The title says it all….sometimes you really have to go out on a limb to demonstrate something to a student or class.  Often times , there will not be direct translations for the words you say…or worse, the translation that does exist isn’t quite the same and the student misuses the word.  Before humans developed spoken word we had body language, and to this day we still rely heavily on unspoken messages.  Just for example, what is an easier way to explain the word “hysterical” as in “After he won the lottery he was hysterical”? 

1- say , ” it is when someone is really emotional and cannot control themselves so they act really out of the ordinary”…..


2- start yelling, screaming, and waving your hands everywhere as you say IM ACTING HYSTERICALLY RIGHT NOW!!!!


The clear option is 2 because it gets the point across immediately in a way that students can relate to.  Just the other day I was trying to explain erupting with anger, and instead of some wordy explanation, I yelled really loud and started throwing things.  My students not only got an awesome laugh, but they completely understood the phrase “erupt with anger” and I didn’t have to use too many words to do it.Image

bottom line is that sometimes an explanation for a word is beyond words when you have to think it up right on the spot, and sometimes students just wont be able to understand it without a concrete example….what better way than showing them exactly what it means. Not to mention it is a good way to get the students to laugh and enjoy the lesson.


The expat community in Prague is pretty tight knit, especially seeing as how the city is so big. There are certain pubs or places that cater to expats, and you inevitably meet a ton that you just don’t feel like talking to.  The small talk that ensues is mind numbing  at times, and outside of the usual ” where are you from?” and ” how long have you been here”? There are a few topics that take up the bulk of the time spent flapping our mouths around making strange noises that other people understand.

1. BEER-


not just how good it is….but how unbelievably cheap it is in comparison to back home( especially the northeast United States).  Sample conversation:







This woman’s face about sums it up.  There are so many  and  that it will make your head spin.  HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE THAT FUCKING R LETTTER?????ere?r?er?e??!??!? rZZUHHHH NO MAYBE ITS RZZHHHHHRRRUUUHHHH OR RLRLRLRLRLRLZUUUHHHH.  who knows, its hard though.  The bulk of expats here do not speak Czech.  Mostly because everyone here speaks at least some English and we aren’t forced to learn.  Expats at the pubs drone on for countless hours with the same generic verbal diarrhea about it. LIKE OH MY GOD IT IS SO HARD. I ONLY PIVO PROSIM HA AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Its excruciating at times.  Sadly, its true.  That is the extent of our Czech.  I am starting to take lessons, but I am seeing very little progress….mainly because its impossible.




Like it or not, just about every English speaking expat that you come across will either be a student, or an English teacher….and why not? Its not really hard, it can be pretty fun with good students, and it pays the bills, all while giving you enough free time to enjoy yourself in this beautiful city.  I think that 90% of the people I have met are either teachers or started here as teachers.  All of the convos are the same , too.  







As fun as living in Prague is, sometimes you just wish you didn’t have to waste time babbling with people about these things. Maybe one day new topics will begin to be spoken about, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.  The beer is super fucking cheap though.


So now that we have covered the basics of teaching in Prague its time to expand into other parts of the world.  I admit that my knowledge of TEFL in other parts of the world isn’t quite as extensive, and what I know is based on what my school taught me, as well as searching on the internet and what I have heard from other teachers. For the most part, this will just be the basics like if there are a lot of jobs/pay/standard of living. Each place offers some give and take. If a beautiful Western European capital is what you are looking for , then its possible, but you will have a high cost of living and high taxes. A burgeoning southeast Asian country? well there will be plenty of jobs, but the money wont be very strong outside the country, the services like health may be lacking.  Lets check out some popular TEFL destinations….


