On Vacation from Lesson Planning: A Peek into Our English Teachers’ Secret Side Jobs


English teachers are both a creative bunch and frequently self-employed, and thus in search of a little extra cash in the off-season. I thought it might be interesting to see where else we teachers find ourselves when breaking free from behind the desk. Here are four contributions from ELTABB members who answered my call.

I have known English teachers who have worked as DJs, chilli sauce manufacturers and translators in schools, zoos and patent offices. Indeed, such side jobs are prevalent enough that I have seen employment-contracts for language schools which expressly forbid the selling of one’s own wares on-site.

Now speaking of ELTABB members: Jennifer and Robert both work as translators – a natural position for people who speak English and find themselves in a foreign land; Yulia utilises the international aspects of her job to build communities across borders both on-and-offline. Finally David has pulled on the globetrotting aspects of our job and built up his own wine importing business.

Here’s what they say about their side gigs.

Jennifer Knaeble

When I moved to Berlin I was seven months pregnant with my second child and had left behind a career of teaching English in Italy. I also had to wear warmer clothes – it was November, and Berlin was cold. Some time after the baby was born, I shifted to freelance translating – the ‘side job’ – for an established network of clients.

As time went by, and I got more established in Germany, the work started shifting from translation to editing. This kept me so busy in those hours I wasn’t parenting that I hardly had time to consider a return to teaching; at least not until my kids had entered school.

My side jobs are all pockets of the same greatcoat that keeps me warm, clothed, and interested.

This ‘side job’ not only financially carried me through those years of parenting and studying (I was pursuing a further degree, too), in which I needed a flexible enough working schedule to make naps, playgrounds and papers possible. It also reminded me how very much I still loved helping others, being part of a common project and working on the nuances of language.

I feel pretty much the same about what I do now – that is, teaching English (and of course still parenting) – as I do about those side jobs: they are all pockets of the same greatcoat that keeps me warm, clothed, and interested…at least until summer comes round, and I can sport a swimsuit.

Robert Nisbet

Contact: robert@englishforeverything.net

Alongside teaching English to adults I sometimes work as a translator from German to English. Most of the work I do is for a large German IT consultancy. It is mainly short pieces such as HR department emails and Powerpoint slides. Translation is a pleasant change of pace from teaching and it’s nice to produce something concrete.

I enjoy the research which comes with each translation. I also like the challenge of transforming a German sentence into an English one. Sometimes a direct word-for-word translation is possible, at other times the structure of a sentence needs to be substantially changed to suit what one would normally say in English.

It’s nice to produce something concrete.

In my lessons students often ask for the exact literal German translation of a new English word or say something in German that they want to express in English. In these moments I try to remind myself and my students that translation is not an exact science.

Rather, it is the best attempt to convey the meaning of a sentence in another language; it is often difficult and there’s an art to it. There are different ways of translating depending on the context and what you want to use the final result for.

It’s good to keep this in mind when teaching.

Yuliya Shtaltovna

When you are teaching business communication it is vital to practice what you are preaching and be a learner yourself. That’s why volunteering for international community-building projects has become my own best learning practice and almost a side-job (according to the number of hours and effort invested).

I was invited to join an amazing event uniting academic skills development, corporate experience, soft-skills and much more besides, organized by the Global Institute for Lifelong Empowerment (GiLE). Looking at my past experience with co-organizing events and academic conferences, GiLE asked for help within a programme-committee role for a conference on Skills Development for Employability.

Real-world experience in international projects helps me to help my students better.

This requires quite a number of skills: practiced and polished written communication, negotiation and pitching skills, the ability to network across cultures, to provide support; most important of all is the ability to work in a team. These are also all parts of the courses I teach: Soft Skills and Employability, Applied Negotiations and Presentations.

All-in-all, after four months of hard work, collaboration and communication, 96 amazing professionals from academia and from the corporate world united to have a day of sharing and learning – all created by two handfuls of committed volunteers who gathered to make a difference.

What’s more, having real-world experience collaborating in international projects like this helps me to use my own networking, intercultural, meeting-facilitation and team management skills to help my students better with the real-case scenarios that they may encounter.

Communication unites people!

David Berry-Lichtenberg

Regularly visiting a good friend (who is an English teacher) in Sant Sadurní near Barcelona with my wife Franziska, we became passionate about sparklings. While there, we regularly enjoyed a glass of proper cava – or two! We decided we would like to have access to Brut Nature, Reservas and Gran Reservas in the future.

Over the past 8 years we have built up one of the most sparkling selections of sparklings and a rare range of wines from Spain along with coffee, olive oil, and other Spanish specialities, all carefully chosen and imported directly from the producers. This allows us to offer a good price-enjoyment ratio – for restaurants, clubs, caterers, teachers, and other people. And because teachers travel a lot (I know!!) we deliver and send parcels as well.

Enjoying international contacts from both businesses is a wonderful lively combination.

This side job is a lot of fun and complements our 25-year-old language school ideally: The quieter times of our language courses around Christmas and during the summertime are the busiest times for the wines and sparklings!

We will be offering tastings in German and English again as soon as it is possible and are enjoying the international contacts from both businesses which is a wonderful lively combination.
We are looking forward to having a sip together at a tasting or seeing you at Cavaísimo in Hohen Neuendorf (every Thursday from 3 to 7 | S-Bahn Hohen Neuendorf, by bike along the Mauerweg or by car of course!)


To read more about our English teachers’ merry side gigs, check out Paul’s article about his adventures in the freelance world – he gives some priceless career tips, too!

Are you a teacher with a (secret) side job? Let us know what you do when you don’t prepare lessons in the comments!

Following the traditional path of discovering Rammstein, Kraftwerk and Run Lola Run as a teenager, Kit has dreamed of living in Germany ever since. Finally making the move in January 2019, he now works here as a freelance English teacher by day and by night enjoys reading, writing and weeping into books of German grammar.

Following the traditional path of discovering Rammstein, Kraftwerk and Run Lola Run as a teenager, Kit has dreamed of living in Germany ever since. Finally making the move in January 2019, he now works here as a freelance English teacher by day and by night enjoys reading, writing and weeping into books of German grammar.

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