Teaching in Germany

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Teaching in Germany

I’m Kat, I’m 31,and I’m a TEFL teacher in Stuttgart, Germany. I completed my TEFL certificate with The TEFL Academy in January 2019, and within one month, I was nervously standing in front of my first class of cheeky seven year olds.

I was unsure what I would do in Germany so I decided to take a leap of faith and sign up for the TEFL course.

I moved to Germany from Australia with my husband (and my dog) in late 2018, when my husband was offered a new job here.Leaving behind agreatjob in marketingand family and friends, I was unsure what I would doin Germany so I decided to take a leap of faithand sign up for the TEFL course.

There is quite a high demand for English teachers in this area, so after emailing and interviewing with two private language schools,I was offered freelance positions and began working immediately with both children and adults.

I worked average 30 hour weeksfor first six months, travelling between schools and workplaces and the language centres to teach everyone from three-year-old kindergarten kids, to 50 year old lawyerspracticing for a TOEFL exam.

This semester, I’ve decided to focus on teaching mainly one-on-onewith adults at AngloGerman Institute in Stuttgart, as I really enjoy the sorts of conversations you can get into with adults, as well as helping them withspecific on the job skills. I’m also going to be focusing on my other passion for writing, and I’m launching a blog about expat life.

I would have never been able to get this job without completing my TEFL certificate, and I’vesinceencouraged other expatshere to pursue theirs as it’s a great way to meet locals and find a sense of purposein a new city. Through teaching I’ve discovered new neighbourhoods, learnt about great places to travel, seen how German schools operate, and of course made friends! I’vebeen able to unleash my creativity, learn a new skill, earn great money, and improve my overall language skills.

If fact,here are five surprising things I learnt since starting teachingin Germany:

1.You actually learn a lot of Germanon the job.

While obviously I was there to teach English, and I only spoke English 99% of the time in my class,there were many times that I surreptitiouslylearnt words, especially from children.

They might say “Spitzer please”when holding up their broken pencil.And while I’d use it as an opportunity to teach the word sharpeneras I handedit over, I also justlearnt the word Spitzer.

2.Confidence is key.

Both for you and for your students, confidence is so important! If you walk into a classroom feeling nervous or unprepared, your students will notice and will rip you to shreds. It’s important to always be prepared, and always have a few easy time fillers such as Hangman up your sleeve, and that will help you feel much more confident in what you are teaching. Another tip:always try to stay one lesson ahead of your students!

And for your students, especially adults, what they oftenlack is confidence. More often than not, I found my students’ English skills were amazing, but they didn’t see it that way. One piece of adviceis to provide more speaking opportunities where they have the chance to formulate long sentences and develop theories and arguments, and then they’ll realize just how well they can actually communicate.And don’t correct every mistake, focus on the main ones, or ones related to topics you’ve just learnt.

3.Use the resources available.

There are so many incredible resources out there, that time spent planning a lesson doesn’t have to be too time-consuming. In both schools I worked at, I wasnot paid for preparation time, so it’s in your best interests to plan your lessons efficiently. Some of my favourite sites for free resources are: ESLbrains.com, busyteacher.org, BritishCouncil.org.uk and islcollective.com but there are countless others out there.

4.Learning a language is a requirement, not an elective.

In Australia, and probably many other English speaking countries, the emphasis on learning a language is more for ticking a box, rather thanto attainfluency. But from my experience, in Germany they learn languages to becomefluent and improve their job prospects later in life, not to tick a box. So it was not surprisingto meet children of six or seven years old who were already fluent in three languages.

5.I really didn’t know English.

By that I mean, I’mfluent in English, I’m pretty good at spelling, I love to read, but I really didn’t know the ins and outs of English grammar. Once,in an advanced English class, I was marking a students work, and corrected“I haven’t seen him last year” to “I didn’t see him last year”, only to get asked, but why?

Of course, I couldn’treply, that’s just the way is it. So I went away and researched it and came back the next week with plenty of exercises on the differences.

Do you know the reason why?

Hint: We are talking about a time period that has ended, so we need to use the simple past tense.

I was unsure what I would do in Germany so I decided to take a leap of faith and sign up for the TEFL course.

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