If you’ve been teaching in Prague for any length of time you have seen the revolving door that is ESL. People come, people go. Very quickly. Some of us plan it this way, ESL is a means to an end and a way to spend some time in Europe. Others, like me, didn’t really come into this with an end plan or an exit strategy.
Just recently I terminated my contracts at both my schools which leaves me with only my private students as of September 1. So now the big decisions come: stay (and get my shit together to work for companies directly or fill my private student schedule) or pack it in and return to British Columbia (and familiar territory as well as a challenging but well paid career in the automotive industry).
Prague is a spectacular city, it really is. High praise from me as I am not at all a city person.
Teaching can be a rewarding job. I meet lots of interesting people, I have control over my schedule and am not sitting in an office or, god forbid, a cubicle. On the other hand there are some challenges: the compensation is quite poor, schedules can be erratic and you don’t have the benefit of co-workers to interact with.
The compensation is a particular sticking point. If I was choosing between an entry level job in Canada or teaching here it would be a reasonable comparison, but I am not. Compared to other teachers I know I am in a slightly different dilemma as back in Canada I am a professional while here I am “just another” ESL teacher. A good teacher, but still easily replaced.
Other considerations? It does get tiring always being a foreigner, always struggling at least a bit with the language and the culture. Immigration is an ongoing challenge as well as it needs to be renewed every two years at the most. The appeal of something familiar, comfortable and easy is hard to ignore.
Oh, and a car! Gosh I miss owning a car and a motorcycle. (for those from North America that are new here, your license is not transferable. You need to go back to driving school before you can ever consider a car here, and then consider the cost and fuel at $2 a litre).
Most of the people I have met in Europe that learn I am a) Canadian b) from British Columbia and c) from outside Vancouver have one simple question: Why? What are you doing here?
Sometimes I can’t answer them in a way that satisfies either them or me. Squamish is a recreation capitol, full of places to hike, mountain bike and climb. Although it is certainly more expensive than Prague, the earning potential is so much more that it makes the math look ridiculous.
Work is a definite consideration. Teaching ESL has a plateau, you will never move past a certain level and would need to work very hard indeed to make a salary that will cover more than expenses. This is particularly true of you want to travel outside of the Czech Republic as the crown does not go far at all in euro countries. Working in automotive has it’s own challenges but the pay scale is exponentially better than teaching.
And of course my family and friends are back in Canada.
Watch this space. Decisions will come, and I’ll document the process either way. You can expect to either see “how to exit teaching” or ” how to grown your teaching career”.