In this post you’ll find basic contracts, bills, and templates for your self-employment as an ESL teacher in Germany, as well as advice on setting your schedule and prices. It’s going be a long and detailed explanation with German-to-English translations for each document, so get some popcorn and strap in. Before you print out any of the templates or contracts below, be sure to replace the dummy info with your own, and feel free to change the text to suit your needs.
Do not attempt to start working without permission from the German government. You’ll need a qualification such as a TEFL Certificate, Bachelor’s Degree, Associate’s Degree, or government-issued license. There are lots of online courses to get those basic qualifications.
If you’re studying at the University, there might be limitations on how much you can work. On the upside, getting permits when you’re already a student might be easier than starting out as a tourist. Some answers can be found here. Continue reading
If you work for a school, you don’t have much of a choice when it comes to your classroom’s location. But if you’re fully or partially self-employed, you’ll have to find a balance between convenience, cost, travel time, and personal boundaries.
Naturally, you’ll want to find a comfortable place to teach. This could be your living room if you don’t mind other people coming and going, and if children’s boogers on your sofa don’t bother you. The downside is that students know where you live and the boundaries between work time and free time will be blurred. You might also have trouble getting people to leave at the end of the lesson, or convincing people that you’re a professional teacher. It could also be forbidden in your building, so ask the landlord first. The major upside is that you don’t have to travel, and your overhead costs are almost non-existent.
When you first arrive in Germany, you’ll be tempted to apply for work at one of many commercial language schools, none of which I will name here. These schools are not traditional schools because the “students” are really clients.
What I’m calling a traditional school is one where the students, if minors, are mandated by the government to attend. Think elementary school and high school, be they public or private. The teachers of these schools have to hold certain degrees and are specifically qualified to work there. They are civil servants and hold that title indefinitely. The kids finish school with either a High School diploma or other certificate. The German school system differs from the American system in too many ways to mention here. Continue reading
Students are property. There is value in referrals, advertising, and reputation. If you’ve earned a student “cold”, that means that someone found you and hired you to teach them after seeing an advertisement that you put out there. That student is yours and you can decide to teach them or not.
If you work for a language school and a student likes your teaching style, it is unethical to give that student private lessons without the language school’s permission. You can even be fired from the school and possibly sued, depending on your contract. It doesn’t matter how much the student will pay you compared to how much the school pays you, or compared to how much the student pays the school. The school has earned the student through their advertisements and reputation. Conversely, the teacher is also property of the school. Students who buy the cheapest, shortest course at a school with the aim of finding a good teacher and switching to private lessons are also treading on dangerous grounds. Many course contracts include a clause to prevent poaching. Continue reading
To all freelance English teachers in and around Hannover, Germany:
Let’s get to the point: you need more students. I left all 75 of my students behind when I moved back to America, and every week I have to turn away new people who still contact me through the website www.hannover-englisch.de, and that makes everyone feel sad.
To get your own page on the Hannover site, e-mail me the following:
– A high-resolution photo of your most teacherly self Continue reading