6 Ways Teaching English Abroad Will Change Your Life

Author: 
Molly Porth, Professional Leadership Exchanges Program

Living abroad is a life-changing experience, comparable to none. You will be immersed in a new culture, testing your limitations, and expanding your knowledge. One of the best ways to invest in yourself while living abroad is through teaching English. Not only will you be learning immensely about yourself and your potential, you will also be changing the lives of the students you teach. Below are 6 ways teaching abroad will change your life.

6 Ways Teaching English Abroad Will Change Your Life

1. Be an expert and a newbie all at once

There are few instances in life in which you are simultaneously playing the part of an experienced educator and wide-eyed student. One moment you are exploring a new country and culture, trying to find the right bus to get to school or pick up medication while speaking a foreign language; the next moment you are standing in the front of the classroom—all eyes on you—guiding your students in the quest for bilingualism. The combination of being a foreigner and a respected professional makes for a unique immersion experience. You are not only exploring the country as a tourist, but becoming part of the community through the greater purpose of language education.

2. Personal growth

Speaking of mastering public transportation in a foreign language, as an English teacher in a foreign country you will face many challenges, from daily tasks to homesickness and culture shock. However, when you inevitably overcome the culture shock curve, with the help of your incredibly supportive local community you will experience growth and a newfound open-mindedness. You will become more adaptable and flexible than you ever thought possible. After that night of sleeping in the bus station during a weekend excursion, that 30 minute Amtrak delay will be a walk in the park.

3. Professional development

Speaking of adaptability and flexibility, employers are learning more and more that the soft skills are what make the difference in employees. With teach abroad experience under your belt, you will demonstrate invaluable skills on your resume. Think: communication, social skills, willingness to take risks, leadership, second language skills and independence. And for your next job interview, that time you had to teach idioms the day the electricity went out… how about that for overcoming obstacles?

4. Connection

Are you wondering what it is that will get you through those bouts of homesickness and culture shock? Undoubtedly, it will be through experiencing the generosity and warmth of your adopted culture. I promise that you will be surprised and moved time and time again by the kindness of your students and fellow teachers. And this new network of colleagues and friends will last for the rest of your life. Besides the local community, you will find other like-minded foreigners and expats who will give you just the taste of home you need around Thanksgiving and Super Bowl Sunday.

5. See the world!

Maybe this is the most obvious way that teaching abroad will change your life. Who could say no to an expense-paid opportunity to live in a new corner of the world and experience the joys of adventure? You will gain a new global perspective and memories that will last forever. At the very least, a darn good scrapbook. Or Facebook album, whichever you prefer.

6. Serve and change lives

It’s more than verb conjugations and grammar. It’s the human connection, the lasting relationships that you will build in the classroom and your local community. It’s the difference you will make in the lives of your students. It is the increased economic opportunities your students will have access to as a result of speaking English in this globalized world; it’s the benefits your students will reap from having a bilingual mind and being exposed to a new culture through their gringa English teacher. It’s your own sense of cultural pride that you will rediscover while living in a foreign country.

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Interested in opportunities to teach abroad with Partners of the Americas? Check out the Partners Language Programs page for more information on our work in bilingualism.

Ready to apply? Recruitment for our Panama Teacher Match summer 2016 program begins in December 2015! Click here for more information, Join the Partners mailing list, or like our Facebook page for updates.

Still not convinced? Read blog posts from former Teacher Match participants about their own life-changing experiences here and here.

Email exchanges@partners.net for more information.

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