How to Make the Most of your Teaching Abroad Experience

You just landed a job abroad and you’re dying to get started working. This is the culmination of everything you’ve been working so hard for in the past few months, or even years. You have earned your certificate, found a job, and now you’re ready to begin.

You’ve read all the blog posts about teaching English in China, every article there is on how to deal with culture shock, and now you’re wondering how you can make every second in your new country count.

So what are a few ways that you can make the most out of every second? Check out these five tips.

Avoid Hanging Out With Expats

It’s natural when you arrive to a new country to feel the need to meet up with other foreigners and to form a community. However, when you become friends with expats, they’ll pull you into a community setting with other expats. Which is great, but it insulates you from the locals because you’re in a cocoon.

To make the most out of your teaching abroad experience, you need to get to know the locals. Develop a friendship with as many as you can so you don’t accidentally miss out on the culture altogether. Plus, the locals will know all the best spots to eat!

Understand That Time Is Going To Fly By

Time flies when you are teaching abroad. The first two weeks feel like they will never pass because you’re new to everything. As soon as you grow accustom to your new setting, life tends to speed up. Even if you’re teaching for a full year, don’t develop the mindset that makes you feel like it’s never going to pass.

Make sure to take every opportunity available to you. You can do this by looking into local events that are happening near you or by trying some new and exciting cuisine that you haven’t had before. See if you can find a way to make everyday a little bit of an adventure. Although, it is okay to take a personal day every now and then if you are missing home.

Talk Less; Listen More

Soak up as much of the culture as possible by talking less and listening more. By listening to those around you (if you have a shared language), it helps you to understand them, and as a result, to understand their culture.

Talking less and listening more is important to your students too. Do not discuss personal stories with your students unless you feel it can help them. To teach effectively, you must allow for as much open talking time as possible. This will help your students to develop their pronunciation and speaking skills. By sharing personal details, you’re limiting the amount of time that they can talk.

Find A Few Helpful Tools

There are plenty of apps and services that you can use in order to take advantage of every opportunity in your new country. For instance, you can begin to pick up the local language using a tool such as Duolingo or Babbel. Think of how rewarding it would feel to be able to use a few phrases or know conversational basics.

If you’re interested in making local friends and participating in local events, another great website to use is Couchsurfing. This website allows you to easily meet new people and to find out what’s happening near you.

Develop An Exit Strategy

There are two reasons to develop an exit strategy. The first reason is that it’s difficult to be comfortable while teaching ESL when you don’t know what your next life plan is. The second reason is that when you know what you want to do after life as an ESL teacher, you’re able to hone your skills for that goal.

Take some time and decide what job you would like to work after teaching abroad. Once you have made that decision, it will allow more time to make money, prepare for the future, and it will provide you with more overall comfort.

Teaching English abroad is a rewarding and life changing experience. You can take full advantage of this by understand what you would like to get out of your experience. Immerse yourself in the culture, live vibrantly in your new society, and you won’t miss out on a thing.

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