Teaching English in Prague and the rest of the Czech Republic

Teach English in the Czech Republic

Why should I take a TEFL course in Prague?

Apart from the fact that Prague is an enchanting city full of breathtaking architecture you will simply fall in love with the wide array of cultural activities, the countless microbrews you will want to try in the beautiful beer gardens around the city and the tightly-knit alumni network you will be part of.

One of the most important reasons why Prague is such a popular location to take a TEFL course is the tremendous demand for English teachers here. The Czechs are well aware that their native language is not very widely spoken and are eager to learn foreign languages. Many companies offer it as a benefit to their employees, which provide a seemingly never-ending flow of students. To find work is as easy as it gets and getting legal is, despite a bit of red tape, comparatively stress-free, including for non-EU passport holders.

Whether you only come for the course, want to gain some experience before moving on or plan on staying long-term: Prague has something to offer for everyone. And if you should ever run out of options: the Czech Republic is the heart of Europe and the mountains, Berlin or Warsaw are only a train ride away.

What types of teaching jobs are available in the Czech Republic?

You will likely start teaching for a few different language schools. They will offer you lessons and you can build up your own schedule. Later you may narrow the schools you work with down based on which you find easiest to work with, like best or find most convenient. Most teachers in the Czech Republic work as freelancers which means you are free to work for as many schools as you like for as many hours as you like. Not a morning person? No problem, grab the evening lessons. Or would you rather keep the evenings free and work in the mornings? No problem at all. You can take on as many lessons as you like and design your own timetable that works for you.

While language schools are the majority of employers, a lot of teaching is also done in-company. Many teachers are sent there by language schools but some bigger companies also employ in-house teachers, which is usually a really sweet deal as you will be working office hours with a fixed salary and benefits. To be prepared for the challenges you could take a teaching Business English extension course after your TEFL qualification and show employers that you went the extra mile to get ahead of the competition.

Another big branch of teaching English is Young Learners. Very often pre-schools are looking for teachers to teach a lesson in the morning and then stay so the kids are exposed to English all day. Obviously, you are paid for the whole day even though you will spend most of it playing Lego and hide and seek or pick up some Czech phrases from the teachers during the kids’ nap time.

A growing branch is teaching exam preparation classes. Those are often better paid and are very popular amongst students who need to work towards a certain proficiency certificate for their job or studies. The students are usually highly motivated and the syllabus is clearly laid out.

Most teachers teach 1-1 lesson on the side. There are loads of internet platforms that make finding students very easy and word-of-mouth recommendations might make your client base grow so fast, that you will end up turning jobs down very soon.

Your students will be a multicultural bunch. Very often you will find more nationalities in a classroom than you can count on one hand. Many Vietnamese, Ukrainians and Koreans live in Prague.

Apart from the enchanting capital there are other cities worth considering such as the home of Budvar (you may know it as Budweiser) České Budějovice in South Bohemia or Brno in beautiful Moravia. There the competition is smaller and wages are generally a little higher compared to the cost of living.

How and when can I find teaching jobs in the Czech Republic?

The language schools hire year-round and don’t care much for the academic year. There are peaks in August/September and January/February when the new semesters start (especially in the young learners sector) but generally the schools open courses as soon as they have enough people signed up for a class and that happens on a daily basis.

The easiest way to find jobs is to take your TEFL course with a supportive school that offers a comprehensive careers service and helps you get in touch with the best schools in town. Oxford TEFL in Prague, for example, is also a language school itself and is in constant contact with dozens of other schools to recommend graduates. The tightly knit alumni network does the rest: Your new friends will let you know as soon as there is a job opening at their school. So don’t worry if you don’t find many job ads online, most positions are filled through connections.

What are the educational requirements to work in the Czech Republic?

Employers usually look for English teachers who have a TEFL qualification from an accredited training centre. A degree is not mandatory and experience is preferred but there are plenty of jobs at entry level. A high command of English is key and it helps to be organised and reliable. Once you want to move into higher positions a degree can help, but for most employers a diploma in English teaching is of more importance.

How easy is it to obtain a visa to teach in the Czech Republic?

The visa requirements are comparatively easy to fulfil. The Czech bureaucracy is famous but it’s nothing to be afraid of. Make sure to go with a TEFL programme or employer that offers extensive visa assistance, as all of it is in Czech and you will want an expert by your side (www.oxfordtefl.com/work-and-visas/visas/visa-service-prague) and inform yourself before you leave your home country as to what you need to bring. Let’s say you are an American citizen: You will enter the Czech Republic on a tourist visa, which is essentially the stamp you get in your passport when you enter. That allows you to stay for 90 days. In that time your TEFL provider or employer will sort out your visa application and soon you will be able to pick up your visa. It’s pretty straightforward and hassle-free as long as you stay on top of things and work with pros.

