Happy Teachers in 2017

We have had a record-breaking year so far in 2017, placing more teachers than ever in some amazing locations. Our Recruitment Advisers have enjoyed getting to know each and every one of them, and sharing in their joy when they received that dream offer. In this week’s blog, we look at some inspiring feedback from a few of the teachers we have helped on their international adventure this year.

 

Harriet Kilvington-ShawHarriet is moving to Hong Kong!

“I uploaded all my details to the teacher horizons site. Then I had a short chat with Anisha about what I was looking for and who would be coming with me. Having completed this process it was really easy, as I could just say that I wanted to go for a job without having to fill in endless applications again. This is great when you are really busy with your current job at the same time!

Using Teacherhorizons was great because it took the tediousness out of applications. You just have to focus on making one good application for the site and from that, they can recommend you to many schools. You also have someone to help you chase up schools if they are being slow getting back to you.

I am so excited to move to a bigger school and live in Hong Kong.”

Check out the schools we work with in Hong Kong.

 

Donna WatsonDonna is coming to join us here in Cambodia!

“The Teachehorizons website was great to spark my interest in the opportunities that exist all over the world. It provided a lot of information on the school, the country and other details too. The response time was very fast and the registration process couldn’t have been easier.

Tiffany from Teacherhorizons was the most amazing support. She was friendly and approachable and was happy to talk through my thinking and provide assistance in links or other people to speak to. She was quick to respond and was fair in trying to sort things out between schools and me. She took a real interest in me as a person and finding the best place for me, not just finding me a job.

I am now looking forward to working in a positive environment in a beautiful country.”

Everyone in Cambodia is smiling, have a look here! Or read this blog about teaching here.

 

 

Chris SaundersChris is going to teach in China!

“My Recruitment Adviser, Maggie, was amazing. She had great knowledge of the area and the schools and she made me feel very comfortable and confident from our first email to our skype call and after that. TH worked really hard promoting my CV and getting me an interview at a wonderful school in Eastern China.

I recommend using Teacherhorizons 100 percent times 50. I have mentioned them to many of my current colleagues so that they can benefit from the excellent service.

The move can’t come quick enough, I would start tomorrow ideally. Every day I’m thinking about my family and our new life in China, watching YouTube videos about the local area and doing some light reading. I have also starting to plan some new projects to teach when I get there.”

Read more about working in China. 

 

 

Melissa Diehl (1)Melissa is moving to Lebanon!

“Caroline from Teacher Horizons went above and beyond, helping me identify appropriate roles and counselling me in times of doubt! I felt a high degree of professionalism that I haven’t experienced with any other agency. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to her for her patience and support throughout this process.

I would recommend Teacherhorizons to other educators, because of their positive and encouraging approach to teacher recruitment. I feel confident that they are representing excellent schools and they have the teachers’ best interest in mind.

I can’t wait to work in Lebanon, in an intellectually challenging environment with forward thinking educators.”

Want to join Melissa? Have a look at schools in Lebanon. 

 

 

 

If you’re inspired, then why not browse our latest jobs in South America, Asia or Europe? Visit more of our happy teachers blogs to read more testimonials and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries.

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Expat feedback: The truth about life in El Salvador

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, but has one of the biggest reputations. It is well known for its high crime rate, and gang violence headlines dominate your computer screen when you search it on Google. However, beneath this reputation there are luscious mountains and vast rainforests, broad valleys wedged between incredible volcanoes, and black-sand beaches with perfect surf.

So what is it really like there? Which of these two sides of El Salvador wins out? We asked one of our teachers, Matthew Sytsma, a few questions to find out.

 

Where are you teaching and what is it like to teach over there?

I live in San Salvador and work at The American School of El Salvador (Escuela Americana). I’ve worked here for 5 years now and have almost all good things to say about the school and the country. The students here are great, the only behavioural “issue” is general chattiness, but that is a very manageable problem. As in any school, there are dedicated students who perform well in all their courses, and the other “half” you need motivate with creativity and positivity. All of the students are generally good kids with positive intentions. They want to get to know you and are eager to have meaningful discussions in class.

 

What is the city like? Is there an expat scene? What do you do in your free time?

Life in El Salvador is AMAZING! There is so much to do. The American School community has been great every year so far.. The current community has people with many different interests: from Dungeons and Dragons, to serious biking, to surfing, to ultimate frisbee, to travel, etc.

I feel safe living here. The neighborhood for international teachers is gated off from the school and has its own guards protecting the gate from the street. The school and housing are located in a very safe and beautiful neighborhood. The community is enriched by the very large US Embassy that is a 10 minute drive from the school, where a group of us play ultimate frisbee twice a week. There is also a great community of international teachers working at the British School, 10 minutes away. Between the American School, The British School, and the US Embassy, plus all of the other expats here for various other jobs, the community is great.

El Salvadorans are also some of the most welcoming people in the world. You will feel accepted immediately pretty much anywhere you go. I had the opportunity to play American football with a group of local El Salvadorans, some of my friends from the British school also joined a local rugby team. There are local cultural events such as a fireball throwing celebration in Nejapa and a day of the dead (they call it “La Calabiuza”) celebration in Tonacatepeque among many others.

Another happy teacher, Eldon Pascoe moved to Mexico! Read his first impressions here.

 

Atardecer_-_Salinitas_El_Salvador
Which tourist sites or must-visit places are nearby?

El Salvador has a little bit of everything and its all within 3 hours (most much closer). There are great volcano hikes (the best is Santa Ana), there are beautiful crater lakes (Lago de Coatepeque and Lago Ilopango), there are beautiful rainforests (Imposible National Park), excellent camping/hiking (Montecristo), Mayan Ruins (Tazumal), and some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever see (Punta Mango, El Zonte, etc).

