Teaching English in Germany?
April 17, 2006 7:18 PM   Subscribe

Teaching English in Germany, or other jobs for English speakers for a non-German speaker: possible? how?

Yes, I've seen this question, and the answers are helpful, but I'm hoping for people with actual experience, etc.

My situation:
  • finishing a four-year bachelor's degree in literature and philosophy from a good univ. with excellent marks.
  • three years of work experience in technical support and system administration (networking, *nix sysadmin, troubleshooting windows and mac os, etc.)
  • extremely limited german (one term's worth)
  • fluent hebrew speaker (tho i doubt that's useful)
  • no TESL (or equiv.) certificate, but can obtain one this summer.
  • some pedagogic experience teaching a community-based open-access philosophy course on weekends.
  • have good rapport with the german dept. here and can obtain reference letters, FWIW.
Basically, my purpose is to study German next year, which is my year off before Grad school. I missed the deadline for all the DAAD scholarships (by a week(!)--but they were very inflexible), so I'd only be able to enroll in a program for the spring semester. Rather than sitting on my ass in Toronto until then, I'd like to live in Germany and, if possible, make enough to pay a shared room's rent and live modestly. Is this possible? Is the market for English teachers in Germany as bad as it sounds?

Visa and permits don't seem to be an issue, as the req's are fairly permissive for Israeli and Canadian citizens (I hold a dual citizenship.)

As a piggyback question (I will post this one when I get asking privs back in a week, but I figure I'll get it out there..) does anyone know good language schools (for learning German) in any German-speaking countries that are cheap and well-recognized? I've looked at the program at the Frei Universitaet Berlin and the Maximilian-Ludwig Uni in Munich.
posted by ori to Travel & Transportation around Germany (7 answers total)
I have heard, though I don't know the details, that teaching English is easier in Austria than in Germany (fewer English speakers?). Might want to give Osterreich a thought too.
posted by loquax at 7:45 PM on April 17, 2006

Or Switzerland?

Perhaps you could work as a tour guide - with fluent Hebrew and English, I'm sure there's something you could do, particularly if you settled in a city with a (formerly, even) vibrant Jewish quarter or somesuch.
posted by anjamu at 8:27 PM on April 17, 2006

germans are pretty darn good english speakers ( several years of english in school). you might have some luck teaching non-german foreigners living in germany. or possibly older germans in east germany whole never learned english in school (because they had russian as a second language).
posted by darkpony at 8:45 PM on April 17, 2006

^ ah yeah. tourguide could be a good one. I looked into this briefly when I was staying Lubeck. small tourguide company might hire you to take english speakers around the downtown and you recite a semi scripted blah de blah for them. then take to eat marzipan or something.

free marzipan for you!
posted by darkpony at 8:47 PM on April 17, 2006

German program of good repute: Heinrich Hein U, Duesseldorf. Not sure about the cost. I didn't like the schedule, so ended up in Volkshochschule. My very very bad. Mein Deutsch, es ist scheise!
posted by Goofyy at 10:25 PM on April 17, 2006

Oh, I should have pointed out, I think it is rather easy to teach language in a Volkshochschule. But they surely can't pay much, it may be enough to get by as you describe.
posted by Goofyy at 10:27 PM on April 17, 2006

loquax: I have heard, though I don't know the details, that teaching English is easier in Austria than in Germany (fewer English speakers?).

(sweeping generalizations alert): In my limited experience teaching English in Germany and Austria, I have found the Austrian children to be better at English than the Germans. My brother, with a good deal of experience teaching in both countries, agrees. I believe it's easier to find teaching gigs in Austria because the Austrians place more value on having their kids learn English (demand is higher).

ori: There are a bunch of ways to go about getting teaching gigs here in Austria (and probably some of them apply to Germany, as well):

1. Many public and private schools have native-english teacher programs. These pay reasonably and have good hours. You basically work as a part-time teaching assistant, helping a German-speaking teacher during the week.

2. English camps (summer and school-year): Lots of companies offer camps. Some are pretty sketchy, and the pay can really vary. It can be a good way to get your foot into the door and meet some other teachers, make some contacts, get some experience.

3. Large language companies - Berlitz, Inlingua, etc. can work, but they generally want you to have a work visa, which is may not be easy to get for teaching (since there are so many native English speakers who are EU citizens).

4. Private courses - go to your town's local university and place ads on their bulletin boards for English lessons. Advertise your services (often free) on school and university web sites. Network and pick up some extra classes from English-teacher friends who are too busy.

Some of these are working black (without a working visa, accepting cash), some require a visa. I believe the visa is easier to get if you get into a public school program. I have friends who have done all of the above, and I have done some of them (camps and private lessons).

Drop me an email if you'd like. Also, I didn't speak any German when I arrived in Austria 5.5 years ago. I'm fluent now (although with imperfect grammar).
posted by syzygy at 3:49 AM on April 18, 2006

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