What's Kraków-lackin’? You Pragueably have figured out by now that teaching English in Eastern Europe is one of the top options in the world for aspiring TEFL teachers. After all, what’s not to love? Rich cultures that blends east and west, a turbulent but fascinating history, affordable cost-of-living, trendy café and art scenes and, of course, incredible food! (pierogi, anyone?).
For those searching for TEFL jobs in Eastern Europe, look no further than Prague and Kraków! These two Eastern European cities are hubs of exciting English-teaching opportunities. Not sure which one would be the best fit? Here’s all you need to know about teaching English in Prague vs. teaching English in Kraków—it’s the Eastern Europe ESL jobs showdown of the century!
4 major things to consider as you choose between TEFL schools in Prague vs. Kraków
It’s easy to lump Prague and Kraków into the same basket of “Central/Eastern Europe,” but the reality is that these cities are each very unique, so it’s important to Czech yourself before you wreck yourself and consider the cities’ differences before choosing where you’d like to teach English in Eastern Europe.
1. Quality of TEFL schools/access to an accredited course
Like soulmates who are just meant to be, some cities are just meant for TEFL teachers. Both Prague and Kraków are amazing cities to explore, live, and find Eastern Europe ESL jobs in, but when it comes down to the Prague vs. Kraków face off, each presents its own unique opportunities and challenges. Some cities are better-suited for new teachers or for experienced teachers, with greater access to large TEFL schools or a more off-the-beaten-path experience. Here’s the breakdown on what kind of TEFL courses in Eastern Europe you’ll have access to in Prague and Kraków!
Prague. As one of the most popular locations for TEFL instructors, Prague—which is located in the Czech Republic—is booming with TEFL schools of the highest quality. Esteemed TEFL companies such as TEFL Worldwide Prague and Oxford TEFL are based out of Prague, offering you many accredited and vetted courses from which you can earn your TEFL certification. Earning such a certification in Prague means that you’ll be entering a world of already-established English language learning, with professionals who know how to get you to where you want to be. For those who are a little more hesitant to embark on a new adventure where they don’t speak the language and are unfamiliar with the local culture, a city like Prague, with its large community of English instructors and students, is a good choice.
Kraków. Kraków, located in Poland, is a very popular city for travelers and English-teachers alike. It does, however, have slightly fewer options when it comes to TEFL courses and schools, making your options somewhat limited. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing! There are still a number of widely-respected programs, such as PremierTEFL, where you can earn your TEFL certificate, and for those future teachers with a bit of an independent streak, a city such as Prague might not be a good fit, as it can sometimes feel over-saturated with English-speakers and teachers. Kraków offers a more local, off-the-beaten-path experience for TEFL instructors really hoping to dig deep into local Polish culture.
2. Cost of living
The good news is that depending on what home country you’re coming from, the cost of living in both Prague and Kraków is fairly reasonable, if not extremely beneficial to TEFL instructors. In many ways, teaching English abroad is a challenge, since you’re not exactly being paid the top-of-the-line salaries. The fact that cost of living is far cheaper in the Czech Republic and Poland makes teaching abroad in Eastern Europe easier on your bank account.
Prague. The cost of living and how it’ll affect your bank account back home of course depends on the exchange rate of money at the time, between the Czech Republic and your home country. In Prague, you’d be using the Czech koruna. As of May 2018, 1 Kč is equal to $0.047 U.S. dollars, making the cost of living extremely affordable for Americans.
A fairly nice, one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the city’s center costs around 16,585 Kč per month, which is about $775 U.S. dollars. When comparing what an apartment of that quality and location would cost in one of the major cities of the United States, the price in Prague is extremely reasonable. Costs for eating and drinking about are comparable to much of the rest of Europe, if not slightly cheaper.
Kraków. In Poland, you would be using the Polish currency, złoty. As of May 2018, 1 zł is equivalent to $0.28 U.S. dollars. Good news! If you are coming from the United States, this means the cost of living is also very affordable here, as well. A nice, one bedroom apartment in the city’s center would cost you around 2,003 zł, or about $550 U.S. dollars per month. A classy meal at a mid-level restaurant would probably only cost you around $30, which means that teaching English in Kraków makes exploring the local food scene totally accessible!
3. Job opportunities in-country after graduation & potential earnings
So what’s the likelihood of snagging Eastern Europe ESL jobs after your TEFL certification Prague experience or your TEFL Kraków adventure? The good news is that after TEFL courses in Eastern Europe, most (if not all) graduates manage to secure teaching jobs in the city of their choice! Here’s all the know-before-you-go info regarding the job markets and salary ranges of both Prague and Kraków...
Prague. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Prague was open pickings for English teachers, but now that the city has become progressively more globalized and has welcomed travelers from all over the world, the job market can be slightly more challenging. There are a lot of English teaching positions in Prague—especially in language schools or local businesses in need of training—however, certifications are a must!
Most teaching positions require a TEFL certification (good thing you’re about to graduate with one of those!) and a college degree. However, it’s the experience you gain during your TEFL courses and the connections you make with potential local employers that will really make the difference! As long as you’re ready to go after the jobs you want with as much enthusiasm as you had when you bought your lane ticket, you’ll be all set.
