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Throwback: Teaching English in Prague, Czech Republic

My experience teaching English in Europe is something I get more questions about than anything else besides going back to school to become an RD. I recently asked via Facebook if anyone would be interested in reading a post about my time teaching in Prague and the answer came back immediately — yes. If you have zero interest in this post, I’m sorry and please come back tomorrow. For the rest of you — enjoy! :)

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Whenever fall is in the air, I think of Prague.

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If you’ve read my “About Me” page, you know that in October 2008, I headed over to Prague, Czech Republic to teach English.

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For years, pretty much since graduating college in 2004, I wanted to teach English abroad. Anytime someone told me they had taught abroad I would pepper them with a million questions, jealousy dripping from my voice. But still I didn’t go. I was scared. It was easier to stay and work in D.C., among friends and family and everything that was familiar. But deep down I knew I wanted the challenge. To me, there’s nothing more exciting than living abroad. Sure, it’s scary — but that’s why it’s exciting. Learning about other cultures is one of the best ways to learn about yourself.

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Finally, in early 2008 after a particularly inspiring lunch break conversation with a similarly disgruntled coworker about how we felt like we were just “treading water,” not really growing or going anywhere, I decided it was time for my big adventure. At this point, I was starting to think I might want to go back to grad school, but I knew that once I did that I would need to focus on building a career. It was now or never for my dreams of teaching abroad. When else would I have such an opportunity to take a risk without having to worry about a husband, or kids, or a career job I couldn’t leave? I determined I had enough money saved from working to fund my way until I started teaching — and so it was finally time. I was going abroad.

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For the next couple months, while still at my office job, I researched Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) programs. This was the most frustrating part of the whole process — I knew I needed a TEFL certificate to teach in Europe because I had zero teaching experience, but it was so hard to tell which programs were legit. After a billion emails to programs, former students at said programs, and a lot of Google searching to check program legitimacy, I finally narrowed it down to Oxford TEFL or TtMadrid. It was between Czech Republic and Spain. Where to go? After much debate, I decided on eastern Europe. I’d been to western Europe before backpacking with a friend after college, but had never been that far east and had heard amazing things about Prague. Oxford TEFL it was! I signed up for a course in October, gave notice at my job, and started packing.

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Finally, the day to leave for Europe came. I was terrified and excited at the same time. My adventure had begun.

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The next 5 weeks were a whirlwind; there wasn’t much time to be homesick. My roommates, 3 others taking the TEFL course, were awesome as were a bunch of others in our course, and we had a blast exploring the city amidst studying for our TEFL certificates.

Roommates1 Roommates from the left — Sara (American), me, Bec (Aussie), Paul (British & VERY tall)

With my friend Jackie, also in our course (we were watching the Prague Marathon!):

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I quickly fell in love with Prague. Not only was the scenery stunning, but it was so small and walk-able that I didn’t even need to learn how to use the trams or metro until I started working.

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Before we knew it, we were done with the training course and it was time to find a job. My roommate Bec and I rented a cheap one room hotel for a couple weeks while we interviewed for jobs and figured out more long-term housing.

This was a bit of a stressful time, as you can imagine, but we made the most of it. I interviewed at a few different places to teach adults, but I really wanted to teach kids, so when I heard from a friend about an opening at a nearby primary school I jumped on it. I went in for an interview with a woman named Blanka at a staffing agency that the school had hired to find English teachers. Apparently the guy who they currently had in the job was super flaky, so my interview was basically like this:

  • Blanka: “Will you be reliable and show up on time?” 
  • Me: “Yes, of course.”
  • Blanka: “Okay, you will start after Christmas.”

!!!! And with that, I had a job.

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It was early December at this point, so that meant I had a few weeks off before starting work. Or so I thought. One morning a few days later, I got a call at 8 a.m. from Blanka. “Can you be at the school by 10 a.m.? The English teacher called in sick again. They are desperate.” Me, freaking out: “Um… yes… okay, sure. I’ll see you soon.” Blanka: “Okay, you will be teaching 4 classes.”

GAH!!!!!!!! We had only taught adults as practice during the TEFL course, so I literally had never taught kids before in my life, let alone those who didn’t speak English, let alone an ENTIRE CLASS of them. I hurriedly threw on clothes while quizzing Bec about what the heck to do with these kids (she taught kids back in Australia), and 1 hour later I was in the metro trying to figure out how to get to the school.

