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Old 16.10.2020, 12:02
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Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

Hi, I'd like to get some general feedback about my possible situation. I will maybe be a trailing spouse to Zurich and am trying to gauge what my chances are to find a contract, salary position "Fester Anstellungsvertrag" as an English teacher.

A bit of background: I hold a German Magister Artium (English linguistics/musicology) and I have a Trinity College TESOL Certificate & Diploma. I have English teaching experience in Germany and have been working at the tertiary level in Asia for nearly a decade. I speak/spoke German reasonably fluently.

I think a university English language teaching position, equivalent to what I have now in Asia, will be difficult to come by, but I am looking for openings.

Another possibility I'm considering is to do a "Quereinsteiger" study program to get qualified as a secondary school teacher, which may be more secure:
- Does anyone know how difficult it is to get accepted into such a "top up" training program at one of the universities (e.g. PHZH)?
- Could anyone point me in a direction of general information about how useful this qualification would be if we move to another EU country like France or Germany?
- Does anyone have any idea about working as a primary/secondary school teacher -- is it common to get a 60/70% position? Looking towards the future, I think I would prefer something less than >100%.
- There are some private English-language secondary schools in Zurich. I don't have the PGCE qualification -- are they likely to still consider hiring me given my experience?

Any idea how well paid a full-time position at a language center like place might be? Usually, these kinds of jobs are not great in terms of quality and pay. I'm looking for something better, but I enjoy the social nature of this kind of work so I'd be open to it if it paid well.

I'd be open to feedback and suggestions. I feel optimistic given my background, but perhaps the simple possibility of openings would be limited.
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Old 16.10.2020, 12:43
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

You'd need to check with this organisation regarding getting any qualifications recognised.

https://www.sbfi.admin.ch/sbfi/en/ho...-teaching.html
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Old 16.10.2020, 13:25
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

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You'd need to check with this organisation regarding getting any qualifications recognised.

https://www.sbfi.admin.ch/sbfi/en/ho...-teaching.html

I'm not quite looking to get my qualifications recognized, but rather to get a Swiss qualification to become a secondary school teacher in Switzerland and eventually Europe.



I find that website a bit confusing, as I feel it has a lot of general information but no specifics. Is a Magister from Germany generally recognized as such in Switzerland?



Also, searching on that website, I have yet to find any concrete information about the CELTA/DELTA (I'm guessing because private language teaching is not a regulated industry and is wholly irrelevant for the school system?).
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Old 16.10.2020, 15:47
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

Swiss secondary schools don't have English teachers, they have teachers who teach English plus other subjects in the local language.

Tom
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Old 16.10.2020, 16:45
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

Not entirely true. At our school we have teachers that only teach French. It is possible to teach just a foreign language, as other teachers may be lacking the language skills, especially if one is not looking for a full time position.
To get information about Swiss qualifications it is best to contact PHZ or PHFHNW directly, each university has slightly different requirements. When I studied there were quite a few German students, they said the qualifications were recognized in Germany.
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Old 16.10.2020, 17:30
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

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Swiss secondary schools don't have English teachers, they have teachers who teach English plus other subjects in the local language.

Tom

There are streams of study only for teaching English. I would also consider getting qualified to teach music (I would need to retest my German language skills first), but I think English is a better bet right now.


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Not entirely true. At our school we have teachers that only teach French. It is possible to teach just a foreign language, as other teachers may be lacking the language skills, especially if one is not looking for a full time position.
To get information about Swiss qualifications it is best to contact PHZ or PHFHNW directly, each university has slightly different requirements. When I studied there were quite a few German students, they said the qualifications were recognized in Germany.

Thank you for this information! Helpful to hear there are others with German qualifications pursuing studies. I will contact the two universities directly to inquire about their programs.



Are you familiar with the "Quereinsteiger" programs for those who already have a degree/experience? It says you need 3 years of experience, but I'm wondering how they calculate that if some of those years is part-time work.
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Old 16.10.2020, 18:29
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

Every canton is different. In Vaud to teach secondary or post obligatory I’d have to do the Haute École Pédagogique. In Fribourg they’d let me do a Masters in secondary education AND a masters in my field(s) of expertise. Once you are qualified in Switzerland however your qualifications are generally accepted in any canton.

I chose to change fields (I had in the US been focusing on obligatory school French and English) and do a masters in French as a foreign language. Ironically that’s more sought after in my area than English. So I teach adults—migrants or Swiss German speakers—French. I’d love to also teach English but ironically have yet to be hired for that.
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Old 16.10.2020, 18:45
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

When I started studying the Quereinsteiger- program at PHZ did not offer full qualifications, so I took the Flex program at PHFHNW. It offered a more flexible program and I worked as an English teacher in a regular public school 50-60% while studying. It took me 7 semesters to finish instead of the usual 6, but I now have full qualifications. They are offering a similar program now in Brugg, not too far from Zurich. Worth looking into. As far as 3 years experience I do not think it matters if it was part time.
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Old 17.10.2020, 04:37
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

Thank you for the replies! This is helpful to hear from those who have done programmes like this. If I could find an arrangement to start teaching at secondary school part-time while studying part-time to get the qualification, that would be an ideal arrangement.



