A diverse landscape, bustling cities full of endless entertainment, efficient public transport and high wages make teaching English in Germany an attractive prospect. In the heart of Europe, you’re ideally placed for travel during your public holidays, and free time within Germany can be spent in a variety of ways – hiking, skiing, cycling, sunbathing and adventure sports are popular pursuits. Germany has a great culture for gaming and hobbies, making it easy to find friends and connect with locals. If you’re an experienced teacher with the right skills under your belt, a job in Germany will be a dream come true.

Unlike many countries where TEFL is a big business, the majority of English teachers who work for commercial institutes will be freelancers rather than contracted. Honorarvertrag (freelance) teachers work up to about twenty hours a week, often working for several different schools. Even if you’re not experienced in Business English, if you can teach in any field-specific subject with authority (such as English for pilots, teachers, IT), you’ll have more opportunities. Freelance teachers are responsible for their own health insurance, pension and tax.

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Key Facts

  • Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Berlin, Munich, Freiburg, Frankfurt.
  • Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of €1,200 to €2,000 (£1,1123-£1,872/$1,297-$2,162) gross, but full-time positions are very rare. Most teachers are freelance and get a rate per lesson. For a 45-minute lesson, €12-€16 (£11-£15/$13-17) for an inexperienced teacher, rising to €18-€30+ (£17-£28/$19-$32) for experienced teachers. You can earn €800 (£749/$865) a month for 12 hours a week as a secondary school classroom assistant. This may seem quite low compared to a full-time position, but the hours are low and it’s a good base rate for either classroom assistants or freelance teachers to make per month in order to cover their rent and bills for shared accommodation.
  • TEFL qualification requirements: If you have experience, many schools aren’t fussy about what sort of TEFL qualification you have, but a 120-hour course is a good minimum.
  • Prerequisite university degree: Not all positions require a degree, but they certainly boost your chances, particularly if you studied German or business.
  • Term times: Courses often start in September or April, but positions can be found year-round.
  • Currency: Euro
  • Language: German
  • Teaching programmes: Adult language schools, summer schools, classroom assistants and freelance teachers.
  • Age restrictions: For English-language classroom assistants in secondary schools (who have studied German, preferably at university, for at least two years) applications are welcome from those under 30. For other positions, experience is usually necessary and so very young teachers will struggle to find good positions. Germans expect knowledgeable, intelligent and formal teachers, and as such may prefer older teachers to young ones.
  • Previous teaching experience: Many teachers in Germany will tell you that experience (preferably in business English) is often seen as more important than your level of qualification. If you speak a little German, even better.

Germany has an excellent state education system, giving most students a firm grounding in foreign languages from a young age. As such, opportunities for teaching English to beginners in Germany are hard to come by – far more prevalent are adult classes, specifically Business English. Volkshochschulen are adult education centres where courses are offered on a variety of subjects, and many German adults choose to perfect their English through these classes. Many secondary schools in Germany hire native English speakers to assist in classroom learning.

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, there is still a divide between East and West Germany. Eastern Germans are likely to be less proficient in their English language, and jobs in the former East Germany are less popular with EFL teachers. However, this provides rich opportunities for teachers who aren’t bothered about going to the most popular cities. Across the country, the demand for English lessons is stable and top positions are some of the highest paid in Europe. If you’ve specialised in teaching Business English, Germany would be a choice location for your teaching career.

EU citizens are able to work in Germany without a visa, but must be registered with the relevant district authority within one week of finding their permanent accommodation. Non-EU citizens must obtain a residence permit (Aufenthalstiel) to stay in Germany long-term, and applications must be made prior to travel. Depending on your embassy, the process will take between about two and five months (the longest is for Americans), so make your application well in advance. You’ll need a passport, a letter of an employment offer from your employer, and your projected income along with the application form. Working as a freelance teacher in Germany is only really possible for those from the EU. As such, the rare full-time positions (which typically have one-year contracts with a three-month probation) are highly competitive.

Requirements for teaching English in Germany

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Teach in Germany £1,1123 - £1,872
($1,297 - $2,162)
Preferred August No No Yes None

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Living Costs

While the cost of living in Germany is more expensive than 73% of other countries in the world, compared to other countries in Western Europe, Germany is one of the cheaper options. The standard of life is high in Germany, making it a popular place for expats – one in ten people in Germany are not German, and it’s the most populous country in the European Union. To find accommodation, the first port of call will be www.wg-gesucht.de where you can rent whole apartments or, more commonly, shared apartments known as wohngemeinschaft.

Nearly all TEFL work in language schools and companies across Germany is either on a freelance or self-employed basis, and while the wages might look attractive, remember that these rates don’t factor in the roughly 40% deduction for tax and other contributions. It sounds like a high rate, but in exchange you get health cover, a pension and excellent social support. Health insurance charges vary depending on your age and gender, and women often pay far more than men for their contribution. Many TEFL teachers in Germany find that they don’t have a lot of disposable income, yet still enjoy a good quality of life with an enviable work-life balance.

  • Accommodation: £638 – £995 / $768 – $1,221 for your own apartment, though many teachers rent a room in shared accommodation.
  • Utilities: £119 / $228
  • Health insurance: The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is used in Germany. Health insurance is not regularly offered by employers and must be arranged by the citizen. GP Visit £54 / $66.
  • Monthly transport pass: £70 / $86
  • Basic dinner out for two: £30 / $37
  • Cappuccino in expat area: £2.92 / $3.59
  • A beer in a pub: £3.41 / $4.19
  • 1 litre of milk: £0.87 / $1.07
  • 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.61 / $1.98

(living costs sourced from Expatistan)

Student Story

“I’m working at a secondary school at the foot of northern Germany’s highest mountain, the Brocken. I have hiked up the Brocken once, and, a few months ago, I got to go there again on the Harry Potter-esque steam train to watch the rock opera of Goethe’s “Faust”. Additionally, I often walk or cycle to and from school, as there is a bike path which stretches most of the way, and the scenery is gorgeous! In December, I got into the Christmas spirit by visiting Christmas markets in five different towns and cities, where I discovered that I am partial to Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes with apple sauce) and Schmalzkuchen (little doughnuts). Yum!

I have great neighbours: der Nikolaus (German Santa) left me chocolate on 6th December, and I now spend almost as much time in my neighbours’ flat as I do my own, playing games and working on ambitious and sometimes slightly mad craft projects! My zumba and ballet classes always make my week, as everyone is so friendly and happy to chat to me. My zumba teacher has also been absolutely amazing, lending me a costume for carnival and even going out and buying a Skype headset which she then immediately lent to me for interviews!”

Fiona, TEFL Org graduate

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