To make things easier, I will include Germany in Western Europe, although it clearly is a different bread than the other countries.  Western Europe is one of the most developed places in the world, and perhaps the most important place on Earth in terms of world history. France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Germany are all going to fall into this category for me.


haw haw, the lovely land of France.  France is one of the most popular destinations in the world for tourism, and the same can be said of TEFL.  Many people want to teach TEFL in France for many reasons.  There is a lot of work, the quality of life is high, and France is beautiful.   However, finding a job in France will not be as easy as finding one in the Czech Republic .  Most jobs in France will require either teaching experience or a college degree + some language certification, but there are still some to be had with just TEFL.  Although I am sure there are exceptions, this was made clear to me by my school.  Also, a quick search of open TEFL positions advertised via the internet have backed up this assertion.  One other thing I noticed was that a few even said a basic understanding of French is necessary ( not surprising, the French are adamant about their language).  You can expect about 1,400 Euro per month roughly in the bigger cities, and less than that in villages.  Places like Paris obviuosly have the most work, highest salaries, and most fun things to do…..but the other side of the coin is high living expenses, and competition for positions. Places of interest are Paris, Lyon, and Marseille.

useful websites:


Beautiful weather, tomato throwing, bull fighting, tapas, strange abstract artists….you name it, Spain has got it.  sadly, what Spain has also got is a high unemployment rate and struggling economy.  That doesn’t mean that teaching here is impossible, far from it. The demand for English teachers in Spain is apparently high according to my school, and the salary is workable.  Most teachers find themselves making around 1,000 euro after taxes per month. Despite the crummy economy, teaching English to businesses is still in demand, and major places are of course Madrid and Barcelona, but also Seville.  Here are some links:


Buongiorno, come stai oggi? I loved studying Italian at college, and still continue to get a private Italian every week here in Prague.  The food, the art, the language, the culture, and seemingly everything else about Italy and its language are awesome…well, to me at least.  As with the other countries, the demand for English instruction is high.  You will need a certification as it is nearly impossible to get a job without it. I have also noticed a lot of advertisements that require a bachelors degree or higher, though many still do not require this. My school also made me aware that many of the jobs are solely for EU citizens, but there are still many opportunities for non-EU citizens. Bigger cities like Rome and Milan offer the highest salaries, some advertise as much $2,000 USD per month before taxes, but keep in mind the the cost of living can be much higher and taxes will take a lot of your pay.



DEUTSCHELAND!!!!!!!! Germany may be the best place to go teach TEFL in this area of Europe, or so I hear.  The pay can be quite good, but keep in mind taxes are sky high.  If attempting to find a job Germany, try to find one that keeps you on full time because you won’t be subject to certain taxes that kill your income( don’t ask why, I have no clue. Perhaps consult a teaching school in Germany. I only know because a friend from Germany told me, and I also read it on several TEFL sites for Germany).  The demand for English is high in Germany.  The biggest advantage to teaching in Germany is probably the work visa process.  What is described mostly as a nightmare in most other countries, it seemingly quite easy in Germany.  If you are offered a job , you can usually receive a 3 month permit to stay and work and in the mean time you can come up with the other documents you need like a German address, health insurance and other things. Again the cost of living can be quite high, and the money you bring from home wont go as far.  The beer is great, the yodeling is right on key, and the demand for teachers is high.  If you don’t wanna come to the Czech Republic, I suggest Germany.

Moving Abroad 101 Section 3: Where to go? part 1( Prague)

Ok, so you want to move abroad and teach English…so now where to?

The amount of work, the taxes, quality of life, language (obviously), and of course salary will depend on where you go to work.  There is some give and take to all of them.  One part of the world may see you get a nice salary and maybe even a place to stay, another part and you may find it difficult to find work, and difficult to earn enough to stay afloat.  This article will be what I know about the TEFL situation in the world , mainly the Czech Republic, based on experience, info from the my school and the internet + what I have heard from the teachers that I know.


Simply put: Prague is stunning.

Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic.  Prague is one of the most beautiful cities on Earth.  Prague was for the most spared by the carnage of the second world war. Cities like London, Berlin, Dresden, and Warsaw were almost completely destroyed and rebuilt.  Prague on the other hand was mostly untouched, and has a seemingly unlimited sample of architecture reaching back for centuries. Its Castle, Old Town Square and Mala Strana are all centuries old.  Prague doesn’t have stunning skyscrapers or towering business blocs, but it is a bustling city of over 1 million people and offers some of the best night life anywhere on the planet.

Why here?

