In this video, ITA Alumni Ambassador Megan Newnham talks about her experience living and teaching English abroad in Prague, Czech Republic! From TEFL certification to finding a job in Prague and teaching English in the Czech Republic, watch her cover it all!
Here's a transcription of the video:
Christie: Welcome to International TEFL Academy live on Facebook. My name is Christie, I'm a student affairs advisor here at International TEFL Academy, ITA. Today we have Megan Newnham with us, she's one of our social media ambassadors, and she is living and teaching in Prague, so she's here to share with you all of her stories, and all about her life over there in Europe. So hi Megan, welcome!
Megan: Hi Christie, it's great to be here. I'm excited to share some of my life with you guys here today.
Christie: Yeah, thank you so much for being here with us today. I guess just to kind of get started, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself? Just what you are doing, and where you were living before you actually moved overseas?
Megan: Yeah, definitely. So I grew up in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, so Washington, Idaho. I went to college out in Idaho, and then after I graduated with my marketing degree I moved to San Diego. It had been what I thought was a lifelong dream of mine to live in California, not deal with winter, so I moved there, and after a couple years of working in sales and marketing, I realized something was missing, and started exploring options on how to fill that. So that's how I ended up here in Prague, was realizing Europe was more my scene, and I could actually make a living here, and make a life out of it as well.
Christie: Very cool. Had you been to Europe before, done some traveling ahead of time that kind of made you know that's where you wanted to take your life next?
Megan: Yeah, so I was born in England, and from the time that I was small I knew that was the case, and I had always wanted to go back, because we moved to America when I was two years old. So of course I don't really remember it, and I thought, you know, how cool would it be to go back and see it with that thorough perspective of knowing that's where I'm from and that's my heritage. So three years ago I first went to the UK, I spent some time with my sister, while she was studying abroad in Wales, I went to London, all over England, and I did a bit of Ireland as well. Loved it, had a great time, and then two years ago I came back to go to start mainland Europe. I went to I think 14 different countries.
And sort of in comparison of both of those trips, and even the countries and cities individually, I fell in love with London, with Prague, and with Amsterdam. The culture, the level of nature, because for me growing up in the Pacific Northwest I love my trees, my mountains, my rivers and lakes. So looking at all those factors and thinking, okay, where would be the easiest place to move, to sort of start a new life, trying to save money being in San Diego, and where did I feel the most at home and welcomed. And surprisingly that was Prague.
The Czech people have a reputation for being very cold and not trusting and basically not nice to people when you first meet them, but what I found was that while they're sort of reserved and they don't engage really in small talk with strangers and that kind of thing, once you sort of get them talking, they are the nicest, funniest, warmest people. They'll invite you, you know to their house to have some of their traditional food, or they'll tell you where to go, or teach you a little bit of Czech, so I felt like for cost of living, as well as for things I liked, you know nature, cultural experiences and just really the people there, that's what made Prague sort of be the place I wanted to live. And it has been amazing so far, honestly. No regrets.
Christie: Well wonderful. How did you start researching TEFL certification? How did you find out about actually teaching abroad?
Megan: Yes, that was my biggest actual challenge. I had this dream. I thought okay, I can live in Europe, but how, you know? Can I just move there and work? How does that really work? And I looked up previously at getting a visa in the UK, and it was pretty difficult even though I have ancestry there, I was born there, Dad's British so I thought okay, I want to work. How can I do that? And teaching English had never been even an option for me. I didn't major in English, I didn't consider myself a teacher.
I'd done some tutoring and teaching related things, but never had formal training of any kind. And in talking with my friends and family about it, my sister suggested, hey, you really love helping people, and you are very engaging and entertaining, and really care about people as well, so why not try teaching? And she had done a bit of it herself, and it's like oh, I don't know, but my sister knows me better than anyone else, so I turned to Google as we all do now days, and sort of started comparing different programs and felt like anything I read about the ITA was positive and similar stories as mine, you know?
