With some of the best living conditions in Eastern Europe, it’s not surprising that Poland is one of the most sought-after TEFL destinations in this part of the world. The country itself has a lot to offer, from impressive architecture to medieval towns and plenty of theatres and museums to visit. Winter sports are popular pastimes, as well as roller-skating and cycling in public parks. With mountains, lakes, and the sea, Poland is a great place to enjoy outdoor pursuits. If you like getting away somewhere further afield, weekend trips to places like Slovakia or Hungary where you can go to the thermal pools are popular trips.
Public transport in the cities is cheap and easy to use, making it a great way to see all the sights. Prices for food and drink are a lot cheaper than in Western Europe, so make sure you take advantage of this and sample all the local delicacies! The Polish are friendly and warm-hearted people, eager to learn English and are respectful towards their teachers. Overall, Poland is definitely a great destination to kick off your career teaching English abroad.
The demand for fully-qualified TEFL teachers isn’t as strong as it used to be, but you should still find it relatively easy to secure a job teaching English in Poland. This high demand for English to be taught is mainly due to the rise in foreign investments and other business ventures that are conducted in English. Also, students in Poland who wish to pursue a career in business are required by the government to sit an English proficiency examination. However, in recent years there has been an emphasis on teaching English to younger children in Poland, and while Polish school children will study English from at least secondary school, many now have exposure to it from kindergarten age.
- Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Kraków, Warsaw, Wrocław, Gdansk, Łódź, Poznan, Silesia
- Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time position at a language school is likely to be in the region of 2,000 – 3,500 zloty (£400 – £700 / $480 – $850) per month. Freelance rates are around 50 to 90 zloty per hour (£10 – £18 / $12 – $22) but hourly cooperate gigs will likely pay more.
- TEFL qualification requirements: A TEFL course of at least 120 hours is required for most jobs.
- Prerequisite university degree: A degree is typically required to teach English in Poland.
- Term times: The school semesters in Poland start in September/October and in February. July to September and January are when the majority of teaching positions will be advertised.
- Currency: Polish Zloty (PLN)
- Language: Polish
- Teaching programmes: Government Schools, Private Language Schools, Private Tuition, Teacher Training Colleges, University, Holiday Language Camps, Freelance.
- Age restrictions: None.
- Previous teaching experience: Some jobs require years of experience, and while most jobs want at least a bit of prior experience, some positions will value the personality and character of a teacher over years of experience.
Most contracts to teach English in Poland run for one year, or an academic year of 9 to 10 months. Although, there are also opportunities for short-term teaching contracts if you apply mid-way through the academic year and with summer schools. Generally, the best time to apply for TEFL jobs in Poland is in September or January. Teaching hours vary between 20-30 hours a week depending on your school, and class sizes can range from 5-50 pupils.
One of the great things about teaching English in Poland is that almost every school offers its teachers free accommodation, Polish language classes, paid holidays and work and visa permit assistance. While wages look low, factor in your free housing and it’s quite a good deal. You can find work teaching English in both the state and private sectors as well as institutions, government schools and inside major corporations. The best-paid jobs are found in major cities, but competition is tough. If you seek out work in smaller places (such as in eastern and southern Poland) where you can find even cheaper living costs, it will be much easier to secure a job.
Polish students are open, good humoured and keen to learn, and while pronunciation can be an issue, they’re happy to speak but might be shy in bigger groups. Conversation classes often focus on real-life situations, such as how to fluently order food in a restaurant or have a casual chat with a colleague, rather than focusing on more formal usage. For Business English, companies often hire a tutor to teach in-house classes, but the enthusiasm for students in these classes can vary as attendance might not be optional!
Private teaching can be lucrative, particularly if you live somewhere smaller where word of mouth counts for a lot and your good reputation won’t go unnoticed. Students can be unreliable, so it’s recommended to get students to sign up to a block of pre-paid lessons.
Requirements to teach English in Poland
|Country||Avg. monthly salary||Degree required||Start of term||Teaching experience||Housing & flights included||Suitable for non-native English speakers||Age restrictions|
|Teach in Poland||£400 – £700
($480 – $850)
|Yes||September||No||Accommodation sometimes included||Yes||None|
Compared to Western Europe, the cost of living in Poland is enviable, but it’s fairly evenly placed in the middle of standards across Eastern Europe. For locals, the low cost of living is weighed up against relatively low salaries, and while you can get by on less it takes a savvy shopper to find the best deals and take home savings at the end of the month. Expat salaries tend to be higher than local wages, so if you’re careful with your money you can afford to live well in Poland.
Accommodation is easy to find and fairly priced, even in more popular areas, but as many jobs provide free or cheap accommodation with the role this might not be a problem for you. In Poland, young people can likely speak English and perhaps other languages as well, but if you go to smaller towns, you’ll find that there are few people in the older generations with English language skills. People in Poland are hardworking and the office-life culture can be stressful. But people also like to relax and have a good time, so you’ll find plenty of nightlife and entertainment to keep you busy.
Polish food is perhaps not world-famous, but there are plenty of local dishes that are easy to fall in love with. Pierogi are sweet or savoury dumplings that will quickly become your go-to snack, bigos is a hunter’s stew that will be a winter favourite, and potato pancakes are a carby treat you won’t be able to resist.
- Accommodation: £471 – £790 / $586 – $966
- Utilities: £95 / $116
- Cost of typical visit to a GP: £26 / $32
- Monthly transport pass: £21 / $26
- Basic dinner out for two: £13 / $16
- Cappuccino in expat area: £2.37 / $2.90
- A beer in a pub: £1.98 / $2.42
- 1 litre of milk: £0.57 / $0.69
- 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.07 / $1.31
(living costs sourced from Expatistan)
“I currently teach in the small city of Bielsko-Biała, known as ‘Little Vienna’, about an hour away from the bustling city of Krakow. Poland has taken me completely by surprise. I had previously visited Poland as a teenager but had no idea about the beauty that could be found in its cities and landscapes. I couldn’t have asked to live in a better location. Krakow, Wrocław, Warsaw as well as Prague and Vienna are just some of the nearby cities that are so easy and quick to travel to.
The architecture and history of the cities is fascinating, and the charming coloured buildings look as if they have been built by LEGO. There are beautiful market squares, museums and lakes all around which means I always find something to do at the weekend.
I have also had the great experience of travelling to the famous Tatra Mountains, again just a short journey from my city. The views are stunning and while visiting in winter is not advised, it was a lot of fun and one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had while living here (although if you are going to visit in winter, I strongly recommend a good thick coat!) Living in Poland is very cheap so it’s easy to eat out (I once got a huge pizza for the equivalent of £3.00!) and very easy to travel the country and still have a nice amount of money in your back pocket.”
Katie, TEFL Org graduate
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