The following article on teaching English in Prague is a guest post by Katie
In spring 2014, my husband Geoff and I were running out of money.
We’d left Canada in 2013 to travel for as long as our bank accounts would let us, but after spending 7 months traveling, the money was draining from our accounts faster than it was coming in.
We’d both been dabbling in various freelance jobs online, but weren’t finding enough well-paid jobs to cover our expenses. We knew we needed to do something.
And if we didn’t act soon, we knew our future would include a one-way ticket back to Canada to dust-off our resumes.
I’d seen the writing on the wall a few weeks back and had been researching our options online. By the time we reached Belgrade, Serbia, the time had come to tell Geoff my idea of teaching English in Prague.
We walked to the fortress overlooking the city one day and found a quiet spot on the fortress walls. There, under the warm Balkan sun, with the capital spilling out at our feet, I told Geoff we should move to Prague.
Fast forward a few months later, and we’d finished a well-respected TEFL course in the Czech capital. We had full-time work and freelancer visas. And we were heading into a glorious Prague summer filled with $2 beers and frenzied exploration.
We ended up staying in Prague for 15 months until a different opportunity knocked, and we relocated to Oaxaca, Mexico.
But the time we spent in Prague was exactly what we needed.
Do You Need Experience to Teach English in Prague?
It may seem like a leap to go from the corporate jobs we had in Canada to teaching English in Europe. In fact, Geoff and I met as English teachers in Taiwan. We moved back to Canada fairly soon after meeting to start careers in sales and PR, but we always looked back at our time in Taiwan fondly.
Although we had experience teaching English before we moved to Prague, you don’t need it. The TEFL class we joined in Prague had 12 teacher trainees or so, and Geoff and I were the only two who’d done it before.
Teaching English in Prague: Our Experiences
There are many different types of jobs teaching English in Prague. My experience and Geoff’s were both quite different. This is a good thing; once you’re established as an English teacher in Prague, you can design your work day around the type of students, subjects, and class size you prefer.
My first job was teaching summer language intensives. My students ranged from their final year of high school to near-retirement age, and many were using some of their summer holidays to improve their English skills.
Some weeks, I taught the same group of students all day. In these classes, I was completely in control of the curriculum, which was a lot of pressure, but also meant we could cover interesting topics and spend time on activities that kept the students engaged and active throughout the class.
Other weeks, I taught different students in the morning and afternoon or taught several different classes each morning and afternoon. During these classes, I followed a textbook the school provided: it required less planning on my part but wasn’t as fun for me or the students.
When the summer ended, I was offered jobs at several schools and took one at the same language center where we’d completed our TEFL course. Here, I taught three 45-minute classes from 8 am until 11 am, and then several classes again from 4 pm until 8 pm.
All my students were adults, and there was no curriculum, which was my preference. It also meant I was free in the middle of the day to explore Prague, work on our website or other freelance work, or catch up on naps.
Geoff’s experience teaching in Prague was different and more typical of the average English teacher in Prague. He worked for several schools at the same time and built a full-time schedule teaching business English to workers in companies around Prague.
Private English lessons are a common employee benefit in Prague, and companies hire English teachers to come into their office and meet with their workers one-on-one or as a group.
For many international companies with offices in Prague, the official language of the office is English: this ensures staff can easily communicate with colleagues in other countries. It also means the staff sometimes require language help.
Geoff traveled to areas all over Prague each day to deliver both group and individual lessons. He often started his first lesson at 7 am, before the workday started, and was finished around 10 am, when the workers got busy with their day. He often had a few lessons at the end of the workday, too. Lessons lasted either 45 or 90 minutes.
For group lessons, Geoff planned lessons on different topics for some, and followed a textbook for others.
For individual lessons, he often just met with his student and helped them with a specific problem they were having in English. He helped them prepare for English speeches they had to deliver at conferences and meetings abroad, edit emails they had to send in English, and create internal presentations in English.
When there wasn’t a specific problem they needed help with, he would give them a chance to practice their conversational and business English.
Geoff also picked up a few courses at the language school we completed our TEFL certification at.
What Kinds of Teaching English Jobs are Available in Prague?
Although most English teaching jobs in Prague are for adult students, those aren’t the only jobs in town. Most teachers will build a teaching schedule that combines working at a language school with private lessons with their own students.
Teaching English in Kindergartens and Preschools in Prague
Many middle-class Praguers want their children to speak excellent English, and they know it’s important to start early.
Because of this, many kindergartens and preschools hire native-English-speaking teachers to work in conjunction with Czech-speaking teachers.
The biggest advantage of a job like this is the steady paycheck and regular hours. We never did this kind of work, so can’t speak about it in depth.
Teaching English at Language Schools in Prague
There are many language schools operating in Prague. Most of the schools offer some group classes on site, as well as sending their teachers out to offices in neighborhoods all over Prague.
The on-site courses are typically ‘post-secondary’ courses designed for students to pass a foreign-language exam or public courses for people who want to come to the school and learn in a group or individually. As an English teacher in Prague, you’ll likely teach a combination of these courses.
