Planning to move to Germany - work advice

Hi everyone! This is my first time posting here. Let me tell you my story, but first, I need to ask you something: try your best to keep an open mind and not judge me. In other websites (particularly Reddit), I am always met with criticism for not having a college degree: it wasn't my choice, I was just poor and had a horrible family and had to start working as a teenager. I don't want to move to Europe to be a leech, or because I'm a shady thief, I just want to try to make my life better, and maybe finding a job I like and doing something with my life. Maybe this warning is not needed here (I hope you guys are nicer than the Reddit crowd), but based on my previous experiences in online forums, I felt the need to say it.
So, I'm a 30 year old woman, I have no kids, and I live with my boyfriend of 3 years. When we first met, we traveled Europe for 3 months together, on very little money: hitchhiking, couchsurfing. We fell in love with Europe, but particularly Germany: its landscape, its people... we knew that we wanted to live there! It became our dream. So we started researching how we could do it: getting a freelance visa to teach, my boyfriend is a technical drawer (AutoCAD, works for architects) and his certificate can be validated in Germany. I have nothing to show for except a sad english teaching certificate and my 10 years of experience. I also have experience teaching Spanish (my native language), but no certification.
We're very hard-working people. I've been alone (without family) for my entire adult life. I started working at 16 and started living alone at 18. I couldn't afford college, of course (even though it's free in my country, I would have had to move to a different city, find another job in a more competitive place with zero qualifications, all things that I might have had been able to do if I just had someone to guide me or help me, but I was a teenager completely on my own). So I just kept on working crappy jobs. Then I decided to start teaching English, since I was very good at it. I did a pretty good job and got excellent recommendations, so I decided to get certified. I did. It's not that I never thought about college, it's just that I was too busy trying to survive to even consider that a possibility. Even now, I couldn't do it: I'd have to give up my job and get a crappier one, move to another city, study and work full time... and I don't even know what I would study. I've been so busy dealing with life that I don't even know what I'd like to be.
Anyway, lately I've been starting to apply for English teacher jobs overseas, but I get rejected at every single one because I'm not a native speaker. My accent is minimal, but still noticeable. I have tried asking other teachers online for help, but they all say: "You should get a college degree, or at least CELTA". CELTA is almost 3000 dollars. I have never SEEN that much money. I make 7000 a year, and during the summer months I don't get paid because the students are on vacation. There is no way I can afford it. For the record, this is the best job I can get in my country with my qualifications.
I spent all my saving in two online certificates for teaching English, so I cannot longer afford any other courses. Maybe I wasted my money because since I'm not a native speaker, I won't get a job, or maybe I won't even get a freelance visa without a college degree.
The language school I work for demanded that I tell them now if I'm traveling next year, because if I am, I am not allowed to take students. We want to leave in April. Our country's economy is falling rapidly, my boyfriend has been out of work for the past year and it doesn't seem like it's going to get better. We don't want to have to eat our saving instead of using them for our trip.
What possibilities of work do I have in Germany? I'm willing to work in other areas besides teaching language, it is just the only thing I have experience in, and I'm already 30. I know that a lot of people might think I should stay in my country and not bother Germany with my existence, but I'm no longer happy here, and I really want to get out there and see the world. I just can't afford to travel without working wherever I go. Can anyone offer some advice?

Hi there, how are you? I am sure that some German people will answer you because they know job market situation better, however I am EU citizen and the often visitor of Germany and will move there in 2017 too so I feel that I should reply as well.  Reading your post I have some thoughts. First of all your English being very good can be a good start. You could teach for your own, take private lessons, maybe a little cheaper that natives and I am sure you will find some clients. There are many nationalities there so even Sapnish speakers you could find easily and maybe they will be more eager to learn with a person speaking the same native language. In my opinion you should also get Spanish teaching certificate as a native speaker if you want to work in a language school. However as I said before private business is the same good. And then living in Germany you must start to learn German of course. Second thing is about education. It is not like people with university degree get a job. There are many unemployed Germans or EU citizens with qualifications. It is rather a matter of job experience, age, happiness and how good you speak German. I personally have studied in 3 universities and one economic school (one between secondary and university). I only did not finish one of them (politology) because I had no health to carry about two small babies those years and in the same time  study so difficult subject.
I do not speak German yet and am also really concerned how to find my place in life.  I would stay in my country but I am going to marry a man from Germany so it would be strange to live apart in two countries.  I am the artist so I will try to make things on my own and also teach my native language (private lessons). If I will not find clients then it is sorry to say but I will work as a "nurse" with old people or clean houses. This is sad life reality. Everywhere. The fight for a job.
So be preapared that you will start your life doing such not elegant job as well. I wish you of course happiness :-)
You said that you like Germany and its  people. Do you know already any Germans personally? If you know someone she/he could help you more in integration. It is important to know German culture, traditions, history etc. because people living in this (and every) country must stay a part of society and not build own diasporas.
Have a nice day.


