10 Challenges When Teaching Abroad

Teaching abroad gives you an incredible chance to travel all over the world and immerse in different cultures.

Many people dream of having such a career, but challenges can often arise, especially if you’re new to the experience.

No matter how well you’ve mastered the local language or if you’ve obtained your TEFL certification, proper preparation is essential when traveling abroad.

Many educators find it daunting because everything, including the language and cultural standards, can be different.

By being open-minded about these new changes, you can adapt to them and turn these challenges into opportunities for growth. 

In this EDU Blog, we’ll go over 10 challenges educators often face while teaching abroad and how you can overcome them as a newbie educator.

What are the Challenges of Teaching Abroad?

1. Cultural Differences

Foreign educators may find cultural differences to be difficult, even though relocating to a new country can be thrilling. 

Remember, actions that seem appropriate in one culture might be disrespectful or embarrassing in another.

Before traveling, it’s a good idea to speak with experienced international educators who can answer teaching and cultural questions.

By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to handle any challenges and have a more fulfilling experience teaching abroad.

2. Language Barrier

Learning a new language may be necessary if you move abroad to teach and connect with coworkers and locals.

Even though learning a new language can be challenging and time-consuming, it can also be a rewarding experience.

This kind of experience can help you better understand the local culture and establish stronger bonds with your students.

By embracing the change and staying positive, you’ll be able to overcome the language barrier and have a more fulfilling experience teaching abroad.

3. Isolation and Loneliness

When you imagine teaching abroad, it’s easy to picture a dreamy life full of exciting adventures and endless travel opportunities.

However, the reality may be more complex, and building a fulfilling life outside of your job may take some effort.

It’s also common to feel lonely sometimes, especially if you’re in a different time zone than your family back home.

Whether trying new activities or attending social events, taking the initiative to connect with others can help you build a sense of community.

It can also make your time teaching abroad more meaningful and enjoyable.

4. Unconventional Hours

It’s essential to remember the working hours and schedule requirements of the schools you’re considering.

Depending on your school’s type, they may require you to work on Saturdays, in the evenings, or late into the night.

5. Disciplinary Hindrances

Another challenge for educators teaching abroad is classroom management and discipline. Adapting to local customs is also essential.

It’s important to understand that different countries and cultures may have varying levels of acceptable behavior in the classroom.

To tackle this challenge, observing and learning from local educators and incorporating some of their strategies into your classroom management techniques is helpful.

Be patient with yourself and your students, and keep an open mind to new approaches to classroom management.

6. Bored Students

As an educator in a foreign country, worrying about how your students will perceive you is natural.

While you might receive plenty of compliments during orientation, remember that your students’ enthusiasm can quickly wane if you’re not teaching topics that interest them.

However, there are ways to make your lessons more exciting and engaging for your students.

For example, take some time to research the local culture.

Use the first lesson or two as an introduction to share your interests and learn more about your students’ hobbies and passions.

Creating a simple “interests” worksheet can also help you tailor your lessons to your student’s interests throughout the year.

7. Change of Weather

When teaching abroad, you must be aware of the different climates you may encounter.

If you’re accustomed to a colder climate and teach in a tropical country, adjusting to the heat and humidity may take some time.

You may also need to adjust your daily routine to avoid being outdoors during the hottest part of the day. Understandably, adapting to a new climate can take time.

With a positive attitude and a willingness to adapt, you can overcome this challenge and fully enjoy your teaching experience abroad.

8. It Can Be Pressurizing

Many countries take education very seriously, and it’s important to remember that.

Fortunately, many resources are available to help you overcome the challenges of teaching abroad.

Moreover, for those who are creatively inclined, the freedom to design your lesson plans can be an exciting opportunity.

With this freedom, you can craft a unique and memorable learning experience for your students.

Overall, teaching abroad may require hard work and effort.

However, the rewards of making a difference in the lives of your students and immersing yourself in a new culture are well worth it.

9. Feeling Like an Outsider

As a foreigner, you may stand out physically and linguistically, sometimes making you feel like an outsider.

Although some people may stare or make comments that are difficult to understand, most are simply interested in learning more about you.

As a foreign educator, you have a unique role in bridging cultural divides and promoting understanding between different communities. 

With an open mind and an outward personality, you can make the most of this exciting opportunity to teach abroad.

10. Lack of Support

One of the biggest challenges for educators who move abroad to teach is the need for more support. 

A lot of people expect to have a network of other people to assist them.

In reality, the on-the-ground staff can be scarce and spread thin, making it challenging to get the support needed.

To overcome this challenge, you must choose a reputable teach-abroad program that someone has reviewed and that has a proven track record.

Remember that support can come from various sources.

There are online forums and groups that allow you to connect with other educators who have been in your shoes.

Final Thoughts

Educators need to prioritize self-care. It’s easy to neglect your own needs while focusing on your students and job duties.

Living and working in a foreign environment can be challenging.

Seeking support from other educators and locals can also help ease the stress of teaching abroad.

Remember, taking care of yourself ultimately helps you better care for your students and succeed as an educator.

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