I understand each canton has its own regulations, but from what I read a qualification would generally be recognized across all cantons. However, because we are French/US citizens, we may be tied to Zurich due to visas and pursuing residency. We'd likely go to France or Germany in the future instead of another canton in Switzerland -- so I'd welcome if anyone has experience with getting the "Masters in Secondary Education" recognized to teach in those countries.



About the qualification training, I have a rather specific question. EDK states: "Gesamtschweizerisch anerkannt werden können Quereinstiegsausbildungen für die Primarstufe (einschliesslich Kindergarten) sowie für die Sekundarstufe I. Ein Quereinstieg in die Ausbildung zur Lehrperson für Maturitätsschulen ist hingegen nicht möglich."


Does this mean I cannot do any kind of Quereinsteig study program for Sekundarschule II?



Also, I found a couple of programs, but I am struggling to understand what the difference is:

Pädagogische Hochschule Zürich offers only a program for Quereinsteig Sekundarschule I: https://phzh.ch/de/Ausbildung/Studie...kundarstufe-I/


But Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz FHNW, which seems to say it qualifies you for Sekundarschule II: https://www.berufsberatung.ch/dyn/show/4009?id=31971
Is this for someone who has already studied education to be able to teach additionally at the Sekundarschule II?

Does anyone have any experience with having a DELTA / TESOL Diploma recognized in Switzerland?
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Old 17.10.2020, 08:10
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

Teaching tends to be very very linked to each country’s politics. The French system couldn’t be more different, especially at secondary and post secondary levels. I highly doubt you would be able to get a Swiss qualification recognized. But maybe I am wrong, I don’t have personal experience with that.

If you’re not planning to stay in Switzerland long term I’d forget about secondary and go for adult level teaching. Most English teacher positions at language schools in my area want the Cambridge certificate but your qualifications might be an equivalent.
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Old 17.10.2020, 08:17
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

All right, I will do some more research on this!



I'm wondering though, if I got the Swiss Master of Secondary Education, and I then focused on working with the IB curriculum, would that at least be relatively flexible or applicable in other countries? I think the experience would be, but I'm unsure if internationally there are some requirements for IB programmes.



Are there many opportunities to teach the IB curriculum in Zurich?



Sorry I am asking quite broad questions -- it was just a relatively new idea to pursue teaching in secondary education that occurred to me to give me some job security if we move to Switzerland, so many things to think about!



Thank you!
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Old 17.10.2020, 09:01
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

Sure, my understanding is that IB is very international so once qualified you could work at any IB school in theory. But look and see how many IB schools are in Zürich. And look in the areas that you want to move to more long term.

From Payerne I’d have to drive an hour or more to find an IB school. On top of that, they’re rarely hiring. I worked in Montessori for awhile in the US so I looked into that here but the training would be 12k, there are few job opportunities and a lot of competition.
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Old 17.10.2020, 09:27
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

Part-time is the norm for teachers at secondary level in Switzerland, including teachers finishing off their qualifications.
Pre Corona the international schools did a lot of their recruiting at international fairs.
You might want to consider AP as well as IB english.
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Old 17.10.2020, 09:40
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

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Sorry I am asking quite broad questions -- it was just a relatively new idea to pursue teaching in secondary education that occurred to me to give me some job security if we move to Switzerland, so many things to think about!

Thank you!
Your asking questions is excellent! Keep going. You're doing the right thing to research it all, and this forum is one of the good places to look.

As I hear it, the market for teachers of English in language schools (i.e. to adults, who book a course of 1 or 2 lessons per week for a block of a few months or a semester) and also for one-on-one tutoring, is rather flooded. At least, there are many, many teachers offering (for such part-time jobs, these are often, but not always, trailing spouses) and not as many students wanting to pay for such services.

Corona has put many courses online. Once a language school has achieved this properly, it suddenly becomes comparable with any other language school similarly online. Which makes courses available that may take place in other countries (for much less money), as long as the time-zone suits the student. That's for adults. And the same thing is starting to happen for tertiary education of all kinds.

For this reason, and since you say you're trying to increase your job security, I think you're doing the right thing trying to find out what you would need to get into a real school, for children or teenagers. Unless it is an international, fee-paying school (merely a small segment of the total number of schools), you will need to speak very good German, or French, or Italian, depending on the Canton in which you settle. Therefore, I suggest that, parallel to your research, you use your time before you get here to brush up your German as best you can. There are many other threads on this forum offering suggestions about this.

