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Things to know about Teaching English Abroad – Challenges and Benefits

Teaching is considered a Nobel cause around the world. Teachers from anywhere receive immense respect not only from the students but also from other common people around them. Nowadays, a lot of individuals are keen on traveling and teaching abroad as paid employment or volunteer work. They love traveling and don’t mind teaching in a remote city in Nigeria or French lessons in Brisbane.

Nevertheless, are you considering teaching abroad? That’s great news! Teaching abroad can be one of the most rewarding experiences in an individual’s career. Not only teaching English abroad, but a lot of academies and colleges also support the initiative like French Lessons Brisbane who facilitates and encourage French teachers from all around the world. However, there are a few things you should know before you apply.


1. Cultural Differences

When you accept a job to teach abroad, it’s not quite like a traditional job offer to work in your own country. Although travel expenses are covered by many international schools, it’s still quite an emotional and physical test of endurance to move your life to a completely different country and culture.

Culture shock is real

Don’t underestimate the effects of the culture shock when considering teaching abroad. Going to a new place can become a hurdle if you are not aware of the cultural norms. Some native people are very much particular about the ritual and cultural practices and do not appreciate you to be the odd one out amongst the crowd. At this point, it is a good idea to be observant of the surroundings and interact with your fellow colleagues to give you some insight to work effectively.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the cons outweigh the pros, however. Many international teachers will tell you that making the decision to teach abroad was one of the best decisions they’ve ever made in their lives. However, it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into and manage your expectations upfront.

Be sure to read up on cultural differences before you go. If possible, meet with some friends from that country to pick their brains. It’s always a good idea to be prepared.


2. In the Classroom

Resource Allocation

A lot of developing countries have scarce resources for their educational establishments. When you go to teach, you might not find the most sophisticated equipment in hand. Sometimes the students also gather from an underprivileged background. At this point, the teachers might have to work harder to use the allocated resources at hand wisely.

Alternative Working Hours

It is always difficult in the start to get used to the working hours as the teachers might not get enough time to talk to their loved ones back at home due to changing time zones. On the other hand, the working timings of the school or educational institute can also be different from your preferred hours. Not to mention, a person has to adjust to the changing climate and jet lag in the first few days. It is always a good practice to search for the school timings in advance.

Kids are the same everywhere

Although you’ll be facing a different culture in your work and daily life, the great news is that you’ll still be working with kids. And, guess what? Kids are basically the same the world over. Of course, there are cultural differences, and particular issues for different regions, but overall, kids are kids.

This can be a good and a bad thing, of course. This means that kids want to do well. They want their teacher to like them. They want to get rewarded for positive behavior or academic success. Kids enjoy fun activities. They like to play. They like to dance and sing. They enjoy stickers and prizes. The spirit of a child transcends culture in a lot of ways. So, if you’re able to positively interact with children in your home country, you’ll most likely do just as well abroad.

On the flip side, kids of all cultures will have tantrums sometimes. They will act out. They will get bored if you don’t engage them. Yes, they will pass notes, or try to text during class. You may have to call them out for teasing one another. Again, kids will be kids.

And, of course, there will always be a percentage of students with emotional issues, physical issues, or learning disabilities. In the United States these kids would have an IEP (Individualized Education Program), which is mandated by the government, and basically means that you have to develop some special interventions to help the child succeed. You may notice children with certain issues in your international classroom, but you may not have an IEP for them. If you’re a great teacher, you’ll do your best to develop additional programs or measure to help them succeed with or without an IEP.

3. How you Fit in the World

Living abroad is challenging because you’re in a new place. Being away from your family and your comfort zone gives a person an opportunity to explore themselves and get to know where they belong. It takes time to figure out how to get to work, manage a bus or subway system, and figure out where to eat and shop. For the first few months, you may feel overwhelmed by the stresses of the job, plus the additional stresses of just living.

An extensive experience like teaching abroad will enable you to make a sense of what you require from your life, where you want to be, what makes you happy and how you will handle challenges single-handedly. You become your own mentor and learn things no one taught you in the classrooms.

Courage and Resilience

Moving to a new place will give you courage and resilience to work things out for yourself. Going and settling down in a new place where you don’t know anyone is a challenging task but only a person with adequate muscle and patience to manage professional and personal life becomes successful.

Absences of Support

The teachers who move abroad have a perception that they will have all the support on the ground and will not be involved in solving smaller issues of food, transport, communication, etc. Even if they have applied through a recruitment agency, it is vital to keep an open mind that these companies might not have enough boots on the ground. It becomes easier for an individual once he gets into the routine and even starts to enjoy it.

And, as you may or may not know, “expat” culture in many cities can be quite exciting. If you’re in a major city, you’ll soon learn that there’s an entire “expat” culture, including bars, clubs, and meetups. It may be easy to fall into a “party” mode that could negatively impact your ability to work. So, be mindful of maintaining a good work/life balance. You don’t want to get burnt out!

4. Traveling Around the World

The biggest advantage of teaching abroad is that you will get a chance to explore the world and different culture. You will have the opportunity to make new friends and memories. You will enjoy traveling around going to new places and even without any charges if you have paid employment. Not to mention, the satisfaction and self-achievement of teaching young individual valuable lessons of life.

Learning the language is crucial

This isn’t to say that you need to be fluent in the language of your host country, but learning key words and phrases is a must. And, it will definitely win you some brownie points with your students.

Many schools or international employers offer English classes, so you should definitely inquire with your company about free courses. Otherwise, check Meetup or other local Facebook groups to find language learning groups. And, don’t just go to one and give up. Learning a language takes time and effort. Sign up for a weekly class and go every week. Not only will it help you in your life abroad, but it will give you an inside look into what it’s like to be a language learner. This will help you to have real empathy with your students.

5. It’s easy to fall in love with teaching English abroad

As many international teachers will attest, teaching abroad can be addictive. The rush of a new culture, the novelty of new food, the long holidays—-it’s easy to fall in love with teaching English abroad. In fact, many teachers go to a new country every few years. You’ll meet fellow teachers who’ve made the rounds on the international teaching circuit. And, if you’re teaching in IB schools, you’ll absolutely come across some very internationally-savvy individuals. After a year or two in your current position, you may find yourself bombarded with other offers from schools in other cities and countries, and you’ll have to decide if you’re ready for a new adventure. Check out the latest teach English abroad jobs

6. Practical Experience and Resume Enhancement

Your potential employer will be thrilled to view your resume having so many travels. It will play to your added advantage that you have multicultural experience and can bring ideas from all around the world for the progress of your future organization.


Teaching is itself a profession with a lot of purity and nobility attached to it. Going to a new place where you have never been and teaching people you have never met is kind of a roller coaster experience. At the end of all the hardships, it brings you memorable moments, more knowledge and self-awareness.