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7 Tips to Avoid Culture Shock When Teaching Abroad

For those who are already working as teachers at home in the U.K, the idea of teaching abroad promises much to the otherwise stressed and under pressure teacher.

It can provide for cultural experiences, as well as a different, more nourishing learning system than is found within the increasingly under pressure U.K. schools; and it can of course, offer better weather.

However, it seems that all too many teachers can be allured by the romance or monetary rewards of working abroad, without truly appreciating just how big a culture shock there may be in store. So with this in mind, here I outline seven tips to ensure that your dream teaching position abroad turns out to be exactly that.

1. Take time to appreciate the local culture

Learning the local culture will not only help you in connecting and communicating with your students, but it may also help you avoid any otherwise embarrassing faux pas in a wide range of everyday activities.

2. Learn the language

Learning the language, even where this isn’t a requirement, is always appreciated by those within your local community and the teachers with which you work. Ideally you should try to opt for private tuition; at the very least, however, you should certainly learn key phrases and words to be polite, with the aim to build upon your repertoire whilst you’re there.

3. Do be ready to learn from your fellow teachers

Learning from your colleagues will be vitally important when within the classroom abroad– a key concern of which is classroom management and student discipline. So, trial local strategies, whilst never underestimating the possibility of employing your own, home-grown strategies where appropriate. Remember you need a growth mind set, and cherish the opportunities and grow, rather than focus on setbacks.

4. Don’t underestimate just how vital research is

Achieving a successful career in another country and culture requires continual evolvement and learning on your behalf. Equally as important is the research that you undertake prior to even accepting a position abroad, which can be particularly vital when there are schools out there that may overwork their teachers and provide working conditions that are anything but conducive to the ‘teacher abroad’ dream.

5. Be sure to live in the moment

Regardless of how excited you may have felt on the run up to your big move, the gravity of your decision may only hit you days or weeks into your arrival. And feeling home sick is far from unusual, especially when you may have had a bad day. The most effective way to cope with mixed feelings is to always live within the moment, and always remember that these feelings are temporary and do pass.

6. Don’t act like you’re on holiday

Working abroad can inevitably be both exciting and rewarding, however acting like you’re on holiday, and spending as if you’re only there for a limited period, can lead to the burnout of both your bank balance as well as your energy levels.

7. Be aware of your teaching style and how it may appear to another culture

Appreciating how you and your teaching style translates when in another country’s classroom is essential if you’re to be both an effective teacher, as well as one that avoids causing offence or, worse still, creates a toxic educational environment without you even realising.

Ideally you should sit in on a few classes by native teachers to see just how they operate, and be sure to ask plenty of questions, as well as gaining extensive feedback following your first few classes.

Cormac Reynolds is a writer and works for education company 11plustutorsinessex – he has written for a number of blogs and enjoys food, books and travel.

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