The best and worst of international teaching

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Love the adventure, develop cultural understanding, extend your teaching skills, but miss your family. That’s what teachers who have been teaching overseas for several years are telling new recruits to international teaching.

International school recruitment specialist Teachers International Consulting (TIC) researched a broad group of experienced international teachers recently. The aim was to find out from seasoned teachers the best and the worst of teaching overseas.

Teachers of 13 different nationalities who have spent an average of ten years working in international schools were interviewed. 67% said the biggest overall impact of teaching overseas was gaining an understanding of many different cultures. 60% believed that the experience had significantly broadened their teaching skills and knowledge beyond what they would have achieved in their home country. Everyone said that they saw the experience as an adventure. As for the worst of teaching overseas, 37% said it was missing family and friends, 14% said it was the difficulty of initially making new friends in a new location, 8% said language barriers and another 8% said coping with cultural differences.

All respondents had moved jobs within the international school arena several times. Based on their experience of finding new jobs, 43% said they would use specialist recruitment organisations, 26% would use press and website advertising, and 26% would rely most on talking to colleagues at different international schools. Only 5% said they would now consider recruitment fairs. Everyone agreed that the best advice for new international teachers is to be open-minded.

The influx of new teachers into the international schools market has grown significantly. According to ISC Research, the organisation that analyses developments in the international schools market, since 2000 the number of staff in international schools has increased from 90,000 to almost 230,000. And this number is expected to rise with ISC Research predicting there to be 320,000 staff working in international schools by 2015 and 450,000 by 2020.

Andrew Wigford, director of Teachers International Consulting, said: “The majority of these people will come from English-speaking countries as this is the language for learning in international schools.

“Recruiters from most of the reputable and accredited international schools look for qualified teachers with good experience from English-speaking countries. United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand all have a particularly good reputation for their pedagogy and the learning-focused skills of their teachers.”

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