Katarina Witt - Founder, Director, German teacher, Teacher Trainer
Having begun different studies, some of them related to languages, others not, having worked with a dance photographer, which was great fun, I ended up with a diploma of psychology, specialized in neuro sciences and still had no intention to start working in that field, which was a nightmare for my mother :) I found it all very interesting but I never saw any connection to a job, there has never been a link to the reality of a normal working life.
But then I started to look around in the field of language training and luckily signed up for a formation to become a German teacher in Freiburg. And that changed everything. I left the training highly inspired and with a great clarity of what I would do in the next years.
The way of learning was so different. We, the teachers, were also trained in the same communicative, interactive and creative way that we later on would apply to our own classes.
After the training I came to Cologne and started working as a German teacher which quite fast got very successful. I needed colleagues so after a while the connection to the teacher training institute got more intensive and I also ran through the teacher trainer formation. The teacher training has now become a part of our course offer. Twice a year the colleagues from Freiburg come over and run their programme in Cologne.
Besides the school: I love lonely nature which is quite hard to see in this region, but somehow I find my little ways to escape, sometimes alone, sometimes with my three kids or friends. I´m dreaming of a garden where I would grow my own vegetables and fruits and where I had space for a cat and a dog. I love music and good books, having a good time with my friends and doing Yoga.
Willi (Wiltrud) Meyer, Office (Evening courses)
I grew up in a country with 11 national languages and speak 3 languages myself – because of this, I’ve always found languages fascinating. As I believe that learning different languages and being able to communicate with each other is the key to a harmonious co-existence in this world, it has always been part of my dream to enable others to learn a foreign language.
I started working at a Language Travel Agency as part of my dual studies and thus came in contact with language schools and people from all over the world.
During that time I realised my love for language schools and applied for a job at IH Cologne Insula, where I am now part of a wonderful and kind team.
In my free time I love organising and going on roadtrips, which I do regularly with my friends, and I absolutely adore all kinds of animals.
Melanie Zapf, Office (Intensive courses)
I was raised bilingually and have always been interested in different languages and cultures. That's why I decided to study a subject where I could use my knowledge of Spanish and learn a bit more about Latin America (history, literature, social sciences). During an internship at the Goethe-Institut in Munich, I realised how much fun it is to get in touch with people from all over the world and to help them find their way in a foreign country. I enjoy living in Cologne because I really like the mentality of the people here and the city is so colourful with its different neighbourhoods. There is always something new to discover and I like to do that on my bike. At the end of my studies, I was looking for a job in a language school and quickly came across the Insula in Ehrenfeld! I have been working there in the office since February 2020 and am very happy about the great team and the familiar atmosphere.
Franzi Gerth, German teacher
Wie bin ich zu DaF gekommen? Ich habe Lateinamerikanistik studiert und dachte, ich brauche irgendeinen Job, den ich international ausüben kann. Da ich Sprachen immer relativ schnell gelernt und aufgenommen habe, dachte ich, dass ich wahrscheinlich gut Deutsch unterrichten könnte. Wie genau ich das TTI gefunden habe, weiß ich gar nicht mehr. Es war eine schnelle Eingebung, und schon war ich mittendrin.
Von Freiburg wurde ich relativ schnell an die Insula vermittelt und bin nun schon seit vielen Jahren an der Schule. Ich liebe das Team, die Methode, die Schule als Punkt des Austauschs, des Ankommens und Weiterziehens. Die Insula ermöglich vielen Menschen ein warmes Köln zu erleben, ob Mitarbeiter*innen oder Schüler*innen.
Ich selbst bin Freelancer, bewege mich zwischen Sprache, Kunst und Aktivismus und mag den Reichtum der Abwechslung. Ich habe lange Zeit außerhalb der Stadt gewohnt, direkt am Waldesrand und muss sagen: ich liebe den Wald, das Leben fernab von der Stadt. Ruhe und Inspiration. Und gleichzeitig will ich den Puls der Stadt nicht missen, ihren Rhythmus, die Menschen und die Vielfalt.
