Working in Germany: Tips for ESL Teachers

PK sechs Monate nach Amoklauf in Winnenden

After obtaining degrees in English Literature and English Secondary Education,Sean Lords packed up his bags and left for Seoul, South Korea where he lived for three years teaching English abroad. Sean has since returned to the States and is currently at work on his Master’s degree.

When traveling internationally, the ability to speak English is a valuable skill. Because many are interested in learning this language that is now spoken across the globe, travelers and citizens of many countries will often attempt to use you (a native speaker of English) to practice on. How do you say____ in English? In an attempt to better their fluency, non-native speakers of English may at first flatter and then annoy you—but don’t despair, there is a mutually agreeable compromise at hand!

Many teachers of English choose to tutor as a side job because it provides an opportunity to improve your own language skills while helping another’s. Tutoring can come in a variety of different forms. In Germany, for example, it is common to work as an au pair and assist children in language acquisition. You may also choose to work as part of a larger organization that pays tutors to provide services on site, or to travel to the homes of clients. Many German universities also offer dual programs in which German students can take courses in English—often, these students can benefit from your tutoring (and also help develop your skills in German!).

Unlike teaching, tutoring provides a personal experience and should be approached differently. Because the “feel” of tutoring 1-on-1 is a bit different than teaching a class, here are some ESL tutoring tips.

  • Importance of first conversation

The first conversation with a student is very important, regardless of age. Evaluation of the student’s current English ability will allow you to cater the curriculum around that. Take notes on which skills need improvement and which don’t. Do not interrupt during this first conversation and respond appropriately to what is said.

  • “English is very weird and difficult language to learn – don’t worry”

This is the first sentence I say when a student runs into a rut when trying to learn English. Be sure to encourage them by stating that the English language is full of weird quirks and inconsistencies (because it is).

  • Practical-use situations

Make sure to teach students of “practical-use” English. Teach them how to recognize words such as: train station, restaurant, bus stop, restroom, gym, how much is this?, please, thank you… Words that they would need to know to survive if they were thrown into the middle of an American city with no other knowledge.

  • Politeness and good manners

Imagine the same situation in two different contexts. One: a person speaking little English with “proper” manners. Two: a person speaking little English with poor manners. Imagine one of your students in New York looking for Madison Square Garden to watch a Knicks’ game. If the student has no idea where to go but does have a map, when they ask for directions from any random New Yorker, they will be much more likely to be helped by simply pointing to the Garden on the map and simply saying “please” and “thank-you” as opposed to abruptly walking up to someone and shaking a map in the New Yorker’s face.

  • Speak about interests

The easiest way to hold a student’s interests is to talk about them. Even if you aren’t personally interested in the subject or even know much about it, the student will, which is the most important. If you don’t know much about the subject, asking questions is a great way for the student to practice English speaking skills and for you to learn about something you may not have been previously aware of.

  • No judgment

A closed mind will get you nowhere in a foreign country. Instead it will make you a miserable, anti-social individual. You especially don’t want to judge students for differences, past or present problems, or anything else.

Private tutoring is a great opportunity to practice your one-on-one teaching skills and make a little extra money on the side. As was aforementioned, you possess a highly sought-after skill being able to speak English. English is the language of business, the internet, and the international community. You will find that privately tutoring in your free time will be a heavily sought-after commodity.

By | 2017-03-21T23:17:14+00:00 July 15th, 2013|General, Working in Germany|Comments Off on Working in Germany: Tips for ESL Teachers

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