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How to set myself up in Germany?

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Joined: 19 Aug 2010
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:21 pm    Post subject: How to set myself up in Germany? Reply with quote

Hello fellow teachers,

I am a 30-year-old UK primary school teacher, in my second year of teaching, looking to relocate to Germany (either temporarily or permanently) after I have completed my second year.

At the moment I am doing my research and weighing up my options. The ideal situation would be for me to do a TEFEL and do a bit of freelancing in Germany for a year. I would like a year away from primary teaching as it will give me some relief from the grind of full time teaching and to go on city breaks in Europe in my spare time. Don't get me wrong I enjoy working hard and I am certainly not lazy, but UK primary teaching can be crippling at times with all the hoop jumping and beaurocracy that gets thrown at us. I would be happy to teach English in business and schools.

The plan is, if I manage to survive a year doing freelancing and I love living there, I would then go onto trying to obtain a job in an international school teaching primary age children full time. I have known people who have worked in international schools in Germany and they have informed me that life could be very good.

Does anyone have any advice for me? I have read some very discouraging information on various web site forums:

1) I get the impression that it is next to impossible to land an ESL job before you arrive in Germany. Therefore the process is likely to be initially draining financially.

2) I've read that as a freelancer you get smashed with tax.

3) I've heard talk from US candidates that you need to take out health insurance. Does this apply to EU candidates also? If so it's baffling why healthcare can't come out of the sky-high taxes, which I will be paying.

Cool One or two people have said that they didn't find work until 4-6 months had passed? Is this usually the case?

Another option would be for me to go straight into a fulltime primary teaching job in an international school but I don't really want to do this as I would like more freedom in my first year of living there. Also a year away with less responsibility would allow me time to work out whether I want to stay in Germany.

How easy would it be for me to find part time work teaching English to kindergarten? I get the picture that this would be a better route for me to go down.

Any info would be most helpful.

Many thanks
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Joined: 11 Sep 2006
Posts: 153
Location: New Orleans

PostPosted: Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi David,

Don't try to go to Germany just to teach ESL. Seriously, (and that's where the majority of my teaching was) you just don't want to do it. You're a UK citizen, so what you really want to do is use that EU status to your advantage.

First, you need a LOT more experience before you ever attempt Germany. They like to see 5+ years just in ESL before they're willing to pay you a decent wage. Continue working in the UK and start saving as much money as possible.

While working in the schools there, go out and get your add-on certification in teaching ESL. I believe current teachers can get this for free from the government. In fact, get as many of these certifications and mini-courses under your belt as possible.

Also, start your own business offering tutoring services after school (especially in language skills like ESL). Actually register it with the local companies registrar. Get yourself into the books as a limited company and get a bank account and all that stuff done and do it soon. This will give you a great advantage later as it would allow you to hire and pay UK teachers without having to bother with the German system.

Establish yourself as a small businessman who can run a profitable teaching venture (while saving as much of your regular job pay as possible). You may start by only doing in-home tutoring, and then perhaps by offering test-prep for students, or even running evening ESL courses by renting a room out locally. The point is you just want to expand your skills and show you can make it in this field.

THEN, when you have yourself established on paper, and you've learned a bit how this works, you can look at opening a branch of your company as a language school somewhere in Germany. Actually having your own school is the only way you'll really ever make a decent living in ESL there long term. Also, if you get yourself established in the UK, you may be able to find yourself a business partner in Germany with which to open a school. That again makes it easier under the German system.

Regardless, take your time, get established, find your niche, and wait until all your ducks are in a row.
The first step to teaching is realizing that you don't know nearly enough yourself.

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Joined: 19 Aug 2010
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 12:26 am    Post subject: Thanks Reply with quote

Thank you for being helpful in replying to my post but you have misunderstood my reasons behind wanting to go to Germany and do ESL teaching:

I like your ideas here from an enterprise perspective but this isn't about money. It's about living in Germany. I don't really care if I live like a student for a year. I just want to be in Germany as I love it there so much. I see ESL teaching as temporary 1 year thing so that I can experience life there. I can always start trying to get a job as a full time primary school teacher in a German international school if I want to stay there. I just want to test the water.

