Country info and advice - Serbia
The following comments are from teachers who have worked, or are currently working, in Serbia. If you are a teacher and have some advice about Serbia, please share here.
One has to remember that NATO bombed Serbia within recent memory of people there. English is very much in
need, but they are still aligned with their fellow Orthodox cousins in Russia.
Serbia has not come as far along as Slovenia, but it is pretty much in line with
the rest of the former Yugoslavia. Do not get into trouble, the cops are tough,
and if you are from the US or the UK, even more so. Kids at school are normal,
and generally well behaved. Money is still a little tight, students might only
attend class once or twice a week, and you will teach all levels, kids and
adults. Normally it is up to you to create the lesson plan. As a native English
speaker, you will also be expected to teach the Serb English teacher, as well as
your class load. Housing is either shared, or you can get an apartment in one of
the old style communist apartment blocks. Forget about A/C , get a fan when you
arrive, the buildings look like they were built from pre-cast concrete, and have
joints that sometimes leak when it rains, but your little room, generally won't.
Food has a little bit of Greek or Turkish influence - kind of spicy. Grocery
Stores are easily within walking distance, many people have bikes however. The
language is both in Cyrillic and Latin characters, the words are exactly the
same, but in the written version one looks like Russian, and the other looks Slavic.
Anonymous 16 July 2008
You are 100% wrong about Serbia!!! I've been teaching here for 10 years and some of the Serbian teachers
have more skills than the natives. You have to spend some time here if you want
to talk about it :)... People have A/Cs... and do lead a normal lifestyle... of
course some of them can't afford it, but isn't it like that anywhere else...???
Don't take the story above for granted! That's my advice!
Nikola 9 November 2008
In response to Anonymous's comments, I agree with Nikola. I have only visited Belgrade once and found the
city to be very cosmopolitan, aware of its history, and very friendly to
Americans. Of course, I wasn't doing anything that would cause contact with the
police, so I can't speak about that. Anonymous's experience may cause him or her
to believe what they have written, but one cannot generalize so much. The
general political tide is more complex than Anonymous would have you believe. My
taped interviews with Serbs contradict nearly everything Anonymous has stated.
Belgrade is a well-developed city on par with Rome, Brussels, or Munich. They do
have amenities like air conditioning, flush toilets, and everything else they
have in, say, Madison, Wisconsin or Paris, France or even Nome, Alaska. They
also have stunning architecture, a fascinating historical perspective, great
food, and wonderful people. Nikola is also correct on the professionalism of the
language teachers there. Like so many non-native speakers they are often
technically more proficient in the language than many native-speaking English
majors. Money is tight in Serbia for the aforementioned complex political
situation. That doesn't make Serbs any different from many Americans in the
current economic climate. Luckily, teaching language doesn't require a whole lot
of capital, just some sense of compassion and the joy of speaking and writing!
Ron 8 June 2009
The anonymous post is from an idiot. Take none of that seriously. Perhaps you had a bad experience but that is
not the norm. Serbia is not Utopia but it is completely modern and you can find
almost anything you would in the UK, US or western EU. People are very eager to
learn and English courses are a great opportunity to experience that. The
standard, though, is highly varied but impossible to assume who will or will not
be skilled based on age, job, etc. They are wonderfully warm to most foreigners
and you can reasonably expect that if you ask a favour, someone will take care of you. Sometimes even if you don't ask!
DA 13 December 2010
Be aware that Serbia is going deeper and deeper into an extreme economic crisis just at the time when most
countries are now in the recovery stage. There is an over-saturation of the
private language school market here, anyone who cant find a job opens a language
school (or drives a taxi). More than 100 English language schools in a city of
400 thousand (Novi Sad) and even in relatively good economic times this makes a
problem.In bad times like now, with 10 percent inflation and 25 percent
unemployment it is a catastrophe, with too many schools competing for fewer and
fewer students (and those students, or their parents,often fall very far behind
in paying)and they all keep dividing the pie into smaller and smaller pieces
until there's nothing left but crumbs for everyone. At the moment it doesn't
matter whether a school is good or bad,new or established, they are all going
down. Some schools have been here 10 or 20 yrs but are now thousands of euro in
debt. A native speaker is considered an unnecessary luxury when they don't have
enough work for the local teachers already. In this year 2011 Serbia should be
avoided. It wasn't so bad a year or two ago but it is now and there is no evidence it will get better anytime soon.
