Germany is a country filled with fascinating culture, immense history and a thriving need for English teachers. The dramatic landscapes of Germany that range from tranquil seacoast to colossal mountains, from wind-mill strewn plains to lush forestry will leave you enthralled.
Along with a diverse landscape, Germany also boasts some of Europe's most beautiful architecture. Fairy tale castles, herculean towers, majestic basilicas and cobblestone streets are just some of the sights Germany offers. Surrounded in such an atmosphere, teaching in Germany is a rewarding and enriching experience.
Having an intrinsic drive for knowledge and education along with many having international business connections, attributes to the need for English teachers in this diverse country. The two primary areas of English that are taught in Germany are General English or Business English, with the majority of students being adults.
Many businesses require some of their employees to reach an advanced level of English speaking to maintain communication with their international clients, which translates to a highly motivated student.Photo: Unsplash.
Private Language Academies/Schools:
There are many private language schools along with the local volkshochschule (Adult Educational Centers) that will be the main places of employment. Depending on the place of employment you will have either filled classrooms or a focus on smaller groups and one-to-one training.
Many schools will want you to have a basic level of German language skills, but not all. Some private language schools are known for giving free German language classes to their teachers, which is quite an incentive. At private language schools they usually have in-house training which will help a new teacher or one with little experience to feel confident and passionate about teaching.
Another avenue of employment is large businesses that have a big international presence; many of these companies hire English teachers and retain them on staff to guarantee that their employees are sufficient in communicating in English.
Make sure you do your research before you sign a contract with your new employer as often you will be limited to only working for that company. And surprisingly, your visa may stipulate that you can only work for that specific company as well for the duration that your visa is issued for.
Hiring is usually done on a freelance basis or by a 1-2 year contract and is dependent on your visa. If hired directly by a language school or company the red tape and unending bureaucracy associated with getting your visa will be shared with your new employer, who will help to get your visa issued on your behalf.
Firstly, you will need to decide where in Germany you'd prefer to live. In larger cities such as Berlin, Munich, Hamburg or Cologne, there will be an eclectic and bustling mix of tourists and natives with an exciting nightlife and large shopping districts. However, keep in mind that within these larger cities finding employment will be much more competitive than within a smaller city. Smaller cities are much more laid-back and quiet where it's very likely you will see many of your students outside of class, out and about in town.
Within language schools in these areas, they tend to be a bit more relaxed in regards to requirements such as previous work experience and higher education qualifications. But, for the most part, qualifications include having a BA along with a TEFL/CELTA certification and being a native English speaker is a big plus.
Salary & Cost of Living:
Salaries vary greatly depending on which avenue of employment you decide upon. Some companies will offer hiring you on a "mini-job" basis as opposed to a full time employee. A "mini-job" would mean a limited number of work hours per month with a blanket, tax exempt small salary each month that would not be enough to live on. Working full time will bump you up to more hours and a higher salary ranging from $1,200-$2,900.
However, you have to realize ahead of time that because of the social systems in place in Germany, income tax is one of the highest in the world. The taxes that come out of your pay will definitely come as a shock to you when you receive your first paycheck! Of course the cost of living varies all across Germany, but generally EUR 800-1200 a month will afford you a modest living, covering housing costs, utility bills, food and entertainment.
Classroom & Work Culture:
In many respects, Germans are considered to be the masters of planning so you can count on them to always be on time to class. Actually, there’s a common notion that 5 minutes early is already late! A nice greeting with a firm handshake to each student both when entering and leaving the room is expected. The interaction between student and teacher is always kept at the utmost professional level.
Germans tend to be very private in regards to their personal lives and can be quite serious. A large amount of deference is given to someone in authority so it is essential that you understand your position in relation to others. This is most important to remember when teaching high ranking, corporate managers or someone in a high level profession.
The dress code tends to be a bit relaxed and casual as long as you look neat and professional. Once again though, if teaching in a business company outside of school, be expected to wear much more formal and conservative attire.