How much money can I make teaching English in Prague?

The Czech lifestyle is rather relaxed. Driving up to the cottage or going mushroom picking can often be more important than spending a Friday in the office. This rubs off on us expats too: You can work as little or as much as you like. The amount you can earn will depend largely on what your priorities are (work or free time), where you are, how many hours you teach per week, which schools you teach for and what kind of classes you teach.

To give you a general idea, here are some examples. While you’re looking at these numbers, please keep in mind that the cost of living is super low in the Czech Republic – see these statistics.

Compensation per lesson in Prague (on average)

General English: 350CZK
Business English: 400CZK
Exam Preparation classes: 450CZK
Private classes newly qualified teachers: 500CZK
Private classes experienced teachers: up to 800CZK

Lesson planning, marking homework and commuting are not usually included in your pay. As a new teacher, you will probably be teaching around 16-20 lessons a week and make around 20’000CZK which allows for a comfortable lifestyle in the Czech republic.

Looking for more information?

Email tesol@oxford tefl.cz or visit www.oxfordtefl.com

Find out more:
Tips for starting a new life in Prague by Oxford TEFL graduates
An Oxford TEFL graduate story
Prague

Karin Krummenacher

Karin Krummenacher

Karin Krummenacher is the Course Coordinator and a teacher trainer on the Oxford TEFL Trinity CertTESOL course in Prague. She came to Prague with the intention to stay for 4 weeks but somehow over 4 years have passed and she is still here because she loves to work with her trainees and colleagues so much. Karin holds Cambridge Delta, specialised in language development for in-service English teachers and has extensive first-hand knowledge of the TEFL industry and job market in Prague.

Related

Teacher training courses in the Czech Republic
Teaching jobs in the Czech Republic
English language schools in the Czech Republic
Ask a question about the Czech Republic in the forum

30 comments and teachers' experiences of the Czech Republic

Note - Some of these experiences were shared before the article above was written

  1. Tanja

    I came to the Czech Republic about 3 years ago. I developed a project for children at a grammar school and lived in Jablonec Nad Nissau for two months to monitor my own program. I went back to the Netherlands and after my graduation party I decided to try my luck in Prague. Prague was fine, but I figured it would be even more relaxed to live in the mountains, so I moved to a town close to Karlovy Vary (nearby the German border) Last year I opened my own little private English language school here. I have about 50 students. (between 10 and 69 years old) and live very happily.

    Of course, there are (and hopefully always will be) lots and lots of cultural shocks when you live in another country. Here are the three things that have affected me most:

    First of all I think people, in general of course, are very closed. They would not easily make complaints or openly disagree with you. They often think their own thing and complain about it to other people, rather than facing a conflict. This is actually one of the hardest things for me to handle, because I was taught, both at home and at school, to have a strong opinion about everything.

    Secondly I think that, compared to Holland, people are very old-fashioned here. In Holland I was pretty normal. Now, all of a sudden, I am a feminist, because I want to carry my own bag and I let my boyfriend iron my clothes. The role patterns between men and women are strictly set here and you surely get comments when you act differently. What I can appreciate is that ladies always enter a room first, except for the pub. A man enters the pub first, because there might be a fight going on. He basically has to check out if it is safe to go in :-) But being old-fashioned also shows in education – clothes – etc.

    How people behave and react has got, of course, a lot to do with the history of the country. I had to learn a lot about the history of this country in order to understand and respect the differences.

    What I like much more here than in the Netherlands is that hardly anyone is rushing anywhere. Life is more relaxed. (maybe, in the end also because not everyone is so desperate to tell you his opinion about things :-)

    Anyway, some tips that might help you if you are interested in teaching in the Czech Republic:

    * read about the history before you leave and be careful to start a conversation about communism. People tend to be easily offended or they feel ashamed.

    * buy a small pocket ‘how to say it in Czech’. The moment people find out your Czech is even worse than their English, they lose a lot of their fear to speak and most probably start in English themselves. (if not… you still have the book :-)

    * don’t think you are cool/nice when you give big tips. People hate it.

    * in Prague, there is no need to arrange a job before you leave. When I got to Prague I opened a phone book and called 5 schools and had 4 jobs… It is better to work at private schools. They say teachers don’t get paid well, but I think they don’t work much either!! An average day is from 8 to 1300 or 1400. Between every 45 min. lesson there is, at least, a ten-minute break. Once you get more settled you would have enough time to do some extra teaching here and there, but your social and health insurance are covered right from the start.

    * living in Prague is a bit more complicated. It starts from 6.000 crowns (200 Euro) and you probably have to share a flat with one or two people for that kind of money. It took me about 1 week to find something, but people say I got lucky. Adverts are in the daily newspapers, but it is better to try your luck on the Internet. I got my room because my flatmate was interested in having to speak English at home.