People who might not have been English majors or had, you know, years of teaching experience but they went over and they made it work and they had a great time with it. So it made me realize that, huh, maybe I could do that as well, and that's when I reached out to the ITA, started speaking with Helen, one of the student affairs advisors, and she answered all of my questions and really made me feel like it was something that was very doable for me as well.
Christie: Well wonderful. So yeah, will you tell us a little bit about the TEFL course that you chose to take, and why you decided to take that specific course?
Megan: Yeah, so I actually initially was looking at the online ITA course, and I ended up changing to a partner school, which I completed my course from the end of May through June back in 2017, so just this past year, and the only reason I changed to do an in-person course was I was looking at sort of when to move, and I had thought, oh I can move in August, give me more time to save money, and experience one last California Summer, if I'm going to move to a place that's very cold, so once I started reaching out to ITA and asking more about the jobs, I realized that the hiring season would be better if I got there a little bit sooner.
Since schools usually end in the May/June time period and they'd be looking to see who would be working there in the next school year. So I thought okay, well I know I'm going to move to Prague anyways, and there's an in-person course offered through the same organization I'd already read so many good reviews about, so might as well just do that. And it would give me an opportunity to get immersed in the culture before I start teaching. Because there were so many things I was nervous about. And I felt like if I could knock down a couple of them during the course, then I would maybe feel a little bit better afterwards, once I got out there and started teaching.
Christie: Yeah, absolutely. What would you say was the most challenging part of your TEFL course and about getting TEFL certified?
Megan: Oh wow. As stereotypical as it may sound, learning grammar. You think you know, I've spoken English since I started talking, whatever age that was, how hard can be it?
But trying to explain it to others is much more difficult if you don't remember the rules. I think a lot of us learned grammar when we were in elementary school, maybe in middle school or high school, or even some college if you took additional courses, but for me I realized pretty quickly, okay, I know when things are wrong, but how do I explain that? Just initially I think for the first two weeks of that course I was like I can't teach! I don't know grammar at all! And it just didn't make sense to me in any form until it finally did click and I realized, oh, okay, I can do this, I just needed it explained in a slightly different way.
Christie: Yeah, so what would you tell somebody who's really nervous about teaching grammar. Because that is a very common fear, like you said. A lot of us haven't had grammar in a long time. You don't remember all the grammar rules. So what advice would you give somebody who's a little bit nervous about that?
Megan: I would say, honestly, don't be. There are a lot of different ways to learn grammar, and especially if you're nervous about teaching grammar. For me, that's where it mainly was. I thought, okay, if I don't know it well myself, and feel like I don't, how will I teach it to somebody else? But when I was assigned in my practicum grammar lessons.
Of course you have to learn the certain grammar point before you can teach it, and the combination of having to do it in real life, and also having it explained to me in a different way was very helpful. So for me one thing that really worked, a teacher in my course actually did sort of a visual for one of the grammar points. So he drew out a timeline on the whiteboard, and here's the past, here's the present, here's the future and in drawing that out rather than trying to just verbally explain it, or me trying to read it and remember, okay, what is a conditional, what is present perfect tense, I don't know. But actually seeing it drawn out, like that makes sense, of course it's that, that's why we would use that. So if it's something you're thinking about might be an issue for you, or if you're in a course and you're struggling, just do some research online.
Honestly if you research anything about teaching grammar. If you look up an actual lesson plan, I think it might make more sense to you, the way someone would teach it to a non-native speaker, because as a native speaker you have a lot of this background knowledge, whether or not you think you do. So just try and find a different way if the approach that someone is taking with you or that you have been taking in your studying doesn't work, there's a thousand different ways.
I have taught certain grammar points to children who are beginning speaking English for the first time, who are complete beginners. And of course it's different than if someone is one their way to fluency, but if I can teach Czech children who can't speak English, you as a native speaker can absolutely do it. So don't let it freak you out, don't panic, there's time and there are ways to approach it that are a little bit less intimidating than just reading it in a textbook or having it verbally spoken to you, for sure.