In a Prague language schools, TEFL instructors can earn anywhere between 18,000-25,000 koruna; a.k.a., around $850-1,300 U.S. dollars per month. However, teachers can also make money on the side through individual, hourly tutoring. Because of the cheap cost of living in Prague, it’s also very easy for TEFL teachers to not only afford a good lifestyle that allows for plenty of exploration, you might also be able to put a little cash away into savings!
Kraków. Much like Prague, Kraków has a high demand for English teachers due to its ever-evolving economy and tourism industry. Although no previous teaching experience is necessary to enroll in a TEFL program, many do require you to have a Bachelor’s degree prior to enrollment. However, once you’ve graduated and have your certificate, you’re almost entirely guaranteed to find an English teaching job in Kraków through the connections you’ve made during your program.
Monthly salaries for TEFL instructors at a language school are usually between 2,000-5,000 złoty; that is, $560 to over $1,400 U.S. dollars. However, like Prague, many teachers also make extra money on the side through one-on-one tutoring gigs!
4. Quality of Life
Whether you decide to attend a Prague TEFL school or pursue TEFL courses in Kraków, you are guaranteed to live your best life in these two jewels of Eastern Europe. Prague and Kraków each have their own histories, stunning buildings, and delicious food just waiting for you to dive into, but read our breakdown below to see which is the best fit for you.
Prague. Prague is a city that contains multitudes—its architecture ranges from medieval gothic to extravagant, sweeping baroque palaces to Art Nouveau, and its iconic, astronomical clock tower looms over the city’s Old Town Square, where locals and tourists bustle through markets, restaurants, and bars. Prague is known for its art museums and pubs alike—it has some of the best beer in Europe, and a hip cafe scene just waiting to be explored. Aside from the centuries of history in the city, Prague is also wonderful for those who love the outdoors! There are many hiking and biking trails in and around the city, and just over an hour away is “Bohemian Switzerland,” also known as “Czech Switzerland”—an incredible national park that boasts mountains, dense forests, and frozen waterfalls.
If you’re looking to live in a city that has all the excitement of a major, western European city, but with the incredible history of a country that is profoundly influenced by its eastern neighbors, Prague is the place for you!
Kraków. Kraków—with its medieval spires and cornerside bagel stands—is often overlooked by those looking to travel, live, and work in Europe, which is a shame, because it is a thriving city with a truly unique past. Although often associated with the grim history of World War II (and indeed, the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps are only a day-trip away), the Kraków of today is bursting with a growing cuisine scene and nightlife. Its city squares are still common meeting places for locals to gather and chat, and because it is a city slightly off-the-beaten-tourist-path, you’ll be able to really immerse yourself in Kraków’s culture and forge lifelong friendships with your neighbors.
Next steps to teaching English in Eastern Europe
So now that you’ve decided that you want to find Eastern Europe ESL jobs and you’ve decided which city you’d like to live in (right??), what are the next steps in getting you to be TEFL-certified and teaching English abroad?
- Decide where to go. For real. Figuring out where to teach in Eastern Europe isn’t easy, but hopefully this breakdown has helped nudge you closer to the land of decision. Don't let anything hold you back—choose a place that's right for you.
- Get TEFL certified. Even if it is not required, this is a wise investment for future ESL teachers. It will give you absolutely everything you need to prepare for the classroom (well, except for an ability to think on your feet!).
- Adults, kids, private schools, public schools? Spend time considering the type of teaching environment you'd most like to be involved in. You can choose from a range of ages, goals (for example, Business English versus Conversational English), and institutions, from one-on-one tutoring to university employment.
- Choose from the best teach abroad programs in Eastern Europe. Pay attention to past participants’ reviews, your school and organization reputation, location, and your ease of getting started as a paid worker. Some schools or providers may even provide contact info for ambassadors or past participants if you want the REAL dirt. Here are more considerations to make as you figure out how to choose the right teaching job for you. Pro tip: You can use MyGoAbroad to compare programs side-by-side.
- Plan your finances. Sort out funding before you go to afford daily essentials and splurge in travel (in addition to program costs and airfare). Do your research to have an idea of how to pay for teaching abroad.
- Get prepared! You've done your research, chosen your program, saved up the money, and are entering your last weeks of life "at home" before you move abroad to find ESL teaching jobs. Well done! Here's our teaching planning timeline/preparation guide to help make this stage more fun and less stressful!
Some programs will allow you to take an online course and simply arrive pre-certified, but most programs encourage its participants to join a program that includes on-the-ground teaching experience, in-country. Not only does this give you invaluable teaching experience, it’s also the best way to make those personal, networking connections that will lead to your first teaching job after graduation.
The Czech Republic or Poland: Which will YOU choose?
Whether you’re hoping to teach English in the Czech Republic or Poland, it’s important to remember that while undertaking a TEFL certification abroad might seem intimidating and challenging, you can absolutely tackle whatever obstacle comes your way if you approach this teaching (and learning) opportunity with an open mind.
So where will YOU get TEFL-certified in Eastern Europe? The winding alleys of Prague or the grand squares of Kraków? Regardless of where you choose to go, you’re on your way to an adventure and life experience that will change your perspective of the world forever. Na zdraví! Twoje zdrowie!