Poland

Teaching English in Poland With JustSpeak!

February, 2017. I’ve been back in Manchester for 2 months after my huge stint in Southeast Asia and I’m restless. I want to begin planning a trip to Europe but I have no idea where to start. After living on the same beach for a year, working in the same bar, and seeing the same people, the idea of going back to backpacking solo from country to country is pretty daunting.

And then I receive a message from JustSpeak.

justspeak poland

 

Workaway.info is a website that I signed up to about two years ago, but never actually utilised. The idea is that you work a few hours per day in exchange for free accommodation, food and drink. Of course, this is perfect for travellers who want to save some cash whilst on the road without committing to a long-term “real” job. This “work” could be anything from helping to renovate an old building, to babysitting, to looking after somebody’s pet cats, to helping out in a hostel, and the best bit is that pretty much every country in the world is featured on Workaway.

Volunteers can contact “hosts”, or vice versa, in order to negotiate work. In this case, a host by the name of Małgorzata from a company named JustSpeak contacted me asking if I was interested in teaching English to Polish adults for 5 days, all expenses paid.

At first, I was hesitant. I’d never wanted to teach before, and the idea of doing so was not appealing to me. However, after looking at the JustSpeak website and realising that the “teaching” really just involved having one-to-one conversations rather than standing up in front of a classroom full of people, I thought I’d give it a go.

Fast-forward to May and I’m on a plane to Poznan for my JustSpeak programme, nervous but excited for the week ahead. I figured that taking part in the programme would ease me in gently to another larger trip, and rationalised that if I enjoyed my time with JustSpeak, I could return again to Poland for another week of free food and accommodation (which I later ended up doing!).

justspeak poland

Hard at work

So, what was in it for me?

1. A welcome meal and drink at an Italian restaurant in Poznan the day before the JustSpeak programme commenced

2. Free accommodation for four nights at a hotel in Kwiejce

3. Three meals a day for five days

4. Free tea/coffee

5. Free gym access

6. Access to the hotel’s bicycles, basketball courts and lake

7. Two free beers per night

8. Free shuttle from Poznan to Kwiejce and back

9. The opportunity to make friends with other JustSpeak volunteers and Polish students

I’d have been an idiot not to, right?

Right!

justspeak poland

 

Everything about the JustSpeak programmes that I participated in was unbelievable.

From the monster portions of traditional Polish food, to cycling through the forest, to toasting sausages on a campfire and dancing under the stars, I could not have had a better time with JustSpeak. Our days were spent sitting by the lake having deep and meaningful conversations, playing fun word games in larger groups, and learning about the differences and similarities between our cultures. Nights were spent crying with laughter around the campfire (this may have been helped by a story which involved a camel, a rodeo, a witch doctor and a broken wrist), having fiercely competitive games of Monopoly, and making idiots out of ourselves as we played Charades.

justspeak poland

 

The Polish students went from being reserved, nervous and lacking in confidence, to outgoing, hilarious and self-assured, and it was really heartwarming to see them improve so much in such a short space of time.

However, what made my two JustSpeak programmes truly special were the people that I met. Ranging in ages from 18 to 73, I got to form relationships with psychotherapists, life coaches, television presenters, Japanese translators, university professors, entrepreneurs and even some fellow travel bloggers! The bonds that we all formed as a group were beautiful, and I made some friendships at JustSpeak that I know will be long-lasting, such as my friendship with Joanna, who I have since been to visit twice in her home city of Warsaw (which you can read about here).

justspeak poland

Not a bad classroom!

 

I honestly cannot recommend JustSpeak enough to my fellow solo travellers. What could be better than having a few days in a free hotel, with beautiful surroundings, getting to hang out with intelligent, interesting and hilarious people from around the world? You don’t have to have any qualifications to join the JustSpeak programme – you literally just need to be a Native English speaker! What’s more, you can even choose where you’d like to take part in the programme (JustSpeak offers programmes in Kwiejce and Warsaw), whether you’d prefer a 5-day or 2-day programme, and whether you’d prefer to work with youths or adults! If all of this sounds good, then head over to JustSpeak’s website and shoot Małgorzata an email!*

*I’d also like to clarify that I’m not getting any sort of commission for this – I just really rate JustSpeak and would love to see more people having as good an experience as I did!

justspeak poland

justspeak poland

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18 Comments

  • Reply
    John
    August 11, 2017 at 7:23 am

    Excellent blog I taught at a course with Małgorzata a couple of years ago and just like you loved it and made some great friends and I went back a year later to do another. You have captured the vibe of the course and the Polish people perfectly.

    • Reply
      Travelling Jezebel
      August 11, 2017 at 10:58 am

      Thank you so much! Yeah I really loved my time there, I only wish the programmes were longer! Maybe we’ll teach together one day, haha.

  • Reply
    Suzie
    August 12, 2017 at 11:30 am

    This looks like it would be so much fun! I would definitely do it if I were in Europe ☺️

  • Reply
    Sarah
    August 12, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    What an amazing opportunity! I loved Poland but didn’t visit either of those places so will definitely look into this.

    • Reply
      Travelling Jezebel
      August 12, 2017 at 5:20 pm

      Oh you won’t regret it, it was wonderful! Even if you decide not to do the programme, I definitely recommend a visit to Poznan as it’s SO underrated!

  • Reply
    Karin
    August 12, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    I have also signed up for workaway recently and managed to get a “job” although there were very few hosts here in Georgia (the country)! I worked as a language teacher before but here I was cooking and dealing with clients in a guesthouse – I liked it a lot more than I would have thought and I learned a lot of new stuff 🙂 I´m definitely going to be looking for more!

    • Reply
      Travelling Jezebel
      August 12, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      Right! I never thought I’d enjoy a programme like this as much as I did! I’m definitely going to be searching for more opportunities in different countries as well 🙂

  • Reply
    Bernadette Jackson
    August 13, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Glad you had such a brilliant experience. The warmth that you feel for your students and the staff is evident, and also your joy in seeing the students succeed.

    • Reply
      Travelling Jezebel
      August 13, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      Oh god, I can’t say enough good things about them! They were absolutely incredible! Thanks for your comment 😀

  • Reply
    Lien
    August 13, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Looks like you reallyl had a good deal, I ‘work-awayed’ on an organic farm in Sweden and I got only food and accommodation in return. But I don’t have to complain as I loved the experience 😉

    • Reply
      Travelling Jezebel
      August 13, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      Yeah I think some are definitely better than others in terms of what deal you get! So glad you had a good time though 🙂

  • Reply
    Amanda Blizzard
    August 13, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    That sounds like a really great experience! I haven’t done any workaways yet, because I travel with my son. He’s now getting older though, so will be able to participate in them with me! Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Reply
      Travelling Jezebel
      August 13, 2017 at 8:37 pm

      It was! I’m excited for you, you’re both going to have such a great time! 🙂 thanks for commenting!

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