teaching english in prague

Discussion in 'Expat Life' started by gina9, Aug 5, 2002.

  1. gina9

    gina9 New Member


    i plan to move to prague once i graduate from college in just about two years. the only way i can do such a move is if i were to work there. it seems, so far in my research, that becoming an english teacher may be my only option. so my question is, what are the czechs' perspectives of english teachers like? are they looked down upon? or respected?

    any thoughts are greatly appreciated.
  2. MikeStribrny

    MikeStribrny Member

    Hey Gina,

    I was over on holiday last year and ran into this American girl at the train station heading for Pilzen. She was on exchange and teaching English at the University there. I think it was the Univeristy of Western Bohemia. They offer an exchange program for students,


    So you can go over that way. This american chick reckoned it was really good and you got paid a decent amount, got to hang out with Czech and English speakers, and didn't need to speak any Czech at all to get by. Although the whole reason we ran into her was because she couldn't read any of the signs and was lost and missed her train. Thats another story for another time though.

    Anyway, that's just one way of doing it (Pilzen is just outside Prague so you can commute quite easily by train).
  3. KJP

    KJP Well-Known Member

    never did it, dont need to, but I can say that after 10 years here (on and off) it bekons the question, "where r u from"

    They teach kids that Americans cant speak English (ebonics is killing us) in the public school system here and as a result, prefer UK teachers. Then again they really go too far when they state that the only real American is the Indian (insulting, I am not foolish enough to say that I am a Native American, ale porad jsem American, a jsem rodilĂ˝ mluvci!).

    Bush has not only drop the dollars value by 30%, started a very unpopular war, but our reputation is in the toilet, guess he forgot that 50% of the country didnt want him to begin with ! Get that monkey back onto the golf course and out of office I say!

    I wouldnt suggest coming here to teach English as an American, if u must do that, try Japan where they r welcomed with open arms...
  4. Karel

    Karel Well-Known Member

    Hold fire KJP...

    When I was in high school we had 3 native English teachers, one from Spokane, the other one from Seattle, the third one from New York. You do the atlas look-up.

    The preference for the Queen`s English could be blamed for a better geographical position, tradition, and its higher status which is unquestionable. There are people in the US like Stephen King, to give just one example, who will wholeheartedly admit that there`s something fascinating about the British English. It`s not only the sound but the attention to using grammar correctly as well.

    That said, I tend to believe that most young people are attracted to American English for many reasons. It`s the music, it`s the movies, and it`s the undeniable influence of America on the world. It`s the fact that America is the most desired country in the world to live in. TOEIC and TOEFL exams are not as difficult and complex as the Cambridge exams.

    When you listen to some Czech radio broadcasters and the way they pronounce English words, you`ll probably hear the tendency to exaggerate the "R" sound, so peculiar to American English. This distinct sound also make it much easier for learners of English to detect it.

    Personally, I see no discrimination in prefering BrE to AmE in the CR at all. Many other countries do it the other way round. It`s only the official way anyway.

    The Czech curriculum. Two years ago, I ran into my former elementary school teacher, and because it was a long time no see, we dropped in a pub and had a chat. An interesting thing to find out was to hear the news about the restructuring of the Czech educational system by replacing it with the American and German curricula and teaching approach. The Czech methods are supposedly way too dated, unacceptable, and therefore need to udergo some serious changes. All mathematics teachers, I was told, are now advised to DISCUSS mathematics instead of DOING arithmetic as in the old days. Curiously enough, according to OECD, US kids rank #30 something in maths and sciences, Germans #24, and Czechs, although going downhill, #9. Now, it would be very difficult to talk politicians out of these facts, yet exact sciences, apparently, are not to be measured by exact means. There are even whispers that high shool mathematics ought to be only optional. Alas.

    Teaching in Japan. The pieces of advice like go to Japan they are waiting for you..... are not particularly informative and can be very misleading. The mass migration of EFL teachers to Japan ended up in the early 90s by the way. The reason why EFL teachers start their careers in the CR for example is the relative low cost of living. If you`re fresh out of uni, have no or little experience, it makes sense to start it up there. It`s common knowledge that Japan is the most expensive place on earth, and you are usually advised to bring thousands and thousands of dollars in order to settle in. Maybe you`ll make here more than elsewhere as an EFL teacher, but won`t be able to save as much as they do in South Korea for example. Fancy night life? Forget it in Japan. Want a free apartment and free airfares? Forget it also. It`s not as rosy and mythical in here as some think. There are a whole lot of other factors that need to be considered, so I`d refrain from one sentence advice as given by the gentleman above.

