Everything you need to know about teaching English in Germany


Germany is the economic powerhouse of Europe and is the world’s 4th largest economy – one place ahead of the United Kingdom and four places behind the United States. Germany also enjoys a high standard of living with its combination of generous salaries and relatively low cost of living for a Western European nation and is a sought after teaching English abroad location. This article looks at teaching English in Germany specifics and covers everything you need to know about teaching English in this land of fairytale castles.

Where is Germany?

Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) shares its borders with nine other European countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland. In additional to its centrally located position in Europe, the country offers up a tremendous amount of geographical diversity with its Alpine mountains in the south, sandy beaches in the north, Black Forest National Park in the east and its meandering Rhineland in its west.

Because Germany is such a popular teaching destination, it does take a bit more time and energy in order to set up shop here compared with for example wanting to teach English in the Czech Republic. It is worth the perseverance though and choosing Germany as a teaching English location will enable you to earn enough to live comfortably and be able to afford regular trips around the European continent.

Teaching salaries typically range anywhere from €1,000 to €3,000 per month, and if you snag a university teaching job then this figure can rise to the equivalent of approx. US$40,000 per year.

The main requirement for teaching English in Germany is that you hold an international TEFL certificate from a reputable school. A college degree will also give you an edge on the competition – although not a mandatory requirement, and applicants with German-speaking skills will enjoy having an additional advantage.

Please also note that when applying for teaching English positions, we definitely recommend submitting your CV/Resume in both English and German. It isn’t mandatory to understand German fluently to land a teaching English position in Germany, but unlike other countries in the region, Germany is definitely a nation that expects at least a basic working knowledge of its language in order to get yourself started.

Teaching in Berlin

Berlin is the capital and Germany’s largest city, and is the most popular place in Germany to teach English. Because of this, competition is fierce, but there are just so many teaching positions available that if you put your mind to it then you won’t find any issues with landing a job here. Surprisingly, Berlin is one of the cheapest capital cities in Western Europe, and its high number of foreign residents makes for a culturally-rich city experience with a thriving and diverse arts scene.

There are many different types of English teaching positions available in Germany. As we have already mentioned, if you can snag a job at a university then that option will pay you the most, but most teachers find themselves either teaching at a language school, public school, an international school, international corporation, or teaching students privately.

Language schools can be found in all the main cities and in most large towns and recruit teachers throughout the year, depending on how many teachers they have available at hand and on when new contracts for new teaching clients come in. As with all of these types of teaching options, the absolute best time to look for work is in September, when the new school year starts, and with January being the second best time in the year to land a job. Please note that there are also summer camp teaching positions offered by language schools, so this is also an option and a great way to get your foot in the door before the new school year begins.

The main benefit of teaching at a public school is the long, paid holidays which come hand-in-hand with this type of teaching position and some public schools might also be able to throw in free accommodation too. However, for this teaching option you will need to demonstrate at least an Upper-intermediate level of German language knowledge, and a college degree (preferably in languages) will also be mandatory.

With so many international companies having chosen Germany as their main headquarters, there is a high demand for qualified teachers to teach at international schools. As with teaching at public schools, you will be expected to hold a degree and be fluent or semi-fluent in German. While it is rare for international schools to provide accommodation, they do often help out with the visa application and many also provide settlement allowances.

If you have a background in business, you might want to enquire at international corporations whether they are currently hiring. The main advantage of going this route is that all your classes will be held under one roof and corporations will assist with the visa process.

Most teachers at some stage in their time living in Germany find themselves teaching English privately and the main advantage of this type of teaching is that you can charge as much as the student is willing to pay. For 45 minutes (one standard teaching hour in Germany) you can expect to earn anywhere up to €40 for private English tuition.

Teaching in Hamburg

Hamburg is Germany’s second-largest city and is connected to the North Sea by the Elbe River. Sometimes referred to as being the ‘Venice of the north’, the city is criss-crossed by hundreds of canals and these waterways also give the city an almost ‘Amsterdam’ feel to it. Hamburg is also a much more liberal city when compared with Munich for example, and this liberal-mindedness of its locals shows itself in the relaxedness in social gatherings and a general ‘anything-goes’ attitude towards life.

If you are an EU citizen, you won’t face any visa complications in coming over and getting your teaching English career started here. If you are from outside the EU then the process is a lot more complicated, but with a ‘can do’ attitude you can also make it happen for you too.

For non-EU citizens, we recommend coming over and arriving on your 3-month tourist visa. This will be sufficient time to acclimatize and get yourself acquainted with this new culture and also provide you with more than enough time to locate a teaching English position.

Please note here that the vast majority of teaching English positions in Germany are advertised locally and schools don’t usually recruit from abroad. This means that you will need to be on the ground when conducting your job search.