For most teachers coming to Prague, language schools are the first place to get a job. At first, you should expect for your schedule to be less than ideal: the teachers with longer tenure will get first right of refusal on courses, and are likely to turn down courses with less desirable locations and hours.
The downside to this is you may spend a large portion of your teaching day traveling around the city at first. The upside to this is you’ll get to know Prague’s different neighborhoods very quickly!
Teaching Private English Lessons in Prague
If you’re entrepreneurial enough, you can bypass the language schools and run your teaching service like a business.
Even if you work for a kindergarten or language school, you’ll be hired as a freelancer, and will be required to have a freelancer business license (similar to a sole proprietorship in many countries – more on this below).
Since you aren’t technically an employee of any one school, it’s no more complicated from a tax perspective to go full out and run your teaching service like a business. In this scenario, whatever you charge goes right in your pocket.
Understandably, many teachers prefer this approach. However, it can be difficult to completely fill a schedule with these lessons.
It’s also worth noting all schools have a clause in your teaching contract against taking students from the school, so you’ll need to find private students outside any jobs you have with a language school.
How Much Money Can You Make Teaching English in Prague?
Schools pay teachers by the hour, but a teaching “hour” is defined as 45 minutes. A 45-minute course is one teaching hour, and a 90-minute course bills as two teaching hours.
Beginning teachers can expect to earn about CKZ 300 per teaching hour. Keep in mind, time spent planning lessons (which can be a lot in the beginning) is not paid.
Recently, some of the largest language schools in Prague have been consolidated, and are now owned by the same company. They are still managed separately, however, and you’ll need to negotiate with them independently.
If you decide to strike out on your own and offer private lessons outside a language school, beginning teachers can charge around CKZ 500 per teaching hour.
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So What You Can Expect Teaching English in Prague
- English teachers in Prague are hired as freelancers, so you can work for several schools at the same time and arrange a teaching schedule that works for you. It also means you’ll be responsible for paying your own taxes, health insurance, and social insurance.
- A good schedule will have between 25 and 35 teaching hours a week. In Prague, one teaching hour is defined as 45 minutes.
- The majority of English teaching jobs in Prague are teaching adults. As such, the most popular times for lessons is early morning before students start work, and in the evening after students finish work. Some teachers also choose to teach weekend lessons.
- Language schools pay beginning teachers around CKZ 300 per teaching hour. If you arrange a private lesson directly with a student, you can pay around CKZ 500.
- In an average month, beginning teachers can expect to earn between CKZ 25,000 and 35,000 per month. Keep in mind that during the summer and winter holidays, many schools close and students go on vacation. Your income during this time may be less.
- As a freelancer, you won’t have paid vacation. You’ll need to coordinate with whatever schools you are working for if you want to take time off. And, of course, you’ll need to budget as you won’t get paid for time off.
- Expect your classes to be observed by school administrators from time to time. The schools want to ensure their students are getting the best experience, and won’t hesitate to check in on you now and then. Treat these observation sessions as an opportunity to become a better teacher, and apply any constructive feedback you get to future lessons. Bear in mind Czechs are not culturally used to couching a message to spare someone’s feelings. If the feedback ever seems harsh, remember it’s not personal.
Requirements to Teach English in Prague
The days of rolling into Prague with nothing more than a backpack, native-level-English and plans to teach are long gone. Language schools are run as professional companies, and they want qualified teachers who will stick around for some time.
A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate is a requirement for all but the most special cases. Teachers with one of the “gold standard” qualifications in TEFL certificates – CELTA or Trinity Cert-TESOL – will be most competitive.
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Even though there is a strong demand for English teachers in Prague, schools need to be sure the students are able to meet their goals and needs.
Having a university degree will also go a long way in helping you find work as a teacher, but it’s by no means a requirement.
If you have a degree or professional experience in a specific field, you can often leverage it to get special types of teaching assignments. Business English is especially valuable, and if you have a strong command of business vocabulary and jargon you can expect a fair amount of classes in companies.
As Prague becomes more international, opportunities for teachers who can educate students about medical, industrial, and other specialized English topics are increasing as well.
Finding a Job Teaching English in Prague: Our Experiences
The great thing about teaching English in Prague is qualified English teachers can generally find work quickly.
There’s a high demand for teachers, making it fairly easy to get work. Most teachers come to Prague to get their TEFL certification and find they have offers for work before completing the certification course. This is what happened to us.
In the final two weeks of our TEFL course, our training center sent our resumes around to language schools in their network. That same day, both Geoff and I had interviews lined up. By the end of the week, we had organized full-time work starting the following Monday.
How Can You Get a Job Teaching English in Prague?
If you already have your TEFL certification, you won’t have the benefit of your training center to help you find a job. In that case, your best bet is to contact the large language schools in Prague directly and begin to build a network.
This website has a fairly comprehensive list of English schools in Prague, including contact information, and is a good place to start. You’re unlikely to have much success if you’re not already in Prague, though. You’ll need to be on the ground to get a job.