    * I think as a teacher of the English language you can basically find work all over the Republic and outside Prague cost of living is lower and in my opinion more pleasant, but less ‘exciting’.

    * public transport in Prague is fantastic. Get yourself a monthly (or annual) pass and travel everywhere in comfort (even at night)

    * just be friendly and people will invite you home and let you taste typical Czech food: strawberry dumplings with cream, zeli – vepro – knedliky (mjamm :-)

    I guess I can write for hours, but in the end you have to experience things yourself anyway, right?

    Finally I would like to add that if you either have some more questions or if you are interested to come and have a look/teach here in Nejdek, feel free to write me! My students and I would be happy to hear from you! M.R.Bot@seznam.cz

  2. liverpoolmomtwo

    I am a retired business woman and after some courses in teaching ESL and receiving a certificate I took a position in Prague at a language school run by the State. I found the students in general very inattentive, some were disruptive (maybe because I was older) but I knew two Australians who had the same experiences as I did. The hours offered for working were changed to less hours and the pay was not good – you really need some extra money to cover your expenses. There is always a great possibility for private lessons but they don’t pay too much. Nobody helped me to find accommodation (my son works in Prague and finally found me a small apartment). If you are a foreigner the landlords will always increase the rent – unless the school has accommodation for you. Many of the positions are outside the city. There is not much to do, however, unless you find a position in a city, and besides Prague, there are not too many of them. I stayed 8 months and then returned home. Of course if you are a young person it might be a different experience. The Czechs don’t care for Americans very much and blame us for all the evils in the world!!! Prague is a beautiful city full of history, they have modern cinemas and the public transportation is excellent. If you have any questions you can email me at liverpoolmomtwo@msn.com.

  3. Siddharta

    I was in Prague 93-95 on a crap salary with quite a bit of free time and an open mind. I still have a sympathy for Czechs and things Czech. Cheap life if you keep out of the centre and the ex-pat haunts. Lots of good music and cultural life and some great people if you can ignore the drunks and keep a positive outlook and learn to get your tongue around consonant clusters and haceks. Moravia was even better. Slovakia has pluses and minuses over Czech. I also have fond memories of Slovakia and Slovaks. Real snow – one crystal seen with a blue-sky-backdrop. Hills and forests – great territory for cross country. Czech beer #1… Czech and Slovak food the worst of anywhere I have lived. But if you are not worried about paying a mortgage or an ex-wife back home, you can have a rewarding time in the former CZ. Czech students? – pussycats. Don’t teach anywhere else if you cannot manage Hesky Czesky.

  4. Laurence

    Before you teach in the Czech Republic, be prepared. Czech students know how to study languages, and compared to English speaking people have a good knowledge of their own language! They can easily see through “teachers” who do not know how to really teach, and the country is full of these people who give native speaker teachers a bad name. Do not work without proper documentation, permits etc. You could well find that you will not be paid, as only cowboy schools will employ people illegally. Non-EU citizens can be deported for working without papers, which takes months to sort out before arriving. For example, Canadians have to wait 4 months for clearance. Like every country there are good and bad people, but in general if you respect the people and the culture, they will do the same to you. Good teachers are respected and can earn good money. Regarding red tape, just smile and try not to get angry in state offices.

  5. Adela

    Hi, I’ve been living in the UK for the last two years but my nationality is Czech. I have to strongly disagree with ~Siddharta~ that we have the worst food (or whatever…). In fact, everyone I’ve talked to from the UK fell in love with Czech food. It’s very different from the English food but for you -siddharta- and others who probably expected to pig out on chips or burgers – should have stayed home!!!

  6. Anonymous

    I worked in the Czech Republic for a few months near the polish border. The pay was low and I was made to sign a contract which stated that I was a cleaner! This was so the school could avoid tax. I was never paid correctly or on time, also when lessons were cancelled I was not paid even when I was sitting in the room not knowing that the class was cancelled. Most Czech people seem to dislike foreigners and people will try to rip you off all the time from taxi drivers to schools and shopkeepers. However, the landscape of the Czech Republic is amazing but Prague is the most over rated destination in the world and is a long way from being one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It has a small nice part and a good metro system for a city of its size but much of it is a dump and rough. The small good part is nothing spectacular unless you are from the USA.

  7. Thomas

    The wages are very very low. I spent more than I earned. Rent in Prague is very expensive if you are not Czech! Tax is around 30 percent. The wages and working conditions are poor, Prague is quite rough but has a good cheap metro. This is a place people go because they have to get TEFL experience.