There are so many things to do in El Salvador too. It is probably the best country in the world to learn to surf. The water is warm, the waves are consistent, there are no sharks and the crowds are much smaller than in the rest of the world. Our expat group gets together over many weekends to rent out a beach/lake house. (The best one is at the surf point “Punta Mango”).

 

What is the climate like? Is there any extreme weather? If so, how do you deal with it?

It feels like summer all year round. There is a dry season (November – May) and a rainy season (June – October). During the rainy season it rains pretty consistently in the late afternoon, but the rest of the day is still sunny. Overall, amazing climate compared to most places in the world.

What is the food like? Is international food available? Have you tried any unusual local dishes?

The local food is pupusas (tortillas packed with ingredients in the middle), eggs, chicken, rice, local cheese, plantains, etc. It’s a tropical climate so you get all the fruit and veggies that typically go with that.

There is also a decent amount of other international options at a relatively cheap price. There are some good German restaurants, Indian food, Italian, Sushi, etc.

 

How is the culture different from your home culture? Have you experienced any culture shock?

The biggest culture shock for me is always when I go back to the US. People are extremely nice and genuine here. You feel welcomed and are treated like you are special. Going back to the US people seem more stressed, less genuine, and as if they care less about others.

You will read a lot about gangs and violence in the news about El Salvador. The news is all true and it is very sad that ugly things are happening in parts of this beautiful country. Know however, that El Salvador is very clearly split into safe areas and not safe areas. There are a few places you do not ever want to go to in El Salvador, but most of the country is safe compared to other countries, even those with better reputations right next door. In my five years here I have never been robbed or heard any gun shots. The crime in El Salvador is gang related and rarely comes in contact with expats or tourists. I have heard many horror stories of robbings in Guatemala and Honduras, but very few in El Salvador. Again, it is horrific what the gangs are doing to the local poor and marginalized population, but those problems have not yet affected expat life in the country.

Another of our teachers comments on the culture in Quito, Ecuador.

 

What’s the cost of living like? Are you able to save money?

It’s really cheap living in El Salvador, and it helps that the school sets you up with a house. The only cheaper country I’ve come across in Central America is Nicaragua.

Are there any drawbacks to living in your city? What kind of person would not be suited to this location?

There’s a big drawback if you are the kind of person who just goes home after work and stays there. The coolest things to do in El Salvador are outside of the city (there are some great things inside the city during the week that I mentioned before as well). For this reason either having a car, or having a close friend with a car is vital, as the public transportation isn’t very safe.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of coming to live and work in your current location?

Come with an adventurous spirit and you won’t be disappointed. This school and this country has a ton to offer if you come with a positive attitude and are willing to throw yourself out there a bit.

Having written this I’m confused as to why I’m leaving… You would not regret coming to this beautiful country with its wonderful, welcoming people, and vast array of things to do. You would fall in love with it, and be happy in your work. I would full heartedly recommend working in El Salvador to my closest friends and family.

So perhaps, in fact, El Salvador could be Central America’s most underrated country! Are you keen to see for yourself? Why not browse schools and check out our current vacancies? You will have to be signed in to see them in full. Sign up to Teacherhorizons here!

Written by Matthew Sytsma, a dedicated educator, who has been teaching Politics, History and Geography at Escuela Americana in El Salvador for five years.

We asked our teachers… “Tell me something you have learned”

At Teacherhorizons we love to get feedback from teachers about their experiences all over the world. We recently sent out a questionnaire to get some of this inside scoop. In various blogs throughout the next few months I am going to share with you some stories, some ups and downs and some true thoughts and feelings which have come directly from international teachers. I hope that these blogs will help answer your questions, perhaps give you the confidence to take the plunge, or at the very least, provide an interesting read.

This week I am going to let you in on some responses to: “Tell me something you have learned from teaching internationally that you wouldn’t have learned from teaching in your own country”.

 

globe“I have learned that education can be enjoyed by teachers and by pupils, and that school and learning can be seen by children as a choice rather than as an obligation. There doesn’t need to be so much pressure and stress put on staff and pupils.  I feel that this could be achieved easily if assessment was more formative.”

“I have learned just how small the world is. Teaching is teaching anywhere, just with a few differences in the syllabus or  teaching methods, and these are great things to learn from and reflect on.”

“Teaching abroad has given me more enthusiasm than I ever had back home, and I have learned that enthusiasm is infectious. It can make a difference to the atmosphere and morale within your classroom and within your department. When things are not going well, I have learned to avoid gossiping or sharing negativity. Try to be frank but think about when and how to convey issues especially to those in leadership.”

Have a think about these 10 reasons to teach internationally.

 

clapping

“I have learned that US spelling and punctuation rules are very different to those in the UK!”

“You learn so much from teaching abroad. It is much easier to become a learner yourself (which is important for teachers!). You see new things every day, and that is thought provoking, inspiring and life affirming. You think about new things, meet new kinds of people and see things from new perspectives. I think teaching abroad helps teachers keep an open mind – something that can get harder for everyone as they get older.”

“I have learned that children are far more resilient than we give them credit for.”

Click here to sign up to Teacherhorizons (it takes just 60 seconds but may change your life!)

 

 

laughing children

“I have learned that kids are the same all over the world. They mostly want to be happy and have fun and laugh with/at their teachers! They also all genuinely enjoy learning (even though some pretend not to) if they are taught well.”

“I have learned how important it is to see new things, get inspired and keep an open mind. Teachers at home suffer from stress and burnout – not just because it’s often tough but because they don’t have an open mind. Teaching abroad can be a welcome break for many teachers. Even if it’s for just a couple of years, they can return home and bring a fresh approach to their teaching.”

