Poland is becoming an increasingly popular place for English teachers in Europe. Since joining the European Union in 2004, Poland has seen its economy explode. As a result, the standard of living in the country has risen dramatically and old stereotypes of a dull, grey, Soviet bloc country have firmly been shaken off.
Poland is a great country for English teachers to make their home: it’s safe, it’s affordable, and it offers an excellent work-life balance. Snowy winters and hot sunny summers mean that there is a wide range of activities on offer. Teachers can enjoy a fast-paced lifestyle in the capital, Warsaw, choose a historical city such as Krakow or Wroclaw, or plump for a small-town vibe where they might be the only English-speaker around.
The demand for English teachers is high in Poland. International companies are moving in, and Poles know that the key to having a successful career is being able to speak English.
Read on for a complete guide to teaching English in Poland in 2019 and beyond.
Requirements to teach English in Poland
- A bachelor’s degree in any subject
- A CertTESOL, CELTA, or any other TEFL certificate
- To be a native speaker of English
- A sunny personality – seriously, schools can train someone how to teach the third conditional, but they can’t train someone to have a better personality!
Some schools won’t require a TEFL certificate, but prospective teachers should be wary of those which don’t; the working conditions and the salary offered probably won’t be very attractive.
Visas and work permits
Teachers from countries in the EEA don’t need a visa to work in Poland. Because of this, schools in Poland often prefer to hire teachers from the UK and the Republic of Ireland. However, with the repercussions of Brexit uncertain, the situation may change for UK citizens.
If you are not from an EEA country, you can indeed still find a job teaching English in Poland. Teachers who do need a visa have two options:
1. Arrange a visa from your home country:
If you choose this option, you need to find a job before you come to Poland. Your employer will send you a contract and some other documents which you take to your local Polish embassy or consulate who will approve the visa.
2. Secure a residence/work permit while in Poland:
It is also possible to get a combined residence and work permit while in Poland. Again, you will need a contract with an employer to do this. You’ll also need to gather a few other documents – follow the link below to see a list of what is necessary. The cost is currently 440PLN for the permit to be processed, and 50PLN for the residence card to be issued. Your employer will help you with everything, and the process is not complicated, but it can be a bit time-consuming. Your employer may even pay for the permit.
Types of jobs
Private Language Schools:
You are most likely to find a job in the plethora of private language schools in Poland. The British Council and International House have a presence in the country, but a lot of the schools are independent.
You will have your own classes, and you’ll have to plan your own lessons. These schools often have exam preparation classes, which you will need to follow a strict curriculum.
Private language schools run classes outside of regular school hours, so you will have to work in the evenings – though it’s unlikely you’ll be working on the weekends in Poland. You can also expect to teach in businesses, and you may have to travel around your city to do that.
Most schools offer a lot of support for new teachers, so don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of experience.
Lots of teachers in Poland make some extra money by giving private classes in their own homes or traveling to their students’ homes. You should check with your school before you do this to make sure it’s allowed under your contract.
In large cities such as Warsaw and Krakow, you might be able to find a job in an international school. However, you will probably need a teaching degree to get one of these jobs, as there are few strictly ESL positions available. But, you will be rewarded with a high salary and other benefits such as private healthcare and gym memberships.
State Schools and Universities:
Very few native speakers work in state schools or universities in Poland. The salaries tend to be much lower than in private language schools, and Polish teachers fill these positions. If you’re looking for a very long-term job, you might be attracted to these types of schools by the long paid holidays.
How to find an English teaching job in Poland?
The academic year in Poland runs from September to June, so the best time to look for a job is in the late spring when schools will know if their current teachers are leaving or returning for the next year.
You are most likely to find your first job in Poland on the internet, unless you’re very brave and want to turn up in Poland and then find a job. Lots of schools advertise on the internet and do interviews via Skype.
You should prepare a CV to send to prospective employers and write a separate cover letter for each. Photographs are common on Polish CVs, so you might want to attach a professional headshot.
Here are some websites where jobs are often advertised:
To advertise yourself as a private teacher, you can use: https://www.olx.pl
And here are a couple of Facebook groups for English speakers in Poland:
Salaries and saving money
Salaries in Poland don’t rival those you find in South Korea or Saudi Arabia, but you are paid enough to have a good standard of living with something left over. In fact, when you take into account Poland’s low cost of living, the salary is actually pretty good for Europe.