I won't negatively judge anyone who dreams of moving abroad - as I was in the same situation myself once (and then lived in Asia for 15 years). So here is my honest opinion:
As an experienced English teacher, you may give tuition in Germany - but that requires you to speak German as well, as the students wouldn't understand you otherwise. Also, freelance tuition isn't well paid at EUR10-20/hour (which, if done part-time, isn't enough to survive on). So the main financial contribution must come from your partner (who as an AutoCAD professional has good chances).
To increase your own chances of finding a better paid job, you should thus first learn German and, if possible, get a degree or certificate (possibly while living off your partner's income).
However, to  join your partner as a dependant, you need to be married (Germany does not recognise de-facto relationships for visa purposes) and he has to show sufficient income and living space for you, too (which means he needs to find a job first).
This is hard, but not impossible. Of course his chances of finding a good job are also higher if he speaks German. Maybe both of you can learn the language first (until B1 level would be good) while still staying in your country, and then try to move?

One should not be personally judged for lack of education if they could not afford it. The problem is that the market does judge such things. It is a matter of fact that prospective employers will be more interested in your qualification than the reasons you had a hard life. A kind person might give you the benefit of the doubt to a degree but they simply can’t hire someone that doesn’t meet the qualifications. Thus your situation sounds very difficult.

Beppi is right that it won’t help you that your boyfriend gets residency in Germany unless you get married. He mentioned “tuition” which in English means the fee one pays for a course. The word he meant to use is “tutoring” or “to tutor” which means giving lessons to people outside of a normal course or school. But like he mentioned, this hardly seems viable if you don’t speak excellent German.  If you look for this kind of work then you are more likely to find someone looking for a native speaker of Spanish. If pupils are more advanced then maybe this can be done without explaining in German but rather only in Spanish or possibly in English if necessary.  Official teachers in schools are decently paid but tutoring or even giving courses in many language schools is limited to the hours and often only viable as a part-time job rather than as a full-time way to make a living.

The kinds of jobs foreigners mostly get with limited German are to stock the shelves in super markets, clean offices or deliver newspapers. Possibly a shop or restaurant with Spanish speaking owners might hire you for a position (like as a cook’s helper or dishwasher) where you wouldn’t have to deal with customers so much and struggle with the language. All jobs with poor pay and conditions but possible once one is in Germany. But nobody will do the paper work requirements for you to get a visa from a non-EU country for such a job.

I’m not sure what other advice people here can possibly give you. There are no magic strategies for foreigners without demanded skills and/or degrees to find work here especially if they are not for an EU country. This is a fact rather than a judgement.

TominStuttgart :

The word he meant to use is “tutoring” or “to tutor” which means giving lessons to people outside of a normal course or school.

In Asia (where I learned most of my English, really!) the term "tuition class" is commonly used for tutoring. I din't know that's not proper English, so I learned something today. Thanks!

Marta: yeah, I have a bunch of very good German friends :) thank you for your advice! And good luck to you too.

Beppi and Tom: thank you so much for your advice!

Beppi and Tom - "Tuition" IS the proper word - for Brits! :-)  My British mother-in-law uses that word all the time when I, as an American, would say "tutor".  America and England - two countries separated by a common language! (George Bernard Shaw)

Thanks Bheji. Your information prompted me to do some research. While tuition is used in the UK for teaching in small groups, it means fees for schooling in the rest of the English speaking world. It seems it is also used in the UK in connection with fees as “tuition fees”. Yet even in England, the person who does the teaching is a tutor. Thus the rest of the English speaking world not only uses it as a noun but also as a verb “to tutor”. This is quite logical but one wonders how tuition took on the meaning of fees for schooling. Somehow “tuition fees” outside of the UK became simply “tuition” and became more focused on the fee aspect rather than the teaching aspect.

Interesting! And I mistyped. I meant that my mother-in-law says "tuition" where I would say "class", "teaching" as a noun, or "Unterricht" in German. For instance: "You saw the students often, during your 2 weeks' tuition with them..." or "I know you're busy with your tuition in Esslingen..." From what you wrote, you clearly understood what I meant. :-) That usage of "tuition" always sounds strange to me.

Whatever one calls it; teaching, tutoring or tuition is a possibility for part time work but a tough way to make a real living. Not just for private pupils but even in firms or places like the Community College system known as Volkshochschule one often gets too few hours. There is often a lot of preparation involved and one schedules their time around getting a handful of hours, a couple of days a week. Even giving an intensive course will usually mean just 4 hours a day, so basically a half-time job with no insurance or benefits. And courses offered at Volkshochschule, for example, will be cancelled if not enough people sign up, making them an unpredictable source of teaching income.

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