5 Things You Need to Know Before Teaching in Prague

5 Things You Need to Know Before Teaching in Prague

During a particularly brutal winter in my home state, I decided to leave home for what I assumed would be greener pastures in Prague. More snowfall had accumulated in the past few months than in the last few winters combined. I was working fewer than eight hours a day in retail and with my free time, I would sit in my pajamas in my room at my parents’ house and add British period pieces to my Netflix queue.

I realized that I was looking forward every day to going home just to get in bed and watch Netflix until it was time to sleep. Not a great life for a 22-year-old college graduate. A year ago, I thought the world was my oyster, but with the job market in 2010, well, we all know what it was like. I mean, 65 percent of millennials still live at home with their parents in 2014.

So I had lots of time to research the benefits of a TEFL certificate, the advantages of getting certified abroad and not online, and the cost of living in Prague. I researched the jobs that were available and came to understand that many English teachers supplemented their teaching income with private tutoring. This seemed to be a very easy, natural thing to do.

There were a lot of things I wouldn’t understand about Prague until I lived there for a few months. Here they are:

1. Being an American or Canadian English Teacher in Prague is a Catch-22

While schools in the Czech Republic typically want teachers with North American accents (they are easier to understand than, say, an English or Irish accent), they usually don’t want to sponsor you. So despite this apparent advantage, your British peers seemingly will get the job over you, 90 percent of the time.

2. Job experience is important

You know how in America you couldn’t find an entry-level job that didn’t require at least two years of experience, so you couldn’t get a job to get the experience to get the job and realized you were in a terrible cycle? The same is generally true for being an inexperienced English teacher. Although some of my classmates got a job before completing our course, most of us went a few months unemployed.

3. Getting a work visa is a shot in the dark

I had some friends who worked at the same school. They came to Prague together, took the same TEFL course, had the same amount of money saved to sustain living in Prague, and used the same method, at the same time, to get a work visa. One got a visa for five months, the other for nine. There was no explanation behind the length of the visa, and nothing they could do about it.

4. Getting this visa is expensive

My school was helping me get a work visa, but I still had to hire a lawyer and spent most of my remaining money working with him – and the end result wasn’t guaranteed.

5. Supplementing your income isn’t that easy

Being a private tutor kind of sucks, really, because you’ll make an hour-long trek across the city to meet your student at his place of work for an hour lesson and you won’t make enough to justify the three hours it took from your day.

It should be known that it is undoubtedly going to be a stressful situation once you’re there. It will also be amazing, because you’ll have friends and classmates who are going through the same exact situation, and if you’re at a good school like mine, you’ll get to meet alumni who can help guide you through it. And it is a lot of fun!

Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” which is perfect because he was referring to his time teaching in Prague.

5 Things You Need to Know Before Teaching in Prague

About Lauren Krzyzostaniak

Lauren KrzyzostaniakLauren Krzyzostaniak lives in New York, where she works as a freelance writer. Find her online and follow her on Twitter.

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