Outside of Warsaw, salaries in private language schools will range from 3200 PLN – 5000 PLN per month. In Warsaw, you should earn between 5000 PLN and 7000 PLN per month.
You will either receive a contract for between 20 – 30 hours a week, or you will work for an hourly wage with a guaranteed minimum. Working for an hourly wage will probably mean working more hours, and earning slightly more too.
Some jobs, especially in smaller cities, will include accommodation and utility bills, though this is rare. Flights are seldom reimbursed.
How much you can save will depend very much on what type of lifestyle you have and how much sushi you eat. Seriously, sushi will break the bank pretty fast in Poland.
In larger cities such as Warsaw, Krakow, and Wroclaw, costs are higher, and you’ll more than likely save less. In smaller cities, not only are prices lower but there are fewer opportunities to spend your money so that you can save much more.
If you want to top up your income, you can give private classes. You can charge 70 PLN + for a sixty-minute lesson and at least 100 PLN in Warsaw.
If you teach in a private language school, you can go from sipping coffee and chatting with the CEO of an international company to singing the ABCs with six-year-olds in the space of a couple of hours.
It seems like everyone wants to learn English in Poland, so you’ll have a wide variety of students. Polish learners are generally very motivated as they often need English for work or their studies. You might have a bit of trouble getting learners to talk at the beginning, as there is a heavy focus on teaching grammar rather than speaking in Polish state schools. Make your students feel comfortable, and they’ll soon open up.
Where to live in Poland
As said above, so many people want to learn English in Poland that you can find a job almost anywhere, from the bright lights of Warsaw to the little towns in the rural east of the country.
Warsaw: If you want to make more money and live a cosmopolitan lifestyle, Poland’s capital, Warsaw, is where you should head. Jobs here are plentiful for English teachers, and there is a large expat community, as well as a large number of international students.
Krakow: Poland’s most beautiful city, not destroyed during the Second World War, Krakow attracts tourists and expats in droves. It might be a bit harder to find a teaching job here due to the number of people who want to live there. But if you do snag one, you’re unlikely to ever want to leave.
Smaller cities: Some of the benefits of living in smaller cities are the lower cost of living and the chance to be part of the Polish community. There will be fewer expats around, so you’ll have to make friends with the locals. Bear in mind that fewer people speak English in small towns, so you’ll need to brush up on your Polish!
Cost of living
Poland has a low cost of living, and English teachers earn a salary above average for the country. That means that you can enjoy meals out, weekend trips, and save some money without breaking a sweat.
Accommodation is one of the most significant expenses: flats cost between 1000 PLN per month in smaller towns to 2000 PLN and up in Warsaw. You can choose to share a flat if you want to save money; rooms are often advertised on https://olx.pl.
Food is generally cheap in Poland, especially if you eat local dishes or cook for yourself. A meal with a drink in a restaurant can cost as little as 25 PLN. Alcohol is also generally cheap, both in bars and from shops.
Transportation is excellent and very good value. All cities have extensive bus networks, and some of the larger cities have trams which are great for beating the traffic.
Trains run almost everywhere in Poland and are an excellent value for money – though if you want to travel by high-speed train, you should book in advance for the best fares. Buses also run intercity. Domestic flights aren’t usually worth taking unless you’re travelling from one remote corner of the country to the other.
How to spend your leisure time
Pack your ski goggles and your swimming goggles if you’re moving to Poland! Poles love to head to the mountains, especially the little town of Zakopane, at any time of the year. At the opposite end of the country is the Baltic Sea, and the white sands are flooded with sun-seekers in July and August.
There are quite a few public holidays throughout the year which give lots of opportunities to travel, especially the long weekends in November and May.
Poland is in Central Europe, and there are excellent, cheap flight, train, and bus connections to surrounding countries. A weekend in Berlin, Prague, Bratislava, Lviv, or even Budapest is a regular thing for most English teachers in Poland.
So, what are you waiting for?
Jump on a plane and head to Poland. Take a TEFL course or find your dream job teaching English in the European Union’s very own “tiger economy”.
Vibrant cities, gorgeous architecture, and friendly locals, from the shores of the Baltic to the top of the Tatras: it’s all waiting for you in Poland.