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Staff Q&A: Teaching English in the Czech Republic with ITA Advisor, Britton Schaude
Written by: Britton Schaude
Last Updated: November 25, 2020
Where are you from & what is your role at International TEFL Academy?
Where did you teach English in Czech Republic & why did you choose to teach there?
I first learned of the idea of teaching English abroad in my first job out of college. I was so confused when my coworker told me one day that he taught English in Thailand – “Uhhh, you don’t speak Thai. That’s impossible!” He told me more about his time in Thailand and explained that you don’t need to know a foreign language to teach in other countries.
I found myself daydreaming and researching other countries any time I was bored at work. Pretty quickly I realized that I was throwing away some of the best years of my life inside of a cubicle doing work I didn’t care about when I could be having the adventure of a lifetime. Peace out, US!
I ultimately decided to teach English in Prague, Czech Republic, because I had never been to Europe, knew there were tons of jobs available there for teaching English, and, also, the BEST BEER IN THE WORLD!
How did you get your job teaching English in the Czech Republic?
I made a mistake in my job search – I applied to one job, got the job offer, and took it. I was so excited that I got a job offer in a foreign country that I didn’t even think to interview at multiple schools and compare job offers.
I interviewed face-to-face in Prague, got a job offer the next day, and was asked if I could start the next week. I asked to start three weeks later so that I could enjoy Prague with no responsibilities for a bit, and I also used this time to travel to Poland before starting. On a related note, if you’re ever in Krakow, be sure to take the short trip south to the mountain town of Zakopane!
What surprised you most when you first arrived in the Czech Republic?
My initial thought riding from the airport to the city center was “The Czech Republic looks a lot like Wisconsin.” That completely changed when I got into the city center of Prague where it looks more like a fairy tale than anything that exists in the US. Prague was one of very few European cities to not be heavily damaged in WWI or WWII, so many of the buildings in the Old Town are from the 14th and 15th centuries.
Another fantastic part of living in Prague that took me a couple of weeks to realize – effective public transportation is life-changing. The network of metro lines (subways), trams (streetcars), and buses can get you anywhere in Prague, 24 hours a day. My yearly pass cost about $150. It’s $100 a month where I live now in Chicago!
How would you describe the job market for teaching English in the Czech Republic?
Booming. I interviewed at one language school and got a job offer the next day. The Czech Republic seems to be playing catch-up with Western European countries in their emphasis on English education, so there is a desperate need for TEFL-trained English teachers for both kids and adults.
Prague is also a great city to live in while teaching English online. Since it’s so cheap to live there, many of my friends taught English online at least part time as a way to save some extra money for travel or paying down student loans.
What sort of visa did you teach on?
The Zivnostensky Visa (aka the "Zivno"). This is the visa all of my friends got for teaching in Prague. I’d recommend using a visa assistance company to help you through the process. There are many forms to fill out in the Czech language, so unless you speak Czech (doubtful) or have a connection to a local Czech-speaker, this is the way to go. There are many visa assistance companies that do much of the work for you, but you’ll pay somewhere between $300-$1000 for this convenience.
You must leave the country to submit your paperwork, and later to collect your visa, at a Czech embassy in another country. I went to the Czech embassy in Berlin, but you can also go to Bratislava, Slovakia, Vienna, Austria, or really any other city with a Czech embassy. This all may sound difficult, but it isn’t so bad, and it’s nice to be 100% legal unlike the visa situation for Americans in many other parts of Europe.
Where did you live in the Czech Republic & how much did it cost?
I moved to Prague with my girlfriend and we split a one-bedroom apartment near the city center in the neighborhood of Vršovice (Lonely Planet - Vrsovice). We paid a total of $600 per month with everything included (including an in-unit washer!), or $300 each. I loved our neighborhood. There were three farmer’s markets within walking distance, not to mention all of the parks, restaurants, and pubs that soon became our local hang-outs. Go have a cheeseburger and a pivo for me at Café Sladkovksy if you’re in the neighborhood.
Teachers who move to Prague without a friend or significant other often live in “flat-shares” where you have your own bedroom in a shared apartment with other English teachers. If you really want to live by yourself and afford it on your teaching salary, live a bit farther from the city center, but near a metro stop that can zip you downtown in no time.
