Teaching English at Berlitz in Hamburg

Experiences and feedback about such jobs

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cali2hamburg
Hi everyone, I just received a job offer with Berlitz, and was wondering if their pay base is competitive or not? It pays 15 euro per unit (45minutes) and also reimburses all traveling time and costs (i.e. fahrkarte, etc). Any inputs?
silty1
Top-right corner there's a search box. Typing in Berlitz you get a crapload of results. Some in this thread talk about low pay. Might be a little out of date, though.
omarsdroog
From what negative stories I've heard about Berlitz -

They don't really have as much work as they say.

They make you take an unpaid multiple week course to learn the Berlitz method.

They get pissy about their trainers actually being freelance and working for other schools.

I also heard the pay wasn't so great, but 15/unit isn't the worst I've heard.
Frau4940
I can't believe more people don't bitch about this company, if for no other reason than to warn our fellow expats to go elsewhere!

In addition to full-time unpaid active, not passive, training of over a week, they lure you in with an assurance to pay travel time and reimburse travel costs and then don't because "that's not what they offered you"...check the contract, it's not in there! This time last year, new teachers were paid 13,80 for 45 minutes, that may have changed so they can stay competitive, but it's unlikely unless the union had a go - which is good for you then! When you do get a raise, it's only when the union contract is renegotiated, it's .10 cents, the highest I ever got was .13 cents. You might work 2 hours at 8am, then nothing until 2pm, then after 90 minutes with nothing to do another 3 hours 5:30-8:30. They "expect" you to be "available" to them whole day and when you're not, they will stop giving you courses. They will also "fire you" when they learn you are working for another school which you have to do due to their fickle scheduling, or they'll accuse you of stealing customers when you have private students. You are a freelancer which means they don't have to do anything for you and they won't...they just want warm bodies to sit in front of the customers. This place is the McDonalds of language schools.

The other thing is, although you are a freelancer, Berlitz has fought to the highest court and won the point that you can only work for them. If you work elsewhere and essentially get fired, you can't fight it because they have a special ruling just for them. Normally freelancers can work wherever they want, not so with the freelancers at Berlitz. That's not to say that most of them don't work elsewhere, but you'll rarely, if ever, hear them talk about it.

The up side is you'll meet a lot of other expats while you negotiate your way around the few remaining old-timers, who also don't give a toss about you, with contracts.

Hamburg Berlitz has had a bad reputation to work for a long, long time. In the past I've met and talked with LIS's in Frankfurt, Mannheim, Crayfeld, Berlin and they all say the same thing about the Berlitz office in Hamburg, it's poisonous, it's management.

The other down side to Berlitz, in my opinion the worst part is the customers. The customers are also lured in with a really slick sales pitch and a drum tight contract. They are offered a course with 5 people for 96Euros per month. What a surprise when the sales person can't find enough participants to fill 5 spaces, then the customer gets impatient and naturally wants to start their class. So they start a group with only 3 participants therefore compacting the cost of a 5 person course to a 3 person course and the students pay much more per month - and can't get out of the contract - unhappy customers are a bitch... and when you appeal to the sales team they say, "It's classroom management, deal with it yourself!" Which of course you aren't trained for...

There are over 100 language schools in HH, if you are professional looking and well spoken, it won't be too difficult to get hired regardless of what qualifications they "require". I've been working here for a long time and some who are hired WITH the qualification have proven a poor example of professionalism and service - don't go to a school like Berlitz just because it says, "no training required"...it's a lure and you will end up somewhere else, just like the rest of us.

'Come on there must be other ex-Berlitz instructors out there to tell their tales of woe and regret and subsequent triumph and happiness?

Competitive pay for schools is subjective, I've worked from 13,80 - 35,00 Euros per academic hour at schools offering courses in HH. Private customers take some time to cultivate but can be very lucrative. I'd personally advise staying away from Berlitz and go somewhere else. I hear Inlinguia isn't so great but not as hideous as Berlitz. Anglo wouldn't hire me so I can't say other than why wouldn't they hire my loveliness?! Wall Street Institute offers a a proper contract, albeit part time, with health benefits and paid vacation/sick leave, and the small staff would be a nice environment. English Business is very professional with a stellar resource library and pays about 14,00-15,00. I hear Fokus is still experiencing growing pains. LTC pays well and if you can dance around the office politics you can earn a good living there. There are many other opportunities just waiting for a nice looking, well spoken, service oriented, native speaker!!

Anyway, there's my 10cents worth.
jayhamburg
Great posting and the best feedback ever on any subject posted on TT. Thanks
Frau4940
:-) TT is strange this way. However, when you hear a bunch of teachers down at the pub, they are extremely forthcoming, but here on the forum. Strange that!

