Category Archives: teachingenglishtips

Teaching English in Germany Fails: Funny Experiences

The time I thought a student had asked me for a condom

(Image Source: Flicker, Creative Commons License – Jaysin Trevino)

When I first started teaching English in Germany, I didn’t know anything about British English. I was never really exposed to it (unless you count movies and/or books like Harry Potter).  Furthermore, there were a few things that confused me. I often wondered why students would ask me Have you got a sheet of a paper (British English)? compared to Do you have a sheet of paper (American English)?  Or the occasional words like torch for flashlight, plaster for bandaid, and rubber for eraser.  Let me repeat that last one, in British English rubber means eraser.

I’m sure my American readers can quickly see the problem with this.

Rubber in American English is slang for condom.  Students occasionally ask me for a rubber. When I first heard this, I was extremely confused. I thought: “How in the hell could an advanced student make this kind of a mistake!?” After asking him what he had meant and doing a quick Google search on my phone, I realized then that rubber means eraser in British English.  I should also note that they teach British English in Germany.

 

I still cringe – four years later – whenever a student asks me for a rubber.

 

The time a student expressed interest in “jailbait”

Every now and then I integrate games into my lessons. One of the games that I play is as a version of “Scategories”. This game involves writing down words that begin with a certain letter for various categories. During one of my lessons a few years ago, I played this very game. While in the middle of the game, a student had written something very funny. Now, I can’t remember what the exact category was, but a student had written “jail bait”.

I politely explained to him that I think he made a mistake as the word “jail bait” wouldn’t be appropriate for the category. Given that we often joked around in this class, I asked the student where he had heard the word. He replied saying that he had heard it on a crime show but wasn’t a 100% sure what it meant. I told him to be careful using words that he learns from TV dramas/crime shows because they use often use slang. I suggested that he should go home and google the meaning because I didn’t want to explain what jail bait meant in our lesson.

For some of my German readers who don’t know what jail bait means: Jailbait or jail bait is slang for a person who is younger than the legal age of consent for sexual activity, with the implication that a person above the age of consent might find them sexually attractive.

The time I parked in the CEO’s private parking space

(Image Source: Flickr, Creative Common License – Frank Lindecke

This was extremely embarrassing for me. During my first lesson at a company that I taught at, I had asked the students where I should park. They told me that there were spaces behind their building on the right-hand side.  Fast forward one week to my next lesson. I drove around looking for a place to park.  It was outside normal office hours and there was only one space free. I noticed a sign on the parking place that read “Geschäftsführung”.  I wasn’t sure what it meant, but thought that maybe if it was a reserved parking place, it wouldn’t that big of a deal because was after normal work hours anyway. No harm done, right?

WRONG. Let me start out by translating “Geschäftsführung”. This means reserved for a manager/CEO. Well, turns out I parked into the CEO’s park place.  I also want to mention that the parking space was really small and it had actually taken me two or three times to get my car into the spot. While trying to park my car, I had noticed that there was another car to the side of me. I thought it was kind of weird how they were just watching me, but I didn’t think much of it as I was embarrassing myself trying to park anyway. After I parked my car, I got out and started getting my things for my class.

At the same time, the guy in the car got out… and long story short he wasn’t happy with me because he was the CEO and I had parked in his parking place.

Here’s a tip for anyone who is new to Germany. Park ONLY in spots that don’t have a sign or says the word “BESUCHER” which means visitor. When in doubt, park somewhere else. Learn from my mistake.

 

The horny car

The German language has a lot of words that sound funny when translating to English. Well, in all honesty, I think some of them just sound funny in general. But anyway, there are a few that no one can deny sound hilarious in English. A few words and phrases include: “I break together” which means I’m having (some sort of mental) breakdown, “You bake pipe!” which is an insult, and horny which is slang for cool.