 

 

Please feel free to comment below, or to contribute to our teacher questionnaire by clicking here and answering the questions. I would love to use your answers in our next blog!

 

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Top tips for selling your teaching experience at interview.

Congratulations! All the work that went into updating your CV and completing your profile has paid off. You’ve made it through the shortlisting, and have been invited for an interview at your dream school. Now, with the chance of a job offer within reach, it’s up to you to make sure that you nail the interview, and land that dream job!

 

Interviews are the time for you sell yourself and your teaching experience; to show the interviewer that their school cannot possibly pass up this opportunity to take you on on-board. At the same time, you must try not to come across as too arrogant, as this can quickly turn your interviewer against you. It is a balancing act that is tough to perfect.

At Teacherhorizons, we are proud of the fact that we support our teachers entirely throughout the process of gaining a new international teaching position. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of 6 interview tips that from our experience, will really improve your chances of success.

 

1) Be enthusiastic

This is perhaps the most important advice we can offer. You should be prepared to speak with passion and enthusiasm about your subject and your motivations to teach. How will you answer questions about what made you become a teacher, what’s the best part of your day? What examples can you give to tell the interviewer about your imaginative and engaging lessons?

Engage with your interviewer, show your passion for teaching, and make sure they’re listening to every last word.

For more tips on first impressions, read a blog written by John Regan, one of our Recruitment Advisers who is also an experienced international school Principal.

 

2) Know your curriculum.

So, it turns out your dream school teaches a curriculum that you don’t have experience of. Gulp.

If this is the case, and you’re being invited to interview, it’s highly likely that the school will be willing to train you in this new curriculum. Still, you can prepare by taking the time to research the school’s curriculum, and find out as much about it as possible.

Show that you understand how assessment works in the AP, that you know what the Theory of Knowledge course entails in the IB, and how GCSEs are now being graded from 9-1. Completing this research is a great way to show your interviewer that, even without experience, you’re ready to take on the challenges of teaching a new curriculum.

 

3) Dress to impress.

The interview may be via Skype, but make sure you are dressed appropriately. If it’s early in the morning before work, or in the evening after a long day at school, make sure you’re wearing appropriate business dress. These small touches can really help to impress a prospective employer.

For tips specific to Skype interviews, have a read of this blog.

 

4) Know your school

What values does the school hold? Does it place a particular emphasis on sports or the performing arts? When was it founded?

Research the school as thoroughly as you’ve researched the curriculum, and think of examples to show how you demonstrate its values in your own teaching.

 

5) Extra-curricular experience

Many schools are looking for teachers who can offer a contribution both inside and outside the classroom. If you have experience of extra-curricular involvement, make sure to bring this up in your interview.

Coaching sports teams, leading student bands, running debate clubs; all of these experiences will be of great interest to your interviewer.

Find more info about getting involved outside of school here.

 

6) Know your statistics

We’ve all worked hard to help our students achieve well in their exams. What track record do you have with results? These statistics can be a great way to showcase your impact in the classroom, whether it’s the number of students who you guided from a D to a C, or the overall pass rate of your classes.

What are international schools really looking for in a teacher? Find out. 

 

At Teacherhorizons we are here to provide extra help or advice at any stage, so please do get in contact with your Recruitment Adviser if you are feeling especially worried about your interview. We have taken the time to get to know our schools well, so can often give a little bit of extra inside scoop. The main thing is to relax into the interview, and try to bond with your interviewer. Make sure you ask all of your burning questions too because remember, interviews are also a chance for you to get to know the school and make an informed decision about whether it is somewhere you would like to continue your teaching career.

GOOD LUCK!

 

We hope this advice is useful, please let us know your success stories by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page. If you would like to write a blog to share your advice and experiences with other curious teachers get in touch with Tiffany on editor@teacherhorizons.com.

Written by Henry Burke, our very own Maths, Business and Economics Recruitment Adviser. Henry works in our Siem Reap office and has successfully placed many teachers this year...He knows his stuff!

An insight into teaching at Maple Leaf in China

In this week’s blog, we find out some detailed inside information from Christoforos Kanakis, who has been teaching at Maple Leaf Foreign Nationals School in Dalian, China. His school is part of the Maple Leaf Educational Systems school group which has schools in 15 different cities in China.

 

maple leaf dalianWhere are you teaching and what’s your school like? What made you choose that location/school?

I teach at Dalian Maple Leaf Foreign Nationals School in China, Kaifaqu campus. The campus is located outside the Kaifaqu city center, which provides a student friendly and relaxed school environment. The building is new and modern, with all necessary facilities for sports, music, art, a special pre-school and kindergarten playground, as well as an on-site cafeteria for both students and teachers, featuring a healthy balanced menu.
The campus was completely new when I started, so all new teachers like me were sent there rather than choosing the location. A real plus though is that Maple Leaf School’s group is constantly expanding in and outside of China, so teachers like me now have great internal opportunities and can relocate to other places easily.

 

How did you get your job? What was the process like?

The way I got this job was kind of unexpected; as soon as I saw the Teacherhorizons advert I was very interested. Teacherhorizons prepared me for a slightly daunting application procedure. This is because the Maple Leaf Schools are supervised and inspected by the British Columbia Ministry of Education of Canada, which has a strict certification policy. I was already qualified to teach in England, Holland and Greece, and I did not want to spend more time and energy becoming certified to teach for BC Canadian schools too. For that reason, my first reaction was to inform Teacherhorizons that I was not willing to go on with my application.
However, a few weeks later, Teacherhorizons contacted me again to inform me that the school was very interested in my profile, and encouraged me to go on with my application. I am very happy that I did! I finally had to go through the long (and painful considering all the extra paperwork) certification process, but at the end it was really worth it. Now I am very proud that I am a BC certified teacher. It is a lifetime investment not only for the position that I currently hold, but for all other teaching opportunities that Maple Leaf Schools can offer.

