Hey yall hey! If you are one of my old-time besties then you probably know my background story and how I started my teaching journey abroad. If you are new here, let me briefly catch you up on what makes me an authority in sharing the truth about teaching abroad.
I’ve lived and taught abroad for a total of 7 years. I began my international teaching career in Germany and have spent most of my time in the Middle East teaching as a PE teacher. During my 7+ years I’ve taught at 4 different schools in the government, private and public sectors. After navigating my way through international education I’m pretty seasoned in the game and consider myself an expert in sharing expat experiences.
Teaching abroad has been such a dope and unique experience. I highly recommend teaching abroad to anyone who is able to at least try it once. If you are interested in how you can apply for teaching jobs, check out my post on How to Snag A Job Teaching Abroad
Although I dedicate a majority of my content to spreading the gospels of life abroad, one of my followers asked me “What’s the real about teaching abroad? It can’t all be great.” And the answer is…it’s not. And as your expat expert, I want to make sure I share everything with you. The good, the bad, and the in-between. It is my hope that after sharing everything I know, you will, when making a decision to teach abroad, have plenty to go by .
Truths Nobody Shares About Teaching Abroad
YOU MAY BE ASKED TO TEACH A DIFFERENT SUBJECT
I know, I know. How sway? How can someone hire me to teach a subject and expect me to teach something I am not certified in. Well, there are teacher shortages GLOBALLY. And although teachers move in droves to teach abroad, circumstances happen that require you to be flexible. I’ve met international teachers who have moved to teach science and been asked to teach history for example. Or if you are from a native English-speaking country, you may be asked to teach English, even though you are a PE teacher. The point of it all is that when you decide to teach abroad, flexibility is key. You aren’t expected to move mountains but giving an effort even if you are not familiar with the territory is required. If you are intimidated by this possibility, then you may want to rethink the decision.
TEACHING SOMEONE A SECOND LANGUAGE IS TOUGH
You don’t realize how fast you talk, how much of an accent you have, and how many RULES the English language imposes . And don’t get me started on the difficulties of explaining the human anatomy when you have no idea how to say heart, lungs, or biceps in another language. It can be exhausting!! Essentially, you learn to live with and love it but it takes patience….lots of it!
If you are a noncertified ESL teacher like myself, you will find difficulties in the classroom on the most basic levels. Sometimes, struggling to break the language barrier all while guiding students to mastery levels in your subject. Prior to teaching abroad we often do not have the full grasp of what teaching ESL will look and feel like. Once entering a country some teachers even lack the materials to make learning easy. Be prepared for this if you decide to teach abroad. Just know that although difficult it can be done.
TRAVEL MAY NOT BE ENOUGH TO TEACH ABROAD
I’ve traveled to over 30 countries while living abroad and it has been amazing…BUT please understand that those vacations come at a cost. Just like in America teachers work a 5 day week and have weekends holidays and summers off. In the grand scheme of things, this is great! But, is it worth uprooting your life, leaving your family behind, and changing your environment? For some, yes, traveling would make this totally doable. But I urge you to consider how you will cope on the weekends, holidays, and summers that you don’t travel.
YOU ARE TEACHING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Most people may say “I can teach in any situation.” And this in most cases may be true, but teaching at another school in your county, state or country is totally different. When you teach at home you become accustomed to the students learning styles, behavior, and culture of the classroom. When you teach abroad more than likely, you are in a totally new environment that is different than what you are accustomed to. Unlike teaching in your native country, teaching in a new country may bring on emotional discomfort. This shift in comfort could develop from cultural shifts, behavioral differences, or any minor change.
When you move to another country, you have to prepare for the fact that not only are the students different, the laws are different, the culture of education is different. You have to expect the unexpected. Know your role and your rights. In some countries yelling at students is discipline while in others it may be against the law. It may seem far-fetched but these are important factors to consider. Operating out of your comfort zone requires preparation. There is power in knowing that you can never totally prepare for every circumstance that may arise. But, knowing what you are facing puts you ahead of the game.
PREPARE BEFORE YOU COMMIT
All in all, the truth is, teaching abroad is just not for everybody! Social media makes everything look like an advertisement for “IF I CAN DO IT YOU SHOULD TOO!!” And similar to most things, that is NOT THE CASE!! Take your time when deciding if you want to live abroad, you deserve that. And never forget that you can ALWAYS ask your travel bestie and expat expert!
If you decide that you are ready to take the leap and teach or live abroad, check out my book My Journey Abroad: The Ultimate Workbook to Starting a Life Abroad.
TAKE THE WORLD