Anyway, I was at a party where I had talked to a guy a few years younger than me (in English). We both had had a few drinks at the party and he wanted to tell me all about his horny car (again – speaking IN ENGLISH). I had only lived in Germany for a few months at this point, so I didn’t know about the slang word. He preceded to tell me that he wanted to buy some new car and that the car was totally horny.  He went on to say that it was in fact, the horniest car that he had ever seen and was so horny that it made him drool from the mouth.

I loved how he not only used the word horny to describe a car, but gave me a new superlative to use as well. The horniest car.

Perhaps Volkswagen should consider a new marketing campaign targeting the younger crowd:

Old: Volkswagen. Das Auto.

New: Volkswagen. The Horniest Car

The time my car battery died at a company

When I first moved to Germany, I had bought a very cheap car. (It was definitely not horny.) It cost about 1,000 euro and was from the year 1999. Surprisingly, it lasted me a good year before I decided to go into car leasing. Anyway, I had a class that was in Essen (a good 30-minute drive from my house) and had arrived 20 minutes early. After arriving early, I sat in my car and played on my phone for a bit before the class started. I didn’t realize it, but while playing on my phone, I had accidentally left my lights on. When I went back to my car after my class was finished, my car wouldn’t start. I panicked. At this point, I had only lived in Germany for about four months and had literally no idea what to do. Luckily, I was pretty close to my students and texted one of them for help. The student was extremely nice and got someone to help me who had a special machine for charging dead car batteries. While I’m so thankful for the student who had helped me, I’m still a bit embarrassed to this day.

A Typical Day for an English (ESL) Teacher in Germany

This is what a typical day looks like for the life of an English trainer in Germany.

(or at least for me. I suppose actual results may differ.)

So before I begin, I should say that my day actually starts before I go to bed. I prepare the papers and books that I will need for the next day and place them in my bag. I also prepare what I want to wear so I can quickly grab them without much thought.  Although, that last thing isn’t so much a teacher thing, but rather a totally cool “Chris” thing.

At the start of the day, I prepare a small breakfast and some morning coffee. I then grab my things and drive to my first class. On average, it’s about a 25-minute drive. Wuppertal and Remscheid tend to have a good amount of traffic in the morning.  I also try to listen to loud music in the morning to help me wake up and get energized.

Then after arriving to my first class in the morning (around 8am), I usually begin by a warm-up activity. This usually involves story-telling, a small game, or a review of the previous material. It’s typically needed for the students to help wake up.  Okay, to be honest, I also need it on occasion to help me wake up and get focused.

After my first class (which usually runs for 1.5 – 2.15 hours), I start to prepare for my next class. This means that I have to drive another 20-30 minutes to the next business where I teach my second class. On an average day, I have about 3 to 4 classes. This also involves (quite often) a break of three to four hours in the middle of the day. I will write a post in the future on how to optimize your schedule to help prevent these breaks – although they are mostly inevitable.

What a typical class looks like for me:

Let’s say for example that a typical class is 1.5/2.15 hours. I begin the class with a very short warm-up while I wait for all of the students to arrive.  I ask them about their weekend or their work-week up til now. Then I begin with a target conversational topic such as travel, hotels, customer service, daily routines, job responsibilities, etc., After the conversation finishes, we move on to the target language and/or grammar goal where I break things down further. I try to end every class on a positive note where we share something good.

The hardest part of the job:

I both love and hate the breaks between classes. On one hand, I have had days with 10 lessons all back-to-back where I am barely lucky if I can grab a restroom break. On the other hand, I have had days with 6-8 lessons with a nice 3-4 hour break in between where I didn’t know what to do.  I try to use this time for office work, grocery shopping, fitness, and on occasion for relaxing. I need to sometimes get creative with managing my time.

What I dislike the most about it:

To be honest, it’s not uncommon to have long days. Long days mean good money, but also fatique. By the time I get home, I’m too tired to really do much of anything. I recommend that you max your schedule with eight lessons and if you have a few days where you teach a lot of classes, make sure you have time the next day to relax. In my four years of doing this, I have only met one trainer who can manage teaching 8-10 lessons every day. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

What I love the most about it:

I love the conversations and experiences that teaching provides. I have met so many interesting people and made many good friends along the way. Today for example, I had a business lunch with four people from Russia, one person from Italy, and another from Turkey (and remember – I teach English in Germany!).