Were you able to make enough money to support yourself and to live comfortably?
Teaching full-time is enough to live a great lifestyle in Prague. The pay might not sound much to someone coming from the US, Canada, UK, or Australia - and you won't make as much as you will teaching English in many Asian countries - but money goes a loooooong way in the CZ. I lived near the city-center, ate out often, went to beer gardens more than I should have, and had money left over for travel.
Do you have any financial tips for somebody looking to teach English in the Czech Republic?
I’d recommend teaching for a language school part-time while also teaching private lessons or teaching English online. You get paid more teaching private lessons, but need to find your own students. Teaching online may lack the social interaction you’re looking for, but the money will make up for that. Check out our Teach English Online Employer Index for a listing of 100+ online schools.
It’s also very common for English teachers to find part-time jobs in other industries. I worked as a bicycle tour-guide around the city over the summer and made really good money doing this. Many of my friends also worked in tourism or at bars and restaurants.
How did you make friends? Was it easy to make friends with the locals and were you able to meet other English speakers?
Teaching in Prague felt like my first year of college in many ways. Everyone is looking for friends because most of the other English teachers are new to the city just like you are. I worked for a large language school that had well over one-hundred teachers from all over the world - USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand. I made friends while hanging out at work doing lesson planning and at parties they put on for the teachers.
I found that expats and English teachers often went to the same bars and lived in the same neighborhoods. There was even a bar literally called “Expats” that I’d go to with my American friends to watch NFL football games.
It’s important to keep in mind that due to the nature of the industry, teachers come and go often, so expats are always looking for new friends to replace their last friend who left Prague to teach in Costa Rica or Japan. Put yourself out there and you’ll have travel-buddies in no time.
Pro tip! Once you've enrolled in your ITA TEFL Class, connect with other ITA students and alumni on the ITA Czech Republic Alumni Facebook Group. Only enrolled students and alumni can post but anybody can follow the conversation!
Did you have opportunities to travel & what were some of your travel highlights while teaching English in the Czech Republic?
Traveling was my #1 goal in the whole adventure of going abroad to teach English. I’d never really traveled before, and there were so many places I wanted to see. I ended up traveling to 18 countries in Europe in the year-and-a-half that I was there. Traveling throughout Europe was surprisingly cheap. When you think of traveling in Europe, you think trains, but I found buses to be much cheaper and, in most cases, better for traveling. For 20 Euros ($25 USD) I could take a bus (with Wi-Fi and free movies!) to Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Poland, and more. It’s also easy to find cheap flights to Spain, Greece, or Italy for less than 100 Euros ($125 USD) round-trip.
The highlight of my traveling in Europe was when my brother and I rode our bicycles 1700 miles from Prague to Athens through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece. This was an adventure I never would have thought of had I not been living in Prague.
What final advice would you have for somebody looking to teach English in the Czech Republic?
Prague is notorious for its food and nightlife, though both aren’t always thought of as notorious in a good way! The best word to describe the traditional cuisine is heavy. I loved it. That said, it is such a cosmopolitan city that you can find sushi, vegan, and American/International food in most neighborhoods.
Nightlife in Prague can be very different depending on what you’re looking for. There are the touristy bars in Old Town if you’re looking to meet travelers, including Karlovy Lazne, the largest club in central Europe at 5 stories tall. I actually never went here, which I do regret, but the best part is that it’s right next to the Charles Bridge. Many party-animals stay until dawn so they can walk out the front door and onto the Charles Bridge to watch the sunrise with friends who stayed out and an older group who woke up early for the same views. I spent most of my nights out with friends in outdoor beer gardens. It’s like the city planners found the places in Prague with the best views and decided to put beer gardens there instead of upscale condos or hotels. Check out Riegrovy Sady for the best sunset views over the Prague Castle.
California-born, Minnesota-raised - so needless to say Britton is super chill and way too nice. He went abroad for the first time ever to teach English in the Czech Republic before joining International TEFL Academy in 2017 as an admissions advisor helping others achieve their goals of living abroad and teaching English overseas.
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