  8. Caldon

    I worked for a large school in Prague and I would say, go to the Czech Republic with savings because your pay will all go on rent and food. I worked split shifts which felt like working 14 hours a day! Good luck.

  9. Paddington

    I have lived and worked (teach 2 different languages) here in Prague for a little over 2 years. A lot of what the others have written is true. However, about salaries: Yes, it is not fantastic – but you need to bear in mind that the average Czech salary is about 20,000 KA. This is enough to not only pay rent (unfortunately, usually in a shared flat) and food and transportation costs (some schools subsidise this, mine doesn’t), but also entertainment and travel costs.

    The biggest complaint heard from foreigners who live here – particularly language teachers – is that it isn’t enough to travel or save. Bollocks! You CAN save money AND travel, but it all depends on your lifestyle. Here in Prague, most expats are the type who go out and party every night, spending hundreds of crowns on beers, food and cocktails. As with anywhere else in the world, if you carry on like that every day, then of course, all extra money will go down the drain and you won´t have any savings. Many non-EU expats in particular, want to travel all over Europe. Understandable. But it costs money, so apart from getting pissed every day, they spend the rest on travelling. I have been able to travel but I keep it to a minimum and plan my trips carefully. I also don´t go out and spend all my money on beer and food. I cook at home, eating out once in a while, and I limit my beer intake — because beer here is really cheap, if you don´t hang about expat places which many do. A typical Czech pub sells really cheap beer and bad wines (once in a while, though, you do come across a decent glass of red or white). If you stick to Czech food or Italian (Czechs love Italian-style foods), then you can also eat on the cheap. But a great many expats favour those places dear to their hearts like pseudo-Mexican or the (slightly) higher-end restaurants in or close to the centre.

    Life in Prague is nice and it can be enjoyed. The Czechs who live in Prague are, like any city anywhere, full of harried, stressed, rude people. But on the other hand, there are also plenty of nice, friendly, polite Czechs including those in the service industry or those in shops. Speak Czech — doesn’t have to be fluent or perfect, I am still trying to learn the language! – and it will go a long way. Learn how things are done here, for example, saying a greeting when entering an establishment, saying goodbye when leaving, asking – in Czech – if the person speaks English. Be firm but polite, observe the formalities, show an interest in things Czech, and when the people start to talk about how life used to be like when it was a communist government, be ready to listen. Contrary to what some may say or think, a lot of Czechs do like talking about life before the Velvet Revolution. It is not an easy country to know and it takes some time to get to know the people and understand the culture. But if you really are interested in learning and knowing, then it can be a very enriching experience.

  10. Martha

    Paddington – thanks for your comments! I am planning to move out to Prague in September. The other posts worried me slightly, but what you said make sense. Like anywhere you have to consider your budget and I will definitely be interested in understanding the culture and learning the language. I’ve loved the city for a long time as I have family connections there, so I hope this is going to be a really rewarding experience. If you have any tips on finding a house share at a decent price I’d be very grateful! I will share any useful tips on here once I’m there! http://www.expats.cz has been very helpful so far though.

    • Karin

      Hi Martha, thanks for your comment. Are you excited for the move this September? For accommodation, check out http://www.movetoprague.com They work with loads of expats and do a great job finding accommodation and helping with visas if necessary. Once you’re here, come and join one of our pub nights. All the best, Karin

  11. John

    I have lived in Prague for six years. The older students that I had were the best students of my teaching career. I looked forward to every lesson. Some of the younger students, especially the females (20 and 30ish), were very disruptive. But everyone else was extremely serious.

    Public transportation is fantastic and safe. In my opinion, public transportation is the best part of Prague.

    Don’t believe any of the salaries that are offered on the internet. Here is the con: 25 hours of teaching per week will get you 5000 CZK per week; but those hours are spread throughout the day and require travel time. A day with five hours of teaching can last from 7:30 in the morning until 7:30 at night. Also there is a problem getting paid at many of the schools so be careful.

    Czech food is disgusting and bland compared to Mexican, Thai, Indian, etc. The Czech eat lots of fried pork and the colon cancer rate is high. You can find some nice ethnic restaurants if you look.

    For the guys, the girls are beautiful, but very problematic. The divorce rate here is around 68 percent. A recent Czech geneticist just published a report that said around 20 percent of Czech Fathers are tricked into thinking children are their own, but they are really another man’s children. How could that be? Czech women are notorious for their infidelity. Many of my older female students told me privately they would not allow their son to marry a Czech Woman. Personally I never had a Czech Girlfriend. All the horror stories from my divorced male students and expats with children and the divorce court horrors put me off. I will put it bluntly: no one comes to Prague looking for a wife.