ESL TEFL English Teacher Salary in Germany

An ESL teacher in Germany salary ranges city to city and state to state. It’s also is important to note that the salary for an English teacher in Germany changes depending on who you contract with. Language schools tend to pay an average of 10-20 per 45 minutes of class instruction. The major chains typically pay the least. The next tier would be independent agents. They pay a little bit more (I can’t exactly pinpoint a number here because I have never dealt with an independent agent). The final level of pay – which pays the most – is contracting directly with businesses and people.

Note: I have another blog about how to find TEFL jobs in Germany. You can find it here.

There are pros and cons of language schools, working with agents, and contracting with businesses and people directly. I plan to blog about that soon. The questions that I always receive from people who want to teach English in Germany are typically “Can I make a comfortable living?” “How much can I make?” “How do I start?”. These are tough questions because the salaries and cost of living change depending on where you live in Germany. To help explain this, I took the top seven largest cities in Germany and researched what people earn in each city.

Before I go on, I have to give a few disclaimers. My main goal was to provide information that gives a general overview. Moreover, I used language schools as a measuring point to get a general idea of what teachers earn. I chose language schools because they are typically the best starting point for new English teachers in Germany. They are also great places to network and meet other people. Finally, I gathered this information from my contacts and message forums online.  This is by no means a comprehensive list or a promise of earnings. This should however, provide a general overview of how much money you could potentially make at the beginning.  You should also take note that many things (especially taxes) are more expensive in Germany. I plan to write about these topics in the future.

One final disclaimer: If you chose to move to Germany and teach English, try to research as much as you can before your move and start networking with language schools beforehand. This will make your life so much easier after you move.

1) Berlin

(Image Source: Wikipedia Creative Commons, User: Anteeru, and unknown)

Berlin is the capital and the largest city in Germany. It has a population of almost 3.7 million and is the second most populous proper city in the European Union. In addition to its high population, it is a destination city within Europe for travel and vacation.

I did some research on the salary of an ESL Trainer in Berlin, and the language schools seem to pay about 12-15 per lesson (45 minutes). This seems relatively low compared to other language schools I have worked with. While I personally don’t have experience teaching English in Berlin, I think this is due to a saturated market. Berlin is the largest city in Germany with a high population. This means that not only are there a ton of language schools, but a ton of people who teach English. This lowers the overall salary for trainers. Unfortunately, when you compare the salary to the cost of living in Berlin, this could make your life difficult.

If you choose to teach English in Berlin, I would recommend living outside of the city to lower your costs. Berlin could be a great city for an extended vacation teaching English.

2) Hamburg

 

(Image Sources:Hamburg Train Station, City Street Hamburg, Overview Shot)

Hamburg is the second biggest city in Germany and often visited by travelers. There is a lot to do and see there and many people have fun in Hamburg. The cost of living can be quite high, so many people choose to live in a suburb outside of Hamburg.

I researched the salary of ESL trainers in Hamburg, and the average seems to be around 15 euro per lesson (45 minutes). Note: I posted in an online message forum about Hamburg, and someone posted 18 euro from a private language school. This is better than 15, but other sites listed 15 as an average.

While 15 is an acceptable average for language schools, this is a bit on the lower end from what I have experienced. Similar to other big cities like Munich and Berlin, there is a lot of competition for work which results in a saturated market. Moreover, when you compare the salary to the high cost of living in Hamburg, the salary could make your life difficult.

If you choose to teach English in Hamburg, I would recommend living outside of the city to lower your costs.

3) Munich

(Image Source: Left: Oktoberfest Middle: City Right: Church )

Munich is a great city. Home of Oktoberfest, many people travel to Munich for vacation. It is the capital city of the state Bavaria, and has a population of around 1.5 million. The city is a major center of art, advanced technologies, finance, publishing, culture, innovation, education, business, and tourism in Germany. However, Munich is also one of the most expensive cities to live in. I did some research on this, and several websites ranked Munich as the most (or second most) expensive city to live in Germany.