Christie: Yeah, great. Could you imagine going overseas and teaching English without getting TEFL certified first?
Megan: Absolutely not. I think that, I mean I've met people who've done it. I think it's possible, but I cannot even imagine doing it without the level of preparation that I got from my TEFL course. And while it's not a requirement for every school or every company that you might work for, it definitely says a lot if you can have the certificate saying, okay an international organization says that I can teach this language. And if you have that on your CV, your resume, people are automatically going to look at you a little bit differently. Kind of similar to in the US, where if you apply for a job and either don't have a degree, or have a bachelor's or master's, hiring managers will look at that and it will give them more confidence in your ability to teach.
For example, I didn't really have, like I said, much teaching experience if any. I had very limited tutoring and that kind of thing before I got my first job, but seeing that I was certified, and that I did a thorough lesson plan of course that I had learned through my course on how to properly organize and really think about teaching a class. The first job that I interviewed for, I was accepted immediately and she told me you know while you might not have the level of experience of some other people who might have applied, you are very organized, I can tell you've received excellent training and we can always teach you some of the other skills.
We can have teachers help you out with how Czech kids might be versus American kids. So I found that that has been very very helpful, and that hiring managers or owners of language schools even private lessons, individuals will be sort of lenient if you don't have the level of experience as long as you have this sort of mindset and training, that you would get from a TEFL course.
Christie: Well great. That's awesome to know, thank you so much for sharing that. For those of you who are just tuning in, we are chatting with ITA social media ambassador Megan Newnham, and she is living and teaching English in Prague. So we're going to kind of switch gears a little bit, into talking about living and teaching in Prague. Can you go into some details about how you found your English teaching job there?
Megan: Absolutely. That was another thing that I was very worried about. Because I had of course some savings I had brought with me, but eventually no matter how much you bring, you're going to run out.
So what was so, so helpful for me was utilizing the job resources that I got as an ITA alumni. There are job boards, there are people who came in to speak at my school about working at their schools or opportunities that they might have heard about, there are ITA alumni groups on Facebook.
There are so, so many resources that we often, my fellow teachers and I here in Prague, we joke about the fact that there's never going to be a shortage of first teaching jobs. It's to that point where the jobs are so available and people really want to learn. I think that the more we get into this sort of globalization that we have in 2018, people realize that if they're in a country that's a non-native English-speaking country they're going to communicate with others from different countries regardless of their job position, and they need to be able to speak English, because that's sort of the common language.
So for me, I got a sort of job recommendation from an ITA alumni who was moving to a different school, and said hey, I would love for another alum to take this position and know that I am leaving it in the hands of someone who is going to be a good teacher because she loved the students.
So I went out, interviewed that day, and I had to do a 45 minute demo lesson as well as a short grammar test, and then she went over the test. We talked about that same day so, it might be different for different countries, but here in the Czech Republic the hiring process is typically pretty quick. It can of course be longer, and a lot of times they will want you to have you know your TEFL certification, sometimes your visa in line, but it can be that quick, as they meet you, they like you, and they want you to work with them.
There are a lot of English teachers here in Prague, and that might sound intimidating but it's actually very helpful because if you can differentiate yourself, whether it's your level of energy, your engagement, some teaching experience, or you just have a friendly personality, that can set you apart from other teachers that they might have met. Because while there are more, that means there are also more teachers that they don't want to work with. So no matter what your teaching style is or the level you want to teach, kids, adults, individual lessons or classes, there is a lot of opportunity here.
Christie: Well great, that's great to know for people who might be interested in heading over there. So would you describe the interview processes? You did everything in person, you went into the school. And can you tell us a bit more about that?