Another big school group in China is Yew Chung Education Foundation, to find out more about school groups like these sign up here, and have a look at our schools in China. 

 

Dalian China China Cities A Bird's Eye ViewWhat is the city like? Is there an active expat scene? What do you do in your free time?

Dalian is a beautiful place, the second largest city in Liaoning Province and the largest port in Northern China.
Although as a city it is quite young compared to other ancient capital cities in China, with only a 100-year history, Dalian is a major destination for Chinese tourists. Dalian’s scenic spots are the Downtown Area, the Binhai Road Area and the Xinghai Park. The general city’s feel is distinctly European.

Although I have not had a chance to explore it yet, I know from my colleagues that there is an active expat scene in Dalian. In my free time, I am busy composing and arranging music. I am also busy preparing for a Chinese driving test, since my own European driving licence is not valid in China.

Another happy teacher, Julia Clegg, has taught in Qingdao; read her story.

 

Which tourist sites or must-visit places are nearby?

The top 10 of the Dalian attractions are Xinghai Square, Laohutan Ocean Park (Tiger Beach Park), Bangchuidao Scenic Area, Dalian Discovery Kingdom, Xinhai Park, Sunasia Ocean World, Dalian Natural History Museum, Zhongshan Square, Binhai Road, and the Dalian Forest Zoo.
Other nearby must-visit places are Lushun and its strategic port (once known as Port Arthur), the exotic Bing Yu with its clean rivers and caves, the Changbai mountain range and Heaven Lake (quite possibly one of the most beautiful places in China). The Korean War museum (or, as it’s known in Chinese, The War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea Museum) is also a must-visit place, and finally, the Harbin which is one of the most northerly cities in China, and so close to Russia that it is heavily influenced by its culture.

 

What is the climate like? Is there any extreme weather? If so, how do you deal with it?

Dalian is in a warm temperate zone with a semi-moist monsoon climate and also ocean climate features. The annual average temperature here is from 8 to 11°C. Dalian’s spring begins in late March or early April when the warm southeast ocean winds bring the temperatures up.

Summer is maybe the best time to visit, with mild and comfortable weather which welcomes huge numbers of tourists from different areas of China and the world. The summer period from July to early September has an average temperature of around 20°C and in the hottest month of August thousands of people come to the southern seashore in the city to enjoy the sunshine, the sea and exciting water sports. Dalian’s summer is also the rainy period, however most rain falls at night.

In late September, Dalian welcomes autumn and the cold weather slowly begins with the average temperature around 15 to 20°C. From late November, the cold north winds become stronger and dominate the city until the following February. January is usually Dalian’s coldest month and can reach -5°C. For that reason, around the end of January, many people take the advantage of the Chinese New Year vacation period in order to travel to a warm place inside or outside of China for their holiday.

 

men ziWhat is the food like? Is international food available? Have you tried any unusual local dishes?

Dalian is famous for its fresh seafood: fish, shrimp, crabs, shellfish, sea cucumber, sea conch, echinus, abalone, sea bream and so on.
‘Must-try’ dishes in Dalian are:

  • Stir-fried prawns with ginger, spring onion and spices.
  • Steamed sea bream with ginger, spring onion, mushroom, ham pieces and bamboo shoots.
  • Steamed scallops with lima beans, shallots, wine and sauces, and served on tender, white egg pieces with vegetables and diced carrot.
  • Lantern-shaped Steamed Abalone with shallot, ginger and salt.
  • Men Zi – the traditional and most popular local snack with smashed garlic, sesame, and sauces.

International food is certainly available, however I am still searching for a place where I can eat Greek food, which I really miss…

 

How is the culture different from your home culture? Have you experienced any culture shock?

Until now I haven’t really experienced any culture shock, maybe because I am working for a Canadian school and the Western culture is still very strongly present around my work environment. However I also like the Chinese culture. Chinese people are hard workers, open minded and they easily adopt the good things of the West. I do not notice differences between men and women and the society is quite free and modern. However it is remarkable that in China some internet sites are blocked. Google and all related applications, which are very popular in the West, in China are not freely accessible.

What’s the cost of living like? Are you able to save money?

The cost of living in general is lower than in Europe, USA, Canada or Australia. But renting a house is not really cheap in China. However, food, energy costs, transport and fuel are generally cheaper compared to those of most of the Western countries. Teaching couples, who are always welcome to work for Maple Leaf, are able to live quite comfortably and save money as well.

Another of our teachers Helen Weir has written a blog about learning Mandarin, read it here.

 

Dalian
What’s the best thing about living and teaching in your chosen city? What have been your highlights so far?

Maybe the best thing about living and teaching in Kaifaqu, the city where my campus is located, is that the house rent costs are in general almost half than when living downtown Dalian. And still reaching Dalian city is very easy by metro, and quite inexpensive too. Kaifaqu also gives a more of a cozy “smaller town” feeling compared to other busier cities in China.

Are there any drawbacks? What kind of person would not be suited to this location?

The drawback of living in Kaifaqu is the access to certain things. For example as a musician, if I need to go to a music instrument shop for accessories or instrument repairs, I always have to go to downtown Dalian as the possibilities are limited in Kaifaqu. People who like to be in the heart of the city should choose to live in Dalian.

 

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of coming to live and work in your current location?