  12. Anonymous

    I can tell John has been living in the Czech Republic for 6 years, he has the humor and bluntness that is so typical of this culture. If you do not get this culture then you will probably not get his humor or bluntness. I was married to a Czech for 6 or 7 years and I am a North American woman! It was the best and the worst experience of my life. What does this have to do with teaching English? Nothing – but if you are looking to teach English in a foreign country you should not be going there to experience North America. Well, the Czech Republic at least outside of Prague is definitely not North America. Hang in there though, and if you are lucky you will make one good friend and if you do, you will get to know a people and a country that have a lot to offer. But women, from America, never ever be taken in by a Czech man no matter how smart you think you are or how sophisticated and Euro you think he is.

  13. Dharma

    I spent 8 months in Prague and was cheated every step of the way and back again. So far, everything that has been mentioned here is true. Come with enough money to either make your escape or to compensate very low wages for very long hours and high rent – I paid $580 for just 2 rooms with a private bath and kitchen in the corner. Crazy. Housing is very run down and frightfully expensive.

    The food is disgusting. The variety in the markets is very limited. Fruit and veg tired and always look to be more than a few days old. Potatoes, cabbage, onions, turnips, apples – not much more. Package sizes for food and toiletries are small to sample size and sold for full price. Meat is mainly pork, sausages are chock full of huge hunks of white fat. Steamed rolls of white bread served with meat gravy is the native delicacy is pasty and bland. Ugh! Yes, if you search you can find Chinese, Thai and Indian restaurants. The beer is great. Hot chocolate and the different varieties of it incredible!

    Transportation is wonderful! Get a monthly pass. See the sights if you have the time and energy left over from 6 days of slaving. Architecture and history abound. Infant Jesus of Prague, Charles Bridge, the Prague Castle, Astronomical Clock, Alphonse Mucha Museum, Kafka, the train stations, etc. lovely. I found the main areas of the city beautiful and the neighborhoods behind them rather rough and run down.

    Winters are cruel with white out blizzards lasting as long as 2 days non stop. Bring your ski pants, thick insulated boots and gloves and sunglasses. If you like to ski you’re in the right place. At the weekends Czechs escape the city to the country.

    I made great friends with my landlady and we are still in contact today, 7 years later. I will stay with her for a visit soon. She made life bearable and helped me out like nobody before or since. When they love you they love you, but most Czechs dislike foreigners and view us as walking wallets to be at best lifted or picked.

    I lost a lot of money in the time I was there, but I loved the city and countryside very much.

  14. Brian

    I don’t know what liverpoolmomtwo is talking about, but as someone who was there only 8 months, she didn’t experience life there long enough to get enjoy the greatness of Prague, or the country in general. “Czech don’t like Americans and blame us for the evils in the world”?!?! Wtf?! I lived there for three years, and I can’t recall even ONE Czech person saying anything like this to me. If anything, I found they were largely in awe of, or at least very impressed, with America. One student of mine, a company mgr. and very intelligent man, regularly spoke with great admiration of America and American businesses. I, myself, made great money there. Yeah, it took a bit, but you have to put effort into succeeding no matter where you live. After a while, I was making upwards of 28-30k crowns a month working for a private school, and without all the legal bureaucratic paperwork, either. It was all cash, under the table. I lived like a prince. Know this, though, that Czech is a very difficult language. The good thing, though, is that is not so hard to learn the basics for ordering food in a restaurant or a grocery. Aside from that, the younger people speak English pretty well.

  15. Brian

    It seems like most of you guys were expecting the Czech Republic to be like far eastern countries. Prague is central Europe and yes it’s expensive like other European capitals but I’d say, in comparison to other capitals like Amsterdam or London, it is still much much cheaper. People are often naive when they move to another country and have high expectations. London may pay me twice more as in Prague, but I spend 2x more for ridiculously expensive rent, transport and other expenses but I am here to study. You say that Czechs are cold. Yes they can appear cold on the surface, instead of British or Americans who are very open minded, but inside, when you get beyond the surface, they have passion, they have strong feelings, empathy, heart and soul. This I am searching for in British people, looking beyond their comedy smile, looking for soul, but never find it. In fact, A typical Brit, American or anybody from the west seems cold blooded for a Czech person. Czechs are often very talented, intelligent, cultivated people with strong culture and history, that’s why they will never have much common with a typical western person. This is the difference and you shouldn’t forget it while you are there… but both sides should learn something from each other.

  16. Marc

    Hi! I’m not really sure if this is the place to ask in, but I’ve been interested in travelling to Prague/Czech Republic for a while now and have been hearing wild blend of things. Some say that the pay is bad and the costs are high (Which I hear most of you here agree with). On the other hand, I also hear that the pay can be worked around as long as I get smart with the contract drawn.

