Teach English in Germany- the following comments are from English teachers who have taught, or currently teach English in Germany.
Germany is a great country to live and work in, IF you are prepared for the rather unfriendly atmosphere, and don’t take it personally. Once you get to know the German people, however, you quickly realise that the serious, unfriendly demeanor hides a caring and honest heart. I have met the kindest people in the world in Germany, and the nastiest! It it a country of extremes, but very well-organised, safe and one of the cheapest European countries to live in. Food is cheap and good, as are cosmetics, wine and cigarettes!! (this is liberal Europe, you know!)
You have a feeling of freedom here, eccentrics are well-tolerated (“Naked Jurg” is a Frankfurt character I saw several times, who wanders around town stark naked, and is permitted to ride on buses and trams provided he sits on a newspaper!) The people in Germany are educated and interested in current affairs, and I had some of the best, most interesting conversations ever during my time teaching in-company business English. Not known for their tolerance in general, German people seem to have rather a respect for English-speaking nations, and a great respect for the English language. You do need to register at every address you live in in Germany, and they will keep an eye on you. Once you have a job there, it should be easy to get a residency permit, especially for European citizens, but individuals in bureaucracy can make life hard for you, and often refuse to speak English even though you know they probably can speak it, and well! All in all, if you are resilient, you will love working in Germany and should be able to save up quite well.
Stress the companies that you have taught in (the better known the better) over and above your qualifications. It’s taken for granted that you are qualified to do the job. Germans tend to be much more interested in who and for which companies/firms you have taught.
My advice is plain and simple. Great place to live and work. It does, however, take some getting used to at first. Germans tend to have very strong opinions sometimes about things going on outside their country, and it is hard to make them realize that they are not always right with their opinions. Once you learn to just let it slide off your back you will do fine. It is very interesting to talk to people here because they are interested in so many things. At first Germans tend to be rather distant with people thy have just met and can sometimes even reach the point of being cold. You have to have a bit of patience there, since they do take a little longer to warm up to people, but once they do you can be certain that it is genuine. I come from a place where everyone is friendly to you right from the get-go, and that kind of “friendliness” makes you wonder sometimes where you really stand and whether or not it is 100% honest. In Germany you usually know pretty quickly where you stand with most people and I think that is rather nice. No grey areas. Food is very cheap here. Public transportation is very well organized and safe. There are many different types of cards that you can buy depending on how often or how far you need to travel. Most of these cards are very affordable. The government offices, or rather the government employees, tend to be very bureaucratic so you do have to have a lot of patience there. Whatever school or company you work with should offer help in dealing with all the paperwork pertaining to work permits and/or residence permits. All in all it is worthwhile to live and work in Germany. You just need a little patience and it will work out just perfect.
I am working as a English teacher in Hamburg and have found it to be very rewarding. German people do tend to be cold and serious, but they are generally very friendly. Be prepared to meet Germans with absolutely no imagination. They even admit that they have no ‘fantasy’ as they call it. When presenting activities don’t expect them to be forthcoming with ideas. Brainstorming can be difficult, but they just need a little prompting. Once they are used to the fact that you expect them to do some thinking on their feet they can present ideas more easily. The pay is OK in most main stream schools, but if you want to make money get into a Business English school. Private English teaching is also quite lucrative. It is mostly freelance here so expect to grapple with their German tax system. It’s best to find yourself a ‘Steuerberater’ and let them do it. It cost about 200 euro and should be submitted in May for the previous year. You can claim all travel expenses, any materials you’ve bought and your rent – in most circumstances. Make sure you keep receipts for everything. The weather in the north is pretty bad in the winter. Expect rain and wind and snow (sometimes all the same day). Summers are great in Hamburg because all of the city likes to sit outside on warm evenings and drink beer and talk about everything. Hamburg is generally quite friendly and has a unique character of it’s own. It is known as the nicest city in the world – to the locals and it’s definitely the nicest in Germany.
I’m afraid I totally agree with you – most language schools pay extremely badly in Germany… and don’t forget that as a freelance teacher you have to pay around 35% of your income before tax for health insurance + social insurance and then you still have tax to pay. Finally, a lot of English teachers working in Germany are supported by their partners, love their job and are prepared to work for peanuts.