I would certainly encourage teachers to come and work in China, because there are many international school opportunities here right now. China is a very big country, it is constantly growing and expanding all over the world, and in general the Chinese population does not speak English, so there is a big need for international teachers.

For teachers that would like to work for Maple Leaf, I would certainly tell them that it is really worth spending the time and energy to get BC certified because it gives rise to plenty of great working possibilities.

Finally, everyone who leaves home or their previous placement deals with “homesickness.” You are not unique in feeling this way. You need to be able to go out and make friends, keep a positive attitude, laugh often, and explore. Don’t restrict yourself to the school and your apartment. Be a risk-taker!

 

Are you keen to join a Maple Leaf School in China? Sign up here and have a look at their many schools including Maple Leaf School, Dalian. To find out more about international schools in China, read a blog written by our very own, Alexis Toye.

Written by Christoforos Kanakis, a talented music teacher, who qualified in the Netherlands and is currently teaching at Maple Leaf Schools in China.

Learning the language of the locals

A major concern of many international teachers is their ability to pick up a local language and be able to get by in shops, bars and restaurants. Mandarin is arguably the most difficult language in the world for an English speaker to learn, but Helen Weir’s experience proves it can be done with a little determination. We hope Helen’s story inspires you to get involved in learning your local language, as trust us, it makes all the difference to your cultural experience.

 

Ashamedly, despite being an English teacher, languages have never been my strong point. Attempts to use my textbook learnt German when travelling on the autobahn in Berlin led to withering looks by the locals who replied in perfect English; my broken Spanish got as far as a gargled please and thank you in tapas restaurants in Barcelona, and I am still (only semi-ironically) under the assumption that if I add ‘le’ to any noun I am speaking French. As much as I understand the cultural import and credibility of learning another language-I really do- I just can’t muster up the motivation because, as I remember saying to my agonized German teacher: someone always speaks English so why bother?

 

A Harsh Reality

IMG_1864This all changed five months ago when I moved to Chongqing. Chongqing, is a sprawling metropolis situated right in the heart of China, and, having recently been christened the world’s fastest growing city, its already colossal population of 30 million is rapidly expanding. With statistics like these you might not blame me for falling back on my lifelong mantra: why bother? True to my word, I barely learned ‘xie xie’ and ‘ni hao’ before taking up my job as a Secondary English teacher at Yew Chung International School. Having done my research a little more thoroughly, I might have stumbled across some facts that may offered something in the shape of forewarning. YCIS is Chongqing’s one and only International School, and as expatriates make less than a percentage of this incomprehensibly huge city, even fewer people speak fluent English.

My inability to prepare, or even conceive, of a place in which ‘cappuccino, please’ is met with blank stares and panic, did not lead to an easy transition period. During my first few days in Chongqing leaving my flat was an ordeal. My anxieties stretched from being scared to get in the lift in case one of my earnest neighbours attempted to greet me, to a fear of buying, and consequently eating, one of the infamous local delicacies in the supermarket. As far as I was concerned at that point, the labelling for pig rectum could have had the exact same characters as fried tofu. It soon became apparent that my illiteracy was not the only thing that made me stand out. Shocked and delighted to see a ‘wai guo ren’ (not local person) in their neighborhood, wherever I went my presence would be met by the stares, exuberant hand gestures and the far from subtle photographs of the curious local people.

Keen to help local students learn our language? Sign up here, and then browse our ESL positions here.

 

IMG_1872Survival Instinct

A week into my China experience and a lifelong mantra was disposed of. Survival instinct kicked in and I got on the phone to a Chinese tutor. Despite having what I now know is the best, most patient, Chinese teacher known to humanity, my first Chinese lesson left me with a feeling I was staring into a black abyss of incomprehensibility. Four tones, each with the uncanny ability to change the meaning of a word, aerobically challenging mouth shapes, words made up of squiggly lines- how could I ever begin to understand something so alien to ABC?

As the weeks passed, it didn’t get easier but it became bearable. Stories behind the shapes of the characters helped me remember them (my favourite- the character for women and the character for son make the character for good because it’s good for a woman to have a son), and the sheer necessity of knowing Chinese just to get a hot meal, meant I not only had to retain the vocabulary but I had no choice but to do the unthinkable and put my broken Chinese to use.

 

Putting It To Use

The positive reactions of locals when I ordered a small portion of noodles and cold water spurred me onwards- and with an increased knowledge of the language there inevitably came an increased knowledge of the culture. I learned that when my Chinese colleagues asked me ‘chi fan le ma’ this was not a question about how canteen lunch, but more an question of my wellbeing and that the cries of ‘Jiāyóu’ (add oil) during the sponsored Founders Day Run had absolutely no relation to automobiles.

 

A Professional Advantage

helen chinaThe most significant advantage of finally mustering the courage to learn another language was not, however, purely personal but professional. As in any school, many of my students in Chongqing are also second language speakers, but when I found that I would sometimes be teaching entire classes made of entirely of EAL pupils- some of which had just begun to learn the English language- I knew I was in for a fresh challenge. Fortunately, learning mandarin has given me a completely new perspective on language learning. Some of the struggles I face with my pupils’ pronunciation, retention and tenses are very similar to the ones my own mandarin teacher faces when teaching me. She has been an incredible resource and the techniques and strategies I borrow from her are as effective on the pupils as they are on me.

The pupils (some of which have mandarin as a first language) are well aware of my quest to learn Chinese as they learn English, as many of the students within my school are required to learn Chinese alongside English from primary school, I have found many of my pupils are my best teachers. Stopping me in the corridor they will ask me what I learned in Chinese this week, eager to correct my pronunciation and confident in the knowledge that even teachers need to study and review when it comes to language learning.