  • Cost of living is low, and if you live with roomates it should not be difficult to have more than half of your salary left after taxes and rent.  For instance , my roomate just started working for a preschool and will make approx 20,000 Crowns per month, and pays roughly 6500 in rent.  Account for taxes and she can still expect to have 10,000 crowns left over, and in a city where beer is 35 crowns at many bars ( outside of the tourist traps), and meals can be found for less than 100 crowns at places, that can stretch very far( especially if you don’t buy stupid crap that you don’t need).
  • There is a lot of work  Before I came here, I heard that it was not that easy to find work anymore and that it would take some time and some looking.  Well I found a job within a week and there were at least 10 schools hiring. I sent out an application to each one and got several interviews. I got the job on my first one. You can’t really be picky and many will have demanding work schedules ( such as an English high school that’ll be like any other job back home), but if you want to work part time or free lance, it is possible.
  • The quality of life- As I said before, the quality of life here in Prague is awesome.  The city is beautiful and has a lot of parks and other fun outdoorsy things.  It also has some of the best nightlife in the world. Beer is unbelievably cheap by western standards. Just the other day a pint of Staroprammen( a decent local beer) was on sale for 10 crowns……which is .50 cents. There are tons of bars , and beer is a national art form. As with any other large city, there is a plethora of places to choose from. You can still find nice restaurants that are cheap and serve local cuisine. My girlfriend and I rented a small boat and floated around the Vltava river in the evening one Saturday night and paid 200kc for the hour and 60 crowns for a large bottle of wine.  So an hour on a boat plus wine for 260kc ($13)
  • culture and history by culture I mean that the Czech people are generally very kind, and that the attitude in the city is rather laid back compared to the USA( at least the NY metro area). You can walk your dog without  a leash, you can drink beer in public, people are generally friendly and accommodating to English speaking people.  Prague has so much history I don’t even know where to start.  It seems like everything in the center district is from medieval times. Its still possible to go inside the St Vitus cathedral from the middle ages or find a pub that’s been around 4 centuries. Old Town Square looks much like it did hundreds of years ago
  • large and well connected TEFL community I do not know about other places in the world, but Prague’s TEFL community is quite big, with lots of English speaking people that live here.  I live with some classmates from my certification class as well as my girlfriend. Our building has two other flats with English Teachers as well.  There are a lot of expat haunts , and other places that have tons of English teachers where you can meet lots of other young teachers. A place not too far from us has American food, trivia nights, karaoke, American movie nights and tons of other stuff that    Americans/Brits go to. People can help you find jobs or private students, too.


  • The money there are very few places in the world that you go to teach English in if you want to make good money….Prague is not one of them.  Yes you can live comfortably here in the Czech Republic, and the quality of life is very good in Prague, but you cannot make a lot of money.  The crown is weak compared to the dollar ( roughly 20:1) , so your salary would be like $1,000 per month maximum at least for quite some time until you get a higher position or certification.   To put that in perspective, a flight home and back will be at least 17,000( to New York City) or more so you could expect to pay double your monthly disposable income to go home to visit.  On the flip side of that, the dollar goes far so the money you bring from home will stretch. So yeah, outside of the Czech Republic/eastern Europe, your money will not go far.
  • The language barrier Lets just say that Czech is difficult……very difficult. It is part of the Slavic language family, and is has completely different grammar/vocab base than the Romance/Germanic that we are used to.  While many , if not most, people in Prague speak SOME English, it definitely is worth trying to learn if you plan to stay long.  Czech not only requires the verb to be conjugated, but also require the noun to be declinated( is that the word? declined maybe?) either way , Czech has declension, which means the ending of the noun changes depending on its use in the sentence. On top of the that, the pronunciation was possibly the inspiration for the film Dawn of the Dead.  Czech has many words without vowels , such as zmrzl( frozen) or the phrase Strč prst skrz krk which means stick your fingers down your throat. As with any language, practice and you can speak, it is just harder for us to catch on to a different language family.
  • service is not so great- In America, its sad to say that we expect our servants to be something like indentured servants or slaves.  I remember going out west or down south and thinking how god awful and slow the service was.  A diner back in southwest CT or NYC can have you in and out in 12 minutes.  Well here is even worse. Service is usually quite slow, and servants can seem disinterested and pushy as well.  It is improving , but still agonizing for me at times.  Not that there is anything wrong with enjoying your food and taking your time, but sometimes it is too much.  Also , scam artists abound when they see you don’t speak Czech. Many places downtown will try to rip you off or trick you into spending more.  Make sure you know the exchange, verify the price and count your change.
  • high price of consumer goods for some odd reason or another, perhaps taxes or domestic production, consumer goods are crazy expensive here( in terms of pay) for instance phones, games, furniture, clothing computers and other electronics are the same prices as back home in CT…but the salary is close to half of what I would make back home.  Its easy to find nice secondhand clothes, or bargains, but for the most part, anything new will be out of your reach on a teachers salary…unless you wanna be completely broke.

