4 Challenges of Teaching English Abroad

Teaching in a foreign country is exciting and challenging in equal measure. As with any new adventure, teaching abroad offers new perspectives and variables you wouldn’t think to consider. It’s not easy, but it is rewarding.

In this post, you’ll discover common challenges of teaching abroad and how to overcome them. 

Classroom Management 

One challenge teaching nomads face is the difference in classroom management. In the US, there is a system that integrates new teachers. You start by being a teaching assistant and observing classrooms. Eventually, you’re assigned to your own classroom. 

Well, not all countries follow this procedure for new teachers. While some school systems have an orientation and observation period, it’s not uncommon for either to be cut short or to not exist at all. 

Prep ahead of time by taking some courses, volunteering to get classroom practice, and familiarizing yourself with the lesson plan ahead of time. The more you can prepare before travel, the better you’ll be able to handle unforeseen variables.

Cultural Differences

Moving to a country different from what you’re used to is…well…different. You can count on new and interesting surprises from body language to holy days to highway systems as an international teacher.

Behaviors you may find harmless could be interpreted as rude or embarrassing to a student depending on the teacher-student dynamics. For example, you may discover it is more appropriate to correct a student’s mistake one-on-one vs. in front of the entire class. The dynamic can be challenging to pin down because education systems and styles differ from region to region within a single country.

The best preparation for this challenge is to learn as much about the culture as possible. Learning the language can also reduce the time it takes to adapt. Speak with other foreign teachers about their styles of management and their best tips for adapting. Speaking to experienced international educators before traveling can help answer any important teaching and curriculum questions as well.


Being away from family, friends, and a familiar environment is challenging for anyone. International teachers often remark about the difficulty of settling into a new environment and being away from loved ones. And feeling lonely can add stress to an already stressful experience.

Combat this challenge by meeting with the other international teachers. Also, discover the local activities for adults like sports and socializing. The sooner you establish new roots, the easier it will be to acclimate to your new life.

Lack of Supplies

There are budgets and donation drives for school supplies to serve students and school systems in the US. However, you may not have any supportive resources in some international locations if your students need more supplies. Though it can make activities difficult, you get to be more creative with your lesson planning.

If you are good at making things, using recycling or found items is a great option. In some cases, creating a lesson plan that doesn’t involve extra materials may be the most helpful.

If there is one thing international teachers all agree on about teaching abroad, it’s that it’s an unmatched experience that makes you more resilient. You learn to trust and believe in yourself in new ways and your ability to tackle any challenge. So, the best advice for teaching abroad? Expect the unexpected. At Teaching Nomad, we compile resources and information to ensure that you feel supported and prepared in your new role. Find your next great teaching position today.


Recover your password

Send us your email and we will send you instructions to reset your password

If you remember your password