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CELTA at the Hamburg School of English
Thread poster: Richard Bartholomew

Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:25
Member (2007)
German to English
Sep 16, 2007

Some friends recently made me aware of the strong demand for native US English speaking EFL instructors in Düsseldorf. As a test, I sent my CV to three language schools. Although I have neither training nor experience as a teacher, two of them actually granted me interviews.

Both interviewers were uneasy about employing someone with no teaching experience at all, although they seemed to be anxious to make a deal. One interviewer said she'd certainly consider taking me on if I could present a CELTA.

After searching the internet, I identified the Hamburg School of English's CELTA program as a possible place to acquire this certificate (see http://hamburg.school-of-english.de/celta/ ). A search of the Proz forums produced only one oblique reference to the school's CELTA program.

Has anyone here completed this program? If so, did you find it worth the time and expense as far as finding work more easily and doing a better job? Can anyone recommend better alternative programs or certificates?

On page 10 of the school's CELTA program description I see:

"Due to the intensive nature of the course it is
unsuitable for those who are suffering from
stress and/or who have recently undergone
traumatic experiences. Candidates who are
receiving medical treatment should consult their
doctor before applying."

This warning conjures up images of electric cattle prods and rubber truncheons. If you completed the intensive four week program, just how intense was it?


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Sarah Appleby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:25
German to English
It is pretty intense but rewarding Sep 17, 2007

Hi there,
I took the CELTA course last autumn at this place's sister school in Berlin which I would really recommend (Berlin School of English) and I presume the set-up will be similar in Hamburg, although the staff will be different obviously. In Berlin the tutors were rigorous and extremely professional and the Cambridge course is a good entry into TEFL. The course WILL take over your life for four weeks however - with all the coursework and lesson prep there wasn't much time for sightseeing and fun. But if you thrive under pressure, then the course is unlikely to tip you over the edge! Plus you will build close relationships with your fellow trainee teachers which will help you through it
As for getting a job afterwards, it was more a confidence-building exercise for me and I decided I much prefer translation. However, I know that it worked for my fellow trainees, a couple of whom now teach English at universities in Germany and France respectively and two others who got jobs with leading language schools.
Best of luck - if you are going to do a TEFL course in Germany, I'd say this is the one!


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Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:25
Member (2007)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
RE: It is pretty intense but rewarding Sep 17, 2007

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for the valuable input. This helps a lot.


[Edited at 2007-09-17 17:10]


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Atena Hensch  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 08:25
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
I did it In New Zealand Sep 18, 2007

Hi
I did here in New Zealand (Christchurch Polytec). Christchurch Polytec changed the programme and now the first week is so intense and the rest is spreaded into 3 months. It makes it easier for people like me who have childeren.

It was really hands on.
Here, I got fund from government to do it for free. They want to have bi-lingual teachers.

cheers
Atena


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Atena Hensch  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 08:25
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
the intense part Sep 18, 2007

as I said before, my first week was so intense. I used to go to school 8am and come back 8pm. I had to prepare my homework (teaching plans) and of course the family work on top of it and I had to go to bed 2 or 3am and go again to school 8am till 8pm. If you have any job or family, you have to say goodbye to them until you finish the course. Be aware, of those teaching plans, they are not just for fun. They need lots of work.

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:25
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Yes, intense, but worth it. Sep 18, 2007

My husband did his CELTA in the States before we came to Germany in 1997. It was rigorous and only something like 5% of students get the highest grade. He was able to get a job at a language school pretty much within a week. It's definitely a recognized qualification in German language schools, and he felt it gave him the confidence to go into a classroom well prepared to teach.

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Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:25
Member (2007)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
RE: The intense part Sep 18, 2007

Hi Atena,

Fortunately I now have neither job nor family. 12 hour days plus homework sounds pretty grueling even so. Thanks for the insight.

Did you prepare your written work on your own computer or were you able to use the school's? Or did you do it the old fashion way with pen and paper?


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Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:25
Member (2007)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
RE: Yes, intense, but worth it. Sep 19, 2007

Hi Daina,

That the CELTA is highly regarded among German language schools is a reassuring.

The grade distribution in one of the documents the school sent me shows:

Cambridge ESOL CELTA Grade statistics from 2000:

PASS “A” 4%
PASS “B” 25%
PASS 63%
FAIL 3%
WITHDRAWN 5 %.

Thanks for your input.


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:25
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Pass "A" Sep 21, 2007

Maybe my husband found a job so quickly because he did have a Pass "A".

Good luck if you choose to do the program!


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Atena Hensch  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 08:25
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
??? Sep 21, 2007


Did you prepare your written work on your own computer or were you able to use the school's? Or did you do it the old fashion way with pen and paper?



for teaching plan you can use either schools's pc or your own computer or you can write. The teachers don't mind at all.


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Atena Hensch  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 08:25
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
A Sep 21, 2007

all my teachers said that they didn't get "A" and CELTA gives "Pass"

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Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:25
Member (2007)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
getting by Sep 22, 2007

Hi Daina / Atena,

I'd be surprised if employers assigned no weight a Pass "A". My expectations are rather more modest. Presumably you can also get hired with a plain old Pass.


