Country info and advice - Serbia
The following comments are from teachers who have taught, or are currently teaching, in Serbia. If you are a teacher and have some advice to share, please add it 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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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