Teaching English in Slovakia
Slovakia shares a seventy-four-year history with the Czech Republic. Prior to their formal separation on January 1, 1993, the two republics formed the now-defunct country of Czechoslovakia.
Since that time the two countries have taken decidedly different paths, and Slovakia desperately wants to maintain a separate identity from the Czech Republic, while pursuing economic reform.
Because the Soviets chose Slovakia as home for many of their large-scale industries in the former Czechoslovakia, the Slovaks must now contend with the often unwieldy problems that these businesses present. Consequently, the downsizing and dismantling of these monoliths will undoubtedly impede Slovakia’s progress toward economic reform.
Slovakia’s slower resolve in the reform arena, combined with a greater tendency toward provincialism, makes prospects challenging for prospective English teachers and other job hunters. In addition, red tape is more prevalent in Slovakia than in the Czech Republic. This is not to say that Slovakia should not be considered as a destination. Patience, determination, and a hankering to get off the beaten track bring more than a few expats Slovakia’s way.
The capital, Bratislava, has a certain allure that might charm you away from Prague’s well-beaten paths. It is only an hour or so away from Vienna and just a three-hour train ride from Budapest. The smaller cities and towns spread over eastern Slovakia provide relief from places like Prague and Bratislava and a little obscurity. For this reason, prospects for English teaching jobs in these areas are good. Both public and private schools frequently search for the elusive native speaker of English who is willing to forgo a big city lifestyle for a quieter existence.
Of working in a smaller town, one American expat said:
“In smaller communities, foreigners are often more respected and well liked. The legacies of Americans and Canadians who once lived in these small towns often follow them. Everyone assumes that their successors will know them. Life may not be as glamorous in these places, especially when compared to a place like Prague. But at the same time, you are finding people who have heads on their shoulders and a clear vision of what they are doing here and why. They don’t seem to be trying to escape from something. I think you definitely find more of that in Prague and Budapest.”
Before you make a decision, read other books and magazines, talk to people you know who have traveled, find a native from your country of interest, then choose the destination best suited to your interests. The chapters in this guide on each of the four countries contain more information that will help you decide.