Issues with teaching Nachhilfe English

17 posts in this topic

Hello to you all! I hope that some of you experts can shed some light onto an issue I am currently having. So, I began this new job at a Nachhilfe place a few months ago, but I am concerned about a couple of things. They feel I lack experience. I feel a bit offended, but I have to admit I have never really done Nachhilfe before. On the other hand, I have taught adults and very young children. It isn't like I have no idea what might be expected of me in terms of teaching. I always had quite good feedback, too, until...:-)

 

At first, I thought you followed the book.Meaning I tried to become familiar with their schoolbook, homework tasks, etc. No one explained or helped me with or along this process. I have been trying since, to get informed via the internet and I even ordered some books for Schularbeiten practice/training. I have helped students in completing and/or checking homework tasks, reviewing topics in general, and for tests. I only have 60 minutes per lessons once a week with a pupil or more, in a small group, and it doesn't matter how good or bad their overall English skills are. Another issue is, if they do show up and are on time. I have gone so far as to create and use my own additional material, plans, and resources for them. Realistically, we are only able to complete 1 longer or a couple of shorter tasks during 1 lesson.

 

Recently, one of my bosses is acting like I am not doing my job. I feel very insecure and sad. He told me a week ago, that even though he would like to offer me a lesson for a student who needs to prepare for her Abi he absolutely can't. He needs someone with more experience. Those were his words and then he named 2 trainers he felt would be better due to experience. He even asked another trainer in my presence if he could offer this lesson to her. She seemed a bit surprised. I think his reasoning behind this is because more recently one of my students bombed a test. When he fould out, due to the parents calling, he notified me and asked me if I had been aware. I said yes, and I explained that I was also surprised by this. On the other hand, I said, this student hardly makes an effort to come to his lessons and he let me know only 1 week prior. Somehow, I guess in his eyes, I was to be aware of this. Well, I was sad about this. All I can say is he is not motivated and says he never has homework, rarely knows what page, and he 'confessed' that his teacher hates him and so on. :-) I have tried, but failed -- obviously. His parents never show up for anything (except now), when I asked him if his teacher could write a letter stating what he needs to improve I got nothing. I told my bosses this information as well as during the month of the actual test, he only mentioned it to me a week prior and only did his standard 60 minutes. STILL I am to blame for the 5, even if it is in an indirect manner. This guy (my boss) really treats me like I am dumb, or at least I get the sense.

 

I asked him, what else can I do? He refuses homework and additional lessons, intensive training. So he said I need to motivate him and more, and I need to do more with him. I was genervt for sure!

 

I feel under pressure now, and as though I need to prove a point. I don't know...now, suddenly he wants me to teach 2 Asian teenagers with, according to him, impeccable English skills. They are to do their Abi BUT I am not to give them Nachhilfe at all. He said only teach them Sprache. I was like ok, all the four skills, general topics, grammar review...he just says language-sprache. I was like okay... Then, their original trainer who I was forced to meet, was rude to me. In a kind of arrogant tone saying that as a Native Speaker I should have no issues, but I should cover argumentation. I was kind of insecure at this point. Thinking, what does he mean teach language and it seems they need some training in writing? Hmmm..I thought, ok, maybe writing an argumentative essay?! She was very arrogant, as are many of the other teachers there. I am not judging either, I base this purely on saying Guten Tag and they walk away from you. She even asked me if I had experience!?

 

This annoyed me...but oh well. So, I feel really bad now and kind of insecure. I haven't felt this way in years. I don't know. I would like to quit, because I am already tired of feeling inadequate to these people.

 

I do need the money though. I also, don't want to overreact. Could any of you please be so kind as to shed some light? Thanks so much!!!

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You're not teaching, you're tutoring. Your job is not to devise your own lesson plan, but rather to go through your students' and pupils' school materials and homework and help them understand it.

 

No offense, but I'm surprised you haven't figured that out by now, and even more surprised that your employer hasn't given you any guidance.

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It sounds to me like you have a crap boss, who would rather place the blame for one bad grade on you, rather than actually tell the parents the truth - that their son is a lazy devil and needs to put in more effort himself!

 

Have a bit more confidence in your own abilities - yes, easily said, but if your body language does not tell the others that you are an "expert" and know exactly what you are doing, then they will tend to look down on you.