Here’s an excerpt that I wrote to family and friends about the experience — it’s long but worth a read. :)

I meet Blanka at the metro station at 9:45 a.m. and we walk to the school together, it’s about 3 blocks away. The school is HUGE. We head inside and go into the administrator’s (I assume?) office. Blanka and the lady start speaking rapidly in Czech and gesturing wildly, looking at me every few seconds. I have no idea what is going on. I’m told an English teacher will come in to translate. The teacher finally comes, and then proceeds to talk rapidly to them in Czech. I still have no idea what is going on. Blanka stands up and says, “Okay! Bye!” I’m like…. what?!?! The English teacher says she will take me to her classroom then, and she will be in the room with me, but I can do whatever I want. This should be interesting.

All I can say is, thank god for hangman. I taught four classes, all 45 minutes long. The first group was older kids (12 or 13?), the second was about 11 year olds, and the last two sessions were with 9 ish year olds. I started out with hangman. The response is very enthusiastic (Whew, they know the game!) I spell “My name is Anne”, the kids are all jumping up in their seats trying to call out letters. After this, I do an exercise Bec suggested this morning during my panic (she has taught kids in Australia and Japan), where I have the students line up one by one in alphabetical order by first name. I improvise and have them each say their name and write it onto the board. They seem into it. Next up: more hangman, this time related to holidays. I introduce Thanksgiving, have them talk about their favorite holidays, favorite food (meat and potatoes, obvs… oh and pizza!), etc etc. During one part one of the girls jumps up to clean the board for me. Adorable. One group down, three more to go.
I get herded back to the teacher’s room and am told to wait for someone to come get me. The second group is more of the same activities. The group is rowdier. I have to split up two boys, banishing one to the back of the room. He pouts. The Czech teacher in the back of the room seems impressed. Keeping the kids under control proves challenging but I move things along well. There is a small mishap when I say a letter isn’t in one of the hangman sentences and at the end we realize it was. I tell them they can hang me. They enjoy that.
The last two groups were the littler kids. I was told I would have no other teacher in the room with me to help translate or keep things under control. Eeek. I start out with the obligatory name hangman and line up game. I then move on to families, asking them what are the names of people in families (e.g. mother, father, sister, brother…). I do a “My brother’s name is Stephen” hangman activity and I have them tell me their brother and sister’s names and then draw their whole families. During all this, I have students running up to show me pictures of their moms, dads, sisters, etc. on their cell phones. Yes, these 9 year olds have cell phones. What has happened to the world?! I start running out of things to do. Crap. The kids are starting to get rowdy. Time to have them list types of pets, draw them, and tell me their names! Good times. There is some confusion when the kids speak in Czech and expect me to understand. I try to act like I understand but want them to speak in English. I’m scared to think what they might do when they realize I don’t have a clue what they are saying to each other. And then, saved by the bell. I’m out of there at 1:30. Quite the day.

After getting off to a rocky start (the second day of substitute teaching had me confiscating a dirty magazine from a 9th grader), I ended up really loving my job there. Obviously, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses; some days were harder than others, and some classes were more fun than others, but teaching was a great experience. I learned to think quickly on my feet but to speak slowly, to use body language well (especially with the little kids when trying to explain/start a game), to be more patient, to listen very carefully, and that yelling was only effective when used VERY sparingly. I also learned that while kids can be total devils at times (especially once they learn you can’t understand their native language), they can also be amazingly cute and funny.

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(Yes, a lot of them were as tall as or taller than me.)

Here was my school:

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As I said, it was a primary school, which is 3rd through 9th grade in the Czech Republic, although their grades start earlier than ours — for example, their 9th graders were 16 instead of about 14 in the U.S. Since I was the only native English teacher at the school, I taught 22 unique classes per week, ages 8 through 16, and never had the same kids twice in a week.

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Something that was both scary and very exciting about teaching there was that I literally was given the choice to do whatever I wanted in terms of teaching. It was basically a teaching job without any of the annoyance. I didn’t have to go to meetings, I didn’t have to do hallway duty, I didn’t have to assign or grade homework, I didn’t have to talk to parents, and I didn’t have any sort of curriculum to go by. If I wanted to, I could coordinate with the Czech English teachers and use some lessons from the books they were working through with the kids, and I did do this sometimes, especially near the end when I started running out of ideas. But a lot of the time I tried to come up with my own activities to make things more interesting and fun, doing games, having the kids interact in English, etc.

I was so sad to say goodbye to all my kids when I left. On my last day, a bunch of the little kids drew me pictures — how cute are these?

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And one of my 9th grade classes baked me cookies that spelled “PRAGUE”!

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Isn’t this the cutest? They also made a little sheet with some pictures of Prague, them, and the school, and all signed it. I was definitely teary eyed.