Florian Feller, German teacher
When I was in school, languages and music were my favourite subjects, so I had to choose which one I wanted to study at university. In the end, music won and I started my musicology studies. During my Erasmus exchange program in Italy, I realised that I got more and more into languages and further away from music. After having traveled South America, I finally decided to pursue my true calling. But who would have known I would end up teaching my mother tongue?
In 2014, I took a course to become a German teacher and shortly after this, I started teaching at International House Cologne. I have been teaching at this school ever since because of its unique teaching approach, my dear collegues and the ambitious Germans learners we have!
In my free time, I enjoy rock climbing, language exchanges and boardgames.
Patricia Montag-Sojka, German teacher, teacher trainer
I studied Romance Studies and German as a Foreign Language in Gießen, my hometown by choice. After working for 5 years as a Portuguese teacher, I switched to German when I started at Insula in June 2015. This school is something very special - both the teaching method and the team. When I'm not at Insula, I'm with my little family. I love music, nature and having family and friends around.
Michaela Skampagianni, German teacher
I grew up bilingually in a Greek home where I soon recognized that language plays an important role in life. Without knowing the language of the environment, it is hard to be accepted in the same way as the locals.
So, it doesn’t surprise that I studied languages (German, English and French) at the university of Cologne and in 2006 I finished my master. Apart from being interested in learning and teaching languages I’ve always loved travelling around the world.
After my studies I worked in the tourist industry and kept on travelling. My first steps as a teacher for German in integration courses I made in 2014 and they were exciting and great fun.
But ending up at the Insula in 2015 felt like having arrived in the absolutely right place. I’ve never had such a satisfied feeling as in the Insula. The concept of teaching languages in a very authentic way, that means speaking genuinely becomes the focus of the lessons, and learning language interactively convinced me completely. So as a student you will get in contact with your classmates and you must speak. By the way, the team and the students are lovely, too. So, I’ve never regretted to work for the Insula.
Nadine Lay, German teacher
My name is Nadine.
I came to Cologne 2011 for my studies and i stayed in this colourful, bustling and tolerant city which i fell in love with instantly. Originally i come from the south-west of Germany near the swiss border. During my social sciences studies i tried to integrate my love for languages and deepend or began to learn: French, Romanian, Arabic. My motivation was pure interest in languages and the culture behind.
I love to travel and to confront myself with different realities of life. In my free time i like to do yoga. And even though i live in a city, i love nature and try to spend a lot of time outside.
Neele Becker, German teacher
I always knew I wanted to work in a profession involving foreign languages, but I was never quite sure where or what exactly. I never wanted to teach at a 'regular' school. I studied 'Multilingual Communication' and worked in a hostel afterwards. After 8 years in this occupation I needed a change and came across 'German as a foreign language'. Understanding my own language as a foreign laguage and teaching it seemd exciting. The teacher training was exhausting, but it convinced me becoming a 'DaF'-teacher even more. I love my work as it's a great feeling supporting learners on their way into a new laguage and maybe into a new life. Besides, the school brings together so many lovely and interesting people from all over the world I'd usually not have met/meet.
Eating (& cooking), sleeping, hiking, friends, coffee, music, books, nature, travelling, running, martial arts, dancing, sun & ocean =)
Theresa Hümmler, German teacher
Ich konnte mir niemals vorstellen zu unterrichten und vor einer Klasse zu stehen, aber dann kam plötzlich alles anders....
Schon als Kind war ich fasziniert von der deutschen Sprache und Deutsch war immer mein Lieblingsfach in der Schule. Allerdings hätte mir niemals erträumt, dass ich in diesem Bereich meinen Traumjob finden würde. Ich habe nach der Schule zunächst bei einem Automobilzulieferer im Technischen Einkauf gearbeitet. In dem Konzern habe ich viele Chinesen, Inder und Franzosen kennengelernt, die gerne ihr Deutsch verbessern wollten. Ich habe ihnen dabei geholfen und so erste Erfahrungen im DaF Bereich gesammelt. Dadurch habe ich plötzlich gemerkt, wie viel Freude es mir bereitet hat, meine Sprache an andere weiterzugeben und auch wie wichtig diese Aufgabe gesellschaftlich ist.Dies hat mich bestärkt einen anderen Weg einzuschlagen – einen Weg, der viel besser zu mir passt! Ich habe meinen alten Job nach mehr als 8 Jahren gekündigt, bin nach Köln gezogen, habe Mehrsprachige Kommunikation studiert, eine Ausbildung zur DaF-Lehrerin gemacht und bin schließlich im Januar 2019 bei der INSULA gelandet.
