Sometimes I wonder what the biggest challenge is in teaching abroad. And there are a lot of them believe me! Some of these challenges are completely different from those I had to face as a teacher in Brazil. And yes, being a teacher abroad can be a perfect journey to take if you are living abroad. Just take the challenge, if you feel like it!
I did not choose to be a teacher, I was chosen to teach. Meaning, my English teacher at that time asked me if I wanted to be trained as a teacher while I was studying English in a language school where I used to live. I accepted it straight away. And the payment of my classes helped me get my first proficiency certificate in English. It also helped me gain confidence as an English as a second language speaker. It changed my life completely.
But if I had not taken that route, I would never have continued my journey of teaching abroad. I went through several language schools, I also was a private tutor in Brazil. And it was in a classroom that I knew the limits of the students and understood that each of them has weak and strong points as students. Something critical to becoming a teacher. And it was like this when I started teaching outside Brazil too.
So, here’s what I have learnt from my own experience as a teacher abroad:
1- Is qualification important?
I believe you have to qualify to find better opportunities as a teacher. Fortunately, we can study online nowadays. So, there is no excuse for not seeking more knowledge. All you need is a computer, internet and some spare time during the week to study. This year, I took my TOEFL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certificate and now I’m studying to become a Teaching Assistant – LEVEL 3. These courses are great for those who do not have much time to study. It’s definitely a fundamental step for being a ESL speaker. There are plenty of other certificates to consider as well.
2- E-learning is on the way
It was here in England that I realised this huge demand for online teachers. But many schools over the world are looking for qualified e-learning teachers. You need to go through interviews and training until you get some lessons. But there is a growing demand from students in countries like China and Japan wanting to learn English online. You just need to sort your fast internet connection and willingness to face some different time zones.
3-Teaching one to one at home
Private lessons are also highly requested. And in this case, I also teach Portuguese to foreigners. There is nothing better than providing lessons in the comfort of your home, escaping the rush of commuting life. This type of work pays better, but you must remember that some students need only some lessons in a short period, for example. So, it works more like freelance job sometimes.
4- Embrace the culture
It doesn’t matter where you are going to teach or which kind of language you are going to teach. It’s important to embrace the local culture to make the students feel welcomed as well. Trying to learn some expressions in the local language make students more comfortable in the classroom. Not to mention that, communication must be always improved when teaching. It is not my case, but some teachers have to move abroad and face the challenges of teaching in a non-English speaking country. The cultural differences are huge. But if you embrace the culture, life is going to be easier outside and inside the classroom.
5- Be patient!
Every student is different. They have different paces to learn and most of the time you just get it, when you start teaching. But don’t give up or take things very personal. The biggest challenge of being a teacher is understanding the student’s needs. Overcoming it is the first and only step to achieve success as a teacher.