What You Should Know If It’s Your First Time Teaching English Abroad
Traveling is nerve-racking. Teaching is nerve-racking. Combining both of them is bound to make you a jumble of nerves! Even the most experienced teacher is questioning themselves before getting in front of a class in a different country. So, while you’re psyching yourself out in front of the mirror, just keep some of these things in mind:
Above all else, just relax and don’t forget to breathe! A happy energy will infect the whole classroom like a zombie apocalypse. Stay calm and confident, and the rest of the pieces will fall into place.
Dress to Impress
Be sure to know your audience first! Each culture will have a different idea of an appropriate dress code, and it’s important to adapt. Latin America might be more partial to laid back attire without power suits, ties or blazers. Whereas countries in the East will want teachers to dress full-out professionally yet modestly. Regardless, try not to be too flashy. When in doubt, copy off of your coworkers!
Say The Right Thing
Communicative styles vary cross-culturally. Western notions of free thinking, debate, and even sarcasm go over the heads of student in other countries. Be mindful of your topics! Raunchy jokes might be a hit in the boisterous and passionate Venezuela, but definitely not in the quiet and pensive Japan. Definitely steer clear of any controversial religious and political topics worldwide. Refrain from making things too personal. Basically, keep it simple and appropriate.
It all boils down to being a responsive and receptive teacher. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, just pay attention to what the students need from you. Say a classroom has been used to learning through memorization and lectures, you can try to stir the pot with some performance activities to see what cooks up. It’s better to start off in a neutral, blank slate, then gradually incorporate new concepts and see how students react. As long as you present the benefits of your methods, then they’ll be more open to them.
Have Rising Expectations
Most students will want to learn English, and they want to be taken seriously. When you set expectations, it will motivate students to reach their goals. Reinforce their knowledge by asking them to provide examples. Try not to single them out; rather, have them work together. The important thing is to continue challenging your students intellectually.
If anything, this list is just a guide to start thinking about the cultural implications of traveling. The rest of the world is completely different from what you’re used to, and that’s what makes it so worthy of exploring. Stay on your toes and open up your mind. Have you ever experienced culture shock? Tell us a story!