However, after some more research I found out that teachers make anywhere between 20-30 euro per lesson. Comparatively speaking, this is pretty good. However, many people commented that this seems low (most likely because the cost of living in Munich is so high).

4) Cologne

Cologne City View (Image Source Flickr User: Günther Bayerle)

Cologne is also an international city in Germany. I live pretty close to Cologne and enjoy visiting the city on occasion. There are a lot of things to do and places to visit within the city. One of my favorite places to visit is the Cologne Cathedral.
Before I dive into the salary of English trainers, I want to mention that Cologne is also a very expensive city. Many people need to have a roommate or live outside of the city in order to pay rent.
Researching the salary range of teacher’s in Cologne was difficult because I found so many different reports. However, the average was around 15-20 an hour. Several people reported that they make less while others reported that they make more. I once met a trainer who lives in Cologne and it was said one could earn a good 40-50k a year. So, from what it seems, the pay is quite varied in Cologne. If you decide to teach in Cologne, I would recommend living outside of the city or with roommates to save money.

5) Frankfurt

(Image Sources: City View – Flickr, Paul Sableman Opera House – Flickr, Kiefer Train Station – Flickr, Matthias Ripp)

Frankfurt is a metropolis and the largest city in the German state of Hesse. It also the fifth-largest city in Germany with a population of around 730,000 people. It is home to many of the largest banks in Germany along with one of the world’s busiest airports: Frankfurt Airport. While Frankfurt isn’t my favorite city for taking a vacation or for travelling, it is still a wonderful city none-the-less. However, being such a metropolitan city, the cost of living is also considered to be high compared to some of the other cities in Germany.
It seems that teaching English in Frankfurt pays around 22-26 euro per 45 minute lesson. I also read that you can earn up to 35 by working with agents. This information came from a post I found on a message forum (although from four years ago).

6) Stuttgart

(Images of Stuttgart courtesy of Flickr user: bongs Lee)

Stuttgart is the sixth-largest city in Germany. While I have never been to Stuttgart, the photos of the city look amazing. I’ve attached a few to this post. I hope to visit it one day for some site-seeing. Since I don’t really know that much about the city, I’m going to just stick to writing a few things that I found out about the salary for teaching English in Stuttgart.
I read that most of the big-chain language schools pay about 15-16 euro per 45-minute lesson. However, there are other schools who pay more but I wasn’t able to pinpoint exact amounts.

7) Düsseldorf

 

(Düsseldorf Images: Flickr Users, Lin MeiRoettgersB)
Düsseldorf is a great city Germany. It is well-known for its shopping and the river Rhine. Moreover, it has a quite a big scene for music and has a large Japanese community. During one of my visits to Düsseldorf, I went to the Rheinturm where you can view the whole city from inside a large tower. On top of the tower, you can order drinks, eat food, and enjoy a nice city-view.
I read online that people have reported about 12-18 euro per lesson. However, the thing about Düsseldorf is that many people live in a neighbor city that has a low cost of living (like Wuppertal) and travel to teach. Moreover, after some networking, you can find language schools that pay upwards of 20 or more.

Final Thoughts

All in all, the pay in most of the larger cities in Germany isn’t bad. However, I would highly recommend that you do as much research as possible before you move. Find out the average pay in the city you wish to move to and compare it to the cost of living. There are also many other bills that you will need to factor into your budget: taxes, health insurance, public retirement, transportation, etc.,

While I can’t really speak about the health insurance, taxes, retirement, etc., I have written a post about saving money in Germany which you can find here.

How-to Guide: Learning a Language Independently

teachingenglishingermany-guide-teaching

In this how-to guide for teaching English, I wrote about tips on how to continue learning a foreign language outside of the classroom. Here are some tips that you can give your students that promote independent learning.