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In addition to teaching kids, I also had a few adult students that I met up with once a week for private conversational English lessons, as well as a weekly meeting with someone for a Czech-English language exchange so I could learn some basic Czech (hardest language ever, btw). The conversational lessons were fun because, in addition to being a way to learn some extra money, I also got to learn more about the Czech Republic and its culture. Here’s one of my favorite students, Marcel. We became good friends and still keep in touch now via email. He also reads my blog as a good way to keep up with his slang English. ;) (Hi Marcel!)

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(Yes, they even had Starbucks in Prague.)

Outside of teaching, I had a blast exploring Prague, the Czech Republic, and Europe. The Old Town Square in Prague was my absolute favorite part of the city — I walked through it every day on my way to teach and relished being there in the early mornings before the crowds came. It was magical.

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My favorite part of the Old Town Square was the Tyn Cathedral — it was lit up at night and absolutely stunning. Pictures don’t do it justice at all.

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During Christmas time, a huge Christmas tree was set up in the middle of the Old Town Square and vendors appeared selling knick knacks and Christmas gifts, hot mulled wine, Trdelnik (the most amazing pastries EVER… I still dream of them), sausages, etc.

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On Christmas Eve, it’s customary for Czechs to have a big dinner of fish (usually carp), and nearing the holidays, vendors are set up along the streets selling live carp. You can imagine my surprise when I came home from work one day to see a guy chopping off a carp’s head right at the end of my street. Eek!

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Here are some other memorable moments:

  • Traveling to Poland with a Polish friend for her sister’s birthday party and teaching everyone how to play flip cup.
  • Taking exercise classes in Czech. I got really good at reading body language, to say the least. ;)
  • Seeing Obama give his first European speech of his presidency, right outside the Prague castle. Michelle had a cute outfit on, of course.

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  • Hanging out at the beer gardens overlooking the whole city.
  • Almost getting arrested on the tram for not having a valid pass. I bought a monthly pass and mine had run out the day before — I tried to get a new one but they shut right when I made it to the window. Of course the one day I didn’t have a pass was the day they came on and checked. The Czech cops came, it was a debacle. I finally got off with just a large fine. Yikes.
  • Buying sour cream instead of yogurt at the grocery store and not realizing it until I started eating it with my cereal. FAIL.

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There are so many stories, memories, amazing trips, and good friends that came out of my time in Prague that there’s no way I can do it justice in one post, or even a bunch of posts. I miss my friends, I miss my students, I miss walking through the Old Town Square in the early mornings and late evenings, I miss riding the tram to work with the beautiful views of the river and Prague Castle, I miss going for runs over the Charles Bridge, and I miss being on my big adventure. Hopefully, some day I’ll return for a visit. Until then — I’ll just remember my time there happily, knowing that I made the most of it. :)

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Have you ever lived abroad? Where and why? I lived in Germany and Belgium for a year each with my family, but I was really little. I also studied abroad in Australia for 5 months in college. Obsessed with that place and I credit that experience for giving me the travel bug. :)

Comments

  1. 1

    This makes me miss Spain so much! I remember reading Czech Anne Out (or whatever the blog was called back then ;)) but this was a fun recap. Sometimes I wish I had a few years to do stuff like this instead of getting married so quickly after graduating b/c even without kids and stuff, you never get the chance to do this stuff again really.

  2. 2

    Sounds absolutely amazing!
    I studied abroad in Dublin during college and I absolutely loved being able to travel to different cities in Europe. Unfortunately I never made it that far east, but my brother and I are planning a trip next September! I’ll have to pick your brain:)

    • 3

      Happy to answer questions!

      • 4

        A question, then! How much did you have to save up to make it work when you first got there?

        • 5

          I honestly don’t really remember because it was about 5 years ago… I mean the TEFL course was a couple thousand to take (but included housing), and I needed money on top of that to last about a month after the course while I job searched/did some small work. I would look online at flat listings to see how expensive places are and build a budget for yourself!

  3. 6

    LOVE this post! I’d definitely be interested in more about your travels/living abroad. How come you ended up living in Germany and Belgium as a child? Army? Do you speak any other languages?

    • 7

      Yep, military! I speak a little French since taking it in high school/college, but I’ve lost most of it since I don’t use it. I actually wanted to teach in France so I could work on my French but it was impossible to get a visa :(

  4. 8

    I was in China over the summer working at an University! The program was to teach English but I ended up doing PR for the University! (which is my LOVE/Ultimate career goal!) SO COOL that you did that! Totally life changing!

  5. 10

    im glad you took the plunge!

    My dad is military so I grew up living abroad – mainly germany and cyprus. I knew upon graduating i’d be getting on a plane somewhere….ended up teaching english is japan for a year, which turned into 4. I then moved to Aus with the american i met and have been here ever since!

    awesome, because i have had the opportunity not only to travel, but to live in places – it gives you a whole different perspective – beyond that of semester abroad!

    i feel so free to live anywhere – it blows my mind that some people have never left their state, let alone the country. On the other hand, i cant settle down for love nor money because i have a bad case of itchy feet……raaaa!

