In the first part to this post, we covered how you can start preparing for your job hunt even before you arrive to Berlin. To really increase your chances of getting hired, it’s important to have an internationally recognised teaching certificate, do your research before arriving in the city to have realistic expectations, and start focussing on finding the best-looking potential employers.
Once you’ve successfully managed all that and safely arrived in the city, it’s time to start the actual job hunt. With these tips, that will hopefully become a simple process.
1. Play to Your Strengths
The good news about the language teaching business is that there are a lot of options around for specialisation. If you are good with kids or have previous education or work experience in early years’ education, try to approach kindergartens for (at least part-time) work as a language teacher.
Better yet is if you have knowledge in the language of a specific field that is in high demand in Berlin. Think IT, engineering, or marketing. These skills can help you get hired as an in-house language teacher in any of the major companies in the city. In these cases, English is obviously the most beneficial language with business English skills in high demand in the business sector.
But even if you teach French, Korean, or Mandarin, there are definitely options for teaching in-house for corporations. Many of the biggest international companies prefer their top tier managers to speak at least a little bit of their origin countries’ native language. So, approach the local Samsung office for teaching Korean, find Sanofi if French is your language, or make contact of any of the major companies who have business contacts with China. Be equally creative with any other language you’re specialising in.
2. Be Ready to Hustle
In many Middle-Eastern and Asian countries, major European languages are sought after and teachers taken care of accordingly. Unfortunately for teachers, Berlin is an incredibly popular city for expats looking to at least supplement their income with teaching. That means that there is a lot of competition for available positions and language schools are not at all incentivised to take care of you. So, you must be ready to hustle for a living.
Start contacting language schools on day one of your arrival. Approach many at a time and try to get several teaching positions in various schools. Although most schools want you to be in the city before they consider interviewing you, emailing them even before you get here can’t hurt. Sadly, most teaching positions are not advertised – so you are better off contacting language schools directly.
You might also want to consider doing a side job before you can get your network so up to speed as to be able to support yourself only with teaching. For that, keep checking the job boards at The Local, Expat Job Seeker, Toytown, and the bigger job sites, like Jobs In Berlin and Indeed.
Also, attend as many expat and multinational meetings and networking events as you can. Starting to grow your network of connections in the city is a great way to find unexpected work. And don’t forget to sign up to find private students.
3. Stand Out from the Crowd
With such a high level of competition for teaching positions, a good way to increase your odds of getting hired is to stand out from the crowd of applicants to any one job.
Try contacting the companies you want to teach for directly via phone. Introducing yourself in person will help the hiring team to remember you better than sending an impersonal CV. If you want to teach in-company for a corporation, it’s always good to engage them on Twitter. Bonus points if you manage to do a memorable approach that will help the company stand out on social media.
Naturally, speaking at least basic German will help you communicate with employers more easily and increase the likelihood of getting hired. Not to mention that your private students would appreciate you explaining things in their native language.
4. Prepare for a Marathon, not a Sprint
Even with these tips and putting in a lot of effort, it might still take you a while to find a good stream of teaching income. So, prepare to live off of your savings for at least a few weeks when getting to Berlin. A few months to half a year would be an even safer estimate.
And don’t forget that teaching jobs in language schools in Berlin tend to be rather seasonal. Courses often start in September and January, so approaching schools before that time will increase your likelihood of getting hired. Around Christmas and during the summer months, however, you will find the courses finishing and private students drying up. So, be sure to also save some income for those rainy days ahead.