Carolina Andrea Pérez González came to Germany from Chile. Following an adaptation period, she received recognition as a teacher. Today she works at a higher-level secondary school in Hamburg.
“My experience as a teacher is valued in Germany and that is a really nice feeling.”
“I was run down after 13 years as a teacher in Chile. I wanted to make a new start. I had always really liked Germany and that's why I came here,” explains Carolina Andrea Pérez González.
A few years before she had lived in Bavaria as an exchange student. She had also worked as an exchange teacher near Marburg as part of the Pädagogischer Austauschdienst programme (PAD) – a programme promoting international exchange and cooperation in the school sector. Carolina Andrea Pérez González therefore knew Germany very well. Her German friends were telling her: “You have a great chance of working here as a teacher.” Carolina Andrea Pérez González therefore applied for a visa and submitted an application for a degree as further training. She arrived in Hamburg in April 2019. She started her master’s degree in “School management and quality development” in Kiel.
Carolina Andrea Pérez González was working at the same time as a teaching assistant at a higher-level secondary school in Hamburg. Her head teacher said she could have her degree from Chile recognised. She requested information about this from the relevant school authority in August 2019. Unfortunately, she did not have the necessary German language skills at level C2 for the recognition. Carolina Andrea Pérez González therefore completed a free language course. The course prepares immigrant teachers for the Goethe Institute’s C2 certificate.
In November 2019, Carolina Andrea Pérez González submitted all documents for recognition to the competent authority. At the start of February 2020 she received the assessment notice stating that, for recognition, she had to complete a compensation measure. This was because the Chilean school system is very different to the German system. Carolina Andrea Pérez González was able to choose. She could either complete an adaptation period over 18 months or take an aptitude test. She opted for the adaptation period. But she first had to complete her master’s degree as this was the only way for her visa to be extended.
The adaptation period consists of a practical and a theoretical element. For the theoretical element, Carolina attended seminars at the State Institute of Teacher Training and School Development. She learned how teaching is planned and organised at a German school. She completed the practical element at the school where she was already working. For this she took on three of her own classes in different year groups in the subject of German. Carolina Andrea Pérez González taught for 12 hours per week in these three classes.
Carolina Andrea Pérez González performed well and the head of the teacher training college and the school leadership team were soon satisfied by the standard of her work. With the agreement of the school authority she was therefore able to shorten the adaptation period to 12 months. This period was still not easy for her. Carolina Andrea Pérez González recalls: “I had to deal with a lot all at once. Here teachers work much more independently than in my home country. To begin with, for example, I was given the syllabus. I had to follow this. However I did not know how to go about it, or where I would find the materials needed.” However, she was given lots of support. She successfully completed the adaptation period. “Luckily, I have great colleagues at school. And I had a mentor. I was really well supported over this period.”
Since August 2022 she has been working as a recognised teacher in the subject of German at the higher-level secondary school in Hamburg. Recognition means that she now has the same rights and responsibilities as her colleagues. Carolina Andrea Pérez González therefore also receives a higher salary. She is also able to undertake a supplementary course of study (Ergänzungsstudium). In the future this could enable her to teach a second subject. And she could also become a teacher with civil servant status.
Carolina Andrea Pérez González feels settled: “I would like to remain in Germany. I like working here. The school system is more pleasant than the system in Chile. And the quality of life is better. Society here has a much greater respect for the teaching profession than in my home country. That is important for me.”
The interview with Carolina Andrea Pérez González took place in September 2022. She was advised and supported in the recognition procedure by the Hamburg Network IQ and the training department of the Hamburg State Institute of Teacher Training and School Development (LIA). She attended the language course at the Hamburg Association of Intercultural Training (IBH e.V.).