    I’m an Indian by origin and have been teaching English and training corporates on Communication skills for over 4 years. I’m not really sure if taking this step to move to Prague is a sensible one at all. On the other hand, I’m quite bored with the job I do and am looking for a change with hints of adventure if it comes along. I love all sorts of food, especially Italian and Chinese.

    I’d like any suggestions from people who are working/have worked in Prague/Czech Republic to weigh my decision. Thank you!

  17. Tom Eagles

    WOW all these Prague haters here. I have been living here for 11 years, OK I teach in Brno but have only had my fingers burned twice in all that time by schools not paying. I average around 30-40K a month, and have just started my own language services business up. I am married (yes she’s Czech) we have been together for 7 years and have 2 great kids. To be honest I can’t think of one negative thing about living over here, having moved from Bristol in the UK where things weren’t that great i haven’t looked back since.

  18. Eva Shark

    I cannot believe your opinion that Czech food is terrible. Czech food is supposed to be one of the best in the world. It is not true that there are only several kinds of fruit or vegetables in the markets. You can find much more…it depends on the season. Where on earth have you heard that steamed rolls of white bread served with meat gravy is the native delicacy? It is absolute nonsense! Our native meal are typical Czech meals done at home – see Tanja.

    I agree that accommodation is very expensive and people immodestly to try earning through it. The conditions for Czech lodgers are not much better.

  19. Manchester

    I lived in the a small town near the Czech-Polish border for 18 months, not for the purposes of teaching English, but in order to do field research for a postgraduate degree (I’ve also spent several months in Brno and Prague). I did, however, occasionally act as a classroom volunteer for English lessons in various venues – a vocational school training students to work in the hotel industry, a gymnazium (high school) where the most academic teenage Czech students study, and a so-called ‘special school’ where predominately Romani students attended. I can only speak about my own experiences, but here I go…

    Academics: The highly educated have traditionally possessed a lot of cultural capital in Czech society (even during the communist period, when PhDs might make close to the same amount as unskilled laborers), so if you encounter smart-mouthed students (and there are always a few), don’t take this as being indicative of the whole. The students DO expect a high degree of preparedness and authority from their teachers. Do not try to be your students’ ‘friend’; they won’t know what to make of it.

    Gender: Maybe it has changed in the past 7 years, but when I first went to the CR, even among those with advanced degrees, ‘feminism’ was considered something suspicious; I actually had one woman tell me that feminists are “women who want to pee like men”! Obviously, there will be more acceptance among the intellegentsia in Prague, just as there will be of discussions about homosexuality and racial/ethnic minorities. Many women are very feminine, and men expect it. I didn’t get the impression that men invest a great deal of time into their looks; the metrosexual craze hasn’t caught on!

    Race/ethnicity: Okay, I met many Czech people during my time there, and ‘the Roma’ (Gypsies) are not a topic you want to get into with them unless you are well-informed and not looking for a heated debate. ‘Prejudice’ and ‘discrimination’ are terms that many Czechs will state do not apply to them. Why? They don’t dislike the Roma because of their genes, they say, but because of their behavior. I.e. ‘Racists’ are people who think the Roma are genetically inferior. Since Czechs have a beef with their lack of ‘decency’ rather than their skin color, they are not racists. I had many experiences with Romani persons there, some good, some bad, just as I did with Czech people. I could write for ages on this topic, but suffice to say that it’s a sensitive issue, and to the eyes/ears of North Americans and some Western Europeans (among others), some of the comments you will hear about ‘Gyspies’ from Czechs will leave you reeling and shock you. But rather than be reactionary, try to understand the whole phenomenon, and don’t try to preach to people because it will not win you any fans.

    Food: I’m a vegetarian, and even Czechs wondered how “I survived” there. Actually, even in small towns you can often find tiny natural foods stores that sell tofu/soy/tempeh/etc. In the bigger towns, you can find vegetarian restaurants. At restaurants, while there might not be veggie entrees, there are often tons of sides to choose from. Unless you are a vegan, you should survive a night out. As for ‘bad Czech food’, I don’t agree, even if it would be far down the list on my national choices.The fare is definitely heavier, yet there isn’t an obesity epidemic. In smaller towns, the variety of fresh fruits/veggies is naturally lower, but unless you refuse to prepare your own food, you can make a very decent salad at home. The one thing that remains a mystery to me is the obsession with rohliky – white, twisted rolls that Czechs buy. There is little nutritional value there, yet they seem to prefer them to other multi-grain rolls with seeds and nuts….

    I could write much more!!

  20. Dan Oville

    I was in the Czech Republic in the Spring of 2002, then Summers of 2003 and 2004. I have been to other countries as well and I could see the Czechs are among the nicest people I have met. Their food was not really my favorite but I didn’t expect them to prepare my North American favorite just because I am coming. But I would not say the word, ‘disgusting’. That is far too disrespectful to the people and to the food itself.