 

And finally, start applying for work elsewhere - it could be that you simply do not fit in where you are.

 

 

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I have undertake a small amount of Nachhilfe and I found it nice, but the parents didn't take me for more than a couple of times. I think they expect you to be a miracle worker and if you fail to be utterly incredible they get angry. They fail to acknowledge that their children won't take responsibility for their motivation and put all the stress on you.

 

Your nachhilfe boss is behaving very arrogantly too. Either find a similar company r advertise privately at the school notice boards. That's what I was intending to do this winter but for many reasons it didn't happen and I'm now waiting for gardening season to start.

 

Good luck.

 

Edit: pretty much exactly what robbie above just said!

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This is why I don't do much Nachhilfe and if I do I prefer to arrange it privately.

 

When a school student fails an exam it's usually everybody else's fault! The school teacher, the school, their parents, their friends, Angela Merkel, their football team and (of course) the Nachhilfe tutor. Some parents know that their kid is a lazy so and so and wisely don't listen to the excuses. Unfortunately many do and even when they know very well that their child is is at least partly to blame it's often easier to blame the someone else. The Nachhilfe tutor is often the target because they're paying you. It's just the way of the world, I'm afraid. Try not to beat yourself up too much.

 

I'd second the advice to start looking elsewhere - it doesn't sound as if your current company is a good match for you. You might find things very different elsewhere.

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Lyra - what advice do you have for those if us who'd like to do it privately? How did you go about advertising locally?

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Advertising locally is definitely a good idea. When I was looking for a Spanish tutor I checked the local newspaper.

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Hi Dolphinears,

 

I understand exactly where you’re coming from. I tried Nachhilfe when I started teaching first and realized fairly quickly that it’s not for me. Today, I teach adults, I help them communicate better, write better emails, make presentations, be able to speak English when they go on holidays, whatever it is they need it for. It’s fun and I really enjoy doing it. Nachhilfe, on the other hand, is preparing students to pass an exam and that’s it. It’s a different type of teaching and the school you’re working for should know that and help you change your style to suit that kind of teaching.

 

I’m good at what I do and I’m not ashamed to say it, but as a Nachhilfe teacher, I know I would be the worst in the world and would probably feel just as you do now. Think about what you’re doing there, you should be getting support and help from the management and your colleagues, not criticism. If you’re not getting it, then move on. There are other Nachhilfe schools and now, you do have some experience.

 

Also, if there’s an ELTA (English Language Teachers Association) anywhere near you, join it. Most of them provide regular workshops for the different areas/types of teaching. I know they do in Frankfurt as I’ve been involved with them since I started teaching and it’s been a fantastic help to me over the years.

 

Finally, don’t doubt yourself and don’t let them make you doubt yourself. They are the ones making the mistake by not helping you understand what they want from you.

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Dolphinears, you are offended that your boss is saying you're not experienced, but it does sound like you have quite limited experience of teaching and none of Nachhilfe, so "inexperienced" does seem quite a good description. But a lack of experience is not a personal failing, it is the normal state of someone starting out in any job. A good boss knows that and plans it in. Was your boss not aware that you had no experience, or why is he complaining about it now rather then helping you get more or offering advice?

 

From what you say it sounds like the Asian students' original trainer is also having students taken away from him (because his students have such "impeccable English" that they complained about the level of his English?), and feeling pretty pissed off about it too. Are the other teachers happy or is this typical?

 

By "argumentation" I would guess they mean debating: discussing the pros and contras of certain topics, putting forward an argument.

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Jeremy - I advertised in the local paper and put cards up in local shops. I did talk to a couple of Nachhilfe schools, but I didn't think that the way they worked would suit me.

 

Tbh, like Tap, I realised that Nachhilfe is not for me. It is very much teaching to pass an exam and you're restricted as to what you can cover - you can't go off the syllabus. What I also found difficult was that I identified a surprising number of errors on the part of teachers. That was frustrating because students were being taught things that were incorrect and there was very little that I could do about it. It's also frustrating when the parents would rather trust the teacher to get it right!

 

Dolphinears, I second Tap's recommendation to get in touch with your local ELTA if there is one. You'll meet people who will support you and you'll learn a lot. You might also get to hear of a better job that way!

 

Another thought, if you're unhappy doing Nachhilfe, why not give teaching adults a shot?

