Of course individual circumstances will vary, but overall I don’t think it’s that difficult to find work as an English teacher in Prague. At least, as long as you put in the effort to find work, and have at least some education or experience to back you up – though it certainly needn’t be extensive.
When I entered the job market (finally) I had my TEFL certificate from The Language House, and no other experience teaching. I have a BA in Anthropology, experience working retail, research, and in the veterinary trade. But as far as teaching went, I’d never even done as much as tutor or even babysit. No experience with education or children of any kind – which is the reason I signed up for the TEFL course in the first place. I highly recommend it to anyone considering teaching abroad with no experience – getting a certificate shows you’re committed, and gives you at least *something* to refer you to potential new employers.
I’ve heard in Prague in particular, that you won’t be considered without a TEFL certificate. As I had one myself, I can’t really verify if that is true or not, but I reckon if you’re going to forgo the it, it should be because you have a lot of other relevant experience or education. I have also heard that although having a bachelors looks good, it doesn’t make very much difference in the Prague teaching market unless it’s in an education field. So don’t expect your bachelors in Civil Engineering or what-have-you to be enough to recommend you to employers.
Where to Look for Work
So once you’ve brushed up your resume with any and all relevant experience, what next? Like any job market, it can take some digging to find the right job for you. There are hundreds of language schools in Prague, as well as lots of opportunities teaching kids in international schools and pre-schools. You also can market yourself as a private tutor, and be your own boss. Or, like many of my classmates, work a combination of these.
You can look for jobs online a great deal – website job boards such as expats.cz and on Dave’s ESL Cafe were recommended to me by my school, though I didn’t end up using them. Or you can use Facebook, as I did for at least one of my jobs. I am a member of my school’s alum board and saw the posting there, and jumped on it. Obviously you have to be an alum of my particular school to use that board, but there are several others I found just using a few minutes to look them up (here, here, here and occasionally here). I’m sure you can find even more if you take longer than the five minutes I just did!
There is a fairly high turnover rate at the larger language schools, one of which hired me and three of my (equally unexperienced) friends and recent TEFL grads. If you’re already on the ground in Prague, it’s easy to find them – they advertise everywhere. James Cook, Caledonian, and Spevacek are probably the biggest advertisers. If you’re interested in working for a language school, they are good places to start. Some smaller ones are IJV, Skrivanek, and Channel Crossings. Those are the three I applied at, but there are hundreds in the city, with a little research you can find many more. All three responded to my applications and interviewed me, two of the schools offered me a position, and I accepted at one. The going rate for all three schools for new teaches was 200 crowns per a 45-minute lesson – though most lessons are either 60 or 90.
I also found jobs working for another, very small language school located outside of Prague, and for a “teacher manager” (more on that in a moment) as well – through one of my contacts in the alum group. She was an established teacher in Prague for several years, and was moving back to the States. She posted about needing replacements, so I sent her my email and resume. I don’t think I even really thought I would end up being considered -surely there were more qualified applicants than me to replace her? But I think that says more about my lack of confidence than was a true reflection of the teaching market. I had just been hired on part-time at one of the language school (scheduled to teach six classes a week), when I doubled my work schedule through these two other employers.
So, in the end, I can’t emphasize enough to take advantage of any and all personal connections and networks you have, to find opportunities to put your name forward.
What to Expect Working at a Language School
Working at a language school involves a lot of traveling around the city, teaching classes at businesses, and sometimes homes. Your typical day is anywhere from two to five classes (if the latter, usually in blocks at one location) – and involves travel. I teach all over the city, and make good use of public transit – bus, tram, metro, and even train. I teach in five different business offices (sometimes more than one class), and in three different houses. My classes are all either 60 minutes or 90 minutes, and the pay varies from employer to employer. I make a decent amount per hour, but I don’t make anything for all the hours I spend traveling, planning, or if a student cancels more than 24hours ahead of time (which happens frequently), so at the end of the week my wages are not as high as I would like.
Some classes will be at the language school itself, which is convenient for using the library or break room. You might be even offered a job teaching one a public course – meaning, a class at the school anyone from the public can sign up for. Which reminds me, another benefit of working at a larger language school is that they often offer public courses in other foreign languages at a discount to their employees. So if you’re interested in taking French, Spanish, Czech for foreigners, or what-have-you, a larger language school might be a good workplace for you. Just check on the particular school’s policy that you’re looking at.
The “teacher manager” I mentioned before is not strictly speaking a language school, but the job operates exactly the same. She is hired by clients – usually companies- to arrange English classes for them. She in turn hires and pays the teachers. The smaller schools I work for pay me more, but the larger one offers me more classes to take on (if I want) and has more resources (a library, printer/copier, break room and free coffee/tea).
I only teach one-on-one classes myself, at first through coincidence (that was all I was assigned when I began my part-time schedule) – and then later on, I decided I enjoy the one-on-one format and would rather not take on larger classes. At this point, only one of my weekly lessons is not a one-on-one class – is two students. This is just a point of preference though, and if you want or don’t mind teaching larger groups of adults it’s widely available. When interviewing it’s probably best to be available to teach all group sizes, especially if just starting out in this career.
Schools for Children
I know much less about working a regular schedule a school or pre-school for children, though some of my friends are doing it. I know the pay is slightly lower per hour, but that with the reliable schedule and 40hrs/week, it’s easy to make the same or more than at the language school gigs.
Teaching privately, or on your own without a language school, is also an option. You can make a profile at websites such as Teacher Creature and students will find you – you can post your own rates and there’s no middle man, so you can make more per hour than you would working for a school. You can run class however you like, and rarely have more than one or two students at a time. Downsides – it’s much more difficult to get payment for late cancelations (something most schools provide for you). There are no resources – no library of textbooks, copier, coffee machine. Also, as it’s usually people hiring you as individuals, not from a company, it’s common to have class in a cafe or other public place. This has the downside of being noisier, more distracting, less space, and you may have to fork over 30 or 40 crowns every lesson for a coffee or tea.