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How Hard Can it Be to Teach English in a Foreign Country?

There are many opportunities available to teach English in other countries. Some of the ads make it sound like an easy job anyone with native English language skills can succeed at. However, that assumption may not be valid. In fact, teaching is a difficult occupation, no matter what the subject. Teaching English to second language learners in another country poses even more issues. Before agreeing to teach English abroad, consider some of the issues teaching English can include.

Most Teachers Are Not Fluent in the Host Country’s Language

Communication is an important element of teaching any subject and, since language is a major element of any communication, not speaking the host country’s language can pose problems for anyone wanting to teach English to native speakers. In addition, simply trying to shop or conduct business abroad is difficult when you do not understand the native language. Teaching candidates should not expect to have a great deal of time to learn the country’s language while there.

English Language Learners Don’t, as a Rule, Grasp the Language Easily

While very young children tend to learn second, or even third, languages easily, that innate ability disappears as people age. By the time individuals reach their teen or adult years, learning a new language is quite difficult. It’s a common misconception that second language learners will learn a new language simply by being exposed to it for long enough. To a certain degree, exposure is important. However, the nuances of languages, especially English, cannot be learned easily by watching television shows or other videos. High-quality lessons must accompany that exposure to introduce and explain nuances.

Not All Students Will Be Enthusiastic About Learning English

Some students will be enthusiastic learners, absorbing content and going to great lengths to grasp everything needed to become fluent English language speakers. On the other hand, there will be students who are less than avid learners. Anyone forced to learn a subject, especially something as difficult as English, may not have the best attitude. When the students do not wish to participate, it can be incredibly difficult to motivate them to learn English.

Teaching second language learners abroad can be very rewarding and, when considering the option, look carefully at all potential issues before simply jumping at the opportunity. Understand that teaching a language is difficult but, when approached properly, can be very rewarding to teachers and students alike.

About Liz Blake

Liz Blake is a language enthusiast who takes a special interest in linguistic anthropology and how language affects the way people interact and see the world. In her spare time she likes to read, garden, and most of all: travel!

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