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November 15, 2013

Germany

Teaching English in Germany – Top 10 things I learned

Teach English in GermanyOn her return home, Canadian Kristi Fuoco writes for the Vancouver Sun about the 18 months she spent living and teaching English in Germany.

Sometimes I think that my students in Germany taught me more than I taught them. Teaching is a funny thing and demands your all. You can’t have an off day as a teacher. You are always on, and you have to give intense amounts of energy in every moment. It is utterly exhausting and wonderful all at once.

As a language teacher in Hamburg, Germany, some days I felt like I was a complete and utter failure, and that no matter what I did in a certain class I couldn’t get my students engaged. Other days I felt like the entire class was energized and we were all inspired. Every day brings new challenges, new people and a whole lot of learning on both sides. So, in no particular order here are the top 10 things things I learned from my 18 months as a Business English Teacher in Hamburg, Germany, and incidentally, many of them can really be applied to life in general too.

1. You will learn more from teaching English to foreigners about their own language, than from any language class you will ever take.
This one really surprised me the most. When I first started teaching English in Germany my level of German was very basic, but each day, as students asked me what a word was in English, and I was forced to look them up or figure it out, I learned an endless amount of new vocabulary. My students always asked me how they could learn new vocab and really, the best way they could do it is to teach German to English speakers! You also learn so much about the structure of a foreign language by the mistakes that your students make in English. I can’t count how many times I made mental notes as my students placed verbs or other words in strange orders, and I realized, “oh, so that’s how you must say that in German.” It’s seriously the best kept secret to being an English as a foreign language teacher.

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