Getting Your Czech Freelancer Visa
If you aren’t an EU citizen, you’ll need to apply for a visa to live in the Czech Republic, and a freelancer license (Živnostenský List, which is often shortened to Živno) in order to work as an English teacher. If you are an EU citizen, you’ll need to apply for just the freelancer license.
We entered the Schengen Zone in Prague on a 90-day tourist visa and took a one-month TEFL course through Oxford House Prague. During the course, we used a visa agency to help us apply for our residency permit and our Živno.
Our initial residency permit was granted for 9 months. We then applied for (and received) a 2-year residency permit. Had we stayed in the Czech Republic, we could have applied for permanent residency.
To get the residency permit, we had to get quite a bit of paperwork organized. The documents required depend on your nationality, but you should check what’s needed before you leave your home country.
For example, as Canadians, we required a criminal record check, but our American friends didn’t need one.
We also had to prove we had US $6,000 per person in our bank account to support ourselves, demonstrate we had somewhere to live, have health insurance for the duration of our visa, and get permission from our landlord to run our freelancer business from our apartment.
Finally, we had to leave the Czech Republic for an interview appointment at a Czech Embassy abroad. We went to Berlin, but Vienna and Bratislava are also common destinations for this appointment. Once our visa was approved, we had to return to the same embassy to pick up the visa. We were happy to visit Berlin twice, but this definitely adds some expense to the process!
For the Živno, the visa agent managed the application process from end to end, and we didn’t have to do anything!
This entire process took 6 weeks for us, but we’ve heard of it taking much longer, depending on which Czech embassy you apply at. While your visa application is in process, you can get a special bridge visa if your 90-day tourist visa expires. Generally speaking, you should start the process as soon as you reasonably can after arrival in Prague.
If you decide to try your hand at teaching English in Prague, we wrote a comprehensive guide about how to get a freelancer visa in the Czech Republic that may help.
Why You’ll Love Teaching English in Prague
Teaching English in Prague is a rich experience for a whole range of reasons – many of which we didn’t expect.
The most rewarding aspect of the job was our students. Unlike in Taiwan, where we taught English to kids, in Prague, we taught adults. Don’t get me wrong: teaching kids is a lot of fun. But they don’t exactly bowl you over with cultural insights.
Teaching English to adults in Prague, we were able to learn a lot about Prague and Czechia, because our students told us all about it during lessons.
All of our Czech students had been touched by the former communist regime in some way. Either they were old enough to remember growing up under a communist government, or they experienced hand-me-down communism, whereby a cultural legacy of that time was passed down from generation to generation and continued to shape the way things are done in Czechia to some degree.
Life under communism is something many westerners have trouble understanding until actually talking to those who were affected by it. Because of this, we left Prague with a much different worldview than we arrived.
Prague also presents a delightful combination of western and eastern cultures. It is a cosmopolitan European capital with plenty of international culture, but it still holds on to eastern traditions.
Of course, Prague is a great base from which to travel, as well. Vienna and Berlin are short train rides away. We probably went to Berlin five or more times during our 15 months in Prague!
Cities like Krakow and Budapest (where we live now) are slightly further away, but still manageable for a long weekend. For many teachers in Prague, traveling and discovering new cultures is 60 percent of the reason it’s such a great lifestyle. Prague is one of the best locations in Europe for this!
If you’re not afraid of a little hard work and enjoy the reward you get from being able to help people learn, you just might get more out of it than your students do.
Some Final Tips if You Want to Teach English in Prague
The Czech language is difficult, and many government bureaucrats only speak Czech. Hiring someone to help you navigate the visa and freelancer licensing processes is one of the smartest decisions you can make.
Starting out teaching English in Prague, many teachers overestimate how much they’re going to make, and don’t budget properly. Finding a room in a flatshare is a good option when you’re getting started.
It’s also worth noting, Czechs only get paid once a month. This is unusual for Americans used to two paychecks each month, so budgeting properly is crucial.
While Prague is a sophisticated European city – some people compare it to Paris – there are some Eastern European traditions might seem strange to outsiders. Czechs love these traditions and honestly aren’t that interested in how outsiders feel about them.
If something seems odd, remember the whole point of living in a different culture is to learn about it and understand it, not try to make it like the culture you left. Czechs are more than happy to teach you about their culture, but they are not interested in changing it.
Would you teach English in Prague? Let us know in the comments!
Perpetually on the hunt for cheap flights, cold beers, and awesome terraces, Canadian travel blogger Katie Matthews has been traveling the world since she was 16, when she somehow persuaded her parents to let her move abroad to learn the ways of hygge in Denmark. Picking up a Canadian husband and a Taiwanese street cat along the way, she has lived around the world, including spending 15 months in Prague. Now based in Budapest with her husband Geoff and their daughter, Katie is founder and editor of Wandertooth.com. She’s also co-creator of several travel-themed adult coloring books and the author of Wandertooth’s Guide to Prague, a totally free (and awesome) e-book guide to Prague.
Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad and epically failing at the American Dream since 2011. Her sassy yet informative blog, Where in the World is Nina? is all about how to work abroad to live a more adventurous life. If you want to travel longer you have to work to wander.