* the bureaucracy in the Czech Republic is also infamous.  I suggest hiring a visa company to handle your visa situation, and be prepared for a long wait and headaches.  More on this later.

So there you have it.  Czech Republic is a great place to live and work if you are looking for some fun, adventure, sightseeing, and a big beer gut.  It is not the place for you if you want to make a lot of money, and have that money be powerful when you travel the world. Prague is great fun, but that doesn’t mean its all fun and games.  You still must work and make sacrifices.

I will leave you with this picture to sum it up

Photo shopped but still gorgeous:


Once we decided where it was that he wanted to go , we had to decide what we were going to do for work.  Since I can only speak for what I have experienced, I would say the easiest way to do this is to teach English.  There are other avenues , though.  For instance, there is the tourism industry:  Hotels, hostels, travel agencies, city tours, pub crawls, restaurants in the tourist areas.  Don’t be discouraged, keep looking.

The best idea(for people without a lot of expenses) is to pursue a teaching certificate. A teaching certificate, mainly the TEFL certificate.  A TEFL certificate isn’t as prestigious as something like a masters in teaching or a CELTA certificate, it will suffice to get you teaching work abroad. The school I studied at advertised a large number of jobs not only in The Czech Republic, but also France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Asian countries….more on that later.  The total cost for my TEFL course was about $1400 US dollars,  (fees will vary depending on where you study)  ..  Nothing to scoff at, but certainly affordable.  The course lasted 4 weeks and was 5 days a week from 10-6.  Now I know that sounds demanding, but much of the time is either spent teaching, or is time off for lesson prep.  Days you don’t have a lesson scheduled, you can go back to your flat early.


The abundance of jobs for English teaching is one of them.  Schools are looking for native speakers to teach their classes because it gives a sense of authenticity that a non-native cannot recreate.  Not only that, but the knowledge of social situations, slang, national history, idioms, and phrasal verbs is something that a native speaker is much better at than a non native.

The work is also rather leisurely.  Teaching can be long and stressing some days, but isn’t like you are breaking a sweat toiling in the coal mines of West Virginia.  The classes are genuinely fun most of the time as the students, especially younger ones, are SO interested in American culture.  They often want to talk about movies, music, TV, culture, politics…rather than studying English.

Transience:  If you are like me, and enjoy moving from place to place, TEFL is a great way to keep moving.  Searching for a different job , and finally finding a company to take you in,  then just bolting for another country won’t sit so well with people or the government.  Contracts are often longer, too.  With TEFL, you usually just sign a one year contract( usually means nothing anyway), and can move from school to school every 6 months to a year. You can even move from country to country if you so desire.


Work can be unsteady, especially in summer months.  Holidays, cancellations by the student or the company, and many other factors can lead to your schedule being unsteady.

The pay isn’t spectacular. If this is what you desire then try to find employment elsewhere

Where to study TEFL?

I studied at TEFL worldwide, Prague. Here is their link. TEFL was great.  The instructors, Dan and Kenny, were awesome.  The staff was helpful as well.

Another one that was recommended to me, and I have heard good things about is The Language House

Here is a great TEFL review site that has student reviews of tons of TEFL places around the world.

SOME ADVICE!!!! Be sure that you have enough money to survive for AT LEAST 2 MONTHS AFTER PAYING EXPENSES.  I mean, be sure you have enough to pay for your course + accommodation .  Check what realistic rent prices will be, and remember that many companies that find flats for you charge first month and deposit + a realtor fee.