Megan: Yeah. So typically here in Prague it's done in person. I think there might be some schools that are willing to do Skype interviews, but they prefer to meet you and sort of see that you're, you know abnormal, cool individual, but also one that is going to be responsible and show up to the courses and whatnot.
So I showed up that day around 9:30 in the morning, the demo lesson and then the grammar part took about an hour and a half. They will also ask you a lot of questions, which might be good to research in advance, such as what sort of salary you want. Which for me was very new, because in America, until I think I hit my sort of upper level marketing job I'd never been asked that. I was just applying for jobs, they'd tell me how much they wanted to offer me, and it would just work from there.
So definitely be prepared to know sort of the level of income that you want to make, whether it's being paid by the hour, like that amount, or a salary amount, which I can share with you some information that might be helpful. Typical living expenses are going to be around 11 to 15 thousand crowns, which is about three to four hundred dollars a month. Can be up to about seven hundred including other things like transportation and all of that. So of course you want to make sure you can cover those expenses.
So average salary in the Czech Republic is around 30 thousand crowns a month, which is about what I make as well. And you're going to end up with about half or less of that, often times much less than that going to your bills, and then the rest is just income for fun, so you can go traveling and do all these other things. So the level of income you need to make is not as much as you might need to make in another place because the cost of living is so low here.
Christie: So you feel like you're very able to live comfortably on your salary and maybe to save a little bit extra to travel around?
Megan: Absolutely. I just got back this morning actually from a long weekend trip to Krakow, Poland, and two weekends ago I was in Munich, in Germany. I have been all over the place. I went to Budapest for Christmas. We've been through the Czech Republic and still need a lot more of those cities off the bucket list, but it's definitely, definitely possible.
Of course in any city you're going to need to budget, and if you sort of eat out for every meal, you're going to spend more money, but the food here is relatively cheap as well. I spend about 11 US dollars I would say per week on food, just going grocery shopping primarily. And even going out on the weekends, or going out for food, lunch, dinner sometimes, it really doesn't cost that much, so I've been able to start saving and start traveling a lot more. I have three more trips coming up in the next probably month and a half, so it's absolutely doable.
Christie: Yeah, well wonderful. And for those of you tuning in again, just to remind you, we're chatting with social media ambassador Megan, who is living and teaching in Prague. And feel free to include your questions in the comments as well. She would love to hear from you, love to hear from the audience, so let us know what your questions are for her, too. So Megan, I would also like to know a little bit more about who your students are. How old are they, how many students do you have? What kind of school, I think you said a private language school, but tell us a little bit more about them.
Megan: Yeah, absolutely. And it's a great question because I love love love my students. I teach a wide variety, which has been really good for me. This is like I said my first year of real traditional teaching. So it's been really good for me to see what kind of student I like, what age, and all of that.
So on Mondays and Tuesdays I do teach at a private language school in Barron, which is roughly an hour and a half by tram slash train from Prague, but really not too far. To give you sort of perspective, you can travel inside of Prague and it will also sometimes take an hour to an hour and a half. It's a pretty wide city, but for almost everyone I know their lessons are fairly compact within there. So you're typically looking at 30 minutes to maybe 45 travel time per lesson, and typically block of lessons even.
So my students on Mondays and Tuesdays are young children from about age eight up to adults who are at an advanced, probably C1, which if you're not super familiar with the terminology is approaching fluency but might still make some grammatical errors, and then during the week, Wednesday through Friday, I also teach private lessons, so I have again students as young as eight years old, up to 16 for the children, and then for the adults around an A to not super beginner but still making quite a few grammatical mistakes up to again, I have C2 level students who are very close to fluency but want to work on more of the finer grammatical details.
And I also teach business English to four of my students as well. Which if you do have any of those, what we call English for specific purpose backgrounds. If you came from marketing, if you came from engineering, any of these things that you might not think are very helpful for teaching, they actually can be huge for because you will get students, if you want to teach adults who want help from these specific areas.