Speak to Yourself

Try to force yourself to think and speak in the target foreign language.  This is incredibly helpful for not only remembering vocabulary but to practice the language. Pro Tip: We learn languages faster when we are capable of thinking in the language. This takes a lot of work and practice, but it can pay off in the long run. If you have friends and/or family who can speak the same foreign language, speak with them in it! Every little bit of practice helps.

Make Flashcards

Consider making flashcards around various themes and practicing them on occasion. Some example themes could be as basic as animals, colors, numbers, etc., or as advanced as full phrases for expressing remorse, asking for help, or telephoning. Just make sure you say the words/phrases out loud. To make the activity more engaging, you could practice using the word in a sentence.

Play Games

There are so many games that are fun to play which will help improve your language skills. I also like the website Breaking News English, which has many lessons and games that are fun for learning English. Consider games such as cross-word puzzles, word searches, trivia, etc.,

Chat with Native Speakers

Find message boards or online forums in the foreign language that you wish to learn. There are so many forums online that include almost every topic known to man! Find something that you find interesting and interact with others. It can be a bit scary at first, but this can be a great way to practice your foreign language skills!

Listen to Music

Do a search for the lyrics of your favorite song(s) and read them while you listen to it. This could be a great way to have fun while learning new vocabulary.

Watch a Movie

Watch a movie in the foreign language.  Just be careful with subtitles. Here’s why:

  • The translations are often very different. For example, I have heard that sometimes translators use the original movie script and not actual lines from the movie. This can not only be confusing, but lead to inaccuracies. I once watched a Star Wars movie in English with English subtitles. The subtitles were, at times, different than the actual spoken language.

Basically, if you watch a movie in a foreign language, do yourself a favor and turn the subtitles off. If you don’t understand a few things here and there – it’s okay. Just enjoy the film.

Social Media

Similar to the idea of message boards, go on YouTube and watch videos from native speakers. YouTube is great because the videos are often shorter than films and you can search for things that are interesting for you – culture, news, reviews, tourism (just to name a few!). Moreover, follow people on Instagram, Twitter, etc., to have short conversations and dialogues with other native speakers.

How-To: Preparing for a New Class

preparingforfirstdayteachingenglishingermany

How-To: Preparing for a New Class (TEFL, ESL, English Trainers)

Research the Company  

  teachingenglishingermany-research             

(Image Source: Flickr, requested return link – http://www.visioncreation.co.uk/)

If you are teaching English at a company, research the company. Find out if they have multiple locations, subsidiaries, what they do, and learn their company history. If the company is a production company, try to find out a little bit about their production. This will help you so much in the future. Students will often try to explain things about their job and need assistance with the vocabulary. If you are familiar with their company, you will be able to help them so much better. Moreover, you will be able to tailor the lessons more specifically to their job.

For example, if the topic includes something about processes. Get them to explain their processes. Maybe even have them create a flow-chart documenting how their product is made. By researching the company in advance, you will be much better equipped to help them.

Study the Students

There are several things that you should try to find out before the class starts. If you don’t have everything sorted out before the class starts, then try to learn as much as possible on the first day. Here is a short list of some things that I try to find out about all of my students.

  • Their current language level and target language level
  • When and where they use English
  • Their job tasks and responsibilities
  • Which department they work in
  • The last time they had an English class

Note: The reason why I try to find out the last time they had an English class is because if it has been a long time, chances are that they have a much stronger passive understanding than an active one. This means that typically they demonstrate a stronger level in comprehension as opposed to actively speaking.

Motivate Them

teachingenglishingermany-motivation

I try my best to give lots of energy in all my lessons. But we all have days where we don’t feel our best or didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. However, for the first lesson you really need to bring it! Tell them how excited you are to be there and how much they are going to learn by the end of the course. Say things like: “I’m really excited to be here and to meet all of you. By the end of the course you can expect to have learned X,Y,Z.”

