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For members

TEACHING

Why you should consider becoming an English teacher in Germany

Teaching the English language is one of the most common expat jobs in Germany. The Local’s Shelley Pascual - a former English teacher - tells you what you need to know to get your foot in the door.

Why you should consider becoming an English teacher in Germany
Illustrative photo: Deposit Photos/monkeybusiness

When I flew from Canada to Germany on a one-way ticket in 2012, one of my goals was to forge a new career as an English teacher.

Since I didn’t have a qualification in education or any teaching experience, I was rather surprised when I was able to land my first gig – a two-week-long crash course with an individual pupil – two months after I arrived.

I remember the minimum prerequisite at most of the language schools I applied to was a Bachelor's degree, which I had. During my first year in Germany I also completed a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course online as I thought it’d improve my chances of finding more work.

It probably did, as I was able to find steady work in the industry over the next three years – but more on that a bit later.

At the time I lived in Braunschweig – a middle-sized city of about 250,000 inhabitants in Lower Saxony. And what I did is essentially what any job-seeker does: I sent out loads of applications and got in touch with all the language schools in town.

After doing some research, I knew my best bet would be private language schools as teaching at a state school wasn't an option without the proper qualifications. I also expected to be freelancing as I’d heard full-time jobs in the industry – for instance in a company as an in-house trainer – were few and far between.

I didn’t mind being a freelancer, though. I liked being able to design my own schedule, choose which companies I wanted to work for as well as how many private one-on-one lessons I wanted to take on.

On the question of whether you need to be a native English speaker to be successful, Billie Bruhn, who is a manager for the Language Training Center (LTC), tells The Local: “It depends. The majority of clients prefer native English speakers – but they appreciate non-natives too.”

Teaching English also seemed to me to be a relatively easy industry to get into in Germany because you don’t necessarily need to be fluent in German. I didn’t when I first started out, and neither did a few of my colleagues. But as I began to learn the language I definitely noticed the ways in which being able to speak German was helpful, such as understanding why my students made certain mistakes.

READ ALSO: 10 mistakes English teachers in Germany are sick of hearing

“Some clients prefer trainers with basic or intermediate skills in German but others are flexible; it can go both ways,” says Bruhn.

Germany has so many big companies like Siemens, Mercedes and BMW and they all take English training very seriously, says Dale Coulter, academic manager at TLC International House Zurich-Baden and former Berlin resident.

The country is also home to many international companies with staff in need of training, adds Coulter. “Many of their departments are willing to pay serious money for English training,” he says.

Several months into my new career, as I got more and more work, it became apparent that I could earn a decent income in the field. I also got the impression that there was a healthy demand for English language learning in general.

About a year in, I found myself taking on fewer children’s lessons and focusing increasingly on training Business English. Over the following two years I had a full-time schedule of one-on-one and group lessons with executives and professionals in the offices of large international companies – I couldn’t have been happier.

I had heard from friends (many of them also English trainers) and colleagues that teaching English in big cities like Berlin was poorly paid in comparison.

As a Business English trainer in Berlin, one can expect to earn between €15 and €40 for teaching a 45-minute class, according to Coulter. But in Braunschweig one could earn this amount (or more) for a 30 minute class.

“There are fewer trainers in small cities and therefore less competition than in big cities like Berlin and Munich,” says Bruhn.

SEE ALSO: Braunschweig – The German city that deserves to be put on the map

Despite the advantages of not working in a metropolis among a larger pool of English speakers, there were also challenges that came with the profession.

As with all new things, especially for someone who hadn’t formally studied teaching, it was a steep learning curve for me in the beginning (though in hindsight this was a challenge I thoroughly enjoyed).

The job isn’t for everyone, either.

Although English trainers encompass a wide range of personalities, “you have to be a people person and a good listener,” says Bruhn, adding that it helps to be interested in languages, culture and in self-development.

I couldn’t agree more. What I’d add to that as well are leadership skills and being comfortable with performing to a crowd (especially on days when you're leading a lesson of 12 adults who don't feel like reviewing grammar as you have planned).

Looking back on my former career, I did more than just teach English. As language is always attached to culture, I shared my culture as a Canadian with my students. When I taught bankers and economists, I had to verse myself in their specialities too.