  5. KJP

    KJP Well-Known Member


    My findings and opinion on this is based on the following: I first arrived here in 1992. I grew to know mnay wonderful Czech families and their kids. On 3 sepereate occasions, not related and spanning over 3 years, I was asked to go with the kids into their English class as sort of a show and tell, lets talk to an American! It was nice, and only took 2 hours of my time each. 3 seperate school districts, 3 seperate teachers, all purported the same to the class in front of me ( they didnt think I spoke any Czech). They claimed (and I agree) that ebonics and the Spanish culture in American has deteriorated their language to such a degree that it was frowned upon. But to make such a sweeping overgeneralization about a whole population of people shows a lack a education. To do this as an educator in a public school system is outright wrong. To imply that the worlds strongest economy and military hasn't the ability to communicate is misleading. Granted, they may have been exceptions to the rule, but I have met many a young English teacher here from the states, and they concur. You see, people that teach English are esssential children themsleves, fresh out of college, never traveled and misled into thinking that they they are waiting for them and desperate for their services. True, they is a high demand for English teachers, so anyone will do. But some of these kids are delusional in thinking that it will substain them here, most return within a year of so, and rarely these days will they be supported with an apartment, and I never knew someone to receive a free airfare here to teach, you have?

    Its a tad contradictory to on the one hand mention: " The preference for the Queen`s English could be blamed ..."

    Then say, "Personally, I see no discrimination in prefering BrE to AmE in the CR at all"....so you agree, and so do I that American English is frowned upon....?

    I wouldn't use the word discrimination. I didnt mean to imply that. It sounds to me that you are around my age (cough, late 30's, mozna trochu vic) and our experiences are based upon: mine from the early 90's and yours from "met up with my old teacher"! I think that the situation has soured even further.

    Why is it that when I speak to my friends from London, I occasionally have to ask them to repeat themselves (99.9% I grasp easily) yet they understand everything I say? It due to their accent, and we laugh...plus a fee extra words we dont use :}

    Additionally, I think its a shame that the average Czechs (you are not average Karle, and congratulations on your exceptional English) knowledge of our culture ( they laugh and I agree 200+ years doesnt constitute in depth culture) is mainly based upon Hollywood and the music industry ( which by the way, is peppered with ebonics ) for we have much more to offer than just that. We are not just the gun tooting shoot them up nation full of the Jackson's :}

    But I think that those that read this thread will see some commonality in our writings, that there is a hesitency towards American English, and I didnt mean to imply more...nor did I want to come off as " firing" :}

    Work: you can work in MANY countries with only English (Germany is a good example) yet here is is VERY rare. You failed to pass legialation making Czech the official langauge, and we failed to pass w/English as the official...it leads to discrimination and segregation...yet since the world has choosen English ( yes, the worlds business community did this, not the Americans) as the offical langauge for business, its ironic that this country rarely employes those that cant speak Czech. Many a firm I know has lost contracts due to their inability to speak English at an advanced level. But alas, the environment is changing, most Czechs now speak at least some English.

    I discourage Americans coming here to be with other Americans, you will never acclimate into their society and be accepted and respected, you MUST learn Czech here, and quantify that...it takes no less than 2 years of full hard study to be comprehensible, you then know a language that only approx. 13 million people in the world speak...so I understand them staying together in their little expat community.. but dont delude yourself into thinking that it aids in your longevity. We too have little Italy, China town, atd.

    Moreover, there is a fallacy about how many Americans are here. I once read that 20,000 Americans were in Prague ( no not in Blesk!) yet at that time, there were 1600 registered with the embassey. Ok maybe you can double that, even triple that, for most dont register. But that was used as a marketing tool to encourage others. There are presently maybe 2,000 living here, and most come and go so the numbers are embellished to support the tourism industry...yet there are 50,000 Czechs just in NY alone....the numbers speak for themseleves.

    Dont let me discourage you from coming, I live here and love it, but it was a long hard road, and often insulting to get to where I am now ( to say nothing of expensive ). It is a wonderful land full of kind people. Your best chance for success is to study Czech in the states ( there are only a handful of places that this can be done) and then come. Come here first then study, be prepared to spend a lot.

    In closing, my apologies Karel if you think I was sounding off, but I do believe and think you agree...the American English teacher is not the way to do it :}

    Mej se ...
  6. silverkinguk

    silverkinguk Well-Known Member

    I taught english to business people I was getting money in the buckets lol.
    Well I got a lot of respect reason being I knew some czech managed with a dictionary as well.
    I think if you meet the right people in Czech rep they will really appreciate you helping them with their english!

    Good luck!

    SR :)
  7. coachwillits

    coachwillits Member

    Well I have enjoyed the posts and the reading has been grand. I look forward to going to the CR to live and experience some real history. Unlike being born and raised in America, our history is only 230 years old. I am very glad that I am an American and have been awarded all the luxuries that go with it. I look forward to being a historian living in the CR and taking in all that the beautiful country must have to offer. I plan on teaching English (Oregon) is where I was born and raised. Educated at Arizona State University. I taught high school social studies here in the states for a few years, got my masters and want to see the World. I hope that I will be able to represent America the best I can. I feel that just being myself will be all that I can do. Thanks for all the wonderful posts and everyone being so nice on here.
    ~Toby :roll:

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