How to get FREE Bed and Board for a Week in the Polish Mountains

When I told my friends and family that Luke and I were going to stay in a hotel in the Polish mountains near Wroclaw for a week, for free, all meals included, they said we were being ridiculous, that it’s not possible.

But it is possible. Being a native English speaker is a sought-after skill these days. Even if you have zero teaching experience and no comprehension of why we use grammar like we do, being a native speaker can get you quite a far for not very much. There are people all over the world who want to learn English, and Poland is no exception.

free holiday in poland mountains
The Polish mountains where I stayed.

And that’s how it works: you come to Poland and speak English all day, and you can get your accommodation and food for free. How? Join the Angloville programme. Angloville is an English language-immersion programme for the Polish participants, and for the native English speakers, it’s a cultural-immersion programme. Whilst they improve their conversational English all day, you get to learn about Polish culture first-hand.

free holiday in poland at hotel chojnik
Speak all day and stay for free. Luke speaks with Howard, a regular Angloville participant who lives in the Czech Republic.

With free time on our hands, we applied to the programme online, were accepted, booked a cheap RyanAir flight to Wroclaw, packed a rucksack and went on our way. After a few nights in Wroclaw and a tour of the city provided by Angloville, a mini-bus drove us 2-hours into the mountains to the hotel.

hotel chojnik free holiday in poland
Hotel Chojnik where we stayed for 1 week. The surroundings were stunning, the rooms were good, but the food wasn’t great.

When we arrived, we soon realised that nearly all of the native speakers are travellers of some sort. An American who has hitched across the world with only her guitar, another who is a military wife at a base in Germany, an Australian whose been teaching in Asia for 5 years, a New Zealander who spent his last few months Thai boxing, a Welsh blacksmith, an Irish girl teaching in France, and a whole heap more. The Polish, on the other hand, all had high-powered jobs in big companies (many of which paid for them to attend the programme) – but that didn’t make them any less fascinating. Of course, it didn’t!

When you travel, you meet lots of travellers, but you don’t meet so many natives. On Angloville you actually meet locals, living their lives in a very different way to you.

angloville group on free holiday in poland
All of the Angloville participants on our programme, the Polish and the native speakers.

Angloville isn’t just a free holiday in Poland though, it’s more like a kind of voluntourism. Conversation hours run from 10am – 7.30pm with only a 90-minute break, and nearly all of these conversations are one-to-one. Whilst the Polish definitely have it harder, talking for this long can still be tiring. At the end of the week you receive a certificate for 70 hours of volunteering, so conversations and activities aren’t optional.

angloville irish dance
One evening activity involved the whole group learning an Irish dance. No easy task!

You are also paired with a Polish participant who you mentor every morning for a presentation that they will give at the end of the week. This is an excellent opportunity to make a solid friendship, learn about their interests and even get some teaching style experience.

wojtek and me
Me and my mentee, Wojtek. At the end of the week, he gave an excellent presentation on professional athletes and whether they go too far when trying to succeed.

Though it might sound like quite a lot of work, it doesn’t feel like work at all. You can talk over coffee, take a short walk or play pool during these conversation hours, and you’re free to discuss whatever you like. Consequently, these conversations are usually of huge benefit to you as a traveller. By going to Angloville at the beginning of our trip, we got some invaluable advice from Poles living all over the country about where to go, which places to avoid, how to get there, what to eat etc. It certainly made us even more excited and much better prepared than we would’ve been for travelling afterwards.

woodland wroclaw free holiday in poland
Nature in the surrounding woodlands.

Some jammy English speakers managed to hitch a ride to their next destination with their new Polish friends, and others were offered a bed for the night as well. Although we didn’t do this, one of our new Polish friends found us a place to stay at his friend’s apartment in Wroclaw for the night, and gave us a lift there when we got off the bus. Someone else offered to host us when we got to Warsaw too.

me and annie angloville
Me and Annie, an American working as a Teaching Assistant in France.
angloville 2014
Me, Luke’s mentee Michal, Luke, Annie, and my mentee Wojtek

 Was it worth it for a week’s free bed and board in the Polish mountains? Completely.

I would definitely considering doing a similar programme again. Whilst on Angloville I heard about similar programmes in Spain and Germany that I would like to give a try. It’s an amazing way to travel for free, learn about a country from the people living there, and make new friends.

Charlie Marchant

Charlie is a long-term traveller from the UK who writes about simple ways to travel sustainably, including how to become a house sitter and slow traveller, eating local and vegetarian, and making responsible travel choices.

32 thoughts to “How to get FREE Bed and Board for a Week in the Polish Mountains”

  1. I would recommend it to anyone who can afford it (or works for a company that is willing to pay for it). After a week there I even had problems with switching back to Polish! It was a real pleasure to spend that time with you my friends.

  2. I agree with you Wojtek (I mean mentee :-) ). I think that for me and probably not only for me, the training was a great opportunity to meet fascinating people. Even if you don’t have any experience in teaching English we can learn from you so many other things. Thanks a lot for that.

    1. That’s very nice of you to say Michal, I’m glad that you felt we were fascinating! We thought the same about you.
      Are you going to e-mail me a list of European films that I should watch? There were so many good ones that you talked about that I haven’t seen yet!
      ~ Charli

      1. Yes I am. I spent almost whole week with you and now I have so many things to do in my job. But I was worth it.
        I promise I’ll do this ASAP.
        How is your tour in Poland?

