German Teacher Activity

by Astrid Schmidhofer

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When you first arrive in Madrid and look for work as a German , at the beginning it can be very tough to find a good job with a satisfactory wage.

I arrived here in Madrid 5 years ago after finishing my studies at the of Vienna and with some teaching experience my pocket. My aim was to become a teacher because teaching is what I am best at and what I enjoy.

When I opened the at the beginning of September, there seemed to be lots of adverts offering teaching positions for English and German teachers and finding a good job seemed to be quite easy. I was invited for a few job interviews and some were interested in hiring me so I started “building up” my timetable. It took me a few weeks to realize that the interesting hours for companies are early in the morning from 8 to 9.30 and at (Spanish) lunchtime from 2 to 4 p.m. As soon as these hours were covered in my by one company other companies were not interested in me any more. Besides, many companies only offered one or two German courses which meant that in my second year in Madrid I ended up teaching for 4 different . In addition to that, I had to take on private students in the evening, if I wanted earn an acceptable salary. So many days I worked from 8 to 10 a.m., 2 to 6 and de 8 to 10 p.m. As I had no idea about contracts of I either got contracts for fewer hours than those I worked (very common in language schools and agencies) or freelance contracts (which means that the company treats you as if you were a freelance teacher and they do not pay for your social security). I worked much and earned little because I was only paid for those I hours I taught and I did not get any money if the cancelled, for public holidays or if I was ill. But I obtained something very important: teaching experience. I taught civil servants, children, adults, unemplyed people, in-company-classes, university students... and each course added more valuable experience to my CV.

After 2 and a half years I decided that it was time for a and I signed up as a freelance professional (language teacher and translator). I was lucky enough to find an institution that was looking for a freelance German teacher where I started teaching various days a week and where I was paid a fair hourly rate. I also started teaching in-company-classes in companies without , so that I got a far better rate than I had in the years before.

Now I still work as a freelance teacher (and translator) of German and for the time being I make enough for a living. I teach in institutions, companies and I also have some classes. No longer am I pressed to take on everything that is offered to me at any price.

To those who would like to start as a German freelance teacher I would like to give the following advice:

- The best place to find clients is and it is important you can be found by potential students in the web.

- Before accepting a class think twice if it suits you concerning timetable, distance to your home, etc. To abandon a class after one month is regarded as a lack of professionalism.

- If your client is a company do not forget to offer them to hand in a monthly follow-up sheet and course outline. That will help you to enhance your as a professional teacher.

-Try to look professional at any time. That does not only concern clothing (it might not be necessary to wear a suit, but avoid trainers and torn jeans) but also the material you hand out to your students.

- Do not “run with the fastest”. Do not let the best student of a group set the class’ pace. The others will either complain or abandon the course and the company might cancel the course as a consequence.

Although there is not as much demand for German teachers as for English teachers, the in Madrid is big enough for a freelance teacher to make a good living. German is becoming more and more popular and many company and private classes are available. It is a risk to sign up as a freelance teacher without having enough classes but it is also very motivating to have your own clients and be able to charge a fair price. And that leaves you more time to prepare your classes better and create your own teaching .
I wish luck to all those that decide to take this step.