Der Job als Lehrerin bereichert mich in jeder Hinsicht und gibt mir sehr viel zurück, sodass ich sehr dankbar dafür bin, dass ich diesen Weg gegangen bin und mich nochmal komplett umorientiert habe.
Miriam Kugler, German teacher
After having finished my studies of Cultural Anthropology and Social Sciences in 2017, I wasn´t sure in which direction I would go professionally. And then I thought: Why not teach German again??
Luckily I heard about the Teacher Training Institute in Freiburg and I went through the training and moved to Cologne as soon as I had finished, because I wanted to work at IH Cologne - a wonderful and inspiring language school! :)
Christine Stauß, German teacher
Languages have always played a big role in my life. They fascinated me more than anything else at school, university and during my free time. My interest for DaF eventually grew when I was learning foreign languages and meeting people from all over the world, which brought me back to my origin.
When I found out about the Teacher Training, nothing could stop me from taking the course. Since I am totally convinced by the teaching method and I love to teach, I immediately started working at Insula in April 2019.
Travelling is my other big passion. Whenever possible I just grab my backpack and go explore the surrounding areas of Cologne, as well as neighboring and distant countries.
Sophie Ong, German Trainer
Hey, I'm Sophie! I have taught German for the first time when I was living in the Philippines. After finishing my studies of English and education at the University of Cologne, I lived abroad for a couple of months and came across teaching German as a foreign language by coincidence. A friend back in Cologne told me about Insula and I started my teacher training in September 2019. Since November 2019, I am working as a teacher at Insula and I really enjoy getting to know and connecting with the people I teach. I love live-music gigs, traveling, good food, Cologne, true crime documentaries and I always like to learn new things. One day I would like to own a little guesthouse with a cafe, a dog and some chicken somewhere in the south of Europe.
Arne Hintz, German Trainer
Since I was a kid i have been in love with languages and travelling. In 2018, I eventually decided to turn this into my profession and I became a teacher for German language. What I like most about my job at Insula is the close contact to our students, the supernice colleagues as well as the interactive and fun methodology. When I am not teaching, I might be spinning some records, baking bread with sourdough or enjoy a cool beer in a hammock in the garden..
Lena Harwardt, German teacher
Whether in the context of numerous student exchanges—be it as an au pair, or while traveling, studying or working—foreign countries, languages and cultures have always fascinated and inspired me. I have spent most of my adult life living abroad and have been lucky to learn various different languages myself.
Given my experiences, I have seen the benefit and essential role of languages first hand. Language is without a doubt the key to getting to know a country and its people. The key to understanding a foreign culture, mentality as well as all the particularities and traditions that go along with it. The key to immersing yourself and becoming a part of something different. Long story short: language is the key to feeling good in a new country and so much more: Being able to use a new language confidently allows us to be ourselves.
That is why, today, I would like to contribute to building bridges by sharing my mother tongue with other people. I hope to help them settle in Germany and familiarize themselves with the German language step by step. My formal DaF training obtained in Freiburg in 2018 and its unique teaching methods shaped my enthusiasm. It is wonderful to get to know and teach people from all over the world in a committed, professional and friendly team! Now, at this school, I have the opportunity to give back and share all of the great things that I have experienced myself. And nothing makes me happier!
Jonas Ganser, German teacher
My Name is Jonas and i teach german at Insula since almost half a year. For me language is also culture, therefore love teaching my language and culture to people from other countries. When the students lern german its easier for them to get integrated and thus enrich our culture. Thats my motivation to be a DaF teacher.
In my freetime i like to play football and parlour games