It’s taken a while but I now realise that I’m doing OK here. As a part-time freelancer, my school pays 35+ Euro per 45 minutes and its a nice school in a cheap city. Thinking the grass might be greener, I enquired about teaching elsewhere in Germany. I am disgusted by most of the offers. Scot47 rightly says a family man would starve teaching here. Let me add to that: How can free and easy singles survive on the pittance some schools are paying?
First, I was offered a job at a well-known Hamburg school paying 13 Euro per hour freelance (no extras such as medical insurance) binned. Next, a school in Essen invited me for interview and sent nine pages of information. I was nearly convinced. I could even sit an FTBE exam for free. Just as well the job was tax-free because on page eight was the pay: 10-13 Euro per hour. Teachers are guaranteed 80 hours per month as a safety net. Let’s do some sums:
@13 Euro per hour, in one month you’d earn* **
80 hours a month = 1040 Euro Gross (752 Pounds or 1198 US Dollars)
20 hours a week = 1127 Euro Gross (815 Pounds or 1298 US Dollars)
30 hours a week = 1690 Euro Gross (1222 Pounds or 1947 US Dollars)
* plus travel expenses and they pay extras such as 50% health insurance
** minus about 15% for social and health insurance
You could live quite well working 30 hours a week teaching all over some city, but then again, no thanks. I dont know if Germany has any Western Unions but anyone doing 20-25 hours a week at that place can perhaps let us know. You can write how nice your school is, and about the great courses you’ll send your valued teachers on, I’d prefer not to live in a lonely bedsit tucking into my beans on toast. I’m an EU citizen and speak pretty good German. I could work in the local McDonalds and make more than 13 Euro per hour.
I once popped into a Thailand branch of inlingua for a chat. For business classes, inlingua Bangkok were offering teachers (qualified or not) 500 baht per 50 minutes, just over 10 Euro. Some of you Germany school owners are paying exactly the same as a very average school in Thailand, where the cost of living is many many times lower.
So, who’s to blame, the schools or the teachers? Anyone naive enough to accept 10-13 Euro per hour, McDonalds money, really should be asking questions like, all that money paid by the students or companies, where is it going? As for the schools, my employer charges 40 Euro per hour. I could be totally wrong but I’ll assume that’s the going rate. So, your teachers are taking home 25-33% of that. I appreciate your admin costs and having to make a profit, etc. The figures, however, don’t lie. Ladies and Gentleman, you’re paying peanuts.
I get five or six e-mails a week asking about teaching English here. I’m normally so positive and hated writing this message. School owners, please prove me wrong or justify these low wages you’re paying.
Big Mac anyone?
Germany is a great country to live in but getting used to the people and the system takes time. I live in Düsseldorf and work for three schools on a freelance basis. I get 20 to 22 euros an hour. It’s not great but it’s not hard work either. I have recently picked up a contract to teach a company director one to one and that pays LOTS more. I got his name from a student (his secretary), gave him a call and voila! I’ll be looking out for more of this from now on. Germany’s probably not for the long haul but it is worth a visit for a year or two.
A lot of English speaking people turn up in Germany, especially Berlin, and decide that they want to stay and turn to teaching (generally) out of desperation (it seems we English speaking people tend to be mostly monolingual). It is this group of people who, bless their souls, continue to drive prices down–especially with private students and private schools. With companies it is (mostly) a different ball of wax. Basically, they have a greater interest in quality. And if you are able to produce results (their employees are learning from you), then they are more or less willing to pay up. Sorry for the endless Redewendungen. My experience teaching business English has been essentially positive. The pay is reasonable but only if you are able to get in-house work with a company. I work once-a-week with a company and make just under 40 euros per hour. I started lower and every year have asked for between 2 and 4 euros more per hour. And usually get the increase I request. But I invest a lot of time and money into continuously improving and updating my course. And I have basic design skills so I am able to layout perhaps more interesting lessons than some teachers. I also have a lot of office experience. German’s tend to want to learn English in German. And having at least basic German skills is required if one wants to teach anyone above the age of 18. By wanting to learn English in German, I mean, the students want the teacher to explain everything to them in German and to give them German examples for every grammatical term or phrase you present them in English. It is important to not let the students manipulate you into going too far down that path. You were not hired as an expert on the German language. And in order to give such students what they want, you would need to know German grammar equally as well. Also these students who insist on learning in this fashion, tend not to progress very far. Ultimately, ESL in Germany should not be taken on as a career. You will never make enough to cover your living expenses, taxes, and save any money. I do it as a way to supplement my income. Plus, I’m married, so I am not dependent on teaching to survive.