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alexandra123
Local time: 20:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not all that glitters is gold Jan 1, 2008

Hi there, I just read your post on taking the CELTA. True there is demand for ESL teachers not only in Dusseldorf but in many other places in Germany. many people have heard of this and therefore the market is for the most part quite saturated I find. Employers take advantage of this and usually offer pretty low salary for the hours that you do end up working. Most of the demand is concentrated to the very early hours of the morning or the late hours of the afternoon or evening, leavingyou with a big void during the day. This void is usually hard to fill with a part time job since your teaching hours are placed so awkwardly. The other porblem is that most scholls will not offer you a contract, but rather employ you on a freelance basis and pay you per hour. Normally an "hour" is your normal school hour (45 minutes) but most schools will book students for 2 consecutive sets of 45 minutes per session.

Most schools have a cancellation policy for the students, and if they cancel within a certain time frame, it is seen as an on-time cancellation therefore you do not get paid for that hour that is booked by the school in your schedule. The monthly salary therefore varies immensely especially toward the winter months and the summer months as well since there is less demand from students.

You should also keep in mind that here in Germany you have to work for 2 or more "employers" as a freelancer. Otherwise the "Finanzamt" will give you trouble. If you only freelance for one employer they see you as "scheinselbststaendig"...in other words "make believe independent" loosely translated. The only acceptable way of freelancing for one employer is if you have a permanent contract job with another employer (what I mean by permanent contract job is basically an official part or fulltime job).

You also have to be careful about the costs you will be facing as a freelance language teacher. You have to be insured in some way shape or form. There are cheap insurances out there but the cheaper you go the less coverage you get. That means that if you have to go to the doctor or the dentist and get something done, the insurance might not cover the costs, should it be a cheap insurance. Normally, to get halfways decent coverage, you will need to shell out well over 100 euro a month. (And that on a considerably unstable salary.)

This has been my reality as a Teacher here in Germany. It is not easy and definitely not something I would look for as a permanent means of income of work. If you do it for a year or so after college or just to try and get into life in Germany then it is not a bad choice. But I would not do it permanently...I would recommend that you look for other more permanent alternatives parallel to working as a language teacher, and as soon as you find something more stable, take it and do the freelancing on the side.

HTH
alex


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Richard Bartholomew  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:25
Member (2007)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
RE: Not all that glitters is gold Jan 1, 2008

Hi alex,

I believe I hear the voice of experience speaking. Thanks for your contribution.

I've managed to get a tax number from the Finanzamt by registering as a freelance translator. I'm really only considering ESL teaching as a secondary income source. It's interesting to see the "scheinselbstständige" issue popping up here in the context of ESL teaching, though. The same thing happened to me as a subcontractor in the US.

Lots of companies get real accustomed to avoiding the social costs associated with direct employees. At one point, one company where I was working refused to buy me the traditional Christmas lunch on the company tab like they did for the "real" employees. Even worse, the men's room was in the hallway; the secretary had to let me back into the (locked) facility every time I visited the men's room. This was to emphasize the difference between subcontractors and directs, you see.

The medical insurance issue is considerably more serious and expensive. The Kommunale Ausländerbehörde won't grant me status as selbstständig without medical insurance. The German policy I'm looking at now comes to 269,89 Euro / month. That's with a 3.000 Euro deductible. But even at today's exchange rate of 1.46005 US$/Euro, it's less than the 426 US$ / month I'm paying right now for emergency coverage.


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alexandra123
Local time: 20:25
English to Spanish
+ ...
about the insurance Jan 2, 2008

Be careful with the insurance. I am paying 175.00 euro a month with a 750.00 deductible. If I were you I would take my time and look around, maybe talk to an insurance broker and have them draw up a price comparison list for you. I got a pretty good rate that way. Of course the height of your monthly insurance payment depends greatly on the type of coverage you have. I got lucky with mine and it covers a lot actually.

If you indeed are looking for a fixed income and contract and are planing to teach on the side just for a few extra bucks then you should not have to worry aobut the insurance. Once you are employed under cotract, be it full or part time, you get insured in the Gesetzliche Krankenkasse...that is the one most germans are in. There are several you can choose from there. the advantage of being insured like that is that your insurance costs drop considerably becasue your employer pays carries part of the payment. Your tax bracket also changes under a fixed contract. I am not sure I can tell you much about that since I am currently also looking for a more fixed contract myself.

Oh and just to be on the safe side, anything and everything that you spend for your courses, be it the fees for the course itself, or anything at all you spend for classes, save the bills and receipts...you might be able to deduct them from the taxes on your money earned as a freelancer. I am not sure if that works if you are a freelancer earning money on the side of a "real" job...but it is sure worth a try.

By the way, if you are new to Hamburg there are a few places you might like to visit. Let me know if you need help finding work as well. I know HH pretty well.


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CELTA at the Hamburg School of English

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