    • 11

      So jealous you are in Aus! I think traveling or living abroad is something everyone should do at least once – gives you some good perspective and challenge to your normal views/ways.

  6. 12

    I’ve never been abroad but there are many places that I would like to visit. I enjoyed reading the story of your time in Prague.

  7. 13

    When I went to Europe my friend and I couldn’t make time to get to Prague and I always wished we would have. It looks so gorgeous. And how cool you got to go for such a great opportunity.

  8. 14

    Fascinating recap, Anne! It’s interesting to see what really happens when someone “goes abroad to teach English”! As you know, we have spent more than our fair share of time living overseas, and I would not trade it for the WORLD. Nothing gives you perspective like spending time in another country and culture. I am TOTALLY feeling the travel bug poking at me right now! Ugh, if only I could still do it on the US State Dept’s dollar! Hahaha

  9. 16

    What a wonderful experience!!

  10. 17

    Wow! This sounds/looks like an amazing experience! I am so jealous, I have always wanted to go to Prague :)

  11. 18

    I spent a semester in Prague in Spring 2005! You totally brought back all of my memories from that experience. You’re right, the Czech language is incredibly hard to learn/understand. Although, we did learn the word Nastravi (cheers!), and still use it all the time. :) I’d love to go back one day and visit again.

  12. 20

    My family is slovak, and I love prague and bratislava. This post made me hungry for comfort food!!

    BTW, my friends who know me well call sour cream “slovak sauce” because I use it on everything. It’s truly a part of the culture.

  13. 21

    Aww man, your pictures made me miss Prague so much! One of my favorite cities in Europe….

    Thanks for the flashbacks!

  14. 22

    Coolio! :)

  15. 23

    Your experience looks and sounds amazing! Teaching abroad is always something I have thought about, and maybe now I will give it a serious thought!

    I lived in Hong Kong in high school with my family (and they continued to live there while I went to Georgetown.)

    Speaking of Georgetown, I have never been to Prague, but my friend has sent me a postcard from there, and I recognized some of the pictures you posted from the postcard– the 4th and 12th pictures. That view of the church from across the river reminds me SO MUCH of Georgetown! For example: http://bit.ly/njjEyE

    When I got the postcard of that view, I thought my friend was sending me a postcard from DC!

    • 24

      Ever since I came back from Prague, Georgetown has always reminded me of it! It really does look similar! How cool to live in Hong Kong in high school – that must have been awesome.

  16. 25

    wow i absolutely loved this post, anne, thanks for sharing!
    you sound like an awesome teacher!!! and I GOT a little teary eyed myself when i read the part about all the pictures the kids drew you and the cookies they baked. that’s soo sweet!

    this sounds like an amazing experience, and it’s nice that you actually get to experience the culture of a place. if i have time to travel, i’d prefer staying at a place longer rather than going to a LOT of different places. well, i guess ideally if i had a lot of time, i would spend a few days at a couple different places, then spend maybe 1 or 2 months at the one place i liked the most. hahaha but i guess that’s not really practical for me now.

    i am in medical school now and i know a lot of other med students do global health care, your post has inspired me to do something like that :) maybe after residency!

    • 26

      I completely agree – I love spending a bit more time rather than just rushing through! You should definitely do global health care – that would be so cool. Good luck!

  17. 27

    What a great recap! I remember I was visiting you during your last day of class and seeing the cute cookies and drawings your kids had made for you :)

  18. 29

    I love this post! I actually never even considered going to Prague ever until last year when I started reading your blog. Then this summer I went on a Euro trip and ended up in Prague for 2 days. I loved it! Thanks!

  19. 31

    Ahoj Anne! I also miss Prague, very much! Since our time there, I went back each year for a few days. And I will be back there from 9th to 12th November with Moritz! It’s our 10 year anniversairy and we will spend it in the city, that means a lot to us. I even made him go to the opera to see “Don Guivanni” with me (it will take place in the same opera where Mozart performed it the very first time!), how great is that?! And I will also meet Moni, my Czech friend whom I think you have met once?! She is a mum now!! :-D

    And you are absolutely right, Prague is a very magical place and I also always have to think about it in autum. I don’t know why, it is also very, very beautiful in summer! I hope, one day we can both go back to Prague together, maybe even in this one club we went to on my last night! Do you remember the name?? It would be awesome!! :-)

    Na shledanou! :-)
    Melli

    • 32

      MELLI!!! I miss you! I should have put a picture of us in this post! So jealous that you get to go back to Prague so often. I need to come back to Germany for a visit so we can go to Prague again together! I had forgotten about that club! I remember it was snowing when we came outside :)

      Happy 10 year anniversary! Enjoy Don Guivanni :) I love that one!