And I still haven't mentioned that it's a rewarding profession. When I started to see my students' English and their confidence speaking it improve over time, it was fulfilling in a way that I can't even describe.

So what are you waiting for? If you’re looking for a career change or simply want to experience life in Germany, teaching English may just put you on the path to personal and professional success. It sure did for me.

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For members

BREXIT

EXPLAINED: How can Brits visit or move to Germany post-Brexit?

Many Brits may be considering spending time in Germany or even moving for work or to study. Here's a look at the rules.

EXPLAINED: How can Brits visit or move to Germany post-Brexit?

The Brexit transition period ended on January 1st 2021, but it’s been a turbulent few years with Covid-related restrictions, which mean many people may not have travelled abroad since then. Here’s what you should know about the rules for travelling and moving to Germany post-Brexit. 

Can I visit Germany from the UK on holiday?

Absolutely. But you do have to stick to certain rules on how long you can stay in Germany (and other EU countries) without a visa.

“British citizens do not require a visa for the Schengen Member States, if the duration of their stay does not exceed 90 days within any 180-day period,” says the German Missions consular service in the UK. 

You can find a full explanation of the 90-day rule from our sister site, The Local France, HERE, along with the Schengen calculator that allows you to work out your allowance.

READ ALSO: Passport scans and €7 fees: What will change for EU travel in 2022 and 2023

Note that if you were living in Germany before January 1st 2021, different rules apply. People in this scenario should have received a residence permit – known as the Aufenthaltstitel-GB – from the German authorities, which proves their right to remain in Germany with the same rights as they had before Brexit. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: How can I re-enter Germany without my post-Brexit residence card?

Can I move to Germany from the UK after the Brexit transition period?

Yes. But if you are coming to Germany to live and work, you will need to apply for the right documents, like other so-called ‘third country nationals’. All foreigners from outside the EU who want to to stay in Germany for more than three months have to get a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel). 

As we touched on above, citizens from some countries (including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel, New Zealand and Switzerland) are allowed entry into Germany without a visa and can apply for a residence permit while in the country. You can contact the Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde) in your area to find out how to get a residence permit.

You’ll need various official documents, such as a valid passport, proof of health insurance and proof that you can support yourself. You usually receive your residence permit as a sticker in your passport.

Passengers wait at Hamburg airport.

Passengers at Hamburg airport. Brits coming to Germany have more things to consider after Brexit. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Markus Scholz

Germany has a well-documented skilled worker shortage at the moment so there are work permit options to consider that may suit your circumstances. 

For the work visa for qualified professionals, for instance, your qualifications have to be either recognised in Germany or comparable to those from a German higher education facility. 

You may also be able to get an EU Blue Card. This residence permit is aimed at attracting and enabling highly qualified third-country nationals to live in the EU. 

It comes with benefits, including the right to to request and bring family members to the country, and shortcuts for applying for permanent residency. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How German citizenship differs from permanent residency

When applying for a Blue Card in Germany this year, you have to earn a minimum gross salary (before tax) of €56,400 – down from €56,800 in 2021. 

In so-called shortage occupations (Mangelberufe), where there is a high number of unfilled positions, the minimum gross salary is €43,992 – down from €44,304 in 2021.

Shortage occupations include employees in the sectors of mathematics, IT, natural sciences, engineering and medicine.

If you want to come to Germany from the UK to study then you also need to apply for a visa. For this you may need proof of acceptance to the university or higher education institution of your choice and possibly proof of your German language skills.

Check out the useful government website Make it in Germany for more detailed information, as well as the German Missions in the UK site, which has lots of info on travel after Brexit, and on visas.  

What else should I know?

The German government plans to reform the immigration system, although it’s not clear at this stage when this will happen. 

It will move to a points-based system, inspired by countries like Canada, where foreigners will have to score above a certain threshold of points to get a residence or work permit.

This scoring system will be set by the government, but it will include factors like language skills, family connections to the country, specific qualifications or work-related skills, or the amount of money in your bank account.

Keep an eye on The Local’s home page for updates on the changes to immigration laws. 

Have you moved to Germany – or are thinking about moving – after the Brexit transition period and want to share your experiences? Please get in touch by emailing [email protected] 

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