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!).

2 responses on “A Typical Day for an English (ESL) Teacher in Germany

  1. Frank

    Hi Chris
    I love your blog. You have some great tips.
    My partner and I are in an older age-group (semi-retired). She is a qualified ESOL teacher.
    Have you met many ESOL teachers in Germany in their 50s?
    Since most younger Germans would already speak English well, what is the make-up of a typical class? I know this would depend on the part of Germany and whether it is a city or in the countryside but what is your experience?

    1. Chris Post author

      Hi!
      Thanks for your comment and nice words. I’m sorry it took me awhile to reply.
      I know quite a few English trainers here in Germany. Of the ones that I know, I would say that I’m close to about 5-10 of them. Moreover, 4 of them are in their 50s.

      The topic about age and English fluency is a really interesting topic. Firstly, I’m constantly surprised about the gap in English skills with the younger crowd in Germany. I have seen kids around 12 or 13 who speak English very well. I’ve also seen kids who are 14 and 15 who can barely put together sentences. Until technology makes English trainers obsolete (which I think will take a LONG time), there will be a need for both adults and children to improve their English in foreign countries. Anyway, my typical make-up is mostly adults. I should note that I teach business English (but it’s the most common type of class in Germany for adults).

      I hope this helps! Feel free to send me an email at christophernathanolsonATgmail (dot)com if you have any other questions! I might be a bit slow to reply, but I always try to help when I can!

      Thanks again for checking out my blog and for your comment!

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