So this kind of background, even if you didn't teach English from it, you know about the industry, so they really want people who can teach them in that specific niche as well, and you can typically charge for these lessons. And so like I said I have kids up to adults and it's fairly conversational and business English and for specific functions in their job. So hope I love all of them.
Christie: Yeah, that's such a good point to make, that you don't necessarily have to have all this teaching experience or have a background in education to go do something like this. You know people with all different kinds of different backgrounds are welcomed and can become great teachers, so that's a really good point. As you were starting to tell us a little bit about the visa process.
Megan: Yeah. So like I said, some schools will require you to have your visa in hand and official before you start working, as of course this is the legal way to do things. But I don't want people to be intimidated by the visa process because of course it's stressful. You have decided to move to a different country, you are probably already physically there as well, and you're set up and you're ready go to, and then it becomes a waiting game. So I would definitely recommend using any kind of agency help that you can. Obviously you want to research these options.
But I went through a primary agency of ITA, and didn't really have to worry about that much of it. They made all of my appointments for me, so for me, I had to just go, basically to the US embassy here in Prague, and say, you know, I'm not a criminal, have never committed a crime in another country, and from there you go to one of several embassies outside the Czech Republic that are Czech embassies in other countries. So I was able to get an appointment in Berlin. And this is another great opportunity to travel because if you're in another city anyways, you can extend that for a few days and see some more of Europe.
So once I applied in Berlin I just had to wait for them to approve it, which can take anywhere between four to six weeks typically. I know some people who had them approved in two to three weeks, and some people where it took, you know, three and a half months. So it really does just depend, but as long as you follow steps outlined as I did, it's not like they're going over everything with a fine-toothed comb. It just depends on the amount of people applying for visas. Because what you have to keep in mind is that there are, sure, all these Americans want to be teachers in whatever city, but there might also be a hundred people from around the world that are trying to get visas as well.So it depends on the time of year and how fast the process is moving.
A lot of it's just bureaucracy, where you just need to make sure you do things correctly. Which is why I wouldn't recommend trying to figure everything out on your own. Because I do have a friend who did that route, and he had actually already lived in the Czech Republic before, so he was familiar with it, he spoke a little bit of Czech, and he tried to do it on his own, and almost had to leave the country, because it took too long to go through and he did something incorrectly.
So absolutely just go through an agency, make sure you have your stuff in line that you can before you leave the US, but it's primarily just a waiting game. More so than it is, I guess, a complicated process. There are steps to follow but it is not as bad as I think people make it out to be. So don't panic if you're in this boat. You know, it is a process like anything else.
Christie: Awesome to know. And we do have resources here at International TEFL Academy and an agency that we can recommend to you as well if you do decide to get certified through us, so that's absolutely something we can recommend for you. So we did get a question from somebody in the audience who's tuning in. And they were curious how you found adults that need English lessons, how you found your private students. Sorry, I know that's backtracking just a little but we'd love to know.
Megan: Yeah, definitely. And I think that can be a challenge for a lot of people, but it can be one of the ways you can make a lot more money, because with private lessons you can typically make up your own rates as well. So for the majority of my private lessons I actually work for a woman who owns her own company, so she has basically been able to bring me on a lot of those. I've had two recommended to me by one of my teachers in my TEFL course, who have been awesome students, super consistent.
And then there are a lot of groups as well, whether it be Facebook -- Here in Prague there is one page called Crowdsauce, and another page called expats.cz and a lot of people will post things in there, things that they're looking for Expats also has their own separate website, so there are so many different groups that you can, sort of post in, like hey these are my rates, I'm looking for students, even days and times, and people will often respond to those.
That's how I got my very first student, and she was great. There are also places around town you can sort of post things. There are three main, and possibly even more, but the ones I've been to, three main English-speaking book stores here in Prague, and people will post flyers up that way as well.Another thing you can do is reach out to other alumni in a city you're even in right now or looking to be in because a lot of people when they decide to move either back to America or to a different country they have this full schedule of students that they want someone who they can positively recommend to take them over.
