English and Elvis

I’m happy to say that I’m finally feeling a bit more settled in Berlin, thanks to my new home and my two lovely German ladies. (And no, we don’t braid each other’s hair and have pillow fights, in case you were wondering.)

I’ve got my head around my work schedule and feel that I’m now in a position to talk a little about what it’s like to be an English teacher in Berlin.

I guess I should start by saying that if you’re looking for a safe bet, Berlin probably isn’t the place for you. Most schools hire on a freelance basis, and won’t interview people who don’t already live in Berlin. The only thing you can do, which is what I did, is find a list of English schools here and send your CV to ALL of them. Then cross your fingers and hope one or two reply, move to Berlin, cross your fingers again and hope that you get an interview.

I got two interviews (and two jobs) within around a week and a half. I now realise how insanely lucky I was after talking to another teacher who said that it took her four months to find any work at all. In short, it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Oh, and you'll definitely need one of these...
Oh, and you’ll definitely need one of these…

In addition, if you’re looking for a job where you go to a school, work five or six hours a day in the same building and go home again, you might want to rethink Berlin as your first choice. If you’re freelancing, you’ll likely be travelling to different companies to teach there. And as most companies want lessons either before or after normal working hours, you’ll probably have to get up at stupid o’clock to get to 8am lessons.

Of course, it can be a bit tiring, but seriously, who wouldn’t want to spend their days wandering around Berlin? I’ve got to see so much of the city this way and, every day, something new surprises or tickles me.

From the wonderful...
From the wonderful…
to the wonderfully historic...
to the wonderfully historic…
to the wonderfully weird.
to the wonderfully weird.

In short, Berlin is fantastic. And there are also some pretty impressive, double-take-inducing German moustaches roaming the streets. (Attached to men, of course. Berlin is crazy, but not that crazy.)

The school that I get the bulk of my hours from is fantastically well-run. The teachers are financially taken care of and support is always available. We even get paid for training, induction, and travel expenses. And, every now and then, the Director of Studies bakes…

A sausage roll! A rare sight indeed in Germany.
A sausage roll! A rare sight indeed in Germany.

And finally, ze German students… In my (admittedly still limited) experience, they’re great – warm, friendly, chuckly, open, smart, hard-working, and pleasingly self-aware. I recently had two students act out a telephone role play.

(Afterwards)

Me: Um, it was good, but maybe a little… direct?

Fritz: You mean too German? 

Me: Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.

So overall, it’s hard work, it’s stressful in the beginning, but if you’re really determined to move to Berlin, you’ll find a way to make it work eventually – and it will be worth it.

Still, all work and no play makes Linda a dull girl, so last night I had the honour of being invited to an English stand-up comedy night by Victoria over at The British Berliner. We met up for Happy Hour cocktails at the rather fabulous Bellini Lounge, and then to the main event at the Quatsch Comedy Club.

Free stuff :)
Free stuff 🙂

The star of the show, Daniel Sloss, is a young, up-and-coming Scottish comedian, and if you like no-holds-barred comedy, which made half an audience in Indianapolis stand up and leave the show, then he’s the guy for you. If you’re not easily offended and like penis jokes – as I do – then you’ll laugh your ass off.

The warm-up act, the very funny Jack Woodhead, joked, sang and played the piano in an outfit and make-up that would have had a Latvian woman squealing in envy (and a Latvian man squealing in fear and pushing himself up against a wall – not that he’d be in any danger, I’m sure. Jack looked like a discerning individual…)

We got chatting to both comedians over a couple of drinks after the show, but I had to pretend to be a sensible person and leave early(ish). 5.45am starts bring out the sensible in most people. At around midnight, as I was walking from the train to my flat, the strains of people singing roaring along to ‘Suspicious Minds’ drifted my way.

Naturally, I should have kept walking but curiosity got the better of me, and I found myself outside a cute little French bar called ‘Place Clichy’. The bar was heaving when I managed to push open the door.

“HOORAY!!!”, roared everyone.

“HOORAY!!!”, I roared back, with no real idea why. I went to the bar and got talking to a very merry German.

Heinz: Where are you from?

Me: Ireland.

Heinz: (roaring) SHE’S FROM IRELAND!!!

Everyone: HOORAY!!! 

And so, my new buddies and I shouted along to Elvis tunes, and drank €2 glasses of wine, until around 2am, when I really had to be sensible and go to bed.

Ah Berlin, there’s never a dull moment with you, is there?

 

 

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91 thoughts on “English and Elvis”

  1. Oh man, your impromptu Elvis bar night sounds amazing, and exactly why Berlin is so great! It’s really interesting to hear your thoughts on trying to get by as an English teacher there. Berlin is the city I am targeting to try to get a teaching job, but it sounds like-as you said- you really gotta just up and move there first. I know some people who moved there but then had to leave because nothing was happening for them at that time, but your story brings me hope 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s nice to hear! Yes, I think it just depends really! I guess my timing was good – for other people, it doesn’t work out so well. It is a bit of a leap to just move here and hope for the best, but if it works out, it’s so worth it! Living here is amazing 🙂 One of the schools I work at seems to have a lot of work going at the moment – they’re struggling to find teachers to do it all! So now might be the right time for you 😉 If you’re interested, I could send you the names of a few people you could contact!

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      1. It´s been like a miracle to know about you. I moved to Berlin in July and I have been learning german ever since. I didn´t know I could work as an English teacher!! I mean, I Used to be one in Spain, but i thought i would need German to do it here!! I´m looking forward to find a job now that I know it´s not impossible !

