Czech Republic, Europe

A Day in the Life: Teaching English in Prague

My Schedule

06:30 am: I leave my apartment and walk downstairs. It’s black outside and the Prague winter is a biting cold. Luckily the tram is only a short distance from my apartment, but I’m late so I watch the 6:35am tram depart from across the street and have to wait for the next one

06:47 am: The next tram arrives

07:00 am: Tram stops at the metro station Vlatavska. Everyone exits and shuffles into the metro station.

07:05am: The metro arrives. Standing room only.

07:25 am: I exit at the station Budějovická; Provident bank is directly outside. I come every Tuesday and Thursday morning so the guards know me. I wait at the elevator with another English teacher from my company (James Cook Languages) who teaches a different group of bankers on the 7th floor. She says it is “one of those mornings;” she almost forgot to put on her skirt before she left the house.

07:35 am: I enter the room on the 5th floor where I hold my English lessons. I have two students in this class; one is around 35 years old. She lives far away and has to leave her home around 5:45am in order to reach work at 7:30am for our English lessons twice a week. Her husband takes the children to school before work. He typically doesn’t get home until late in the evening when she is already in bed. They only see each other on the weekends. The other is an older man in his 60s. Today our lesson is about advertising, we watch some short commercial clips, learn new vocabulary, and discuss questions I have prepared.

09:00 am: Lesson ends. I have one of the students sign my official roster (390 czk for 90 minutes, ~$18 USD) and I let to duo begin their day at work. Back to the metro.

09:10 am: Metro to Pankrac stop.

09:14 am: The metro has a direct exit into a mall. I sit in the food court on my laptop and apply to graduate school (aka browse facebook) for an hour.

10:15 am: I exit the mall in the opposite direction of the metro and go to Raiffeisenbank. I tell the staff at the desk I am here and they let me through the turnstile.

10:30 am: I sit with four young bankers for their English lesson, literally the same lesson as in Providential Bank. It’s my favorite class because they are chatty and enthusiastic. One woman is very confident in her English; she enjoys telling stories about her Egyptian ex-boyfriend.

11:30 am: Class is finished (280 CZK, ~$13 USD). Back to the metro.

12:10 pm: After walking to the metro, and making the necessary transfer, I arrive downtown at Namisty Republiky. I buy fresh salami, bread, and Camembert cheese at the store.

12:30 pm: I arrive at the James Cook Language center. The center has a room of staff that coordinate lessons and a room of books and computers for English teachers to plan lessons. I eat lunch and plan my lessons for the next week, using my free printing capabilities.

1:45 pm: I leave the center and go to Namisty Republiky, transfer, and go to the end of the line where I then take a tram going to the airport. I stop  at a smaller airport with guards in the front. I have to have my passport to enter.

3:00pm: I have the same lesson with a pilot. He only flies private jets. We usually start the lesson but he quickly diverges into conversations about where he flies, showing me pictures of South Africa and Finland. He tells me stories about living in Bratislava during communism. I let him talk and correct his English when he makes mistakes. (390 czk, ~$18 USD)

4:30pm: I leave the airport in the dark and make the long trek back to my apartment

5:30pm: I arrive home

Teaching in Prague (Pros and Cons)

Teaching English was a lot more difficult than I imagined. The actual teaching part was quite fun. For the most part, the students were great. They enjoyed my lessons, spoke English, and after a few lessons became very open, allowing me a small glimpse into their lives.

The hours and lack of money, I enjoyed less. The hours don’t look bad on paper. I only taught for four hours in this example. Working 4-6 hours each day sounds great. However, the amount of time commuting, lesson planning, and waiting around between classes adds up. If you teach 4 classes a day, you can make around $1400/month, enough to live on in Prague, though not glamorously. I averaged around $800-$1000/month. You have little control over when you can schedule classes. It’s impossible to get more than two classes back-to-back in the same location. So those 6 hours can mean beginning work at 7:30am and not finishing until 7:00pm for a mere $70. Those teachers who have taught for longer seem to have developed better schedules, loyal students, and managed to get raises or make money mentoring. For the newbies, it typically means waking up at 6am every day.

After three months I quit teaching for this company and worked for another that paid better and had longer classes (180 minutes instead of 90). I also found students who paid me directly instead of through a language school, meaning I was making up to 450 czk directly from each student. I had other friends quit teaching and take up work in Irish pubs because it paid better.

Would I recommend teaching English? It depends. For those who are interesting in having a new experience in a different country, it’s a great way to do it, and doesn’t look bad on a resume. For those who have student loans, or are accustomed to a more lavish lifestyle, it may be difficult. Very few English teachers last more than a year, myself included. For people wanting to make more money teaching, I have friends living well teaching in South Korea, China, and Taiwan.

For those looking for an easy way to live in Central Europe, I received my TEFL training from TEFL Worldwide Prague and loved every minute of it.

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