Germany in Oct. 2008? What's the pitfalls?

Discussion about TEFL jobs in Europe

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Brian Boyko
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Germany in Oct. 2008? What's the pitfalls?

Unread postby Brian Boyko » 24 Jun 2007, 17:25

Hello - my name is Brian Boyko.

I'm hoping to emigrate to either Germany or New Zealand in late 2008 - October at the earliest. I'm a journalist by trade currently working as a on-staff company blogger for a high-tech company in the U.S., with various freelance assignments, mostly in the technical news fields. I also possess a Masters in Journalism, but no TEFL qualifications. The closest TEFL school I've found is 3 hours away and with a full time job, it's not practical to get the TEFL qualification.

I like both Germany and New Zealand, and the choice mainly comes down to this:

Pros - Larger cities, more actual news happening, cheaper to fly to visit family/friends, learning a second language through immersion would increase my values as a bilingual reporter.

Cons - I do not currently speak the language, it will likely be harder to find employment because of this.

New Zealand:
Pros - Native English Language, likely cheaper to live, less likely to get blown up in a thermonuclear war.

Cons - Less international news happening there, very rural country, Weta insects freak me out.

The plan was, for the longest time, to go to New Zealand. But since I'm in my contract at my current job since Oct. 2008, I'm wondering if I should consider taking a job in Germany as TEFL, do English-language freelancing on the side, until I get proficient enough in German to do German-language reporting as well?

Does this sound like a good plan? What are my first steps? Where do I go from here? What places in Berlin (my first-choice city) are hiring, and what are some of the pitfalls I need to avoid?

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Re: Germany in Oct. 2008? What's the pitfalls?

Unread postby systematic » 20 Jun 2008, 20:14

This is an old posting but anyone picking it up here because of its title might be interested in an answer:

I lived in Germany for 18 years. 51% of the post WWII generations speak almost fluent English as the standard of English tuition in the German schools is very high, and the country was occupied by hundreds of thousands of English and American military personnel and their families for around 50 years. English belongs to the same family as the languages of Scandinavia and the northwestern European countries, making English relatively easy for them to learn; the pronunciation is very similar, and compared to their own language, Germans find English grammar so ludicrously easy that they learn the complexities of English idiomatic expressions in next to no time. It is therefore quite possible for a native English speaker to live in the country for years without needing to know a word of German.

The downside is, that because of this, there is hardly any demand at all for native speaker English teachers. Further east however, since the collapse of communism the need for Englis has increased dramatically with the demand increasing yet again since the recent membership of some of the formers communist countries.
While manual workers from Poland are invading Western Europe, TEFLers are flocking to the new language institutes in the capitals of the eastern European states.

Working abroad, particularly in developing countries can also be very rewarding and if you are considering going all the way to New Zealand you may like to stop off in southeast Asia on the way. TESOL certificates are not strictly necessary but a degree in any discipline is an absolute must. Ask for more information on this Teaching in Thailand forumand if you come across any irregular practices or TESOL course scamsbe sure to help others by reporting it on as many forums as you can.
I offer any information or advice 'as is' and hope that it has been of help. I am not an admin of this board, and my postings do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the board management.
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Re: Germany in Oct. 2008? What's the pitfalls?

Unread postby Leamh » 29 Sep 2008, 14:00

The two posts here date way back, but I'd like to add my two cents

First off I have very little experience of living in Germany so I don't feel qualified to contradict Systematics post, in light of his/her vastly larger body of experience!

However from my own experience and from what other teachers have told me, I find the post slightly unsual

The discrepancy here may come down to two issues : qualifications and experience

I have recently moved to Berlin and I have ,in the last 2 months, got on the books of, and started working for, 3 schools. I also, several years ago, had a relationship with a Southern German for a period and spent time in Munich and Stuttgart where I still have close friends - that is the extent of my experience with the country so far.

I appreciate Berlin is a massive anomally in the context of Germany as a whole but ...

to say 51% of the (post war) population speak fluent English is for me slightly strange - many Germans educated at Gymnasium level reach an Upper Intermediate/ Advanced level in their late teens, which then may or may not be supplemented further by more exposure to the language at a working level or through travel. those not educated in Gymnasiums tend to have low levels of English in my experience.

not to be nitpicking here on what is or isn't "fluent" but there is massive room for improvement for many who need to attain advanced / proficient levels of English for the purposes of work. I teach in Ebay on the outskirts of Berlin and while a couple of classes are Advanced and even Proficient, I also have Upper Int and even Pre Int classes

And let me say that the demand for English teachers in Munich, Stuttgart, Hamburg and Berlin is absolutely colossal IF you are qualified

within 1 day of sending an e-mail to maybe 12 Hamburg schools, I had 4 offers of interviews -

I have so far had more job offers in Berlin than I can physically teach - this is not to say that everything is roses - wages can be extremely low and taxes are colossal for freelancers

but if you are qualified there is work. First off a full time EFL course is, to my knowledge utterly essential. This can be done, in the UK at least, within a month, so it is a relatively small commitment

In Berlin 2 years experience is a sort of required idea for top jobs, although I have seen colleagues hired with 3 months experience in lower pay jobs.

Some jobs require a level of German - for teaching Elementary level students I was required to have a decent level of German (the interview process was done entirely in German). BUT Inlingua, in contrast, had absolutely no interest whatsoever in my german abilities and strongly afvised against usuage of the language in class

any, just my limited experience so far

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Re: Germany in Oct. 2008? What's the pitfalls?

Unread postby nstodi » 14 Aug 2010, 23:16

I am a German national who has just graduated from a UK university with a degree in ELT and also just recently started a CELTA course here in the UK.

My personal experience is this: if you have the correct qualifications and a work permit then jobs can be found en masse. I have had contacts with many schools over the past year and many of them are in dire need of qualified teachers. The English language standards may be better than in any other EU country but the need for further tuition is big.

Many people in Germany do not use English at all after secondary school and by the time they are 30 have often forgotten most of what they had learned 10 years before. English language schools can be found in all big metropolitan areas and many businesses often employ language teachers to help further their employees proficiency levels in English.

Therefore, the situation in Germany is not as bad as is described here. Language teachers are needed all over the country as many qualified language teachers prefer to work in Spain, Italy or in the East.

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Re: Germany in Oct. 2008? What's the pitfalls?

Unread postby systematic » 16 Aug 2010, 10:53

I should perhaps have qualified my post by stating that my experience was based on pre Wende Germany, (gosh, am I that old already?) after which of course there was a massive increase in the non English speaking population.

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