  20. 33

    What a great post! Love all of the pictures and the stories. It sounds like you had an experience of a lifetime. You’re so brave for jumping right into it like that! And now you have amazing memories of it. Thanks for sharing!

  21. 34

    I studied abroad last spring in Spain and LOVED every minute of it.. Teaching abroad is something I am seriously considering after graduation next spring, and Prague would definitely be on the top of my list. Growing up, we had a nanny from Slovakia and it’s a culture I’ve always wanted to learn more about- and the comment about sour cream makes so much sense! I always wondered why she put it on everything!

  22. 36

    “Trdelink” looks suspiciously like “Kürtöskalacs” which I ate in Hungary. And yes, i taste heavenly :)
    I’m from Germany and studying to become a teacher for primary school. I’d like very much to go abroad and teach. Preferably in a country with English as first language. Since I major in English and German.

  23. 38

    I loved this! I would love to do something like this in the next few years. I might as well since I’ll be young, out of college, and before I have too many commitments. My neighbor was a nanny and picked fruit in New Zealand and Australia for a year, and that would be awesome to do as well.

  24. 40

    What awesome memories/experiences you’ve had, Anne. Thx for sharing them — and for reminding us of the joys of travel and living overseas!

  25. 41

    Loved this post, as I’m up in the air about teaching English or grad school when I graduate in May. I lived in Limerick, Ireland when I was 18 and have done a fair amount of other traveling (England, Scotland, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong..)

    Did the company you went with for your TEFL help you with job placement and visas and stuff?

    • 42

      They helped with setting us up with contacts for job interviews, but didn’t guarantee helping us to get a placement. No one really had too much trouble finding a job though! And regarding visas, that is up to your job when you get one. They usually help with it, though getting a visa to work in Europe can be kind of a pain.

      I would definitely take some time off and go abroad again before school – why not when you have the opportunity and less commitments, you know? Plus, it’s nice to have a break between undergrad and grad school if you know you want to go back. :)

  26. 43

    What a fun adventure! It’s kind of crazy to me that you had to interview for jobs after your TEFL course… I taught English in France the year after college (2008-2009), but my jobs (I was at two primary schools) were already set up before I got there. Also, my degree is in French & Italian so I at least more or less spoke the language before I got there and had already worked with kids a lot. Sooo I think it’s very cool and brave of you that you sort of just went in without knowing the language or ever having worked with kids.

    Annnnnd Prague is such a cool city. A couple of weeks after I visited (during one of my breaks when I was in France), I had a dream that I was back in Prague and some lady was taking me around the city and letting me sample all different kinds of cake. And then I woke up in my small French town, far away from Prague and with no cake (or even an oven to make cake), and so it turned out to be the most disappointing dream ever. True story.

  27. 45

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your time in Prague and how you decided to go. Thanks so much for writing this all up for us!

  28. 46

    Hi Anne, just found your blog and loved this post! I spent a year in Tabor in 1997-1998 and reading your perspective as an ‘american’ was really cool….the program I did fully submerged us in the culture (no one spoke english to me the entire year!) So ya while czech is difficult when you’re forced to learn it only takes about 45 days LOL! Its really weird to think of your kids having cell phones….eastern europe was pretty far behind us 15 years ago (I had to take the train to prague to go to an internet cafe), technology is amazing!

    • 47

      How cool that you were in Tabor! It really is crazy how much has changed technology-wise in so little time. I’m impressed you learned Czech, too – wow! Still remember it? :)

  29. 48

    Trochu! ;) I wish I remembered more than I actually do…. but maybe now I can learn a 4th language. When I tried to pickup spanish a few years ago I kept getting French & Czech mixed up in my sentences!

  30. 49

    Hi there!

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your entry about your time spent teaching English in Prague. I am looking into doing something similar. I have graduated from undergrad with a dual degree in English and Secondary Education. Do you have any tips about where/how I should start this process? I am totally clueless, but I definitely want to go to Prague to teach English for a year. ANY help/advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!

    -Danielle

    • 50

      Hi Danielle! If you know you want to teach in Prague, I’d recommend signing up for the same TEFL program I did – Oxford TEFL! http://oxfordtefl.com/ They were great, and will help set you up with some job interviews once the 5 week training course is over, too. You need a TEFL certificate to teach in Europe. Good luck and have fun!! Jealous! :)

  31. 51

    I’m so jealous! I just wandered over from some one’s link from the marathon and was stunned to see that you had taught in Prague! I lived there for 5 years (the first teaching TOEFL and the last four teaching at an International School in P6). Isn’t it so lovely?! I miss it in the winter time.. I also lived for 2 years in Uganda in the North near the Sudan border.

