Victoria S is a 2011 TEFL Professional Online graduate teaching in Litomsyl, Czech Republic.
"From sulfuric geysers in Iceland, to the pagodas of Burma, to the formerly tyrannical Red Square of Moscow, to the intense fusion that is small island of Mauritius I have seen innumerable countries. However, at twenty-four, I was filled with lament that while I could boast a myriad of travelling experiences I had never lived, really lived, somewhere long enough to feel homesick, develop the routines of a host country, or fully know a culture inside and out.
I am currently living in Litomysl, Czech Republic, which is about two hours east of Prague. While Prague, Brno, and Plzen appear to be the hot spots for English teachers in Czech Republic, I had been living in a big city for five years and I was interested in testing out my big fish, little pond theory as well as some of the more pastoral areas of Eastern Bohemia. My town is one of the most beautiful places with a massive castle and Cathedral at its city center, a lavish town square, historic Jewish graveyards, great biking trails, and (to me) a large forest about 10 minutes from my home. While I do not have some of the amenities of larger cities- i.e. many disco techs and cafés open all hours of the night-I find that being one of two native speakers in a town of 10,000 definitely has its perks. Throughout the course of the week I am often invited to dine with a family, join one of my students for a hiking class at the gym, see a fellow teachers band play in the square, or even join new friends out for a beer. Given that the town is so small, I have found that there are limited degrees of separation. I can be at the kino (cinema) and someone will come up and speak to me in Czech, and I will politely and blushingly say I'm sorry I do not speak Czech well. Do you speak English? To which they will reply, 'Oh! You are the English teacher from the Kindergarten I have heard of you! You are teaching Jakub. I am his Aunt' or, 'You live with the Dvorak's. My son goes to school with him.
I work through a private school that has contracted me out to work with one of the local kindergartens in town. This is the first year of any English curriculum at the kindergarten and the first time that many of the children have come into contact with a native English teacher. I love being part of an innovative curriculum project in a small town that is attempting to bridge the gap and connect people from different cultures and languages. While at times the task of teaching these children English can be daunting and the pressure to make this class a success utterly overwhelming it's worth it when you see the children recognize a color that you have said. I have a co-teacher who speaks to the children in Czech and I speak to the children only in English. This dynamic has been working wonderfully so far and I am eager to see the continued language advancements of my students. One of the reasons I chose in Litomysl, in addition to its beauty, was the opportunity to teach and tutor older students in the afternoon. I had taught children back in the States, but I wanted to take this experience as the opportunity to try out different levels of teaching. I now tutor four adults and teach two basic classes throughout the week. Being able to teach these two different levels has been entirely rewarding each in its own right.
Living in a smaller town is often times more economically sound than living in a big city. To put it in perspective, this past weekend I had the occasion to visit some friends in Praha and while out I met a fellow English Teacher who was working behind the bar. According to him a lot of English teachers in Prague work a second job in the industry to make ends meet. He had been living in Prague for four months, but has been working seven days a week for three months. The pay, whether in a big city or small city, is much the same and your expenses in a smaller city are far less than those of a bustling metropolis. Don't get me wrong, there are some days that I would love the be able to walk out my door and be overwhelmed with the possibility of going anywhere, but for now it remains a nice place to visit.
Teaching and tutoring here in Litomysl has been wonderful and I am anxious and excited to see what becomes of my Czech language skills and teaching over the next nine months. Best of luck to all on their upcoming teaching adventures. Äau."