Resist the Ramen: Financing your Student Life in Germany

So you’ve heard the good news: you can get your university degree for free in Germany. It almost seems too good to be true, an education from a highly-respected institution of higher learning, the opportunity to learn and grow without the stress of thousands of dollars in student debt awaiting you upon graduation. But while the terror of tuition no longer mars the pristine German university landscape, that doesn’t mean your study experience will be free; you still need to pony up for food, rent and recreation. Here are a few ways that you can cover your living expenses as a student in Germany.

Continue reading

Teaching ESL in Germany

I recently finished a two-week stint of teaching intensive English for a company that has been contracted to provide training for unemployed people. The unemployment office sends a lucky few – in this case five people – to take a course that is meant to help make them better candidates for jobs in the future. The intensive English module was part of a 6-month project management course that was paid for my our friendly neighborhood Arbeitsamt, and it is said to cost almost €10,000 for the whole course.

When I accepted the course, I had not yet had the job interview that led to my offer of full-time employment, which is by far the better option for me. Basically I said yes to the English course, and got a job offer about two weeks later. I was not thrilled about having to spend 40 hours per week teaching people English, and that for two weeks straight from 8.30 to 4.30 pm every day. I have no problem with working full time, but how do you keep a bunch of people interested and awake for 8 hours when it comes to learning English?

Continue reading

Return to Freelancing

I’ve been away from the blog for a while because we moved to Ireland in 2010 for a new job for me. For years I have been working as a technical writer and editor at large corporations (SAP and IBM, to be exact), but as of April, I have returned to my roots in more ways than one. I’m back in Germany and I am back to freelancing, or being self-employed, which are two different things from a tax perspective. Continue reading

Lernen, Studieren and German as a Foreign Language

I consider myself rather lucky. I’m an American, I speak English which is the international business language, and I moved to a country that has a relatively strong English-speaking background. The part of Germany that I live in, Bavaria, was (still kind of is) occupied by the Americans after the war. This means that along with the German requirement that students learn English in school because it’s the ‘international language’, the people of this region got to practice it because of the troops that were stationed in the area.

So I understand that just about everyone my age (I’m 29) around here knows at least a decent amount of English words, even if they are scared to use them.

I’m an English teacher here. And let’s be obvious, that’s pretty much the ONLY thing I can do as a Beruf until my German is pretty flawless, which it is not. I’m a high level 2, an intermediate, but as I said in an earlier post, I didn’t learn Yoga or Graphic Design German in my integration course. Continue reading

Teaching English in German-Speaking Europe

So you think you want to teach English in Germany (or Austria, Switzerland)… Well, you’re certainly not the first American (or Brit, etc.) to come up with that idea. The good news: There is a demand for qualified native speakers of English to teach the language in German-speaking countries. The bad news: The pay and working conditions are often poor. Do you know the questions you should be asking (and answering) before you accept a job teaching English in Germany?


Do you know that Germans normally learn the British version of English?

In our German Way Forum and other expat forums the pros and cons of teaching English as a foreign language (EFL, ELT, TEFL, TESL, TESOL, not ESL)* in Germany get discussed from time to time. Complaints about low pay, poor work conditions, and bad management are not uncommon from people who have taught English for private schools like Berlitz or a public Volkshochschule (VHS, adult education night school) in Germany. Nevertheless, for some people, teaching English may be a good job option, but you need to have the facts before you can make that decision, and definitely before you get on a jet headed for Germany thinking you’re making a brilliant career move. Here are some of the questions you need answered before venturing into the EFL field. Continue reading