Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Schools in Poland and Turkey - comparison

Teaching abroad is an amazing experience.

No matter how hard you try though, it seems impossible to stop comparing countries you have worked in.

After Poland, Turkey is the second country I chose to teach in. Here is a list of similarities and differences between teaching in both countries.

- Students attend primary schools (6 years), middle schools (3 years) and high schools (3-4 years)

- One lesson unit is 45 minutes

- Most schools are public, there are not many private ones

- Public schools are generally seen as offering better education than private ones

-Teachers seem to be given more freedom; they stay at school only when they have classes

-There are many course books to choose from and it is the teacher’s decision which book to use regardless of the school type

-Substitutions are generally paid for

-Most schools are co-educational

- Students attend  primary schools (8 years) and high schools (4 years)

- One lesson unit is 40 minutes

- There are a lot of private schools, especially in Istanbul

- Public schools are often considered as ‘worse’ e.g. there are too many students in a class (80!)

- Teachers are made to stay at school the whole day e.g. from 9 to 5 even if they have three classes that day

-Teachers in all public schools use the same books; in private schools, English teachers can choose the books they want  to use

-Substitutions (in private schools) are not paid for

-Most schools are co-educational

There are probably a lot more similarities and differences that I failed to mention J

If you are a teacher from a different country, please feel free to write a few words about how teaching in your place differs from the ones I have compared.

It will be great to hear from you J


  1. Do Polish teachers REALLY leave school when they aren't teaching? I have this image of them sitting in coffee shops while their school round the corner is burning down!

  2. Yes, they do!

    And they are probably sitting at home, not in coffee shops :)

    Actually, although most schools open around 8 a.m. students from a given class (let's say 3A) can start lessons any time. The number of lessons they have every day also varies. So, for example, 3A may start school at 10.05 on Monday and have four lessons that day. On Tuesday, they start at 8.00 but have six lessons and so on.

    The same idea applies to the teachers. Of course there are occasional parents' meetings and extra curricular activities but generally there always some teachers and some students at school in case of fire :)

    Does such a solution work? Absolutely!

    Even if you want to check tests, it's so much easier to do it at home where nobody keeps disturbing you rather than in a crowded staffroom full of gossiping colleagues.

    Since I've moved to Turkey I have a feeling that I'm constantly wasting time waiting for something.

    What's it like in the UK?

  3. "Public schools are often considered as ‘worse’ e.g. there are too many students in a class"

    The way I remember it in Turkey, the public (i.e. state) grammar schools are considered better than most private schools but the standard public schools are much worse, so if you teach in a private school in Turkey you tend to get rich and not particularly intelligent students- the worst of both worlds! Might've changed though, did teach there 13 years ago...

  4. Alex,

    It all depends on the sector. Private primary schools are considered better because e.g. there are fewer students in class, there are more hours of English, the schools are better equipped and hire foreigners.

    On the other hand, from what I've heard from my colleagues, public high schools are better and all the smart kids want to study there.

    I don't know what Turkey looked like 13 years ago but people say that Istanbul, at least, changed a lot.