Hear more of our teachers’ experiences teaching ESL learners, read this blog written by Caroline Scott.

 

Looking Back

Six months in, and I have slowly begun to see the lack of English speaker in this city as a positive. Would I have had the motivation to learn a language if I had chosen to move to a more ‘foreign friendly’ city such as Shanghai or Beijing? Given my idleness in this area in the past I can admit it is highly unlikely. Is my Chinese pretty good now? It’s diabolical. I am still met with blank faces when I mispronounce the word ‘wǒ’ (I) or get my ‘fàn’ (meal) mixed up with my fèn (portion) and with a knowledge of just 25 characters, I am categorically a functioning illiterate. But can I order a coffee? ‘Wǒ xiǎng yào yībēi kāfēi, xièxiè’.

 

We love to read and share inspiring stories like this one, thanks Helen! If you are interested in telling yours, contact editor@teacherhorizons.com with your ideas.

Written by Helen Weir, a secondary English teacher from Scotland who trained in Birmingham. Although she misses the struggles and hilarity of the British classroom, Helen is enjoying completely different challenges in Chongqing, China.

Three questions to ask yourself before teaching internationally

It is easy to consider international teaching as simply ‘teaching in an international school’, but until you start to look into the idea for yourself, it is hard to understand how broad the concept really is. There is, literally, a whole world of aspects that need considering before you can make a decision on taking an international role. In this week’s blog post, Katie Lockett tells us her top three.

 

ONE weekend, my boyfriend and I were having a conversation about how we had tired of our jobs in London.  We were both looking into jobs outside of the city.  TWO weeks later, I was asking my Head of Department for a reference and she was telling my Head Teacher that I might be leaving the school. THREE days after that, I was having my first of three Skype interviews with the Senior Administrators at the International School of Beijing – where I now work.

Prior to signing up to TeachersHorizons and deciding to teach abroad, I had done extensive research about international teaching and I had asked myself these three questions: 

 

1) Which curriculum?

katie lockett pic 2 There are essentially two types of international schools: IB World Schools and Foreign Curriculum Schools (e.g. British International Schools). 

The advantage if you are, say, British, and then go and teach in a British international school, is that the transition to the new school will be easier as the curriculum and examinations will be familiar. The advantage of an IB World School is that this is a program that is offered in schools all around the world, and thus experience in teaching an IB curriculum gives you a lot of flexibility to move to different schools and countries in the future. However, the challenge is that it really is quite a different way of thinking if you haven’t taught in that way before. The IB curriculum is also considered to be a prestigious program and thus international schools are often hesitant to hire teachers who have not taught it before.

Personally, I didn’t want to teach in a British International School, despite coming from the UK. I wanted to experience the challenge of a new curriculum. For others though, it may be more about the experience of living in a new country and that’s the enjoyable challenge, so no need to change curriculums too!

Click here to find out more about the International Baccalaureate curriculum

katie locket pic 32) What school?

There are many different types of international schools; small start-up ones, large, well-established ones, academically selective ones, ones with a more comprehensive intake, those serving the expat community of the area or those that are more like bilingual/immersion schools and serving local students. There are plusses and minuses of all types of schools obviously…it just depends on what you’re looking for. 

Are you looking for a small school where you can really make your mark at a whole-school level? Or a ‘well-oiled machine’ where you have the structures in place allow you to really develop your classroom teaching? Do you enjoy the challenge of teaching large numbers of EAL students or of stretching very able learners?

Personally, having worked in inner-city London before, I was already quite confident about my skills to support EAL learners.  I wanted international teaching to give me the opportunity to teach in a very academically focused environment, so I chose a school that serves expat and diplomatic students rather than local students.

Our Recruitment Advisers can help you decide which type of school is for you. Sign up here and get in contact with us.  

 

3katie lockett picHow do I want to develop professionally and personally?

As I’m sure is clear by now, my decision to teach abroad was very much a professional decision. I wanted to develop my knowledge of curriculums and of teaching a different student body. My decision making was also led by my desire to develop my craft as a classroom teacher.  Hence my decision to choose a large, well-established and well-resourced school which offers generous professional development.  

If I was looking to focus on personal development, I would have chosen a smaller school, where it would be easier to have more interaction will colleagues outside of my department and where I could make more of an impact at the whole-school level.  My strong focus on the professional development aspect of international teaching meant that my job search focused heavily on the right school, and the location mattered significantly less to me. 

For some people it is a specific country that they want to live in, or a specific continent that they want to travel around so the area, over the school, becomes the focus of their job search. That said, although I ‘accidently’ ended up in Beijing, as it happened to be the location of the perfect job and school for me, it turns out that Beijing is a fantastic city and I would definitely choose this location again!

Read this blog written by another of our teachers who recently moved to Beijing.

 

So my final piece of advice is this. Whichever curriculum, type of school or location you are offered for your first international post, make sure you do your research, know your motivations and be patient until you find the ‘perfect match’. Good luck!

Written by Katie Lockett, a French and Spanish teacher at the International School of Beijing, China. Katie qualified as a teacher in the UK and taught MFL in London for 4 years. Before that she taught English in Quebec, Canada and France. She is enjoying her first taste of teaching at an IB World School.

Six safeguarding measures taken by Teacherhorizons.

Safeguarding and child protection is extremely important to us at Teacherhorizons. As a growing company, we are developing trusting relationships with new schools every day. One of the questions we have found cropping up more and more is  “what measures will you take to ensure the effective safeguarding of our students?” Whilst we have numerous internal policies and checks, we thought it would be useful to share some of our practices in a blog article so schools and teachers can understand the importance we place on this process.

