Challenges teachers’ face when teaching in native English speaking countries

Teaching English in an English-speaking country is an endeavour which brings with it unique challenges and for which you must be well prepared and ready for tough competition.

The main thing, which usually disadvantages foreign teachers who move to an English-speaking country to teach the language, is the high qualifications required to be considered for a proper English Teaching position. Not only this, but most of the openings require a lot of experience, which makes it very hard for new teachers to be able to secure a job in any serious institution. Nowadays, it is very common for young teachers to work online to get this experience. This has the added benefits that you can work from anywhere and accommodate yourself with the requirements of a modern classroom, the needs of a modern student and the management of a full curriculum.

With the advances in technology, online classroom is more and more being seen as a proper replacement for the in-person classroom and is one of the best ways to get the experience you need.

The high qualification requirements these institutions tend to have from the foreign teachers is the biggest barrier for anyone aspiring to move and teach English in places like the US, UK and Australia. This is done in order to filter the candidates and only accept “the best” ones. While this is not a written law, you should consider moving to these countries only after you have achieved some higher-level qualification and can prove by documentation your proficiency in English.

One other thing to consider, and this is as true for experienced teachers as for new ones, is the big cultural differences which can exist between your home country and the country you want to go. This usually results in big differences in the school system between these countries, in the curriculum, the way teachers communicate with students, the examination etc. While with time you will adapt to this new system, it will increase the difficulty of your job. These differences in the classroom and the way teaching is approached are usually small if you move from a western country but are huge and difficult to adapt to if you move from a non-western country, like Japan for example. Not only is the approach to teaching different but also the dynamics between the teacher and student can vary a lot. Teaching online to students from the country you plan to go to is a good way to familiarize yourself with the culture of the place and the mentality of your future students.

The grading system tends to change also, and if you have worked for some time in a country with a different grading system you need to learn the equivalence to each grade. We tend to organize our thought within a familiar system, so it is probable you will do the initial evaluation in your mind with the grading system you have used all your life. That is why it is important to learn to adapt this evaluation to the proper corresponding grade in the new system.

Your accent may be another barrier between you and your students in an English-speaking country. To overcome this, you need to learn to speak in a clear and easy to understand accent, and practice proper the pronunciation of the country you go to. Most people tend to adapt to the accent of the place they live, so this should be a problem only in the beginning. Nevertheless, it is one of the barriers you will face when teaching English in a foreign country.

As we see going to teach English in a place where everybody speaks the language is a tough journey and the challenges do not stop when you get the job. That is why proper research of the place you are going to, of its culture and of its education system is imperative.

But as always, the passion for learning and knowledge is all you need to become the best teacher, no matter the place!


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