My Journey as an English Teacher in Germany
I fell in love with my best friend. It was like a blind man being given the gift of sight. One moment we were friends, the next, we were in love. Just one little problem though, she lived in Germany and I lived in Canada. I would often tell her that I would swim across the ocean to see her if I could. We remained in a long distance relationship for almost two years. We spent countless hours talking over Skype and would see each other only every three months. When people ask me what it’s like to be in a long distance relationship, I half-jokingly say “miserable.” When I look back, I don’t know how we survived it.
Finally, the day came when I flew to Germany to be with her. There are no words to explain how I felt on our wedding day. As I saw her walk down the aisle, I fought so hard not to cry. I had been waiting for this day for two years and now it was a reality. We laughed, kissed, ate, and danced until late in the night. After our honeymoon, we went back to the city of Hannover. The plan was to stay for no more than three months in Germany so I hadn’t made any long-term plans.
That was a big mistake. I didn’t understand the language. I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t understand the culture. And those three months turned into six months…
What am I to do?
In my early twenties I worked as an English teacher for three years in the country of Costa Rica. I didn’t know if I could get hired in a school in Germany, so I placed an ad in the classified ads website Ebay Kleinanzeige. Within four weeks I had my first three students. It wasn’t easy to make sure I had enough money each month to pay my bills. There were days when I questioned whether I should keep working for myself. On top of that, I still had the impossible language barrier in front of me.
With time though, the lessons with my students became more than teacher-student interactions. I became a witness to their professional successes and struggles as well. I came to realize that my work involved far more than teaching. Someone once told me, “some people only wake up in the morning because they didn’t die during the night.” I knew that I wanted to have a bigger reason to get up in the morning. My students gave me a reason to continue to improve my methods and techniques. Because of them I wanted to get better. They told me how improving their English would give them better job opportunities. How the English language would allow them to move up in their companies and give them the ability to take care of their families. This realization inspired me to take Business English and language acquisition courses so that I could better help my students reach their goals. Because I was also learning a language, I could empathize with their journey. I know how hard it is to stay positive when you don’t feel like you’re making progress. I understand the difficulty with time limitations when you have to work full-time and also manage your private life.
I got my big break when the CEO of a wind energy company asked me to teach English to his staff. This opportunity opened the doors for me to reach other companies and business people. Now, I have students all over Germany. Because of the miracle of technology, I can teach from anywhere and my students receive the same high-quality lessons from the comfort of their homes or offices.
After more than 7 years in Germany, I am grateful to every single person I have taught. It’s been an adventure thus far and I know there is much more to come.