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Private English Teaching vs. Teaching at a Language School in Germany
Written by: Tamie Arietta
Last Updated: February 5, 2020
Private teaching is very different to teaching in a language school. The decision to teach privately or in a school boils down to individual preference. Some teachers prefer a classroom setting with a set curriculum, while others prefer to make their own schedule and customize lessons to fit their student's needs. There's no right or wrong answer when choosing where to teach; every student learns differently, and every teacher teaches differently, so find what works for you.
In Germany, there's no shortage of language schools or the need to teach English privately. While the demand for learning English in Germany is huge, it does vary from region to region. Larger cities like Berlin and Hamburg are saturated with language schools and teachers, so if you want to teach privately, know how to market yourself to stand out. In smaller towns, you may find the market is less competitive for private teaching, but also fewer language schools to find jobs.
The majority of expats coming to Germany to teach English as a foreign language apply for a freelance permit. Work sponsorship permits can be few and far between in this field and slightly harder to get approved by the Foreigner's office. Knowing what type of permit you would like to apply for will dictate the kind of work you are allowed to do. For example, under a freelance permit, you can teach at multiple language schools and teach privately, but under a work sponsorship, the norm would be working for one school and side work permitted.
If you are looking to teach conversational, Business English or young learners, then Germany is the place to be. For teaching Business English, you'll find jobs throughout the country, but the demand is higher in places like Berlin, Frankfurt, and Hamburg. Germany is home to many international companies as well as large German corporations such as Volkswagen Group, Siemens, and Daimler AG, which find English training essential for their team. If you like to teach young learners, then best to research places like Munich, Düsseldorf or Hamburg. However, there are hundreds of preschool equivalent places to work throughout Germany. As a private teacher, you could fill your schedule just by teaching children.
The hiring season in Germany is year-round; however, you’ll find there are two main months (January and September) where language schools tend to increase staff. When it comes to teaching privately, it is also year-round with August and December being the slower months as most people tend to travel for summer and winter holidays.
Now, let's take a look at some pros and cons of private teaching vs. language schools.
If you want to teach privately and do so effectively, find students and businesses, you will enjoy teaching. Keep in mind that accepting every student and offering big discounts for your services just to get started is not wise. Try to build a solid student base from the start; some students may stay with you for a long time, especially young learners, so make sure it is a good fit for both parties.
For private teaching, plan to teach anywhere from 60 to 120-minutes per lesson. Lessons can be held at their home or office, a library, park, museum or cafe. The rates will vary depending on the city, and age-level of the student, not to mention the type of lessons you provide: general or specialized.
Here's an average rate for a private 60-minute lesson in a large city:
General 30€ to 45€ / low end 25€
Business 60€ / low end 45€
Young Learners 20€ / low end 15€
- One-on-one or small groups
- Higher pay rates and more flexibility with scheduling
- Tailored lessons and comfortable learning environment to maximize students learning abilities
- Build a stronger rapport with your students
- Become your own boss: choose your preferred age, level and type of lessons
- All ages and levels from young learners to BE
- The pace of lessons are decided by the student and the teacher collectively - not dictated by institution structure
- Continuous effort to build student base and monitor the progression of each student
- May spend more time customizing lessons
- Must track all expenses for private teaching and invoice students directly
- Less interaction with other teachers
- Cancellations or last-minute changes may occur
- Commute time to and from multiple students
Finding the right school that fits your teaching style may take time. During the interview process would be a good time to ask the things that are important to you as a teacher. Know the contract terms and what your role will be for lesson preparation. Class lengths can range from 45 to 90 minutes. Pay rates offered can start as low as 12€ per 45-minutes, with most cities around 15€ to 25€ for general lessons. The major chains typically pay the least, followed by independent agents that will hire you to go out to schools or companies.
- Classroom setting
- Group environment that encourages classroom participation
- Set curriculum or resources are provided to create lessons (varies from school to school)
- Interact with other teachers
- Set routine, more security, and consistency of regular work
- Not as flexible with schedule or time off
- Lower pay rate
- Limited individualized attention
- Depending on the school, less freedom to customize to your students
- Most schools do not offer all ages and levels or a variety of areas to teach
- Need to work at multiple schools
Before you decide which is best for you; get to know your areas of interest. Ask yourself, what is your preferred age group? Is there a certain level that is more comfortable to teach? Do you have the time and energy to promote yourself for private teaching, or are you someone that would prefer being told when and what to teach?
Your success and sanity may hinge on knowing your teaching preference before accepting jobs or finding students.
An ITA Alumni Ambassador from San Diego, Tamie had explored most of the United States but had never been abroad until age 35 when she embarked on a year of traveling, volunteering, and studying around the world. After earning her TEFL certification in Florence, Italy, & traveling through Europe, Tamie headed for Hamburg, Germany. In Hamburg, she not only taught English for 4+ years but also established her own business providing support and assistance to other English teachers with navigating the German visa process.
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