So that comes up I think every single day when I'm looking through the different ITA alumni groups that I'm in, and people are saying you know I have a B1 level student who's available on Tuesdays, this is how much I typically charge him, this is what he's looking for. So I think we really do have a solid community in our own alumni groups that will be willing to help you and even tell you exactly what students are looking for. But there are a lot of other options you can go to as well depending on your level of comfort and what exactly you're looking to do.
Christie: Great. Well thank you so much for the question. If anyone else in the audience does have questions, feel free to type them in for Megan, who is living and teaching English in Prague. And we actually did have another one come in. You mentioned that ITA alumni Facebook groups and some of these expat websites, so we would also like to know how easy was it to make friends and find a community in Prague.
Megan: Yeah, great question. Because it's something which probably sounds dumb, but I didn't think of as much as I should have before I moved here. I had a great friend group back home, as I'm sure most of you guys do as well, and especially when you move to another country whose native language isn't English, then you realize, oh, how do I make friends with people?But for me it was really easy. Actually not that many people from my specific month course stayed in Prague. One girl did, my roommate, and she's awesome, but I have actually just made most of my friends through either teaching. I taught at summer camps from June, end of June beginning of July until August, and a lot of alumni worked at those as well. And also just reaching out to alumni from other months or other courses.
Seeing who's in Prague, being a part of these Facebook groups I mentioned before, like Expats and Crowdsauce, and we are actually hosting our very first Prague meetup on Friday. So if any of you watching out there are alumni, come hang out with me Friday at seven at the Glow bookstore, and hopefully we will be able to have a lot more of these events as well. I know for me it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, but when I first got done with my course, and everyone started leaving, I realized, oh God I need friends!But as long as you take, you know, this sort of proactive approach, and the more you teach, you'll meet, you know, Americans, British people, Australians, people throughout the community. And people are pretty friendly as well. The Czechs are, like I said earlier, a bit of a tough shell to crack at first, but I actually do have a fair amount of Czech friends through my students and coworkers as well because they also want to meet native speakers.So definitely don't think that you should only hang out with Americans, or only teachers, or something like that.Do try to get involved in your community, and you will find that it is so rewarding. You get to know more about the culture, they might teach you some of the language.
They'll want to practice their English with you and find out where are you from, why did you move here. They find it very fascinating that an American, you know someone from what they think is one of the best countries in the world would move to their tiny little country. You know like why are you doing this? So there's so many opportunities to make friends, even if you're sort of nervous, like oh they won't speak the language.
You know just start out with a base of native speakers, and then you can work your way up from there once you start to build up that comfort level or learn a little of the local language. So it's definitely really doable, and it can be a lot of fun because you can see, maybe back home, like where I'm from California, hiking was huge, so you know are there hiking groups here in Prague? Yes there are! You know, so find people with your shared interests and I think that's also definitely a really important part of moving abroad, because you will feel lonely at times. So, you know, really try to get out of your house and meet people as much as you can, because then you'll realize it's the same as living anywhere else in the world. You just speak a different language than them. So it's easier than you'll think, I promise.
Christie: Yeah, absolutely. And that kind of brings me to my next question is you are learning Czech, correct?
Megan: (speaking Czech)
Christie: So how has that helped you in meeting local friends and how is that going? I know it's a tough language to learn.
Megan: Yes, I actually saw not one but two different sort of surveys or rankings recently from I think one was Thrillist, and one was another company Buzzfeed maybe, of easiest languages to learn for native English speakers, and shocking, surprise for me, Czech was not on either of them. I don't know why, it's -- No, it's actually it's a very difficult language, but it's helped me in a wide variety of ways because just even learning any language puts you in the perspective of the students so it's made me a better teacher because it's sort of easy to forget how hard it is sometimes. And how something that's very simple can just be out of left field for a student.