 

It is no wonder these sorts of queries are becoming more of an issue, especially when articles such as this one in The Sun give terrifying figures of criminals attempting to enter the teaching profession. Of course, DBS checks are rigorous and new statutory guidance comes out constantly. But ultimately, to an extent, the final hiring decision remains the responsibility of the employer. We hope that, by reading this as a school or a teacher, that you will rest assured we are making things clearer and easier for you and safer for your students.

 

1) We activate our teachers

Before candidates can see the names of schools and the way to apply, their account must have been ‘activated’ by a trained member of our team. Our team log on to the website daily and consider hundreds of new teacher profiles, screening candidates based on their uploaded CVs. We only activate those who have a teaching qualification and suitable school experience.

Asian students 

2) We display candidates’ police clearance

Every candidate profile has a section where they can upload ‘supporting info’ such as their teaching qualification certificate, degree certificate, and recent observation feedback. They can also upload a recent CRB/DBS certificate. When we recommend a candidate to a school, all of this information becomes available to the recruitment staff at that school and should they wish to query or clarify any of this information it is absolutely their right.

Are you a school looking for teachers? Find out more about our recruitment services here.

 

3) We request confidential references

Our candidates must have three completed references via our website before we put them forward to a school. These references are a tick box exercise with a space for comments at the end. They are requested and filled out using a completely confidential online system. Candidates cannot see or request their references at any point, and schools can only view the references of candidates we have recommended to them.  We take this process very seriously and (as I am sure some candidates could tell you!) are very fussy about it. For example:

  • One of these references must be from a Head or Deputy of the candidate’s current (preferably) or previous school. This is something we check to be completely sure. Using the school’s website we check the names of current/previous Heads and Deputies.
  • We specify that wherever possible, references must be requested from professional email addresses rather than personal ones (such as hotmail or gmail). Often we will check the suffix of the email address used to complete the form against other email addresses on the school’s website.
  • Each referee is asked ‘Do you know of any reason that the applicant should not work with children?’
  • We follow up on references that ring even the tiniest alarm bells. Perhaps an interesting comment or an out of place box ticked. We would rather know the exact story than let the next school find out for themselves.
For more information on how our references work, click here.

 

Skype picture4) We do background checks

Similar to many employers nowadays, we perform a google search on candidates before we recommend them. We don’t go completely MI5 on them but we do check there are no red flags. It is a very simple and quick precaution to take, but it could make all the difference.


5) We interview our teachers

We don’t just screen our candidates once. If a candidate shows interest in a job we think they are suited to, we will arrange a Skype interview. This involves a video call where we meet and get to know a candidate ‘face to face’ and both parties can ask questions. We also use this as a chance to explain the Teacherhorizons process and the next steps. Our conversations with candidates are thorough and often include a specific safeguarding question. We use the information we gain here to create our recommendations which we then send on to HR departments and Head Teachers.

Interested in creating a free school profile page for your school? Start here.

 

 

6) We regularly train our team

We follow a range of safeguarding forums and blogs and keep up-to-date with current issues and practices. We also do regular training with our recruiters so that they are all kept aware of the latest practices and safest approaches to recruiting.

 

We are continually reviewing and developing our approach to safeguarding children. We are committed working with schools to ensure our candidates are thoroughly checked so their students can thrive in a safe learning environment. For more information contact info@teacherhorizons.com.

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Wow, look at us grow!

Here at Teacherhorizons we are tremendously proud of the international community we are building. In this week’s blog we want to share with you a few of our achievements so far and welcome some fantastic new members of our team.

When Teacherhorizons first launched in 2011 it began from scratch. By the end of year 1 we had 8000 teachers signed up to the website, and just 20 schools. With exceptional growth year upon year, we are now a community of over 2000 schools and 115,000 teachers. New schools are joining us every single week, we have an average of a thousand opportunities on our website and already in 2017 we have placed over 60 teachers in their dream schools. With all this going on, it’s no wonder our team of staff is also increasing by the bucketload!

Since the beginning of 2017 we have welcomed 5 new Recruitment Advisers to our team, taking the total to 12. We can truly call ourselves international too, given that members of our team live in Cambodia, Germany, England, Portugal, Zambia, The Netherlands and Sweden!

I hope our blog subscribers will hear more from our new RA’s soon as they have a wealth of experience in international teaching between them and can provide excellent advice; but for now, let’s just give them a big warm welcome…

Phil Latham, Recruitment Adviser for PE, Art and Design Technology

PhilPhil studied Environmental Science at the University of Southampton before going on to do his PGCE at the University of Birmingham. He began his teaching career in 2002 and has now amassed 14 years teaching experience, teaching in both the private and state sectors and also internationally. His recent post (of 6 years) was teaching Science and Maths at a central London prep school. The four years prior to this were spent teaching in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Phil is currently living in Germany – near Stuttgart – due to his partner’s work. He has started to learn German and is enjoying the local beer and food. He is also earnestly looking for a property to begin renovating which has always been a dream.

Caroline Heaton, Recruitment Adviser for Humanities, Social Studies and Religous Education
CH

Caroline has a background of working within both recruitment and the education sector. Having grown up and attended an International School in Kenya, and subsequently studying, and completing her Masters in Education and International Development in the UK, she has an understanding of different cultures, people and environments. Caroline has also spent her working life both within the UK and abroad, and through this understands both the benefits and challenges of living and working in diverse environments. She is passionate about travel, sports and photography.

