The following comments are from English teachers who have taught, or are currently teaching English in Slovakia.
Slovakia is a beautiful country especially for those who are looking for adventure. I recommend visiting east Slovakia, a region with wild nature, wooden churches, old forests, with opportunities for hiking, cycling and trekking. If you’re an outdoors person, this is the right place for you to stay and live.
Slovakia is a fast growing country, especially in Bratislava. As a result, there is a huge demand for business language teachers. However, money is barely enough to get by and you find yourself doing private lessons just to make ends meet. Bratislava isn’t the most exciting of cities, but is a good place to see other places like Vienna and Budapest.
Slovakia is my first foreign experience, and I love it. After 18 months here I would say that it is a very interesting country, and the people are friendly and hardworking. As Martin said in his entry, if you like the outdoor life, this is the place for you! And I have found that Bratislava has many hidden bars and cafes, which are much better than the so-called trendy bars, and in the main a lot cheaper too. I would agree with Stakhanov that the money paid by language schools to employed teachers is quite low, so would advise anyone coming here to work for an agency or on a contract-hours basis, as the pay is much better. For anyone offered a job here, the typical rent is between 5,000 – 8,000sk per month for a room in a shared flat, depending on location. Beer is anything from 25 – 50sk per half litre, a pizza in a decent restaurant is around 120sk. You can see my healthy lifestyle! OK that’s all, my last word would be to come and try it here, it is really enjoyable and safe. Good luck!
Slovakia is OK for a year out or if you are on the run from your spouse etc. Beer is very cheap and food is very greasy. Forget Slovakia if you are black and/or vegetarian. Racism is very common in Slovakia and vegetarian menus are very seldom. I recall seeing a vegetarian meal consisting of fried cheese with ham. Yes, ham is considered suitable for vegetarians! Slovak students are usually hardworking but tend to be very conservative (in Bratislava and surroundings in any case). Salaries in Slovakia are not enough to get by on, but it is a good place to go if you have rich parents to sponsor you.
I’m black, I’ve traveled to Slovakia twice, and I’m planning my third trip for this summer. Each time I have visited, I have been offered a job because I am not only a native English speaker, but because I am an English and theatre teacher and my spoken English is clear (without much of a distinct accent). I’ve been doing research on the country because I’m interested in moving and possible teaching there. The economy isn’t the greatest, but it has been steadily getting better. The food is excellent though I will admit it is not for strict vegetarians. To say that the food is greasy… not in comparison with America. Most of the food is very natural, but be prepared for soup with your lunch and a much heavier lunch than dinner. It’s great for helping one lose weight and still feel full. The deserts are fabulous and very light. I could eat their ice cream all day. As a black woman, I found that some people were very fascinated with me and why I would choose their country and language to learn and embrace. There were few who kept their distance. Most smiled and greeted me. I’ve made many friends there. I would say if you are considering this country or any country for that matter, first visit it… not just during the summer, if possible. I even took a course on the language and culture, which provided me with a wealth of friends and knowledge.
I spent a year teaching English in Slovakia and now, having been back home for nearly four years, all I want to do is go back. Not necessarily to work there again, because a year is a long time in a foreign country … but to visit all the beautiful cities and towns, and enjoy the countryside, the food and the people. Of all the countries I’ve visited, Slovakia has a special place in my heart.
Slovakia is a nice country, and teaching English in Bratislava is great. However, they don’t pay so well…and language centres are constantly late in paying their teachers and expect all native English teachers to do anything they want, but when teachers need support or even ask when they will get paid, language centres don’t help! That’s the catch 22. Bratislava is a nice city, I’ve been there for almost 4 years, but, unfortunately, to all the native English speakers who would like to live there, it loses it’s charm about after a year. In my case, the novelty has worn off, and if you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse who is Slovak, there is nothing there to keep you from wanting to live there. Bratislava is good for someone who is in transition and would like to teach English for some time, but it isn’t foreigner friendly towards Canadians and Americans, and unfortunately, language centres are focused on the money and do not really care or assist the teachers in any other way. Great location to other cities like Vienna, Prague, Budapest and Central Europe. But not a great place to live in for more than a year. It’s been nearly 4 years for me there, and i’m planning to leave this year once I get another teaching job in Vienna. Benefits of in living in Bratislava: close to other European destinations for travel, relatively affordable food and drink, relaxing and comfortable living in a flat. Downfalls in living in Bratislava: Low pay, high expectations from employer, lack of support, delayed payments – exploitation of Native English speakers. Private clients (you end up having to teach privately because the salary you make from regular teaching isn’t enough) cancel tremendously and aren’t serious about keeping a steady schedule for English training. Bratislava is small and it’s boring. Not like Prague or Vienna where it’s culturally diverse.