So it's helped me to be more empathetic. But in terms of making friends, what I've found is when I speak Czech to people, even if they think, you know, oh I only speak a little bit of English, they will at least try, and they'll be excited that I'm trying, and they will be nicer they will try to recommend cool places to go, like if you're on the tram and you bump into someone, they say something to you and then they realize you're American but you speak Czech to them, so strange!
So they might say, oh where are you going right now? Oh, I'm meeting a friend for dinner over here and like, oh do you like this place? You should go here. So it sort of brings their guard down a little bit because I think it can be easy for them to sort of see like, oh all these Americans are just moving here to teach, and, you know, they have such a good life in America, now they just want to travel, it's so easy for them.But when they see that you're actually trying to integrate into the community and care about their language and their culture and want to be able to communicate with them, then they are very very welcoming. Not that they aren't if you don't speak it. They know it's hard, but they will like laugh about it with you as well. Any time I tell people I'm speaking, or learning Czech, I'll tell them, I mean it's very difficult, in Czech, and they usually will laugh.
I actually had a student last week tell me, he's I'd say about mid 40s, and he said to me, after I told him that in Czech, in English that he would never want to learn Czech, and that's strange, like after having to learn English? That would be hard! So it definitely is helpful, and I would say no matter where you live at least try and learn the language. Because you can meet people and you can also understand potential difficulties your students will have. So not a waste of time, no matter how much you feel like you're banging your head against a wall sometimes.
Christie: Yeah. Somebody in our audience would also like to know, was it a struggle in the beginning? Before you had learned Czech? You know just moving and living and working in a country where English isn't the native language. Was that tough in the beginning?
Megan: Yeah, absolutely. And another thing that I think was harder than I anticipated, there's a kind of running joke we have with our teacher friend group as well that it's like you know you don't really live in Prague until you've bought fabric softener thinking it was laundry detergent. They look the same here for some reason, it's weird. But yeah, it can be hard. There's a pretty big grocery store by my house and they remodeled it about five different times in the course of a month? So every time I'd go to the store things were in a different place. And I didn't know the words for foods, so I was just like, well salads it is, because I can see that that's, you know, spinach.
But it definitely is hard, and it can feel a little isolating for sure. There are days when, you know, you're around Czech all the time or whatever the language is where you're living and working, and you just want to hear English, and you know speak with an American or someone that knows something about America, and you know, have a relatable moment. And it can be very tough, but that is where I found the friends that I've made here, and contacting even your friends and family back home is so helpful because, you just miss the language and you are brand new to a country, you don't quite have the friend group set up.
Just FaceTime or Skype someone back home and it'll be better. You'll get there, I promise, but it is a learning curve. Be sort of prepared for that, but don't let it freak you out too much, because it gets easier every single day.
Christie: Great to know. Since we just have a couple minutes left with a social media ambassador Megan Newnham in Prague, we're going to get to some of the other questions that a few other people wanted to know. So somebody else had asked how long you can stay with your Zivno, with your type of visa that you have in the Czech Republic?
Megan: Yeah, so you enter the country on a tourist visa, which is 90 days, I think that's pretty typical for most countries. At least Europe from my experience. And once you get your Zivno, it typically lasts about a year. It kind of depends on a few different factors, such as the length of your lease for your flat, because that is part of the process of having your landlord sign something, because the Zivno, the visa that I'm on, is basically for freelance advisants, so your landlord has to approve. Say yes, you can use your place of living for business.
That sounds, probably a little weird, you're not actually teaching inside your home. If you want to you probably could, but just like for tax purposes, you're basically using your address as a business address. So you usually have about a year. Mine was approved in November and I have until July first on that visa.And then once you have that, at literally any point after it's approved, you can apply for your next visa, which is typically one to two years, again depending on like if your lease, equals how much money you make during the time period you've been approved.