For Prague, the course was around $1400, and realistic rent prices were abbout $350 per month AT LEAST  unless you share a flat with roomates, and then it can be lower, perhaps around $300.  Also, you can get a job quickly but not paid quickly, as many places pay ONCE PER MONTH. YES, ONCE PER MONTH. I know it is Earth-shattering for Americans, but you don’t get a check every week.  I started teaching in May…I didn’t get paid for may until the end of June….. so you need to have enough not to starve.  Keep in mind VISA fees as well, as they can be high.  I suggest no less than $3,500 total ON TOP of your course fee.  And I think that should be the minimum unless you think you can live off of the maggots that will be growing in the trash can that you will be sleeping in.  it may seem like a lot but it certainly doable with ease if you just save money, and have a supportive family.

Upon graduation with your certificate , it is important to not be picky.  Apply to as many jobs as are offered by the school.  of course you don’t want to take a job that pays nothing, so consult with your school about pay scales!

More about where to choose, and why I chose the Czech Republic next time.


I feel as though I was like most people.  You know? That kind of person who always says they are going to do things, but rarely ever does.  It isn’t because I don’t want to do them, it’s because I don’t want to put the time into it, or the work, or maybe I get afraid, or discouraged.  Living abroad WOULD BE AWESOME…but what if I don’t have enough money? Or can’t speak the language? or get kidnapped? or get conned? what if I get a job that ends up screwing me over and now I’m stuck 3,500 miles from home with no money and no way home and when I come back everyone will laugh at me for failure and I will be a pariah that is forced to live in the woods and drink his own boiled urine just to survive?  My whole life down the toilet just to pursue some silly dream of living somewhere else!!!!!!!( GASPPPPPP!!!!)


Well it is important to cast that type of thinking aside.  The difference between those that say they will and those that do is simply….the doers…do it.  It isn’t impossible.  thousands of people relocate every month from their home country to another for who knows how many reasons.  Some are looking for adventure, others for asylum, some are looking for a chance at a new life, an escape from whatever is haunting them back home.


I was a mix of everything.  My life was good; in fact, dare I say I sort of enjoyed my life.  I had great friends that I had known since grammar school.  I had a large and loving family, supportive parents, lots of hobbies and a steady job. But there was a difference between enjoying myself and truly being happy. Whatever that may be. I had thought about everywhere.  Iceland, Great Britain, Italy, China, New Zealand, you name it.  One day Charlanne( my lovely girlfriend) and I were in the kitchen, sorta down about how our dream of moving down under was not really feasible due to money issues, visas, our dog, etc.  Maybe it was possible, but it would take years to save the $ to get there.  As crazy as it sounds, I looked on the fridge and saw a picture of Prague. I don’t know the original , but it looked a lot like this one from



Anyways, I decided after research that Prague was the place we were going( I’ll explain more in a later section about where to go).  I made up my mind that I was going no matter what.  No excuses, no ifs, ands or buts.


In order to become reality, it must first come to pass in your mind.  You need to want it.  You need to set your calender and count down the days.  You need to text your girlfriend every day about how excited you are( if you aren’t moving with a partner, then find someone to share your excitement with, and do not let them down). I would not have been able to look her in the eye, especially not after she told her parents, and tell her that we could no longer go.  It wasn’t a big deal for me to leave my home. I have always been a bit detached even though I was a loving son, sibling, friend, etc. However, some may be afraid to leave , and that is ok.  Here is my take on it. As human beings, we are conditioned to survive.  We do whatever it takes.  We think about our children, loved ones, etc and everything that can go wrong.  Back when our species was evolving, it was normal for us to take the easy way out.  Never change things if it was working.  I mean, the world was a dangerous place, wasn’t it? Why venture out into the wild blue yonder if you didn’t have to? that is why I believe we are conditioned to stay in one place and accept routine.


Don’t be afraid.  I am alive and well.  Other countries are safe to.  Believe it or not, many are SAFER than the United States, and have just as high of living standards.  Figure out how you are going to do it, how much money you will need( depending on country, more on that later) and what you hope to do there, and what avenues are you are going to take to get there.