    Glad to have stumbled on your corner of the internet!

    • 52

      No way – how cool! I miss Prague – such a gorgeous place! I’d love to go back someday. That’s awesome you lived in Uganda, too! Always nice to “meet” fellow adventurers. :)

  32. 53

    Hi, I recently acquired a TESOL certificate here in Australia (where I was born and live) and I’m finding it extremely hard to find a job teaching english overseas without having a degree.
    Do you know of any schools, or countries that don’t require a degree for someone to teach english?

    • 54

      Do you mean a bachelors degree? I’m not sure – maybe try Asia – Korea, China, Thailand, etc. They don’t usually have as many strict requirements as Europe. Good luck!

  33. 55

    I can (partly) relate to your research woes. I’m interested in teaching abroad, but one minute I seem to be reading about what a great experience it is, and the next I discover something negative–an article that paints English teachers as little more than slaves with no other career prospects, or a website that confirms how difficult it is to get a work permit in a place I want to go!
    So it’s nice that you had a positive experience. If I might ask, did your TEFL institute help get a work permit for you? How was that process arranged?
    . . . And any advice you might have about selecting a TEFL program would be greatly appreciated!

    • 56

      Whoever you get your job through will set up your work permit – so if you do a TEFL program that then guarantees you work or feeds you right into a job, they will probably help do it. My TEFL program was just the program, not a job, so they didn’t help us with work permits/visas – we had to wait until we found a job (they helped us with connections/setting up interviews) and then they helped with the permits. I won’t lie – work permits and visas were not always the easiest but it’ll work out. I went through Oxford TEFL (in Prague) and they were great – they have locations in Spain too. When looking for other programs, just make sure to Google the TEFL program’s name to make sure you don’t find any bad reviews/horror stories. Also, it’s way easier to work as a teacher in Asia than it is in Europe, mostly because of the visa issue (and they pay more in Asia, too). Good luck and have fun!

  34. 57

    Funny I should come across this blog as I’m looking to go back to Prague to teach. No doubt we probably passed each other there. I went over to Prague in January of 2009 but only found private lessons, so I had to leave at the end of April. My german friend, Florian, keeps bugging me to come back. I’m looking at a course that guarantees placement. Hopefully, I’ll be there for hiring in September. I’ll stay at least a year, maybe 2 or just stay there.

  35. 59

    I want to go to Prague to teach! Can you get the TEFL certification from USA?

    • 60

      I think so, yes! But if you want to teach in Prague, it makes more sense to do the TEFL there so you start making some contacts there!

  36. 61
    Gabriella says:

    Hey Anne!
    I really enjoyed reading (and seeing) your experiences in Prague. I am currently considering getting TEFL certification there but am also uncertain of which program would be the best. I’m looking at the Oxford TEFL one that you mentioned, as well as Akcent International House that specializes in CELTA- http://www.akcent.cz/cz/p/175/celta.html and TEFL Worldwide Prague- http://www.teflworldwideprague.com/. Do you know anything about these other two learning schools, or whether or not CELTA is more accepted worldwide than TEFL? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for such an interesting post!

    Have a great day!
    Gabriella

    • 62

      I don’t know much about CELTA but I’d probably choose TEFL – much more well known! And if you’re choosing between TEFL Worldwide and Oxford TEFL, definitely do Oxford TEFL. Everyone seemed to like our course better and there was better support given for job finding, etc. Good luck!

  37. 63

    Hey there,
    I have to say, I am so happy I found your blog! I have been looking for information about teaching abroad for quite some time and have had a lot of trouble finding legit information. If you don’t mind answering a few questions…

    Did you feel safe in Prague? I have always heard that Americans are not always well received in some other countries but I assume it is different if you are there with a purpose and service?

    I have an Associate’s degree and am currently working towards a Bachelor’s. Did you find it better/easier to get the TEFL certification with the higher degree or did it ultimately matter? Does it effect how much you get paid teaching abroad?

    And…Do you, by chance, know if couples or friends can teach abroad together (at least in the same city)?

    Sorry for all the questions, I have not been successful finding these out and figured I’d give it a shot!

    Thanks,
    Amanda

    • 64

      No problem, happy to help! I felt very safe in Prague. The people aren’t very friendly at first (but that’s to all strangers, not just Americans) but they really warm up once you get to know them. Just a different culture.

      I don’t think the Associates vs. Bachelors will matter! They just want a TEFL.