They'll probably look at your taxes and see okay, are you at a visa minimum amount? Because they want to see if you're a contributing member of society. So initially a year or less, and then it sort of goes up from there. And I have been told, but do not quote me on this because I can't confirm, from a couple of different people that once lived in Europe for about five years, and in the Czech Republic, typically you can get citizenship, you just, and this will be a stretch for me, have to take a citizenship test, and prove fluency in the language. So if you want to go that route, it's doable as well.
I think really the first visa's the hardest to get, and then once you have that it just gets easier and easier. According to the forum group, so that is from an official legal person. He told me it is honestly not hard, you just have to basically prove a certain level of income, which for the Czech Republic is right now I think about 15 thousand crowns a month. Which, like I mentioned earlier, is about half the normal salary of most teachers working here.
Christie: Okay, well wonderful. I think before we end the Facebook live, Megan, we would just really like to know what sort of tips and advice you would have for anybody who's looking to go do something like this. And then also looking to go to Prague overall. What would you tell them?
Megan: Ooh, great question! So so many things. But I guess most importantly, don't think that it's impossible. Because I remember when I came back from my trip to mainland Europe two years ago, I thought Oh my God, I want to live there. Why am I on a plane home right now? It just doesn't feel right, and I was so upset about it, because in my mind it was this unachievable dream. And that really got me down for a while until I did my research like I said and found teaching English as an option so first, no matter what country you're looking at, or what sort of type of lessons you'd want to teach, adults, children, classes, one on one lessons, it is possible, you just have to do some research and know the best job market.
So for Czech Republic, for example, living in Prague, it's going to be most likely the best in terms of amount of opportunities, but you know it should be different from any other countries, which leads me to probably my second bit of advice, which is to just be flexible.Before I moved here I had sort of an idea of you know how it would go and what I wanted my life to be like, and that's good to have. You want to sort of know what makes you happy in life. Would you want to teach pre-school or not? It's not for everyone. You have to change diapers in addition to teaching English.
So know what you want to do, but also know that it's going to be different probably than anything you've ever experienced, and you just have to like roll with the punches a little bit. And then my third point is also that it will get easier. For me it's been easier every single day, and I remember, I have to do this with my roommate a lot, we'll look back on things like, oh remember when we first got here and this happened? And it seems like such a dumb mistake, or like you get into this bad mood or confused because of something that now it's really easy for me to be able to handle. I had my first experience last week of a fully Czech conversation at the post office. So I mean, I don't speak great Czech, but I can mail things internationally in Czech now.
So if you're thinking that it will be way too complicated, too much money, or you won't find the work you want, just don't think of any of those things and my fourth bit of advice, utilize the ITA community in whatever fashion you need, but there is so much support there that it really is silly to think you have to do it on your own, because you don't. You have, you know, job support for life, and people all around the world that once they hear you're also an ITA alumni will help you out. So we are here for you.
You want to come to Prague, absolutely hit me up. I have Instagram, Facebook, email, whatever you want. If you want to ask more questions, there are so many things that I could tell you about Prague that will, you know, allay some of those fears for you. So it's a beautiful country, cheap to live, great food, and even better beers, so please consider it as an option because we are a small republic but a great one.
Christie: Awesome, well thank you so much Megan. You are just killing it over there, you are doing wonderful so we just really appreciate you being here today, and thank you so much everybody else for tuning in as well. And don't forget to follow us on Instagram and also follow Megan on Istagram and Facebook if you'd like some more updates and information about living and teaching in Prague. So thanks again so much.
Megan: Thanks everyone! I look forward to hearing from you!
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- Czech Republic Country Profile
- Get TEFL Certified in Prague, Czech Republic
- ITA Alumni Ambassador Corner
- Meet the ITA Alumni Ambassador Team
- Learn More About ITA Alumni Ambassador, Megan Newnham
- 10 Things You Need to Know to Prepare for Your TEFL Class in Prague
- A Day in the Life of a Prague TEFL Student