Adjusting to Life While Teaching English Abroad
14 June 2012
In the first few days or even weeks of teaching English abroad
it can all feel very strange. You shouldn't panic and hop on the
first flight back home though, a little culture shock is very
normal and in fact mandatory if you are visiting the unknown. Once
you have settled into your teaching job and have familiarized
yourself with your surroundings you'll forget you ever faltered.
Follow our tips to help you adjust to your new life teaching
Explore and familiarize
Get you bearings by leaving your apartment to walk around your
local area. By simply exploring the area just outside your doorstep
you will be able to familiarise yourself with the local way of
life. Take a map with you and mark down spots you want to re-visit.
At first your main objective may be to find out where the local
food shop, post office and bank are. As you grow in confidence you
will want to travel further a field and literally see what lies
around the next corner.
Learn the local lingo
A basic grasp of the local language will do wonders for your
confidence. All though you are not required to be fluent in another
language to teach English abroad, it will certainly help if you
have command of the basics. You will be surprised how easily and
quickly you pick up the language once you are fully immersed in the
country. The long term reward is returning home with a new language
skill on top of a host of other stories and experiences to
Meet new people
Meeting and getting to know the local people is a great way to
learn about the culture of the country in which you are working.
Don't be surprised if you find people coming up to you in the
street and starting a conversation - everyone wants to test out
their English skills! Remember that they too will want to learn
about you and your culture and something as simple as a postcard
from home can be a fantastic piece of "realia" to use in
the TEFL classroom to get your students talking. One of
the joys of TEFL teaching is that is gives you a real
insight into a different culture and many of the friendships you
create will last a lifetime.
Sample the cuisine
Trying new food can be one of the best parts of travelling and
teaching abroad. Be adventurous. Who knows when will be the next
you'll get to sample such strange and exotic delicacies! It's
almost guaranteed that when you get home you will be raving about
one particular food item you greatly miss.
Remember that when you travelling abroad you owe it to the
country you are visiting to remain respectful of their laws and
traditions and avoid causing offence. Keep an open mind and stay
aware of different cultural and religious practices. It is also
worth remembering that that you are acting as an "ambassador" of
your own country; you don't want your actions to reflect poorly on
your country in the eyes of locals.
If you follow this rough guide you shouldn't find any problem in
adjusting to life in a new country. Good luck!