Once you have located work, you will need to apply for your permanent residence visa and work permit and the following are required for this purpose: a guaranteed contract from your place of employment, proof of residency and address, proof of opening a bank account, filing for a tax number, your passport and a passport photo. Please note that you will also need proof of eligible health insurance.

A college degree isn’t mandatory for receiving your employment contract, but an internationally recognized TEFL certificate is. Germany is also a much stricter country when it comes to having some knowledge of the local language and having at least a basic working knowledge of German will (as we mentioned above) place you higher up the ladder in the eyes of any potential employer.

The place where you process your documentation is at the immigration office (‘ausländerbehörde’) and it is here that you will probably first be introduced to the legend that is German bureaucracy. If you are registering in a major city, you shouldn’t have too many issues and your paperwork should be processed smoothly, but if you are registered in a small town then the process can be a bit of a nightmare at times. 

And lastly, it is also possible to apply instead for a freelance teaching visa and this is processed in the same way as the employment visa with the exception that you won’t be required to provide a copy of an employment contract. There are restrictions on who can successfully apply for a freelance visa, so you should check beforehand to see whether you are eligible for this type of visa. If you re successful in applying for this visa, you are pretty much in control of your own teaching and miss out the school middleman completely.

At tefl online pro we help all of our graduates with visa-related info, so if you are a graduate of our international TEFL certification program and need more information on getting your German permanent residence visa and work permit then you know that you are very welcome to reach out to us and we will help you through the process. 

Teaching in Munich

Munich, the capital of Bavaria, is known by many people because of its annual Oktoberfest, when the entire rest of the world seems to descend on this city of spires and orders overpriced beer in ridiculously large Maß from hospitable men and women dressed in traditional Lederhosen/dirndl. Salaries here are among the highest in Germany, but with higher salaries come higher costs and Munich definitely isn’t an affordable city to live in. There is also a dire shortage of accommodation too, which pushes prices even higher.

The typical teaching English working week in Germany consists of between 15-20 hours and for this amount of hours you can expect to live a reasonably comfortable existence.

15-20 hours per week may not seem like a lot, but you do need to factor into this amount the number of lesson planning hours which you won’t be paid for. As a newly-graduated teacher of English you should expect to begin starting off by spending around 1 hour planning for every lesson taught, but over time this amount of time spent on planning lessons will dramatically decrease as you gain more experience and find yourself needing to spend less time on preparing your class lessons.

You should also factor travel times into the equation too as you might have an early morning class in 1 part of the city you are teaching in and then your next class could be on the opposite side. Germany does have a bit of a reputation for being a highly punctual country and for the most part it is, but public transport isn’t completely free of delays or cancellations and this factor can sometimes frustrate teachers when crossing town in order to meet a limited time window to get to their next class.

In general, German students tend to be respectful of teachers and despite sometimes coming over as being a little too conservative they are largely a hospitable bunch and very much internationally-minded too. It does take a bit more time to make friends here than in other countries in the region, but once you do you’ll invariably have a friend for life.

Teaching in Frankfurt

Frankfurt (am Main) sits firm on the river Main and is a major financial hub of the continent – home to Europe’s fourth-largest airport. It was also the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and we definitely recommend any literature buffs heading to Frankfurt to check out the (excellent) Goethe House Museum, located within the Innenstadt district of the city. Frankfurt is an excellent choice of city to teach English in as there isn’t as much competition as there is in cities such as Berlin or Munich.

In this section, we want to speak a little bit more about the work visa process with regards to proof of residency and address.

Most teachers find a place to live pretty quickly and whilst this is great and all, it might not necessarily be how it pans out for you at the beginning. If you are finding it difficult to locate longer term accommodation for the work visa process (finding available accommodation in Munich for example can be a real headache) then there is a second option of going down the ‘zwischenmiete’ route. 

This option provides the possibility of renting an apartment or room temporarily and is often utilized by locals who find themselves traveling for long periods of time and who choose to rent out their apartment or room while they are away. This is a perfectly acceptable option for acquiring an accommodation address for your visa paperwork and it is a commonly used accommodation system in Germany.

When you have moved into your flat or room, you’ll then need to officially register as a resident of your new address at the registration office (‘bürgeramt’) and it is here that they will issue your confirmation of residence (‘anmeldung’.)  

Teaching in Regensburg

Regensburg is located in south-east Germany – an approx. 2-hour car drive from Munich – and is often referred to as ‘Germany’s medieval miracle’. This smaller city sits quietly on the Danube River and exudes a perfectly charming atmosphere. There isn’t as much work available here as in the larger cities, but there are nonetheless varied options for teaching English here and the main advantage of choosing this delightful city is that because of its size, you won’t find yourself spending so much time traveling between classes.

Read more Teaching English Abroad Country Specifics articles on the tefl online pro Blog

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