So the ESL thing will be a stepping stone. I just want to know if I can make ends meet. I'm not bothered if I make a profit. I just want to pay the bills and enjoy living in a German city. Can you you help me with some advice as to how I can make this work?

I would be interested in hearing about your expereinces working in Germany. Can you tell me more?

Going back to your suggestion regarding me staying in the UK and starting a business in my spare time. It sounds good but even if I wanted to do this it would be unworkable due to the hours that I work as a primary teacher. Currently I work 50-60 hours a week and I tend to do 2 hours or more every night when I get back from school. The prospect of tutoring and working on a business would just not be possible. Thanks for the suggestion though. If I leave primary teaching one day, have more time, and have and ESL qualification, I may put some consideration into this.

Anyway, as for my imediate plans - any advice would be good.

Many thanks.
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Joined: 11 Sep 2006
Posts: 153
Location: New Orleans

PostPosted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well hit up chains like inlingua and shoot for small towns in the former East. But don't bother going to Berlin because you won't even be able to afford to eat much less live like a student.

And, if you're just wanting to do it for a year or so, for the sake of all the many people who do this as a career, please stay away from decent markets like Nuremberg, Erlangen, Augsberg, Munich, and Stuutgart because working holiday types have virtually destroyed the job market by driving down wages to below the poverty line and although you'd love to live there for a year then go home, these people have moved there longterm and spent years working their way up the ESL ladder. And unfortunately in recent years the vast availability of people in your same situation (who I'm sure have no ill intent) have caused their wages to drop from 35-40 euros per hour down to 10-15 euros per hour just because there are thousands of UK residents willing to work for pocket money while enjoying a year abroad.

Just keep that in mind, that unless you truly plan to make that your career that when you go somewhere for a working holiday you are likely costing someone their job when they have no option like returning home when they get tired of it.
The first step to teaching is realizing that you don't know nearly enough yourself.

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Chicago Boy

Joined: 08 Aug 2011
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 11:20 am    Post subject: Teaching English in Germany Reply with quote

I have been living in Germany for about a year now. I currently work for 4 different organizations. I did not have any English teaching experience before I was hired.

If you want to work in a public school teaching children then you need to know that they have to have everyone hired by the end of June for the following school year in August. I am teaching 4 hours a week at a Grundschule and they pay the best. But the interview was in German and you may need a certain level of German to get in the door of a public school. I just completed the B1 German level.

I do agree to check out the chains, and there are many of them. Even if they do not have an office in a town near where you are living, still apply because they may have a need for teachers in an area that is expanding in their portfolio. The big chains tend to have their own training that is free to participate in, instead of shelling out the quid from your own pocket for a TEFEL course. I have done both and they are pretty similiar, but most important both trainings are recognized by other language schools.

I was told in an interview that if I lived in Berlin then there would be no chance of me attaining a teaching position. There are many, many native speakers that have years of experience and great letters of recommendation. But since I live near a smaller city there is more of a demand. That is the reason why I was hired with little to no English teaching experience.

I have found out that the salary from the major language companies is standard all across Germany. If you decide to live in a big city then the standard of living is much higher than if you were to live in or around a city of 200,000 people. The Euro will go farther in less populated area.

Search the big schools and see where their jobs postings are. You might be able to land a job before you move. But you still need to interview for the job. You could luck out and be able to speak over the phone. Still be prepared to take a short flight over to German for the interview.

Aim high with your life. There are jobs in very pretty places in Germany and not just in the East. If you have the patience and the diligence to search for jobs, then you should not have any problem finding what you want.

Shoot for the stars, you may land on the moon.
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Joined: 15 Jun 2010
Posts: 66
Location: Taiwan

PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lexicon - I don't know whether you are still following this thread, but is it really that grim teaching English in Germany? What is the situation now?
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