If anyone needs an introduction somewhere, lemme know and I can what I can do.
Bristolguy
In reply to the rates that berlitz offer, i can say from personal experience that the rate is VERY low. I worked for a school in Schenefeld and received a minimum of 20 euros for a 45 minute unit, this was for groups of up to eight, however, occasionally you would have 1-2-1 classes located in companies and would receive more including a slightly higher rate depending on how far i had to travel.

So back to the point 15 euros for a 45 minute unit is very low.

Also speaking to a few people that have worked for berlitz they would call you the evening before with your schedule for the next day which i find unacceptable!

and you would not have regular classes or students which doesn't allow time for the very much needed rappor to build with your students!

Hope this helps.
Frau4940
With regard to pay in general, 15 Euro/45min isn't anything to sneeze at. It's at the lower end of the scale but it's not bad!! If you are just starting out as a teacher it's totally acceptable!

There are a lot of instructors who, for whatever reason, enjoy exaggerating what they earn. It is indeed possible to earn 25-35 (or more) per hour (60 minutes) but this comes from private customers, most of whom require an invoice, and whom you have to cultivate yourself or skim off a company you work for. These customers unfortunately don't make up the bulk of your customer base or income because regardless of your reputation or reference letters most people prefer to go through a school (at least the first time).

Schools won't pay you those wages because they want to realize a profit. I'd say that most savvy instructors freelancing through companies earn between 14 and 25 per hour - that's my nearly 12 years of experience working in HH. Notice that the people who boast of making more than this never tell you which company it is. You can also easily get a lot of private work for less than 15 if you want/need the filler!

Some experienced instructors claim they can pick and choose what they teach (and their wife/husband is a Sr. Engineer at Airbus pulling down 6 figures) and others have to take whatever work comes to us to make ends meet. My experience has taught me that if you freelance for only one company you'll be sorry at some point and that a private customer who is reliable and constant is a gem.
RainKing
I agree, even teachers who have built some excellent contacts and private clients are more than happy to take school work to fill up their hours (not to mention use the photocopier).

It's important to look at all aspects of your deal with a school. For example, some schools may seem to offer a low average rate, but they offer good travel or back-to-back bonusses (i.e. for working four units in a row.) These can add up to a substantial part of your income. These are normally schools with a good reputation and big clients that need a lot of work done on-site.

Another factor to be considered is nothing to do with money or hours. A good school has a good atmosphere, the teachers have fun, and they are happy to provide advice or lesson material. If a school is bad, they just want to get out.
jayhamburg
Another factor to be considered is nothing to do with money or hours. A good school has a good atmosphere, the teachers have fun, and they are happy to provide advice or lesson material. If a school is bad, they just want to get out.
The same in any job.
RainKing
True enough, but in teaching, especially at the start, good collegues can be the difference between success and failure. Normal scenario: I run into the staff library with ten minutes to go before a lesson, gritting my teeth and clamping my bowels as once again I acknowledge how wiser it would have been to prepare something last night after coming home at 930pm, instead of wasting time with food and sleep, and announce my presence with "What the hell am I going to do this time?"

In a good school, half a dozen hands reach into folders and pull out lessons, games, ideas: salvation. In a miserable school, my voice echoes in the emptiness, muffled in the dust and smell of decay. In the distance, a dog barks.
jayhamburg
I suppose no one wants to be a good colleague when they’re just surviving themselves. Sounds like a few IT companies I worked for in a previous life. The best thing to do is research the company before hand, if it sounds dodgy like Berlitz insisting on a weeks training in another city then walk away. Life is too short.
Frau4940
I agree, even teachers who have built some excellent contacts and private clients are more than happy to take school work to fill up their hours (not to mention use the photocopier).
In a good school, half a dozen hands reach into folders and pull out lessons, games, ideas: salvation. In a miserable school, my voice echoes in the emptiness, muffled in the dust and smell of decay. In the distance, a dog barks.
Too true! Good post RainKing!
CaliforniaCrocus
Wow! Kudos Frau4940 for lifting the fog on this topic.
jeremyhay
Ask any German about the pay and conditions offered by Berlitz.
Any German would think it a sick joke and laugh at the idea of working for such an outfit.
This is what you get in a regular job in Germany - Social security payments
made by both you and the employer (but the employer pays the lion's share).
Unemployment pay entitlement (generous). Sick pay. Health care paid for.
Legal protection against dismissal in a wide range of circumstances. pension contributions.
What do you get from the likes of Berlitz? EUR 15 per 45 minutes (roughly) and
b***** all else - and not even a guarantee of continuing work.
Unfortunately there is an endless procession of naive newcomers to the scene
with no knowledge of Germany who are only to keen to work for this cunning US (highly profitable) outfit.
They learn when they get sick and have to pay full whack out of their own pockets.
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