As a freelancer, you may also consider finding yourself an agent. Myself and two other former teachers have established an agency in Berlin for experienced teachers looking to top up their income from their usual school work. We deal almost solely with firms, so we pay considerably more than the going rate…as long as you combine top service with great teaching. We are almost ready with the web launch (this month hopefully) so one can see how the system operates, but it’s quite simple and most importantly supportive of the teacher. If anyone reading this would like to find out more, you can contact us at tintservices.com. Even if you are not based in Berlin, we’d love to hear from you.
Someone in one of the posts mentioned the “donut hours”. That is, starting at 8:30 in the morning, teaching one, two, or even three classes, and then having an afternoon break for 1-7 hours before having to start teaching again…until 9:00 p.m. This might drive one insane. It drives me mad! That, and the low pay for working at a chain school, are the down sides to working here. But, I accept this situation, as I prefer to have a contract with health benefits. However, in that I do not belong to the younger generation who may be here for a year or two, I expect to stay in Germany for many years. I just hope that along the way a company might recognize my true value and hire me at a more respectable wage with reasonable working hours. I am currently in the middle of a 7 hour break before having to return to work until 9 p.m. See what I mean?
“Doughnut hours” are just the same in other European countries – you could end up in Poland for the same hours at a vastly reduced rate of pay, minus health insurance and other benefits. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I guess in Germany you just need to keep your nose to the grindstone and things improve step by step. Language is the key to progress. Probably.
When you arrive in Germany, you will of course need a telephone line and internet access (it’s called DSL here). Anyway, just a word of warning – do NOT use Deutsche Telekom. They may appear to be the biggest and safest company but they are well known for screwing foreigners. Hidden deep in their extremely long contract is a clause which says that the contract runs over an entire calendar year – so if you are in a position where you have to leave Germany in (say) February, they will force you to pay line rental for the remaining 10 months. And there’s nothing you can do about it. I got screwed like this and I know of two other friends who fell for the same trap.
I found the Germans to be friendly as soon as I arrived. From the airport bar to the centre of Berlin I was never short for conversation and the nightlife was great.
I recently started at a Dusseldorf business language school. 1 year temp contract. â‚¬1900 gross pm. 360 hours in-company teaching per quarter and huge amounts of travel in Dusseldorf and to surrounding cities. Early starts and occasional late finishes. Personalized materials means significant prep time- I’m working about 12 hours per day and weekends but I hope this will drop with time. The school relies on a steady stream of teachers who come for a year or two, don’t pay tax and then disappear. Teachers are a commodity. I would like to see more organisation at schools (internal representation, union membership and so on). Be careful what work you accept! I was completely mislead by the centre manager and her deputy about the conditions and take home salary!
I’ve been living in Germany since 2012, I moved to the Ruhrgebeit from the UK. Before coming to Germany, I studied linguistics and did my teacher training (CELTA) in London. I’d also worked in Poland, Spain, Mexico and Ukraine.
Despite the fact that I work for one a franchise language school and I don’t get paid much, I’m able to save some money every month and I can say that I live quite comfortably because I also have private students and I have a mini-job as a teacher at a company. I don’t really work that much, but I have a “doughnut hour” schedule. I’ve found most students to be very friendly, dedicated, committed and disciplined (they like being told what to do). I am quite happy with most of my students and I also have lovely colleagues.
I can say that my quality of life has improved since I moved here (living on my own would be unimaginable in Britain).
But things are not all peachy creamy, despite loving my job and my students, when it comes to socializing I’ve found people here to be very strange. They are very direct which can sometimes come across as rude and unfriendly, and I think that it would probably make a foreigner uncomfortable, also the way they express themselves might come across as distant and indifferent.
Some people have an inferiority complex when they meet a Brit or an American (they don’t say it, but they show it, when you have a conversation with them they always try to demonstrate that Germany is a powerful country and that things in Germany are better than anywhere else) and they also look down on foreigners from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Germans also expect you to speak German and despite being able to communicate in basic English many Germans will refuse to socialize with you (on a regular basis) if you don’t try to speak German with them. I can understand this, but this kind of attitude doesn’t really make you feel better when you feel homesick.