Prague: After TEFL – Damage Report

Well, here I am, nearly a week after the TEFL Worldwide course finished, and I’m feeling pretty exhausted. It was intense, challenging, and a lot of fun – and definitely not made any easier by my quest to find jobs and an apartment within the first two weeks of my being in Prague. After lots of flat viewing, job interviews, demo lessons and decisions, I sit here in my pretty yellow flat, scheduling classes from three different schools in Excel, craving some extra sleep in my comfortable new bed.

So, let’s talk about the course. When I first arrived here, 16 months of teaching children and adults in Japan under my belt, I was sure that I knew everything and that there would be very little new information that the course could give me. A few hours in, I realised that I had a lot to learn. From day 2, we were teaching real Czech students. From a few days in, I was labelling grammar, learning its form and various functions about as quickly as I would have to teach it. I had taught grammar in Japan, of course, but I wouldn’t really have known what present perfect continuous was if you’d smacked me across the face with it. By week 3 and 4 we were giving presentations on different grammar points and taking notes from our classmates and hey, what can I say? My inner child – a teacher’s pet – resurfaced, and I scored really well on my grammar test. Considering that the British education system doesn’t feel it necessary to teach any grammar beyond “noun, adjective and verb” I was pretty impressed.

I had five job interviews in total, two of which were for full-time positions. The tricky thing is that (perhaps just these days) most employers don’t want to cover their employees’ health insurance, even though I was led to believe that they had to do so for full-time employees. On top of that, I’d heard some unpleasant things about a couple of the schools, so I ended up deciding to take on part-time classes from three different schools. Unfortunately, one or two of them want me to get my zivnostensky list, which is basically a business license that makes me “self-employed” rather than full-time. I’m pretty stressed out about how I’m going to get that, as I thought that being an EU citizen meant I’d have minimum headaches when it came to sorting out employment etc. Apparently I need a signed statement from my landlady saying that she gives me permission to use the address as a place of business, as well as a criminal background check from home and a bunch of other things that made my head hurt just to think about!

Ah well, hopefully I’ll be working enough, and my apartment is only going to cost me 5000Kc a month in rent (plus 1500 in utilities) as I’m sharing it with Jeff. It’s a cute little place in a perfect location -5 minutes walk from a mall with a food court and supermarket, surrounded by lovely bars and restaurants, and a 5 or 10 minute tram ride into the centre. All the furniture came with it – including cutlery, crockery, bedding – everything! On top of all that, the walls are yellow and there’s loads of storage space. It’s very cute… I’ll upload pictures later. The drawback is that it’s only available until 28th February, as the landlady is having the place re-done, but the estate agent has promised to find us another place without an agency fee when the time comes.

So, it’s hopefully a few days before I start actually teaching, and even then it’ll only be a couple of hours a day at first. I do feel that the course has prepared me well (especially for acing those interviews! They were very impressed when I brought up eliciting, concept checking etc), although whether real students will be anything like the lovely students who go to TEFL Worldwide I can’t say. I might just get the chance to actually see Prague!

Sadly, two of my closest friends from the course have decided to try their luck in Taiwan! They’re very brave, and of course had I not just come from Asia with the intent on teaching in Prague, I might have tried following them. A few others from the course are sticking around, though, and it seems that Alternativ are pretty much the only company in Prague currently helping Americans get their work visa (others have advertised that they do, and yet mysteriously interviewed me and told Jeff they have no positions, despite our experience being exactly the same) as they are hiring Jeff and a few others from the course. I love what I’ve seen of Prague so far – beautiful, amazing food, cheap (at least relatively)… I hope to explore some more and get back to you. We’re thinking of taking a very quick weekend break to Vienna/Bratislava, so stay tuned!

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