There is no easy way to describe the abundance of excitement that Germany’s capital has to offer. Berlin has everything an adventurous, worldly person can wish for: amazing street art, architectural phenomena, historic museums, plus some of the best nightlife in Europe. As a teacher in Berlin, you will have the unique opportunity to try Berlin’s take-away joints offer some of the best currywurst, a traditional German pork sausage mixed with curry powder and ketchup; for all of you teachers who happen to also be movie lovers attending Berlinale, Berlin’s very own international film festival, will undoubtedly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Getting a teaching job without a prior solid knowledge of German in Berlin is close to impossible. In addition, if you are interested in TESL the bare minimum qualification is a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate.
Teaching English in a public school in Germany with a foreign (non-German) education is rather impossible. Nevertheless, there are other opportunities for aspiring ESL teachers.
Teaching jobs at international schools is definitely something to consider. The salary is good (around EU2500 per month) and depending on the school it can be either a part-time or a full-time position.
Private Language Academies/Schools:
Probably the easiest and most accessible way to find a TESL position is in a private language academy. Schools like this are always looking to hire native speakers and as long as you have your TEFL certificate, you may qualify for these positions. The salary highly depends of your previous experience and the number of hours you will be teaching.
Private one-on-one tutoring is another option for ESL teachers. Though it may not be as rewarding as working in a team, it is likely that once you have your set number of regular students you will earn more money compared to teaching in a language academy. However, to get your name out there and have regular students you will need some serious marketing skills. The most common way for freelancing is with the help of an agency that offers private lessons for business companies. You will work either on a short-term contract or an hour-to-hour basis.
Another option to consider is working as a volunteer teacher in Berlin.
When and Where to Look for Jobs:
The best time to look for a job in Berlin is toward the end of the summer – late August and September. Most contracts will be for the entire school year, which depends on the school but for the most part will end in late July/early August the following year. If are yet to take a TEFL course, you might consider taking one in Germany prior to applying for teaching positions. This was you will build a network of connections in Berlin which would make looking for a job easier.
If you are thinking of teaching in a German school it is important to know that it is impossible to find a position with a foreign (American) teaching qualification. If the school is international, however, you have a shot at getting a job but it is likely that even with a Masters degree you will still get paid less than a German-qualified teacher.
Salary and Cost of Living:
The salary depends on your qualifications and the institution where you work. If you work as an English teacher in a private school it is likely that you will earn an average of EU2500 per month.
It is unlikely that the school will provide you with accommodation so you will most probably have to find it on your own through an agency or an ad. The rent for a one-bedroom apartment outside the center of Berlin starts at around EU450 and for an apartment at a more central location the rent starts at EU600. Bear in mind that Germany has the best public transportation system in Europe so even if your apartment is not too close to your work getting around wouldn’t be difficult.
In terms of dining out, life in Berlin is on the expensive side. A good two-course outside of your home will rarely cost you less than EU15. Buying groceries and cooking yourself, on the other hand, is very affordable.
Classroom & Work Culture:
- Student/Teacher Relations: The classroom setting in Germany differs greatly from that in the United States. In Germany the student-teacher relationship is very formal – the student doesn’t address the teacher by his/her first name and always refers to him/her by Mr./Ms. and the last name of the teacher.
- Dress Code: At work people tend to dress with business casual attire. From time to time you might have to dress up for an event but on a day-to-day basis you wouldn’t have to be too formal.
- Greetings: In general, Germans tend to distinguish very well between work and play. When they work they don’t joke around but often after work they go outside for a beer or wine with their colleagues. Unlike the French, they do not have the custom of kissing people as part of their greeting and a shake hand is the most common thing to do when you meet someone.