      Friends and couples could definitely teach in the same city! I would go to the training TEFL course together in the city where you want to teach, though, because being there will get you a lot more job connections. I wouldn’t recommend doing a TEFL course remotely or from the US… it will be hard to find a job blindly when you’re not in the actual place.

      Good luck!
      Anne

  38. 66

    Hey Anne, I just emailed you asking for more info on your teach abroad experience from your about page, but I spoke too soon. Found everything I need here. Sounds like a great experience! I have never been to Europe (well Germany when I an army brat, doesn’t count!) and am definitely interested in teaching in Spain. I will check out the links you included above.

    Thanks!
    Kimberly

  39. 68

    After graduating with a political science degree and unsure what exactly I wanted to do, I went over to Germany for 13 months to work at a US military resort in Garmisch. I got to travel to seven countries and even got to fufill my life long dream and to visit Israel for my 25th bday. I visited Prague as well for three days (alone, most of my trips were alone) and was a little scared at night since someone had warned me about the Russian Mafia being strong in Prague. lol! I loved the Jewish Quarter and loved the old city Prague. I love how you can always find a concert to go to any night of the week. I went to an organ concert in an old church and a chamber orchestra concert at the Municipal Hall where I was introduced to Smetana’s Vltava. BEautiful music that brings me back to Prague whenever I listen to it!

    • 69

      How awesome! Too funny about the Russian Mafia. I miss the music in Prague, too – I remember there being an amazing trio playing on the street one day in the middle of the old town square. So cool.

  40. 70

    I love your post. :) I have been researching on taking the CELTA course in Prague, but time to time I waver because of the uncertainties etc. I do hope I’ll take it eventually though. Currently I’m set on next year. :)

    Btw, do you think it’s necessary to take on extra jobs if I wanna have a little bit of savings every month? I’ve heard from many people that the pay is enough to live by, but probably nothing much more than that. One thing I would love to do is taking the chance to travel around Europe. Also, how many off days do you usually get in a year? Hope to hear from you soon, and thanks in advance! :)

    • 71

      Hey Nann! Great you want to teach overseas – it’s awesome! I made enough to get by and travel around some but definitely not enough to save… came home pretty broke. But you can get all sorts of jobs teaching students privately and can work as much as you want, so you’ll just have to play it by ear. Days off will totally depend on your job. Best of luck!

  41. 72

    I’m studying abroad in Turin, Italy right now. I’m actually going to be home right after christmas, but I’m heading to Dublin first. I loved studying abroad; I’ve been able to see so many amazing places I didn’t even think about before I got here.

  42. 74
    Tamara Jones says:

    Here I am looking for a veggie burger made with lentils and I find your tefl experience. Early 2000 I moved into a studio apartment, bought luggage and sold off my belongings. I don’t recall the name of the school, but it was in Prague, and I had started laboring over maps, Czech for Dummies, and Prague travel books. Wouldn’t you know, I met someone and after two years of flip flopping I finally hung my travel dreams up and married instead. Never made it. I still have a blank passport, but a gorgeous little 4 year old boy who is going to learn to love healthy cooking…someday *sigh*.

  43. 76

    This post was amazing. I recently got accepted to oxford tefl for July and have been second guessing it. I have been to Prague many times but living there and trying to get a visa has made me second guess alot of things. This article was pretty much word for word my current situation and what I would want to achieve. Dekuji!

  44. 77

    Hey Anne,

    I’m a senior in college looking into teaching some English abroad. I have a friend that was a foreign exchange student in High School that lives in Prague and I see you taught there. I am looking into volunteering or being an assistant with English teaching? Is this possible to do without the TEFL certification? Thanks a lot!

  45. 79

    Hey Anne!

    So I wanna leave you a comment mostly because you’ve inspired me to take a detour in my career life and teach abroad for a year or so. Reading about your experience with TEFL has gotten me close to doing the same thing. I imagine I might head out to either London or Prague later this fall!

    I wanted to ask you some sticky questions though: Did you ever regret your time abroad? Like, you could have spent those 9 months doing something else? Or was it worth the while? Was 9 months long enough, or did you wish to stay longer?

    Thanks for documenting your experience! It means a lot.

    • 80

      Worth it 100%. I’ll never regret it! 9 months was long enough for me, but that will be totally personal. Just go with it and see how you feel! I was ready to get back and start grad school, but other friends stayed much longer. Enjoy your time abroad!! I’m honored to hear I inspired!

  46. 82

    Hi Anne,
    would you say there’s still space for English teachers in Prague or is it oversaturated? I’d like to move back (I’m from Prague and speak Czech, though I need a refresher) and teach English, either in a school or privately. I’d get my TESOL in a month-long course (9-5 M-F). I’m just trying to weigh my options. Thanks,

    Dave

  47. 84

    Loved your blog post!! Got me excited again for my decision to take the TEFL course in Prague in September!! I’ve been researching quite a bit and stumbled upon a few sites with bad reviews of Prague and teaching English there, so thank goodness I found your blog! I was curious if you know the situation of getting a job after TEFL without a degree…do you know anyone who has succeeded in doing so? Thanks!