Unfortunately, Bratislava is really dull after a year – the schools are badly-run – native teachers’ are used and exploited and the cost of living will blow you away – salaries like 400 euro a month. Flats cost about the same if you go 20 minutes away from the centre. Young, foolish, teacher/traveller types are being exploited – go for a weekend, but you’re better off in Prague. There is a shortage of business teachers, but that’s because they won’t work for nothing!
I don’t know why people are complaining. You came to a former communist country. What did you expect? If you didn’t like Slovakia, then you didn’t do enough research about it before you decided to come. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have come. I am living outside of Kosice close to the border with Hungary. I find that most people are nice and ask a ton of questions about America. People are generally curious about learning English and most of the young people know some or understand some English. The city is beautiful except Lunik 9. People say that the food is bad, probably went to a restaurant. If you have some real home made food, you would enjoy it. As for vegetarian dishes, there are probably none, since traditional Slovak food is heavy and includes a lot of pork. Then again, if you read about what people ate, you would know. Don’t expect people to cater to you because you are an American. Remember you are in someone else’s country. Stop complaining and enjoy the time here. Where I live it is very calm and quiet. I come from a city close to Los Angeles, so I love it here.
Slovakia is a great country, rapidly growing in many aspects. It is still relatively cheap, but has to offer talented people and plenty of business opportunities. There is easily the best optical and mobile internet coverage in the world, but there is stunning nature as well to pleasantly break your working routine. People are mostly friendly to foreigners (although friendliness levels may decrease with age for many – mostly historical – reasons).
If you are a teacher, you can advertise your native language teaching skills on this brand new site: http://talkin.eu/ It’s great even if you just wish to find new friends and give sporadic conversation lessons.
Disguised as a language exchange site, TalkIN is actually a great way for you to start building your social network, plus there are mostly foreigners/expats signed up so you can look for some of your countrymen there too. (Or even find someone nice to teach you some Slovak!)
I spent 6 months teaching English in Bratislava. I found it difficult to get the hours though. I would teach on average 13 hours a week at the private school I worked at. Then I also worked for two other employers working 1.5 hours on a Friday afternoon teaching kids at a primary school and 2 hours a week having conversational classes with a married couple. So if you like, working 16.5 hours for three different employers. I was fortunate though that my rent and bills were part of the contract of my main job and I just had to pay a small minimum amount each week.
Bratislava is not the prettiest city but its small and compact. Walker friendly but a very regular bus and tram network if desired. It is also relatively safe and very centrally located with a good rail network to other European cities as well as to other parts of Slovakia. Slovaks in the main are nice and friendly and I managed to do a fair bit of travel in the six months I was there. Vienna is just an hour away by train with a trains travelling to and from Bratislava every hour. Often a great way to spend a Saturday.
As already mentioned Bratislava was not the most scenic place I have visited but Slovakia itself is lovely. Very mountainous with lots of old castles, lakes, national parks. Skiing and hiking been very popular activities. Another plus about Slovakia is that it is not over run with visitors, with a lot of the tourist destinations been visited by Slovaks themselves or their neighbouring countries.
In a nutshell I would recommend Bratislava as a destination to teach English if you would like to work somewhere not too busy, not too many tourists, opportunities for weekend travel and day trips, but on the negative side like most TEFL jobs in Europe pay is low and hours difficult to come by.