Tip: Be careful that you don’t overpromise and underdeliver. If promise your students that they will be amazing English speakers and by the end of the course and they don’t feel “amazing”, it could make your life difficult. It’s better to promise specific learning objectives (to get them motivated) rather than subjective things like fluency, confidence, or abilities to do certain things in English.

 

Do you agree with my tips? What are some things that you do to prepare for a new class? Have I forgotten something important on this list? Please let me know!

 

How-To: Find TEFL JOBS IN GERMANY: 3 Tips

find tefl work teaching in english

How-To Find TEFL JOBS IN GERMANY: 3 Tips

Teaching at Language Schools

This is probably the fastest way to build contacts and find work teaching English in Germany. When I first started, I did a Google search for language schools in Wuppertal. Then I searched for language schools in nearby cities. After that, I made an excel document. Unfortunately, after my hard drive crashed I lost the document or else I would post it here as an example. (I made a post about this here.)

But basically, you just need to create a list with several rows listing the language school, location, phone number, email address and if they are currently looking for trainers. Just a quick note – Any school that was looking for trainers was highlighted in yellow on my list. I contacted a few of them immediately and saved the rest for future purposes.

Private Clients

You can make more teaching privately. However, you have to first find private clients which can be quite a challenging task for new English teachers in Germany. The best tip I can give for this is to use the local classifieds. There are websites where you can post advertisements for free. I recommend using the Ebay Kleinanzeigen (https://www.ebay-kleinanzeigen.de).

Just make sure you consider things like travel time, lesson preparation, and course materials as you set your prices. I would also look to see what other certified TEFL trainers in your area are charging.

Networking

Network with other English trainers in your area. At first, this might be difficult. However, you will find other English trainers at language schools. After you get to know them, you can ask them (privately – outside of the school) if they can recommend other places to teach. You will often hear stories as well.

I also want to mention that I have made great friends from teaching English at language schools in Germany.

(Photograph by Yusuke Umezawa Photo (via flicker) via freeforcommercialuse.org)

5 Time-Saving English Teaching Tips

5 Tips for English Lesson Plans That Save Valuable Time

When I took my TEFL class, I received a lot of training on lesson preparation. This was extremely helpful for learning things such as target language goals, target activities, and different methods to engage various learning styles. However, one thing that my class didn’t really prepare me for was for how to manage time effectively when you have a high number of classes. As a TEFL English Trainer in Germany, I teach a lot of different courses – about 15 to 20. I wrote down a range because some of the classes I teach only meet once a month.
So in a perfect world, I would create detailed lesson plans for all of my classes – but that would be impossible. Here are a few tips to help you save time preparing for your English lessons that I have learned from my experiences.

  • Take Notes

Whenever you start a new class, always take notes on the students. Find out their jobs, their hobbies, and a few fun facts. I do this every time and it helps me not only manage remembering things about all my students, but keeps me focused during the introductions. Moreover, once your class finishes for the day, write down what you did. This doesn’t have to be a detailed list. I typically just write down the page numbers from the book, conversation topic, and if something was particularly difficult for the students. Additionally, I write down a few things I want to do for the next lesson. This helps me save time later as I already have a general idea of what I want to do for the next class.

  • Make Your Lesson Plans Once a Week

Set aside time once a week to do ALL of your lesson planning. I know some teachers who plan lessons every day. This is not a bad practice, if you only have a few lessons per day. However, after a long day of 8-10 lessons, I don’t want to go home and have to do more work.

First of all, I use Google to schedule all of my appointments and lessons. This way, I can quickly see where I have to go the next day and what I need to do. Moreover, I set aside time (typically Sundays) where I plan everything I need for the week. By using Sunday, I can mentally prepare myself for the week and prepare all of my classes on the same day. If a class requires you to make copies or prepare something more time-intensive block off an hour during the week to do this. I often plan my lessons and Sunday and if I need to make copies, I go to the school to save my ink (my printer was relatively cheap and thus the ink is a bit expensive).

