I have already given ten lessons to the original group of students as well as three lessons with a newly-organized second group of students. When I first arrived in Erlangen, I had a lot of free time and wanted to make use of it. I also wanted to find some experience as an English teacher in Germany. I have accomplished that. But it has been a lot more work than expected. I receive an honor wage for teaching during the hour. The wage is based on how many students (2-6) and how long the lesson lasts (45 minutes- 1 hour- 90 minutes). With transportation costs, I only get to keep half of it. Travelling also costs me a lot of time. Half of my day is spent travelling there, giving a lesson and coming back. Although I felt good working with the students when they tried and—apart from a few bad attitudes—the students were nice to me and even curious about who I am and what I do, planning two lessons each week, spending two of my days each week for travelling and teaching, and not having more time to travel for fun around Germany and Europe and engage in other hobbies has really built up stress in me the past few weeks.
The program was excited to have a native English speaker volunteering with them. However, because both groups are mixed from different grade levels (5th, 6th and 7th graders- ages 10-14), I am responsible for managing a classroom with different levels of maturity and different levels of studies. I could have spoken more with the teachers to find out what they found most important for our lessons, but I realized too that maybe the students are already bored with what they learn in class and would rather do something new but still related to class lessons. I was given no plan, no books and no materials. I have purchased a few books to help me with teaching grammar and vocabulary. I got a suggestion from the program coordinator to have games prepared in case they get bored and that is all I can do for the rest of the lesson. She also suggested that we have some sort of routine like listening to a song at the start of each lesson. I have used games, but I have switched it up with the routine. The goal of me giving English lessons to the students was to teach them basic English and improve their confidence when using the language. Some of the other volunteers work with just a few students from one class and can work a bit closer with the teacher. They also have to prepare the lessons (Math and German language) since it is not a strict lesson plan like in traditional class, but they also can help the students with their homework or direct topics that they learn.
My second group has been studious; they are more mature and have obviously tried before in their English class. I plan a lesson for them and it goes smoothly. In the beginning, I also liked planning the lessons for the first group. But the first group (even though they like talking with me) seem to have little interest in learning, in languages and they are easily distracted—whether it is because they have problems concentrating or because they get bored. On top of that, they are very talkative and when one pupil is not having it, others quickly join in. Sometimes I also think that they are afraid to try because they don’t care or are afraid to make mistakes—maybe they even feel stressed about school and would rather be nonchalant. One to two hours of work goes into planning each lesson and when the students only put 50% of work in the lesson (barely doing enough to finish it), it doesn’t matter that I am a native English speaker or how fun the lesson is. I don’t mean to imply that my first group of students hadn’t learned any English before. They all have different strengths and interests. I didn’t get to cover as much material with the first group as I wanted since I have only enough time and mental capacity to plan one lesson each week and will just being taking on the second group for the rest of the school year. The first half of the program ends in March and I am not sure if the first group gained much from our lessons, but I need a break from worrying myself about lesson planning for two classes. I also want to add that this has been a great opportunity for me to practice my German since I do teach the lessons in German and the pupils speak to me in German. My German still isn’t perfect, and I may even do a post about some of the difficulties I face as an advanced student of German in everyday Germany.
Well, that was an update about my role as an English tutor/teacher in Germany. Below I will share some additional information about the program I am volunteering with. Hopefully, I can start writing about the individual lesson plans and how they went soon. I have taken good notes about the lesson plans and have materials still ready on my computer, so I should be able to share some useful information for English tutors in Germany or teachers in general.
• I filled out an online form providing them with my bank information for the payments. That was on the same online platform where I upload the monthly log of lessons in order to receive payment.
• After each lesson, we write what we did, who was present/absent and we need an official signature. All the paperwork is stored in a large binder in the secretary’s office at the school. We take photos of the paperwork and upload them online at home.
• I had to sign a contract with the program.
• The program lasted longer than the university, so I am still giving lessons in the middle school during my university break here.
• During the kick-off informational session at the school, we got paperwork with emergency numbers and school rules. We also got some forms to fill-out. One was as a background check to get from the city hall. Another was if we had ever been a part of any extremist groups. We also got some forms that we can use when a pupil has an unexcused absence or really disrupted the class.
• Before the kick-off session at the school, I went to an informational seminar that explained the program, what was expected and what benefits there are for being a part of the program.
• Because they had to plan the English class extra, I started three weeks late with the first group and didn’t get a second group of students until mid-February whereas I started with my first group in December.
• Finally, here is the program’s website. It is in German, but I have already covered most information =)
To conclude, it is a great program that allows university students who want to work in education to gain practical experience. Pupils receive extra support in the school that they wouldn’t be able to receive otherwise. The community is brought closer. Everyone in the program and at the school have been helpful and friendly.
Thanks for reading,