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Dolphinears - take it in the stride. Its a job after all and like in all other jobs, sometimes one has an ass boss. Firstly be bold and confident. I know its easier said than done - but trust your knowledge and skills.

 

Also don't expect to do wonders and miracles with your students in so short a time. That is the biggest fallacy with conscientious workers. We start believing as if we can bring the big change around us. In real life the world moves at the same pace as it was before we took up the job and after we have quit the job - unless we are inventing/discovering something new.

 

Just take it easy. Work hard so that you are internally satisfied that you have done your bit honestly and meanwhile look for another opening.

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What I also found difficult was that I identified a surprising number of errors on the part of teachers. That was frustrating because students were being taught things that were incorrect and there was very little that I could do about it. It's also frustrating when the parents would rather trust the teacher to get it right!

 

Really? That would drive me up the wall! That and the Germans famous inability to listen to one who really knows only those with a "Bescheinigung" would mean it's also not for me.

 

How might one thus go about teaching adults, with very little to begin with, i.e., no TEFL but a little confidence?

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Really? That would drive me up the wall! That and the Germans famous inability to listen to one who really knows only those with a "Bescheinigung" would mean it's also not for me.

How might one thus go about teaching adults, with very little to begin with, i.e., no TEFL but a little confidence?

 

I know exactly what you mean Jeremy, but if a nachhilfe tutor goes correcting what the teacher has taught the children, it can cause a LOT of problems in any test the kids have to take - the teacher will probably insist on what s/he has taught being right, and thus the kid will possibly lose points for actually having written the correct version!

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Then owing to German ridiculous stubbornness, NH is not for me.

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Your boss sounds awful. If he thinks you're inexperienced and doing the job wrong, it's his job to support you and help you get to where you need to be. Offering your class to another colleague in front of you was rude.

 

To be honest, you and a few others in this thread have hit the nail on the head about why I hated doing Nachhilfe. I tutored a girl once for about the last three months of the school year. She never told me any information about her grades or tests. Every time I asked if she had something coming up, she'd say no, and if I asked about her grades she's just say "I don't know." Her mom never contacted me to ask or tell me anything about her grades, and she picked up whatever I tutored her in very quickly. She was clearly bright enough, so I assumed she was doing okay and kept on with what I was doing.

 

Then she gets her final grades, and turns out she got a 5 in English and had to repeat the entire ninth grade. Well, never mind that you need multiple fives to fail the whole grade, and the final grade is the cumulation of the entire year (remember, I only tutored her at the end). Oh, and also I found out later that she'd had a 5 in English the entire year, but let's forget these facts - it was clearly all my fault! The mom went ballistic, accused me of not doing my job properly, said I was responsible for monitoring her daughter's grades and that I should have informed her that her daughter was doing badly and increased our sessions. She then accused me of only caring about money, which is laughable because they paid next to nothing. I tried to reason with her, but she was totally nuts and refused to pay me for our final session. It was crazy to me how much responsibility the mom seemed to think I had over her lazy, unmotivated daughter. Not to mention, why wasn't SHE monitoring her kid's grades? Sheesh!

 

So that was my one and only Nachhilfe experience, which I am apparently still traumatized by...

 

My advice to you would be to get a new job, because Nachhilfe sucks.

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Thanks everyone. I have been doing some thinking... I think that for time being, I'm going to listen to my 6th sense and what it is telling me about this place. I just have one question; have any of you actually worked for a language place/institution that wasn't in some way awkward or just downright crappy?

 

I mean, I feel that with 5 years plus on and off in this game, I would have found a more stable working environment by now! I guess that is why people like Lyra and other trainers/language teachers just go on and open up their own place or simply freelance in the literal way!

 

I did this before too, but not long enough, and it just seems anytime I go for a school - many are downright fake!

 

Ok enough, I am having a good day! I wish lots of love and happy moments to you all today (valentine's Day!) Thanks for your sharing your opinions and thoughts.

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If you have the chance, and if you haven't done it before, you might also try going on some sort of teacher training course. It may not teach you anything you don't know already but it might give you some new ways of looking at your lessons, and most importantly it will give you confidence if you know that the techniques you are using are those suggested by people with experience. And in qualification-loving Germany it gives you an answer that satisfies your students when they ask about your background.

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