Should You Consider Teaching Abroad?

Teacher reads to students sitting on the floor raising their hands

Aspiring educators who have an adventurous spirit and an enduring desire to reach out to others might consider teaching abroad. Before you make a decision, consider what comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “teaching abroad.” Do you picture yourself leading South African girls in a singing activity? Do you see yourself teaching a large high school class in Japan or South Korea? If you decide to teach abroad, look for an opportunity that corresponds closely to your mental picture. You’ll be more satisfied with the overall experience if you’re immersed in a culture that you’re genuinely interested in.

Be Prepared for Significant Cultural Differences

Culture shock is a real phenomenon. It can be very disorienting to become suddenly immersed in a completely different culture, with different attitudes, expectations, and ways of doing things. It’s a bit like moving to a large city like New York City after having lived in a sparsely populated rural town for most of your life. Teachers who have successful experiences abroad tend to be those who are flexible and open-minded and who reserve judgment. To mitigate the culture shock, do as much research as you can about the culture of the country you’re headed to. Learning about cultural differences will also help you avoid inadvertently breaking any local taboos. If possible, try to converse with another teacher who has already taught in your destination country.

Know That You’ll Learn as Much as You’ll Teach

Of course, the intention of teaching abroad is to educate and inspire young minds. But don’t be surprised if you learn as much from your students as you teach them. Teaching abroad can be an incredibly enriching experience that cultivates personal growth. Some teachers who have spent time abroad say that they return home as more patient, understanding and relaxed individuals.

Learn to Look Past the Cultural Differences

Yes, it’s important to respect cultural differences so that you don’t step on any toes but remember to look past the differences now and then. The children you’ll teach really are just like kids anywhere else. Some of them love games, music, and sports. Some of them get anxious about their grades or their parents’ reactions to their grades. And some of them just can’t seem to stop talking about whichever pop star is currently trending. You’ll learn to connect with your students just as you would if you were teaching in America.

Consider Earning Your Master of Arts Degree in TESOL

If you do decide to head overseas after you graduate with your teaching degree, consider obtaining a Master of Arts degree or Graduate Certificate of Completion in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) first. A degree or certification will help you land your preferred job overseas. It will also help you develop a better understanding of how students can best learn English and which theories and practices will help you become a more effective teacher.

With a teaching degree from Grand Canyon University, you’ll be well-prepared to pursue a career in education wherever life takes you. Click on the Request More Information link at the top of your screen. You’ll find that we offer a rich array of degree programs to choose from—from theatre education to high school mathematics instruction.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.