Anonymous 16 February 2011
I agree with anonymous, that's the way, tell it like it is brother, stick it up em, fear no one and speak your
mind. The people who don't agree with you are probably bored housewives whose
hubbies work in an embassy and have no real contact with the common folk of this
country. I've been living here for 6 years and have seen nothing but misery,
confusion and extreme corruption all covered by very thick layers of
pretentiousness and lies by the Serbian government. The only people who have
prospered here are the criminals and the well connected Oh and Ceca but then
she's both of those things, anyway as I was saying it's a downhill slide here in Serbia and so it's best to stay clear.
Micky zee 10 October 2011
No, not true. Serbians are incredibly friendly people and really don't hold a grudge on what happened in
1999. I've spent a lot of time there and I've found that people are incredibly
eager to meet and speak to Americans and to prove to us that they are not the
"animals" that the western media portrays them as. I encourage those who believe
otherwise to go for a visit and spend enough time to get to know someone.
B 2 November 2011
I have just returned in July having spent the Summer in Serbia. English schools can't get enough students,
and Serbia has relatively high English language proficiency. On most main
boulevards, there are people working jobs passing out flyers to go to an English
language school. They are actively and aggressively advertised, so you can rest
assured at least on the one hand that the school you may be working for has
plenty of advertising exposure, perhaps over saturation though.
The language schools have their own teachers, and don't really 'need' native speakers. You can get a job as a teacher's assistant, and basically just be the 'accent reference'. The actual teacher may be more proficient in English than you are technically, but your accent will be valuable nonetheless, especially if you are from Los Angeles or New York or London and can teach a specific accent.
Yes, Serbia is a corrupt country. But to focus on that universal point about societies speaks more about the writer who is undoubtedly naive about the real relations in his/her own country, and therefor sees it pronounced in others. Also, each country handles corruption differently. I'd rather pay a cop 20e to rip a ticket up on the spot, than deal with the 'other kind of corruption' where overzealous cops in the US just make stuff up in order to hit some quota, make a promotion, meanwhile you are stuck hundreds of dollars in court fines, drivers ed, points on DMV record, etc.
The regular police are generally polite and show regard for the public, unlike in the USA. They tend to be young and full of an idealistic sense of legalism and responsibility. They are not 'WWF Fuk yeah! killem all let god sort em out' like in most US locales.
Also, gypsies aside who seem to like it how they are, there aren't racially/culturally marginalized subcultures in Serbia. They are all 'serbian', and one out of 20 is hungarian by ancestry and surname.
Recently a young Serbian cop committed suicide in the back seat of a squad car after hurting or killing a woman pedestrian while he was driving too fast. In the US, this cop would have taken a 'she shouldn't have been in my way' attitude, and probably even promoted.
Serbia is not going into an economic crisis any faster than the Eurozone, which the Dinar is mostly tied to, is. On the plus-side, Serbia is also somewhat of a Russian interest too, and so the value of the Dinar is also related not just to the Euro but also to natural gas rates coming from the Russian GAZPROM.
J Flores 11 January 2012
I have taught English to the primary and secondary students, and Spanish in the South of Serbia and it has
been the best teaching experience ever! I must say that looking for
opportunities to teach has not been the easiest task. I've previously taught in
Georgia and Mongolia. My Serbian host family is wonderful, the local people are
very supportive and I have also learned a bit of Serbian! Excellent for both
short-term and long-term teaching positions. And - the food is the best I have
ever tasted. My favourite part is the relative ease of living and people who are open and warm. A very positive experience indeed.
Marina 29 January 2012
I really can't believe my eyes! Do you really think we are savages or something?! I am a proud Serbian
teacher of English who has been in this job for 13 years now, working in one of
the 10 private language schools that we have in this town, and after 13 years in
this business I can proudly say that we are not a single euro in debt. Mr
Anonymous obviously had a bad experience and "puts us all into one bag"! Even
though we suffered a lot, even though we struggle every day with different
problems, it is still nice and easy to live here. There is always a job if you
want one. We are warmhearted, kind, hospitable and friendly to everyone. Just
act as a human and you will receive a human reaction. If you want to come here
to become rich, you are in the wrong place. But if you want to earn for a decent
life, to be free to walk the streets without being monitored by the cameras all
over, if you want to experience all of the natural beauties of the country and a
great hospitality of the people, you are in the right place. And native speakers
are not "an unnecessary luxury"...you can ask an American who has been working
in my school for a year. You got it all wrong Mr Anonymous... It is not all about politics, government and black percentages.
Serbian_teacher 14 Feb 2012
I am Serbian born but have lived in Australia for most of my life, and am currently working in oz as a
teacher. I would relish the opportunity to go back to Serbia and find work as a
teacher but am struggling to find any advertised jobs. Could somebody please
advise me of companies to contact or job seeker websites in Serbia? Also, whats
the going rate for teachers in Serbia? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
Vladimir 12 June 2012
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