It is a chance to not only enhance your language skills but it will also build your character—something vastly important in growing up.
Teaching abroad is normally offered as part of a degree program when studying a language. This article will outline the 5 reasons to teach abroad for self-development because let's face it, teaching abroad isn't like any other study program; you are now required to be a teacher, not listen to the teacher.
1. Take You Out of Your Comfort Zone:
One of the biggest challenges when being in front of a classroom comes from the fact it takes you out of your comfort zone.
Studying or working abroad is a journey of escaping your safe place and being put into situations that will ensure self-development. Teaching a class for the first time is daunting. For you, for me, for that trained teacher too. Anyone and everyone will tell you that, so don't feel alone, because you are not, many teachers travel the world every year. Feeling awkward is bound to happen, embrace it with curiosity as a child does.
However, you will have a support system readily available to you: teachers are there for you and are always willing to help out if needs be.
The best way to step out of your comfort zone is to be you. Especially when it concerns teaching children, because they will test you. However, they will also make you laugh and smile, so just go with it. When I first taught children, they taught me curiosity and gratitude are the key factors to hold onto as we grow up. See it like this – you are teaching, but you are also learning from the children, the material and the experience itself because you are actively putting yourself out of your comfort zone to conquer fear.
Ask yourself: What do you have to offer these children? Why are you here? They understand you are not a trained teacher, but a student, so there is no need for the factor of comfort to cloud your confidence.
2. Become Aware of Weaknesses and Strengths:
Robin Sharma says: “Clearing up your weaknesses is one of the primary reasons we're here.” When arriving in an unknown destination with unfamiliar faces as well as a new language, it can take time to adjust. It is normal. Adjusting will shed light on your self-awareness and self-awareness comes from understanding your weaknesses and strengths. Teaching is a lesson in itself. You teach and you find your own ways that will work well with children, others not so good. It is a process.
Teach abroad for self-development because you will dig deep into your own weaknesses and strengths. But don't be distracted by what you're not good at, instead, become conscious of them and know that you can change to become a better teacher, person, student day by day. Focus on both your weaknesses and strengths, so you can not only thrive in the work experience, but it will become a life experience—that is the reason to teach abroad for self-development.
3. Conquer Your Fears:
If you are struggling with your weaknesses, it is OK. It can be a lot. Conquer your fears and find a balance to grow. Something that helped me when teaching abroad with no experience, then being thrown in at the deep end when teaching in a high school AND a primary school was completing my TEFL.
I highly recommend anyone looking to teach English as a foreign language to complete this comprehensive course because it provides you with all the rules, games and English lessons you can use to teach others and because of being accustomed to culture, friends and studying something else, you probably have forgotten most of these regulations if you are a native! This will take the fear away if that is something you're struggling with. Plus, with this qualification, you will be able to teach in different countries—pretty great, right? Not only will you be spreading the knowledge of your native tongue, but be able to travel at the same time. Teaching is rewarding, it is even more rewarding when realizing you are actually making a change and helping others in a foreign country come along and broaden their horizons!
Remember, the only way to conquer your fear is by being taken out of your comfort zone and reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses, then accepting and allowing them to further develop your character. Teach abroad for self-development, because facing fear is not something you do every day. We can easily divert from fear in normal student life and routine, but when in a foreign land with funny faces of children awaiting your native level of English to shower them with understanding, fear sets in. Tackle it by tuning in to your self-confidence. You will have a game or tac tic in class that works – keep going with it and feel confident in yourself. This way you will build your confidence and keep pursuing new ideas that will prove to be excelling in a classroom environment. Your fear might not go away, but you will become braver when you find your niche in teaching and realize that this type of putting yourself outside of your comfort zone can strengthen your personal development.
4. Build Your Confidence:
Teach abroad for self-development because confidence is key. Once overcoming fears, building your confidence will carry you further in self-development. Confidence lies inside the classroom as well as outside. Conversing with fellow teachers is also a great confidence booster and will allow you to grow. Be open and ready to listen—engage with not only children but teachers, the class materials, local culture—you will learn a lot. Standing in front of a class, playing games, building your own strategies in showing kids how to learn your language will all be a part of your own learning process. We are constantly receiving information from media, schools and even work, but we never get to exercise teaching and delivery of the content. Apparently we have been brain washed by a social construct in which we need to ask permission and be super qualified to teach, otherwise you can not teach. However, as everything in life, we learn from our environment, and we can’t stop that. Teaching abroad will most definitely build your confidence—no doubt about it. As long as you are ready to be open-minded and willing to learn as well as teach, you're set for success.
5. Cement Language Skills:
Don't forget the original reason you are in the country of choice—building your language, cultural, multicultural, self resilience skills. When teaching your language, it's easy to slip into speaking your native tongue because let's face it- people want to practice English. Any chance they are given, they will go for it. You must be persistent and determined to drive yourself in cementing language skills when teaching, too. See this as an opportunity to develop your language skills, both in your native tongue and where you are.
Teaching abroad for self-development require an open-mindset and a will to make an opportunity of a lifetime the best experience for yourself.
When teaching abroad twice, the first time as part of my degree and the second time as a graduate, I went with the British Council where they offer a program called the English Language Assistant-ship that will allow you to teach abroad for self-development. Without this opportunity, I wouldn't be the person I am today—it made me much more open, courageous and sure of myself.
Back in Seville, Spain, teaching a first year class.
Author: Grace Grossmann now resides in Berlin, providing services in writing and yoga. Follow Grace on Instagram for daily inspiration: @blessedbeyou