    • 85

      Enjoy the TEFL course! Unfortunately I’m not sure about job opps without a degree… I would ask your TEFL course managers! Good luck!

  48. 86
    Barbara Foucek says:

    I really enjoyed your post, my father is from there and I took my sons for a month a fewcyears ago…now my younger son has his 84 credits towards his BA, and he is applying at the American Anglo University there, and will take the Oxford TEFL here? maybe he should just take it in Prague? Anyway he never was afraid, or got lost in Prague and didnt want to go home! (he was good friends with the sausage vendor…)
    I wish I could move there!

  49. 87
    Elizabeth S says:

    I love this post so much. I know it’s a bit old, but can you please answer?
    It’s my dream to move to Czech Republic. Unfortunately, getting a work visa is nearly impossible for American citizens.
    The only option I have is to teach English (which is fine; I’ve always wanted to teach)
    Will applying to the TEFL program give me the chance to move here permanently or only for a short time?

    • 88

      I’m honestly not sure! As long as you are teaching you can live there I’m pretty sure – but not sure on after that. I’d ask the TEFL program directly, they’ll know!

  50. 89
    Cherish says:

    Hi~ Thank you so much for this post! I have been thinking of teaching abroad in Europe and your post has been so helpful and makes me feel very hopeful for the future. Thanks again! :D

  51. 90

    Hi, this was very informative, thank you.

    I have just been researching the Oxford Tefl course. I was wondering how much it cost you. They are advertising it at $1400. Did you have to pay this much?

    And after this 5 week course did you have to do any other courses or pay for any further education?

    Cheers
    Kieran

    • 91

      Hi Kieran, I don’t remember how much the course was back in 2008 but that sounds about right. I didn’t have to do any other courses afterward, no.

  52. 92

    I WANT TO DO THIS!!! I graduated in May and am working this year trying to save up for law school but please give me advice on how to do this:)

  53. 93

    Hey There– I graduated college with a degree in English and Theater with a minor in classics and I want to go abroad in the worst way. I have never left the US and have the travel bug. There is no doubt in my mind I want to do this– but one thing in your post was a little unclear to me…. do you have to get your certificate before you go leave the US or can you do it while you are in Prague? How much does a program like this cost?

    • 94

      You can do it either way! I did the Oxford TEFL program I mentioned in the post over in Prague, but TEFL courses are offered in the US, too – just Google TEFL certification program + your city. Program costs vary. Good luck and have fun!

  54. 95

    Hello Anne,
    I found your websites about 2 days ago and it’s great. Just read your blog about Prague and I’m glad you really liked it here :-) I’m Czech and living in Prague :-) I spent 4 years in the US in college and I had a great time there as I was also on the tennis team. I will try the banana quinoa muffins very soon! Have a great day and come to Prague again :-)

  55. 97

    Hi Anne,

    I LOVE your blog! Thank you for taking the time to inspire and inform others. I am also looking to teach abroad. If it isn’t too personal, do you remember about how much you made per month while you were in Prague? I’m trying to decide how much I’d need to save to go. I would like to be able to enjoy my time there and do some traveling, but I also currently have about a $300 loan payment monthly from my undergraduate degree.

    Sincerely,
    L

  56. 99

    Hi Anne,

    I just found your website and since Czech is my heritage (last name “Hnat”) I was very intrigued to read about your Prague adventure. Sounds like it was an amazing experience and I wish now that I had followed in your footsteps. Instead I moved to Hawaii, which seemed like another country at the time. Bravo. Great story and what fond memories you must have. Thank you so much for sharing, I look forward to visiting Prague in the not too distant future!

    In health
    Jennifer

  57. 100

    Hi Anne,
    Thank you so much for writing this post! I’m also from DC and have been thinking about doing this for a while but am scared. This really helps! I related to almost everything you said and it helps me feel more motivated. There’s no better time for me than now. I’m glad you had such a memorable experience. Was it difficult to live there when you didnt speak the language?

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  1. […] when I was teaching English in Prague in 2009, I spent a long weekend in Ireland with a friend and fellow teacher, Jackie. The two of us […]

  2. […] it will be great to get back into academia again, and back to teaching, too (as you may remember, I taught English for a year in Prague before I went back to grad […]

  3. […] Wednesday evening in time to meet some old friends for dinner – my friends Jackie and Dawn, who taught English in Prague with me back in […]

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