Well done for looking before you leap!
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Old 17.10.2020, 09:57
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

I am assuming your German qualification was in German, so you have a German proficiency in language which is much higher than 'average'.


The pathway in Zurich to teachin in the Gymnasium is quite different to the Sekundarschule - secondary school.



Sek teachers, I think, need a wider variety of teaching subjects, and Gymnasium teachers need a higher study in fewer specialisations.


I think the current situation is that the Gymnasium teacher positions are quite competitive and hard to get, but there is a lack of secondary teachers. Primary school can be hard to get a position, but infant (Kindergarten) level lacks teachers...



it does depend a bit what age group you would like to teach - each level has a specific qualification and curriculum.


If you can integrate and work in the local schools, that is a fairly secure career path. But it does require the local language (German/Swiss-German).


With the current economic situation, I imagine there will be high pressure on the private schools - I'm assuming fewer enrolments over time - also in Canton Zurich there are strict rules about who can enrol in those schools.


If I was to do it all again, I would focus on being able to teach in German in any age level. You need the equivalent to a "lehrdiplom' and the flexibility to adapt to the local school system.



As for actual job opportunities, it's not difficult to find a list of all the schools... look at the register of swiss private schools for canton zurich- it's available online.


If you are able to study further in Zurich in German, then you will have many options regarding courses of study. As others have said, there are 'fast tracks' for mature students - and some of these have paid work embedded in the programme - I know at least two people currently doing this - one for primary school and one for kindergarten. They work and study, and it's a full-time job.
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Old 17.10.2020, 11:19
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

These are all helpful insights -- thank you! I think I need to still research the education system a bit more.



Years ago I used to work kids camps in Germany, so I have some idea about the kids. I think I would rather focus on older kids/teenagers, more around the age range closer to university (where I teach now).



If someone can share what the terminology is for the qualifications you need at different levels, that would be helpful -- I'm struggling a bit as it is different from Germany.
Lehrdiplom = an equivalent to a Bachelors/Masters? Or a diploma specific for teaching that can be earned by itself?
Pratikum/a = 1-2 years teaching you'll be doing while partially paid while studying? Same as German "Referendariat"?


Generally, for formal teacher training, is there an exam at the end? (in Germany = Staatsexam)


I can brush up on my German. I hold a DSH-Pruefung Level 2 certificate, but that was before my studies in Germany. I think given my background with German, I might be in a unique position to integrate better into the systems if I meet the basic prerequisites. If I can manage Schweizerdeutsch.



Here's another question -- I am based in Hong Kong and have a lot of experience with teaching mainland Chinese students English. Does anyone know if there might be a way to capitalize on this experience? (E.g. international boarding schools might recruit more from Asia now?)

I do think working with teenagers could be quite intense, so hence I would welcome a career path where I eventually work less than full-time. For those working non-full-time, ~60%, what is the workload like in reality? Are you paid less but in reality still working full time (40+ hours a week)?(Similarly, in my experience, language centres have a bad habit of paying only part-time hourly rates, but in practice you're busy all the time with a poor pay check.)


Thank you so much for the helpful insights!
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Old 17.10.2020, 11:43
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

Is it possible to get into some schools to observe and speak with local teachers before committing to a study program? I speak as someone who has done internships and private tutoring for all levels of education—teenagers are not at all like university students. Not necessarily a bad thing, just very different.

I agree that private schools will be experiencing some difficulties now with the economic situation. Also sometimes public pays better, depending on the type of school (Montessori and Christian schools, where I was initially looking, pay noticeably worse in general than public, whilst international usually pays better, but in the current climate one can wonder how viable their model is).

Keep asking questions and researching! It can be a long path to find a career and get settled in Switzerland, but it is really worth it and you seem to really have the right attitude towards your future.
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Old 17.10.2020, 12:00
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

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Every canton is different.
There remain some cantonal differences, but nowadays, most (if not all) of the German speaking now have adopted/are moving towards a common approach. Details herer https://www.lehrplan21.ch/ With this, teachers with qualifications in one canton, can readily move to another.

To get a Swiss qualification for secondary, you need a bachelors in a "suitable subject", and then do a masters in secondary education. My daughter is currently doing her bachelors in education (primary) - she had to get a C2 german certificate to be allowed to study. Masters may be more lenient.
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Old 17.10.2020, 12:49
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Re: Working as a teacher in Switzerland: training + future

This link for phfhnw https://www.fhnw.ch/de/studium/paedagogik/quereinstieg may answer some of your questions. It does not look like the Quereinstieg is available for Sek II. But you should contact them directly for the requirements in your case. You could do the regular program as your Masters will likely be recognized.
There is currently a shortage of foreign language teachers in Primary and Sek I, in Sek II it is much harder to find jobs. So for better opportunities I would go for Sek I.
Generally Swiss teaching qualifications are recognized in Germany, but each Bundesland has different requirements.
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