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  2. Thanks for the run down! To be honest your description of the life of an English teacher there is what I’ve heard before and is exactly why I never bit the bullet and moved there. A life of getting up at weird hours to sit on metros all day is exactly why I decided that London wasn’t for me. Still, it’s very early days, so when you’re more established you’ll be able to cherry pick more. Have you noticed any common mistakes the students make that Latvians don’t?

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      1. I’ve a German guy visiting me now. He always says things like “I like football since 1985” or “I am working for this company for 5 years.” Some Latvian mistakes seem to be German influenced so it should be business as usual in Berlin 🙂

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          1. Officially my friend, but in reality English teachers who’ve been doing it a decade or more don’t have foreign friends. We have foreigners we listen to, while we restrain the urge to say: “you just said if I would, have you heard of the second conditional?” 😉

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  3. I used to be able to do that sort of thing on a Tuesday.,,20 years ago! I don’t know how you got up for work the next morning – I’d have been a handcart case! Glad to hear you’re so happy there, though.

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  4. Teaching English is the same here…jumping around a lot from place to place…still….I enjoy it. Italians are always happy to learn English and actually, they can be quite entertaining students. But I agree – – the running around makes for a long day. That is why it is MANDATORY to have Elvis night every once in a while. Love him….how adorable was he in his younger days?

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  5. It would be nearly impossible to have sufficient income only doing freelance teaching here. I have a friend who is attempting it. But she freelance teaches yoga, as well as private tutoring. And she’s barely making it and lives on our friends’ couch. Also they’re trying to make it illegal to do without a special license, which is very lame. Ah, the times are always changing here…

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    1. That is lame! Pretty much everyone freelances here – there are very few contract employees. It’s good money though – you could live quite nicely if you got around 10 classes a week.

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    1. I doubt you would have walked out 😉 The joke was about people thanking god when they’re given the all-clear medically. He was saying how pissed off the doctors must be. Like looking at the chart and saying, well, I see my name here and the 65 other people who helped cure you, but I don’t see God’s name on here… That was what did it 😉

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  6. Aww, I’m kind of disappointed that there aren’t any women with impressive mustaches. I was expecting something closer to “Cabaret”… Question: is a bacon roll similar to a sausage roll? We don’t have either here and I have been curious as to what a bacon roll looks like (it being a favorite nosh of Himself).

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  7. The bar scene is exactly what I want when I go there someday in the future….someday 🙂 And that comedian sounds hilarious. The last one I went to was Russell Peters, who is more of a culturally offensive guy (so naturally, I thought he was hysterical).

    5:45 am is stupid early….If we were in the same time zone I’d harass you. I’m at 5:15er! Amazing how tired you get around 11pm….

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  8. Hooray indeed! So glad things are working out for you, and since Berlin is indeed a very NOT dull place, I’m looking for more to come from you. Kind of maybe it’s time for me to map Berlin for a short weekend vacation some time in the future 😉 Your ravings, and some very positive ravings from my friends def makes it sound exciting

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  9. Oh, wow, I so envy you (Latvian way) of being able to go alone to a bar and meet strangers. I cannot do it. Even if I went and somebody talked to me I would think a) they are crazy; b) they want something; c) they are strangers; d) strangers = dangerous. How Latvian of me 😦

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    1. It is a bit 😉 I like to think that most people are pretty decent. Of course, you run the risk of meeting the odd prat, but you just excuse yourself and sit somewhere else, or go to another bar 😉 It’s a great way to meet new people! Even when you’re not trying – especially when you’re not trying really! When I met Dietmar, I was just sitting reading my book and having a glass of wine – what luck that he came to speak to me! 🙂

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  10. Such a wonderful and fun post, about culture and jobs and living and life. Hooray! And near the end, I felt like I was along with you. Hooray!

    And seriously, I’m so glad things are going so well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I had to make my own, I’d never get any 😉 There’s an English shop here somewhere – must try to find it! Think it’s very expensive though so I might just look 😉

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      1. I should hope there’s one in Berlin! Yeah, they are usually expensive. My nearest one is Heidelberg but I rarely go since they moved into town – when it was literally opposite the train station it was easier!

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              1. Close to you, to me or to Heidelberg? 😉 It’s in Baden-Württemberg, just over an hour’s drive from Karlsruhe. 2-ish hours from Heidelberg by train. Most of the places I’ve been are at this end of the country.

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                1. Ooh yes, I could come and meet you in Heidelberg (Tübingen’s a bit more of a pain for me). The Christmas market there is always incredibly busy though! I’m also thinking of going to Speyer Christmas market this year ( just under an hour from Heidelberg on the train).

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    1. He was a psycho as always. We ended up having a shouting match because he just wouldn’t stop spouting absolute nonsense and I’m so SICK of listening to it. I haven’t got my deposit back yet. I’ll keep trying, but to be honest, I’m willing to write that one off just to get out of there. Only problem is, my post is getting delivered there so I’ll have to see him again.

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  11. You’ve got to love it! Thanks for hanging out with me last night. It was such a laugh and that Scottish Daniel. Hilariously Waaaah! Do you know that I had 2 cocktails, and three glasses of bubbly and that was a “quiet night!” I can’t believe that you managed to find another party but then it was “Suspicious Minds” so you’ve just gotta! So cool. So Berlin. So right-when-are-we-doing-it-again LOL!

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    1. Ha ha, preferably not on a school night, but at least I’ve shown I can function on just 3 hours sleep! 🙂
      It was a great night – thank you again for taking me along! ‘The Sloss Ness Monster’ 🙂

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