  • Save and Organize all Material

Anytime you have to create a lesson or syllabus from scratch, save it and back it up! I saved a few things at the beginning, but after a computer crash I lost literally everything (including invoices I needed for taxes). Make a folder on your desktop and inside the folder, create additional folders. I labeled mine ALevel, BLevel, Clevel, and a few others. You can decide on what works best for you.  (Note: ALevel is for beginners, B is for intermediate, and C is advanced as per the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.)

  • Ask Students to Bring in Material

This is not only a good tip for saving time but for making a better learning experience for your students. Ask them to bring in emails, marketing materials (in English!), or anything else related to their job. By doing this, you can get a better insight of their daily tasks and create more impactful lessons for your students. I do this all the time at the beginning of a class start.

  • Keep a Small Book for all Classes

Take a small book and create an ongoing to-do list. Quite often you will have small things that come up during your lessons. A few examples might be to send a reminder email, make a new attendance list, bring a copy of ABC for the next lesson, or a room change. Review your reminders often, but at the very least, review every Thursday and Monday.

5 Tips for Making a Living Teaching English in Germany

tipsforteachingenglishingermany

5 Tips for Making a Living Teaching English in Germany

  • For a Freelance TEFL JoB in Germany

    If you are a freelancer, set your own rules and goals. Teaching English as a freelancer is not like a typical job in the USA. First and foremost, you are a freelancer. You have the right to set your schedule, negotiate pay, and work as you want. I work with multiple language schools and teach privately. You should be doing the same. There are other ways to make a comfortable living teaching English in Germany such as job contracts or working for a school. However, I work as a freelancer so I can’t comment too much on those.

  • It’s a Feast or Famine type of gig

    Be prepared for months where you feel rich and months where you earn significantly less. I have a special savings account just for emergencies.

  • Never Settle

    Always keep one eye on the job and one eye on future opportunities.  Find out which language schools are paying (the rate varies school to school and city to city), which language schools have a good culture and are supportive, and where you can make yourself feel at home (see the last point).

  • Make the job fun!

    The job can be tough at times so it’s important that you have fun with it. You have to travel from site to site and do a lot of work outside of the classroom. Find ways to make the classes more fun by adding activities that are fun for yourself and for the students.  Sometimes I enjoy bringing in games to finish the last 10 or 15 minutes of a class session or making vocabulary challenges for the students.

  • Establish your TEFL Homebase

    Find yourself a “home school”. I teach for multiple language schools. In fact, it is important that you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I have seen both trainers and language schools come and go. It’s important to network as much as you can. Also by finding a home school with great culture, friendship, and support, it will help with any homesickness that you might feel and provide a feeling of security.

My First Day Teaching English in Germany

My First Day Teaching English in Germany

My First Day of Teaching English in Germany

My first day teaching English in Germany – a day I will never forget. It was at a company with about eight students. I was so nervous. The “big boss” from one of the language schools that I contract with came with me to introduce the course. He gave his speech in German and I only understood about three or four words – one of them was “Arbeitslos” which means unemployed.  I came to realize later that he was only making a joke and actually gave me a great introduction, but at the time this only made me MORE NERVOUS!

So after his introduction, he said something like: “Okay. Have fun!” and then left. Then all of the students went silent and looked at me. This was quite scary. I felt like I was standing center in the stage of a large audience and had forgotten all my lines. I remember thinking to myself I have to do something and something fast. So I stood up, smiled, and introduced myself. I talked about my experiences, where I’m from, and how excited I am to be here teaching English. I then shifted and focused on the book and began my first lesson. In the end, I connected quite well to the class and even friended a few of the students on Facebook.

But, starting out it was quite scary. When I meet new English trainers/teachers they often ask: “How do you prepare for your first lesson?” I suggest that they get a feeling for the lesson material (usually involves a book or two), try to prepare for potential questions, and most importantly – relax! The two key things that I have learned from teaching English is that you need to be both prepared (mentally and physically) and flexible.

I have a question for all of the other English trainers and teachers.
What was your first day like? Do you have a TEFL Job in Germany (or TEFL-related job)?