at the raw data and completely ignore politics, yes, things are looking up. The lowest paid workers these days are earning slightly over 1100zl a month - compare this to the dark days of the early 90's when 300zl a month in some areas was seen as a very good salary. The average salary has increased around 6 times since then, too.

[quote=Master Shake]paying high taxes.[/quote]

Interestingly enough, if you look at taxation in Poland, normal workers actually don't bear much of the burden. Taxation for a minimum wage worker is only around 400zl, and half of that goes into their retirement pot. Even the high earners - those earning over 15k a month - are still only paying around 4000zl in tax a month - which means an effective tax rate of around 30% or so (including ZUS).

Small business owners are getting screwed, but that's the price of having to fund the retirement of many, many people who simply didn't pay in much "real money" into the system. I'm very much of the opinion that in 1990, they should never have recognised the contributions made in the "soft" zloty - yes, it would have sucked and placed many people in poverty, but it would also have meant that the current generation isn't saddled having to pay for those that came before.
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Irishdave



Joined: 17 Jan 2011
Posts: 25
Location: Belfast

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Without adding too much to the OP.

Wages are all relative.

Comparing a wage in one country with another is futile because it will only make you angry.

Money management is easy.
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FreeWill



Joined: 05 Jun 2012
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to teach in Thailand for a few years. However I want to mainly do so in Poland in the long term. If I leave Poland for Thailand will I have to "start over" when I return? When would it be best to go to Thailand keeping in mind that Poland is my long term interest? Thanks
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sparks



Joined: 20 Feb 2008
Posts: 457

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
If I leave Poland for Thailand will I have to "start over" when I return


Not if you leave on good terms with the school(s) where you work. I left for a year, just got back not so long ago and have had no problem getting classes. The schools where I used to teach kids really wanted me back but I'm taking a different road now. As has been pointed out in the thread below this one, dependable natives who know even a bit about teaching are hard to come by...For some reason.
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