Go back a decade or two ago and no one would have ever thought about heading to Poland to work, especially as an ESL teacher, however, as Poland grows culturally and economically and finds itself going from strength to strength ever since it joined the EU in 2004, Poland has become one of the more desirable places to work for English teachers. These days knowing English in Poland is not enough, it’s essential to have a high level of English to get a good job at home or further afield; Poles of all ages are lining up to learn English with a native English speaker.
Demand for English in Poland is growing and this is evident with the number of private language schools and international schools that are popping up all over the place in Poland; even in the smallest of villages you can find an English language school. Polish parents place a lot of emphasis on learning English from a young age; however, there is a lot of pressure and competition with some parents enrolling their children in language courses for young learners from the age of 2 or 3. ESL teaching is huge in Poland right now and the places you should be checking out for ESL employment are Poland’s main cities which include the capital, Warsaw, the cultural capital, Krakow, Poznan, Gdansk, Gdynia, and Sopot.
As a post-communist country in the Balkans, Poland surprisingly has some spectacular places of interest with Krakow and the mountainous region of Zakopane being some of the favourite spots for tourists to visit. Even though Poland joined the EU, they never adopted the Euro and opted to keep their local currency, the Zloty, which makes everything considerably cheaper compared to other European member nations. A few of the basic costs of living in Poland are as follows:
• A cheap meal in a restaurant: £3.70
• A domestic beer: £1.30
• Cappuccino: £1.40
• Water (0.33l): £0.70
• One way ticket (local transport): £0.60
The academic year in Poland is very similar to that of the British and American calendar cycles therefore the best time to start searching for an EFL job in Poland is between May and September. Pay special attention in July and August as this is when the majority of teaching positions in Poland are advertised. There are also a number of jobs advertised in January as well.
When working in private international schools, teachers in Poland can expect to earn approximately £1,300 or $2,000 USD, however, this is experience and qualification dependent. Many institutes do offer to cover the costs of basic accommodation, which is a huge help considering the price of rentals in places such as Krakow and Warsaw can be quite high with the average apartment costing £500. Other benefits you could receive depending on the job is a healthcare plan and modest travel allowances.
When it comes to qualifications, the Polish Ministry of Education is relatively strict and are set on hiring qualified ESL educators. To work in private schools in Poland, all teachers are required by law to hold a Bachelor’s degree. Depending on the prestige of the school, teachers may also be required to have a teaching qualification from their own country. Strong references are a must and the minimum contract that is usually available is for one academic year.
As mentioned before, the daily cost of living in Poland, even in the major hubs is really quite low if compared to the average European cities. Expect to pay approximately £150-200 on food each month. Most produce that has been locally grown is fresh, organic and cheap. Eating at small family restaurants is also cheap if you can’t be bothered cooking yourself or if you feel like eating some traditional Polish food such as hearty stews, homemade breads, soup, pickles, and dumplings. Despite what everyone thinks, Poland isn’t just all snow and harsh winters; its climate is relatively temperate and the summers can get quite dry and hot which is why the northern beach resorts of Sopot and Gdansk are so popular in the peak season.
If you’re a person, who appreciates stunning architecture, Poland makes for an excellent hub so that you’re able to enjoy the varying Eastern European art, culture and history. There are a number of wonderful museums in Poland to suit all interests from wartime museums, concentration camps, to cinematic museums. The Polish enjoy a lot of cultural events and if this is also your cup of tea, you’d surely like both Krakow and Warsaw where there’s a vibrant and varied theatre scene.
Teaching ESL in Poland is a great experience and because of the great need to learn English from young children to business people, there’s plenty of work to be had.