        1. Ah yes.. Well any time that is good for you is good for me, there’s no hurry!
          It’s good. We’re in Krakow right now, but tomorrow we will go to Zakopane. We were lucky to find a couchsurfing couple to host us there because there aren’t so many people on CS from Zakopane.

  3. Sounds like a great way to get to visit Poland and explore Polish culture. Like you say, it is not always easy to make friends with local people when travelling- so this is a great opportunity. Speaking for that long everyday does sound tiring though. As native English speakers, we have so many amazing opportunities like this to work and travel. But the downside to everyone wanted to learn English, is that there is less incentive for native English speakers to learn other languages. I have studied 5 languages over the years (at school or on my travels) but I’m not fluent in any of them! Currently learning Mandarin- maybe that will be the one? ha!

    1. Yes, it was a really great way to do it! It is definitely tiring by the end of the week though.

      Native English speakers really take for granted that so many other cultures are learning English. I myself also only speak English, though I was learning Chinese when I lived in Taiwan. I’m very keen to learn Spanish and definitely planning on taking it up this year when I go to Costa Rica. It’s excellent to hear that you’ve been dabbling in so many languages! I think being fluent isn’t the important thing, it’s the trying and the getting by! If you can get by in a different language that’s a great place to be too. Let me know how your Mandarin goes!! It’s not easy for sure..

  4. Sounds like an excellent opportunity, Charlie. After teaching in Japan for four years, I can definitely relate to how tiring talking all day can be. But you’re totally right, you get so much out of it yourself. The students would always think I was teaching them, but they really have no idea how much I learned in return.

      1. No, not currently. But the good thing is it is experience that we can take all over the world. We are fortunate as native English speakers that so many people want to learn it, and it feels really great to be able to help people with their language and communication goals.

        1. Yes, that’s true. I always feel terrible that I can’t speak a second language though. I’m pretty keen to try my hand at Spanish, but unfortunately I don’t have much of a knack for language learning myself.

          1. Charlie, great article. You MUST check into Michel Thomas’ language learning method. it’s superb and you’ll be speaking very quickly. He teaches language grammar concepts pretty effortlessly, “building the house” of sentence structure for you, which you then furnsh with vocab. good luck!

  5. Hi there! I just ran across your blog post while researching reviews on Angloville. One thing I like about Angloville, is that there is the opportunity to earn a TEFL certification. I did also look at the Germany and Spain program, but they do not have an option for TEFL certification (that I could find). Are you aware of any volunteer opportunities similar to Angloville in which you can receive your TEFL or TESOL? Most of the ones I have found require a large tuition fee, and that’s hard, considering you are paying for your own airfare as well. Anyway, if you know if any programs similar to Angloville, in which any certification is granted and there is no (or a small) tuition fee, I would be glad to hear it! :)

  6. I am 73 and love to travel, can’t get enough of it . . . I have done the ESL four times, twice in Spain, once in Germany and once with the Angloville folks . . . the programs in Spain are a bit more upscale . . . private rooms, the last time was at a Sheraton . . . In September I am scheduled to do ESL with Angloville in Budapest

    1. Gary (or anyone who has the answer), what is the program in Germany called? I have done the program in Spain, but haven’t heard of the German one!

      Thanks

      1. the program in Germany was done by the Diverbo folks in Madrid . . . they might have discontinued it . . . I have participated with Diverbo, Vaughantown Volunteers (also in Madridi) and angloville out of Warsawa . . . in September I will be again with angloville, this time we meet in Budapest . . . my experience is that the two Madrid companies go first class (Sheraton private room) . . . the angloville folks seem to do it “on the cheap,” sharing rooms at the venue . . . I am retired from the Air Force and fly free world wide on a Space Available basis . . . I would encourage younger folks to consider joining the Reserve or the National Guard for free flying benefits . . . any recruiter will be able to answer questions or I am happy to answer questions as I had 37 years total on active duty and in the reserve
        Happy Travels and God Bless, Gary

  7. Many thanks for a great blog! I am doing my first angloville next week in Poland! This has made me even more excited!

  8. Hi Charlie,

    I just came across Angloville recently and am so intrigued! I love travelling and do so much volunteering where I end up talking lots so this really appealed to me, especially after your great review. I wonder if you could help me understand a little more about applying as I find the website unclear in some senses?
    – I do not have a TEFL qualification already and wonder if this is required to volunteer on the programme at all (or if you would HAVE to take the Anglo-TEFL course otherwise)?
    – In terms of a volunteer payment (just for volunteering on the course) is there a cost involved/refundable? I know there’s a lot of mention about cost and refund if one takes the TEFL scholarship on the website, but if you choose not to take the TEFL would there be a large cost involved?

    Thank you so much for a wonderful read!

  9. Hi! I’ve been thinking about going to do this in July, but my family is skeptical because it all just sounds too good to be true. I’ve seen other participants reviews on it, but do you know of any other sources I could show them to “validate” it? I want to go so bad, but even a slight piece of me wonders if its all too good to be true also. Did you have to convince your family somehow? Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Alyssa. It was just me and Luke who joined Angloville; we didn’t travel with our family. It’s really great but Angloville is not a holiday. You’re leading conversations with the Polish participants for the majority of the day and are required to be supporting them in learning English from around 8am – 8pm. This means that you don’t have ‘free time’ to go anywhere by yourselves during the program. Really you have only a few hours in the evening to unwind at the hotel. Feel free to ask me any questions, but I don’t have any other sources except for friends who have also taken part in the program.

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