How will you save money?  Well it’s way easier than you think.  Don’t buy stupid shit you don’t need.  don’t blow money at the bar. Don’t go out to eat all the time.  Don’t watch cable TV, don’t waste gas, turn the lights off, buy second hand clothes, ride a bike to work, etc.  There are a million ways.  Say you want to move in 6 months: don’t spend $40 at the bar every weekend, save a tank of gas every month, cut $20 off of your bills, get rid of your $75 cable plan( TV sucks anyway), save going out to eat for special occasions.  Before you know it you can have an extra $2,000 in 6 months.


In short, make the plunge.  Make it so you cannot go back.  If this is what you want then just do it.  It’s real. I did it, and many others did too.  It really isn’t a big deal. When you get wherever you are going, you are sure to find many other people who did the same thing and they will all tell you the same story about how they are happy they did it.


Trust me.

My letter to David Aldridge. Hope I get picked for his column!

Sorry this isn’t Prague related :(



First off, I would like to say that you are my favorite basketball writer, and I read you column every week.  I am a die hard NBA fan that currently resides in the Czech Republic , working as an Englsih teacher.  You do not realize how much you love the NBA until it means staying up until 1am just to watch the start of the Knicks game even though you have lessons the next morning.  I set alarms for every hour so I can wake up and see the score of the Grizzlies/Thunder playoff games, and was up until after 4 watching the Heat/Bulls game the night before.
As far as Jason Collins, I would like to add my two cents on the issue: who cares?  The basic view points on the issue that I have come across are
1-Homosexuality is a sin because my god says so: I hate to break it to the believers of their respective religions, but there are many things that your religion deems to be a sin.  For instance, worshiping another god.  I do not see these people emailing you to deface any athletes that are Jewish or Muslim.  Religions are very strict, and for the most part, they offer some guarantee of salvation in return for a life of strict adherence.  Most of the laws set down by religion are not followed by 99% of adherents, and when all of the laws are followed, they are called extremists.  I doubt anyone who has emailed you is a strict enough follower of their religion to warrant themselves casting doubt on another mans private business.  ” People in glass houses should not throw stones”.  Notice many of them open their messages with ” I am no judge…..but” and then proceed to judge another man.
2. I commend Jason Collins , but do not agree with him- Ok, good for you.  I don’t think he needs your approval. As far science knows, sexuality and attraction are emotions and desires governed by hormones in our bodies.  Since the goal of species is to survive and procreate, it only a natural product of evolution for opposite species to be attracted to each other in order to procreate. But what we do not recognize is that our genetic code is subject to mutations and often deviates from the mean.  Many people are born all over the spectrum, and it is easily conceivable that a male could be born without the same balance of hormones as most males, and become attracted to the same sex.  Jason Collins does not owe you , me, or anyone else an explanation.  I was born premature, incredibly ill, and now bare several very visible scars all over my body. I had no control over this.  I do not owe anyone an explanation, nor should they pass judgement on the way I look or how I go about my daily life.  If only the same respect that was given to me by people was given to Jason, our world would be a better place.
3  He is doing it for attention- No, he is doing it because he shouldn’t have to live a lie just to please other people.  ” Nobody knew this guy” is something I have seen said. Oh really? I bet nobody knows the people who are saying that either, and I bet they still don’t.  Jason Collins has a decent bit of fame, the respect of a league of extraordinary athletes, and probably a very fat bank account. I doubt he cares about attention that only his detractors seem to be looking for.
The real point of view that should be taken is as follows: Jason Collins, like all other people, is born free.  Our collective social contract deems that as long as he does not infringe upon your rights or the rights of anyone else, that he free to live his life as he chooses.  You may not agree, but that is for you to deal with personally. Jason Collins, as the public knows him has not changed.  He is still an honest, friendly, and caring man.  The only difference now is that the public knows what he does behind closed doors in an aspect of our lives that the western world has deemed as private.  If your life is so dull, empty, and worthless that you need to attempt to put down another man just because of who he is sexually attracted to or who he loves, then the problem is with you and not Mr Collins.
I commend Jason for having the courage to reveal his true self to the world, and hope he continues living the life he wants for himself.  These people are no different than bullies at school, and we all know that the real problem that bullies have is on the inside of themselves.
cheers from Prague