What You Didn’t Know About Teaching Abroad

So you have been thinking about traveling abroad to teach– that’s great! You have taken your first step in the process: research. As usual, I will herald that everybody will have their own experience wherever they are.

classroomWith that being said, there are a number of things that you should prepare yourself for before you make the big move. Here are some things you didn’t know about teaching abroad:

1. Noise

They have parades for various God’s birthdays that can be quite loud and long. You will hear them throughout your class sometimes. These parades include drums, Chinese flute, dancers, and singers. There are also announcements over the loudspeakers that echo throughout the city. And you might even need to stop for the trash truck’s song if it’s too loud.

2. Supplies

Your school should be providing you with the basic materials you will need for your classes (giant dice, sticky balls, flashcards etc) But you might want to purchase some of your own school supplies with your own money if you want to get creative.

3. Alone time

One thing you should get used to is working independently. Management style is different in Asian cultures and you shouldn't expect too much help. Click To TweetYour co-teacher might leave the room for undetermined amounts of time so be prepared for being left alone with a number of kids who don’t speak English.

4. Communication

Not everybody has a basic understanding of the English language. Some of the children’s parents might not speak English that well either. If you want to write something to them you might not be able to. It is best to discuss this with your co-teacher (if you have one).

5. Unpaid work

As with every teaching position (whether it is back home or in a foreign country) you will have some extra work that might not be paid. A lot of teaching positions will only pay you for your teaching time, the extra time you spend lesson planning and grading papers is all part of being a teacher. You should make your peace with this early on if you want to be a teacher, all teachers end u as schools are not going to change their whole system for one individual.

6. Classroom management

‘Buxiban’ schools are always their own separate beasts. Every class is its own separate beast. You are the king/queen of the classroom– whatever you say is law. (But, feel free to change the law as well).

7. Creepy crawlies

There are little creatures that slip into the school that you might be charged with eliminating at times. Things like cockroaches, spiders the size of your hand, and geckos. Don’t freak out! Spin this into an educational opportunity, teach the students the English word for the bug and quietly remove it.

Making a big deal of it will only teach your students that it is something to fear and you will have mayhem the next time one pays a visit.

8. Teaching aids

Some schools have really great technology to help you teach, some do not. You might be making copies of workbooks at some schools. You might be utilizing journals and recycled paper at times.

9. Be engaging

Sometimes the children are just children. Sometimes they are not super studious. They might not even consider the buxiban to be a real classroom either as they are coming to your class after a hard day at public school.

You will have to get creative on classroom management and always be on your toes; thinking and trying new things.

10. Finding an apartment

You might be on your own when it comes to finding an apartment. There are a lot of good sites for apartment hunting, but you might need to ask for help– look to your fellow teachers at your school, the management at your hostel, or online to secure a proper place to stay.

Sometimes landlords are wary of renting to foreigners, especially if they don’t speak the same language. Also, landlords can decide who they want to rent to; if they want only women at their apartment, there will be only women.

11. Getting around

You might be on your own to find transportation to and from work– you will definitely be on your own in finding transportation elsewhere. You’ve heard taxis are cheap but trying to tell them where you want to go can be a pickle.

Try to write down addresses for them and ALWAYS have important addresses, (like your apartment), written down on your person somewhere in case you get lost.

Those are just a few things you might not have known about teaching abroad. If you are like me, though, you will learn something new every day. I used to think nothing would surprise me anymore, but now I know there will always be room for new surprises.

face1 (1)Michaela left her small town in the flat cornfields of Iowa in April of 2015 to explore the world before becoming condemned to a desk in an IT corporation. She has been teaching at Hess International English school in Taipei, Taiwan and shopping, hiking, and eating her way through the foreign streets. She has traveled alone and encountered many interesting experiences and hopes to aid others traveling alone as well.

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