    I understand the negative posts from North Americans. For one, they seem to have come assuming the Czechs will worship them for being Americans…not anymore. Also, anywhere you go in the world, you must do some basic budgeting. Do not live like a prince if you’re not.

  21. Jez Maher

    Make some Czech friends and they’ll tell you honestly about life there. Don’t drink too much – many have staggered out as alcoholics. Teaching isn’t the best paid job anywhere in the world. Be open-minded and you’ll have fun. I read a great book about the life and times of an English guy – very funny, but also informative, called Bus to Bohemia. Nazdravi!

  22. Kim

    Hi, no need to comment on some of the hateful comments above (if somebody slams Czech women as not good enough to have relationship with but won’t forget to mention prostitutes are OK… how could something like that ever be taken seriously?) Pay in general is low (especially for teachers) but it’s low for everyone and there are families of 4 that have to live on 15-16k a month. Don’t expect to get rich. You can live a decent life though if you stick to your budget.

    Accommodation – flat share is OK, relatively cheap, just look well in advance.

    Transportation excellent as mentioned above.

    Food very tasty – Czech cuisine is based on meat, gravy, dumplings, potato… homemade is usually delicious and you won’t get that in a restaurant. English and American tastes are just different!

    Comments about racism – cannot agree more – don’t try to impose your views about Czech racism on anybody. True racism is extremely rare (much less common than in the US) but there’s the Gypsy issue. In fact most Czechs truly and passionately believe they’re not racist and indeed believe in equality of all races and ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people with all skin colours… but at the same time would claim they are apprehensive about Gypsies and don’t like them/ fear them. Majority wouldn’t say that about black or Asian people particularly about those coming from western societies. When I ask why the answer is Because they behave more or less like us and respect us whereas most of Roma people don’t (and they have had a few centuries to learn to do so). When I say that’s generalization and everybody has their right to be different they say (quite rightly so).. don’t preach we know very well that kind of behaviour would be totally unacceptable where you came from and they’d be forced to change rapidly otherwise they’d get rough treatment .. and also: I have been robbed/beaten etc only twice in my life and it was always a Roma. Maybe it would really help stop labeling this issue racism (Czechs REALLY hate that) because it’s much more complex and specific issue and people would perhaps get more open to different opinions. So the advice is unless you really know what you’re talking about and know the background intimately don’t bring this issue up.

    I have a few Czech friends and they’re just amazing. Very intelligent and educated and warm towards their friends. What strikes me is the low level of self confidence… as if somehow these people knew their worth deep inside but never act on it… ever. I’ve heard so many times… we are just a small country.. you know we are not important… come on there are so many small countries out there behaving like sharks, why are you people so defeatist? On the other hand Czechs are extremely sensitive to being looked down on. That is the easiest way to make sworn enemies in the blink of an eye.

    Well when you come the Czech Republic don’t expect things to work the way they used to at home (in a bad AND !!! good sense) just be friendly, learn the language, be respectful and you’ll be fine.

    • Paul

      >> True racism is extremely rare (much less common than in the US) <<

      I can't agree with this! Yes, Czechs have historically loved to claim that they're not racist (and have used this, with no sense of irony, as 'proof' that their antipathy towards the Roma is not racism but factually justified). That was pretty easy, though, as until very recently most Czechs rarely even saw – let alone interacted with – people from any other ethnic backgrounds.* Even then, the few POCs I've met here have consistently reported being the targets of racism. I've personally heard black Africans working in a cafe run by a refugee charity being referred to openly as 'monkeys.'

      Recently the 'we're not really racist' illusion has been very visibly blown out of the water. With the 'refugee crisis' (despite the fact of a refugee population that is no more than in double digits) Czech racism has been rushing to the fore. It's not unusual to hear outright fascist sentiments, and 'send them all back where they came from' comments are pretty much ubiquitous. Fairly mainstream politicians are well into that game as well.

      Frankly, the racism and adjacent prejudices are what I dislike most about living here. I've been living and working here for 17 years, have a Czech wife and kids… and these things have been getting so unpleasant lately that I've been increasingly thinking about leaving the country (and no, I'm not even a POC). But these attitudes are on the rise in so many countries that it's probably a bit self-defeating…..

      *Well, except for the Vietnamese, who have been carving out a niche in retail – and that's an old story too. You know the kind of thing: 'Look, I'm not racist, I have no problem with the Vietnamese for example, they keep themselves to themselves and they work every hour God sends.' I've still heard a fair few unpleasant comments about the Viets, too; most Czechs would not like their daughter to date a Vietnamese boy, for example.

