An Experience of Many Rewards
As we discussed in Part I of this series, the experience of teaching abroad is one that has rewards and life lessons on many levels. Thus far, we’ve explored how the combination of working abroad can affect you personally and in your future career endeavors, whether or not they involve education. Now we’ve reached the third and final installment of our series, in which we’ll discuss the effect your experience teaching abroad has upon your students. There’s no question that the situation is one favorable to both student and teacher, as demonstrated by a new program in the U.K. that matches college-level education students with specific Thai classrooms. We’ve explored some of the personal benefits to teachers. What are some that apply to their students?
First You Have to Get There
The point is moot unless you can actually cross the country’s borders to reach the school where you’ve been contracted to teach. There are a number of bureaucratic requirements from both the nation you’re leaving and the one to which you’re en route. You can use everything to your advantage to learn more about your destination and its culture. You’ll need to purchase a teach abroad insurance policy in addition to scheduling an appointment before you leave to see a doctor—preferably a travel specialist or infectious disease physician—for required immunizations. Ask her about the health risks of your destination and how you might best protect yourself.
The time spent at the country’s embassy to obtain a provisional work visa can be used to converse with the embassy staff or fluent citizens about how you can best instruct the children of their country. In other words, to be a better teacher in a foreign environment, you must begin to be a student—again and at every opportunity.
How Do ESL Teachers’ Students Benefit from a Foreign Teacher?
If you’ve taught in a first-world country as a teacher or a substitute teacher, you need to first eliminate the assumption that the classroom experiences will be similar. Many of the “smart boards,” automatic AV equipment and personal tablet computers seen in the U.S. and other developed nations are simply not going to be available to you in most foreign classrooms.
Instead of limiting you and your teaching abilities, however, the removal of many of these technologies can provide you the opportunity to truly connect with the children in your classroom. A great deal of ESL teachers’ job descriptions typically emphasize conversational English—a skill that requires only that you open your mouth and begin to speak.
Teaching Language & Culture
Whether you realize it or not, you’re teaching bits and pieces of Western culture to the children in your classroom through ways you may have never dreamt. Wearing a sleeveless but modest blouse, calling on a girl to answer a question before a boy, even your explanation of having your own apartment before your departure are all means by which the two cultures exchange mini-lessons and emphasize the difference between young adulthood in the U.S. and Korea, for example.
An Experience of Many Rewards
Teaching abroad can be as much of an education for you as it is for your students. Not only will you learn about another culture and perhaps even pick up the language, but you’ll also learn many lessons about yourself, positively prepare for your future career and (possibly) be an even better teacher to your current and future students. Bon voyage!
|Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts on social media and education. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.|
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