Our experience teaching English in Germany was quite an adventure. We signed up through Diverbo, a volunteer program that has immersion schools in Germany and Spain.
At first, we both were pretty nervous about participating in this program for a few reasons. We aren’t teachers, and picturing a room full of students staring blankly at us, plus the idea being stuck in a German forest for a week with strangers who spoke little to no English, was pretty intimidating.
Ready to start our Laubach adventure!
After much debate, we decided to conquer our fears and give it a try. Volunteers pay for their own plane tickets, but housing and food during the duration of the program is covered by the school.
The night before heading to Laubach, where the program is held, the school had a welcome reception in Frankfurt where we met the other volunteers, who were a diverse group of all ages and from all parts of the world.
There were 10 students and 10 volunteers, and two guys running the show, one from Hungary and one from Canada. The students surprised us and spoke English better than we expected. They mainly needed help speaking face to face, over the phone, and practicing speaking about their business with native English speakers, getting corrected and learning all the things a book just cannot teach. Most of the students who were a part of this program signed up for Englischhausen through their employers. Their position in the companies required them to communicate with English speakers via the phone, e-mail or video conferences. It was our job as “Anglos”, as Diverbo called us, to help them speak more fluently and confidently.
The front of the school / hotel
The view from our balcony
Everyday involved something a little different. There was no German speaking allowed, so at times it was quite a riot. We became fast friends with the other volunteers as well as the students. Most of the time we were assigned to 1-on-1 sessions with the students, according to a daily schedule that was posted. Other times we did conference calls from separate rooms, having 3 Germans speak to an Anglo about a business problem and another Anglo writing down notes and corrections. We also taught them all the idioms we use frequently such as “to kill two birds with one stone”. We do not hate birds. We do not kill birds with stones. This ended up being quite fun.
In between we had meals as a group and some group activities such as games and presentations. Our day ran from our 8 a.m. breakfast and went to after midnight on a few nights. We weren’t required to stay up that late, but we ended up having lots of fun playing games and having a few drinks and the time got away from us.
Playing a game after dinner
Each of the volunteers and students got their own room, as a couple we shared one. The rooms were very nice, older German style rooms with modern, updated bathrooms. The food at each meal was different, and we had a choice of 2 or 3 selections at each meal plus an appetizer and desert at lunch. Breakfast was served buffet style with a selection of breads, meats, cheeses, jams, and juices, comparable to an American continental breakfast. Lunch and dinner was selected in the morning on a board, we marked our selection on a paper and at meal time, that is what we were served.
The food was pretty good, as Americans some things were different from what we have in the states but that was part of the fun, as well as trying to decipher the sometimes hilarious translations. Salad was “Leaves from the neighbor’s garden”. Turned out, the salad was one of the best we ever had.
Beer, cappuccino, espresso, juice and soda were available as drink at each meal. OK, no beer at breakfast people!
The nightly entertainment hour was a ton of fun with skits from different groups of Anglos and Germans. Mid-week we walked into town for a tour of the city with an informative guide and had a few free hours to do some shopping and have a snack at the bakery.
Part of our tour of Laubach with the students
Castle in the town of Laubach
The week ended with a fun night of partying, a few too many beers, lots of drinking games, tons of photos and exchanging Facebook, phone numbers and e-mails. Not only did we have the experience of a lifetime, but we made 18 new friends. After the program we stayed in Germany a while longer to explore other cities and towns, which turned out to be a wild adventure!
Selfie time with the students
Ignore the Mr.’s face…..playing King’s Cup with the students on our last night
Interested in being a volunteer? You get to pick when and where you go as well. Read more about the program or learn more about Diverbo and their other volunteer opportunities. Have you participated in the Diverbo program or are you planning on it? Let us know!
After this, we headed to explore East and West Germany and Prague (Where we were arrested! Yikes!)