  23. Anonymous

    -The pay is the worst I have ever experienced; basically a way of turning a person into a form of ‘bonded’ labour and in a ‘civilised’ supposedly European country. On further investigation I found out that the Czech republic seems to have a history of attracting people who are happy to exploit workers – this apparently extends to the ESL industry where too many ESL teachers don not show the backbone to actually get up and complain – I did and paid for it.

    -The fringe benefits in the place I worked were nil. Pay for your own flight out, pay for your own accommodation.

    -A classic case of bait and switch by the employers: I was told that that hours would be about 30 a week but with travel and trying to sort out the night-mare of travel itineraries, I was often on the go for about 11 to 14 hours a day. This was apparently seen as acceptable by management.

    -Management was chaotic and very rude. Timetables were as such generated at the end of the week and were constantly changing. I started to work on weekends just to keep ahead.

    -Threatened by management with fines of several hundred Euros if any clients or school pulled out of the school business. So it was basically our fault and the owners’ excuse to rule by fear.

    -management hiring teachers who had little real idea about teaching practice or even the mechanics of the English language.

    -Hiring teachers who did not seem to have any relevant certification: A regular phrase from staff was ‘I done…’ ….great command of the English language, plus teachers who could not even write legibly.

    -Intimidation and ageism from other members of staff.

    -Bullying and the threat of physical intimidation. I was targeted by another ex pat member of staff purely because I had a great deal more experience, had really good feedback from both corporate and school clients. I was subjected to verbal humiliation in front of other staff. Things came to a head when a serious altercation on the premises looked as if it was going to become physical and I was fearing fro my own safety I had to then just walk from the job. Management did very little about this member of staff and just sat and watched. I was prepared to stand up to him but I would have been in the wrong in the eyes of management.

    -I have also never worked in a job like this where we were expected to teach at so many different levels for such poor treatment and pay. After I had seen too many top of the range BMW’s come through the doors of the teaching centre I knew I was being ‘had’ for a fool. I chose to walk and they lost a dedicated and talented teacher. I gather that a lot of others had been before me around what is basically a revolving door of a business in terms of employee turn over

    I worked hard and very honestly but It has caused huge trauma and I will never return to the Czech republic again. The whole experience was a huge disappointment. I am now somewhere where my abilities and skills are once again appreciated as opposed to exploited.

    Advice to all would be Education Business Owners: Teachers need to be treated with respect – the job is hard enough. Treat them with respect and pay them at a level commensurate with skills and experience.

  24. Marcela

    The CSA has bus service from the aoirprt to central Prague which stops at all the major hotels. It leaves 3 times an hour between 730a and 930p. The cost is 90 Koruna ($ 3.00)

  25. Florence

    My god. I’m amazed by all those stupid, racist, sexist comments written by stupid people… I’ve been living in czech republic for 11 years people! I never encounter any of the situations written here! I earn between 300/400 per 60mins. Was always paid on time, I have lovely students that, for most of them, I’m still teaching after 11 years. And I’m not teaching the so popular English language. My husband is czech and we have a beautiful daughter and he is more cultured, euro, smart and nicer than most foreigners i’ve met in years. I have lots of great czech friends. Czech poeple are really kind when u get to know them. They can be a bit shy not “closed” at the beginning but in time you’ll discover how lovely they are. But I’m not living in Prague like all the sheep-expats do! Going to expats bar with expats people acting like a proper expats, never mixing with czech people and wondering why they have problems. Expats have a complex of superiority and they think that the poor east country is waiting for there knowledge. Wake up people! They are not waiting for you! There are plenty of people who can do your job so be humble. Expats don’t want to be treated by Czechs like exams but they act all the way like a proper one! Then don’t be surprised to get no respect from czech people. Most expats are teachers of languages but are not bloody able to learn czech and still speak english wherever they go! How irritating is that! Try to learn about the culture, about the country, about the language and stop acting like you are better than them and you will see that all of a sudden life will be much easier and Czechs more friendly!

  26. Carl

    Thanks for the great article. I would like to ask you what is the best way to go about teaching English and French in a Czech high school as a native Canadian English and French speaker with a TESOL and almost completed Bachelor of Arts degree?

    • Karin

      Hi Carl,
      Congrats to your achievements in the field so far! Please feel free to get in touch to discuss this further but generally: Czech schools are unlikely to hire from overseas. The key is getting here an then applying to high schools. Those jobs are rather popular so it might be a good idea to think of international schools as well. Does your TESOL provider offer a careers service? They might be able to help you with it too but as said, get in touch if you would like to discuss it further. All the best,
      Karin

  27. Paul Kronzu

    I have 13 years teaching experience and a TEFL Certificate from (TEFL International in Phuket -Thailand)
    Can I get a TEFL job in Czech if I don’t use an agent?
    Thanks
    Paul in South Africa.

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