Top Tips for living & teaching in Germany
Teaching ESL in Germany can allow you to experience living in the heart of Europe. The country has several cities that are often listed on some of the best cities in Europe for quality of life and it’s easy to see why. Big cities like Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich offer a multicultural way of living and easy connections with the rest of Europe. Germany is a country full of vast landscapes, modern cities and interesting architecture.
Some highlights include the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, Brandenburg Gate in Berlin , or the mighty cathedral in Cologne. For completely different scenery from the city, explore the Black Forest either walking, running or cycling through the villages! Don’t forget to enjoy the world famous Oktoberfest, one of the world’s biggest fairs attracting visitors from all over the world.
In Germany, you will find good opportunities, good wages and an efficient way of living. English is important for the country to conduct business and communicate on an international level. The economy is strong and continues to grow. Germany has a very good education system meaning that English is taught from an early age. If you want to become part of it, check out teaching ESL in Germany for your TEFL career!
If you’re already sold on life in Germany, here are some tips for starting a new life in Germany as a TEFl teacher!
Upskill where you can
Germany has many in-company opportunities for Business English teachers. It’s one of the most popular fields to work in here. With a lot of Germans having a good base in English from their school education, it is at work where they aim to achieve an even higher level. It’s for this reason that beginners’ classes in Germany aren’t as frequent. The type of work offered calls for more knowledgeable teachers, especially in Business English. This work involves higher rates of pay for TEFL teachers as you can charge more for company teaching.
It doesn’t just stop at Business English. If you are able to teach English in any specialist subject (exams, aviation, medical etc) then you will find work in these areas. The more niche the area, the better you might say! As a teacher, it’s important to keep developing throughout your career. This is true wherever you go but in Germany even more so. If you have the opportunity to take extra specialist courses, do so! In Germany, you will be rewarded professionally and financially.
The nature of the work
In Germany, it is common for teachers to work as freelancers. This involves them taking different jobs and working with different schools (and some travel to them). They then have to declare their own taxes. It is very common for TEFL teachers to work this way so it shouldn’t deter you. However, it’s important to understand how to work in this way if you decide to. If you decide to be a freelance teacher, you should find a good tax advisor. Ask other teachers for recommendations and check Google reviews to ensure you are being advised well.
Due to the nature of this work, Germany is a great place to set up your own business or language school. There are lots of chances to become your own boss. If you decide to stay long-term, the opportunities are great and can be more lucrative than working on a local contract. If you like the idea of taking your TEFL career even further, then Germany might be the place for you.
Not all jobs are freelance, there are some contracts with schools, internships and programs. Teaching assistant jobs are possible in local schools with nine-month contracts. These types of jobs are more straightforward in terms of taxes so are more coveted. You can also find short-term teaching English summer opportunities if you want to get a taste of what teaching ESL in Germany has to offer before taking the plunge!
If you have an EU passport, you don’t need a visa to work in Germany making the hiring process smoother. However, if your passport is from outside of the EU, you will need to apply for a visa. This isn’t a problem and most get a visa fairly easily. However, it’s important to note that it can take time. For some nationalities, it can take up to 5 months to get a visa which they will need to do before moving to Germany. Do your research and find out what documentation you need and how long it typically takes. In this way, you won’t be disappointed if you don’t have your papers in time.
For some nationalities, it’s possible to apply for a work visa once you get there and get your work contract. Research this beforehand and what is sufficient for you to qualify for a visa. You don’t want to get to the visa office and have them reject you! You’ll need to take your contract to the office. If you’re freelance, you might need more than one contract to show you will earn enough money to survive in Germany.
To be a TEFL teacher in Germany, most schools require you to be a native speaker. You also need a TEFL certificate, a minimum of 120-hours. You technically don’t need a degree to teach in Germany but as Germans highly value education, it would make your application stand out a lot more if you have a university degree. Any extra courses (Business, Exam English etc) would also make your CV stand out to employers.
Renting an apartment in Germany
Ideally, you will find an apartment in your city of choice before you arrive, but this is not always the case when moving abroad. Don’t worry if you don’t have your accommodation sorted, sometimes it’s better to hit the ground running. A lot of landlords prefer to meet their prospective tenants in person. There are plenty of Air B&bs and hotels that you can stay in while you start your search in the city.
When you rent an apartment, most rental prices will be in the form of kaltmiete which essentially means “cold rent”. This means the base price of the rent- the rent for the apartment itself. This doesn’t include extra costs on top of this: internet, electricity, water etc. When working out your budget, don’t forget to factor in these costs. On the chance that some of these are included in your rent, ask your landlord unless you want some extra surprises at the end of the month.
Once you have found somewhere to live, go and register your address straight away. Before signing your contract, ask your landlord if you can register your stay there. If they say no, this could cause problems for you. Although we all hate paperwork, not registering when you move into your more permanent apartment is a classic mistake expats make- don’t be one of them! Germans take their paperwork very seriously and it’s important to do things officially. One small mistake or act of negligence can have more serious consequences even years down the line.
Get to know German culture and dive right in!
One of the most important aspects of German culture is punctuality. If you’re from a culture where arriving late is socially accepted, then start setting alarms! In Germany, it’s considered rude to arrive late and keep people waiting. In fact, a lot of people would arrive early to meet their friends. If you want to make German friends, make sure you arrive on time otherwise you’ll create a bad impression! Germans are very sociable and often belong to clubs which is a great way to meet people.
Although it might be tempting to stick to English with the high level German people tend to have, take the time to learn the language. Locals will respect you even more if they see you are making an effort, especially when you could easily talk in English. Take some classes, study online or head to a language exchange. To integrate with locals, you should learn to speak to them in their own language. Taking language classes is also a good way to meet other expats in your situation and expand your friendship group.
German food culture could be one of the most enriching experiences from your stay in the country. Popular German foods include bratwurst, schnitzel and many more. Of course, German beer is well-known and you can try some at the many fairs. Heading out to dinner is very popular especially in the bigger cities. Going out to try the local food and drink is a great way to socialise with your new friends! German pubs and bars are a big part of the culture too!
Moving to Germany can be an amazing new experience for TEFL teachers. You will find an exciting, fast-paced way of life. You can easily explore the rest of Germany via train, bus or plane. Don’t forget Germany’s central location! There are trains that will take you to other beautiful cities in Europe for weekend escapes. There are also budget flights from the big cities that can take you further for fairly cheap. Living and teaching ESL in Germany could open your eyes to a whole new culture and give you a thriving TEFL career!
If reading this leaves you curious to see what teaching ESL in Germany has to offer for you. Check out our brand new teach English in Germany summer internship here! It’s a great chance to dip a toe into TEFL in Germany and have the summer of your life at the same time!