 

Daniel Baker, Recruitment Adviser for Senior Leadership, IB Co-ordinators, SEN roles and Counsellers

DBDaniel is originally from Birkenhead in North West England. He obtained his PGCE in Secondary Science Education in 2004 and has worked internationally for much of his professional life. Daniel has taught Biology, General Science and Psychology predominantly in International Baccalaureate Schools and also had significant middle and senior leadership experience.  In addition to teaching Science, Daniel also works for the International Baccalaureate Organisation. He has contributed to the Exploring Science 7, 8 and 9 textbooks and to a number of articles about teaching abroad which have appeared online and in The Telegraph newspaper. To date, Daniel has worked in the UK, the USA, the United Arab Emirates and Sweden – where he currently resides.

Outside of work, Daniel enjoys going on long walks with his wife and two daughters, playing the piano and engaging in amateur cinematography.

Sarah Hartigan, Recruitment Adviser for English

Sarah for websiteSarah has worked as an English teacher and Head of Department in international schools in Malawi and Vietnam. Sarah trained as an English teacher with Teach First in the West Midlands and is currently studying for her MSc in London.

In her spare time, Sarah enjoys yoga, hiking and learning languages. In the last three years, Sarah has travelled extensively throughout central Africa, the highlight of which was toasting her feet over the world’s largest lava lake in the DRC. Whilst living abroad she took the opportunity to explore southern Africa and east Asia.

 Interested in learning languages too when you are abroad? Have a look at our blog 10 Language Learning Tips for Travellers.
Camille Alsop, Recruitment Adviser for English as a Second Language

CamilleCamille is responsible for English and ESL positions. After graduating with a Politics with French degree from Warwick University, she began teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in 2005 in London and subsequently trained as a teacher of English through the Teach First programme. She has held responsibilities as KS3 Coordinator and a middle manager and taught in London and Zambia, where she currently lives.

Camille grew up as an international student having lived in Malawi, Namibia, Cote d’Ivoire, the UK and France. She is pursuing her MA studies in Education and is an avid reader, shameless gourmand and occasional mountain-biker.

 

 

To get in touch with our team, create a profile here and upload your CV, then browse our teaching opportunities. When you find a supported vacancy you are interested in, the contact information for your relevant Recruitment Adviser will be detailed on the advert.

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Being in bustling Beijing

Yew Chung Education Foundation is one of our leading groups of schools. Every Yew Chung school has the same unique model, where it brings together the East and the West and implements a bilingual and co-cultural programme through a Co-Principal and Co-Teaching system. As this amazing group of schools continues its recruitment drive, we find out some inside information from Megan Banerjee who has been teaching at Yew Chung International School, Beijing since September 2016.

 

Where are you teaching and what’s your school like? What made you choose that location/school?

I am teaching at Yew Chung International School Beijing. I was interested in staying in China having been at Canadian International School Kunshan before, and Yew Chung has a reputation for academic excellence as well as a reputation for looking after their teachers.

How did you get your job? What was the process like?

I started the process in the spring time. Maggie from Teacherhorizons was great. She was in constant contact with me and gave me advice to help me in the job hunt. It was a lot of work organising my materials, but it was worth it. I was not matched with a school right away, but as the hiring season went on, I got an email through Teacherhorizons about a job opening. I immediately sent out an email, and within the week, had an interview and was told I got the job. A big thank you to Maggie and Teacherhorizons!

My advice would be to start early, around November. It’s when most schools begin to know of vacancies they have. The job hunt is a waiting game. Teacherhorizons has a great staff, who are always looking out for you. You won’t be disappointed.545949_645162193048_1009169822_n

What is the city like? Is there an active expat scene? What do you do in your free time?

Beijing is an amazing city. It is bustling with expatriates, and because of that, foreign restaurants and groceries are everywhere. At my school, we have many teachers who have stayed with the school for over 10 years. This speaks volumes about the school management and Beijing itself.

In my free time, we enjoy riding our electronic bike around the city and seeing life in China. We often find unexpected treasures along the way. I also have to admit, I’m a shopaholic. I love spending my time visiting local markets and tailors to see the interesting things that are sold.

Which tourist sites or must-visit places are nearby?

I live in Chaoyang district, and that means everything is in your backyard. We’ve visited scenic areas of Beijing like Fragrant Hills, the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Llama Temple. We also enjoy shopping, eating and getting clothing tailored. Some great places to see are the Silk Market, Sanlitun, and Hongqiao Pearl Market. (Just remember to put yourself on a budget before you go!!)

What is the climate like? Is there any extreme weather? If so, how do you deal with it?

There is a saying that long-term expats of Beijing often tell newbies, “There is only one month of Summer.” Since we are usually only here for the school year, we only get a brief glimpse of summer weather before it gets cold. So far this year, it hasn’t been too bad, but I suggest getting thermal inner-wear and a nice winter jacket. If you do forget to pack winter essentials, you can visit a nearby shop and buy what you need.

The northern part of Beijing has central heating. You can walk around in socks during the middle of winter, in the apartment of course. I find that Beijing feels much warmer than the Southern part of China because of this.

533881_645265635748_973381410_nWhat is the food like? Is international food available? Have you tried any unusual local dishes?

I think the food is very tasty. We enjoy Chinese food and there are plenty of options available for us. However, for our friends who long for Western food, there are great restaurants nearby. With Beijing being a major capital city it has many restaurants to appeal to its international audience.

How is the culture different from your home culture? Have you experienced any culture shock?

I have been in China 5 years already, so Beijing feels more like home than home. I think China can be a big change for someone who has not travelled before, however, Beijing is very Western friendly.

What’s the cost of living like? Are you able to save money?

Saving money is all up to how you budget yourself. You can save a lot of money, even with a more extravagant lifestyle, than you might in your Western country of origin. My husband and I love cooking, so most of our dinners are at our home. Eating out is our most expensive pastime. Excursions and travel also cost a little bit, but they do not have to be expensive. We save a considerable amount of money by creating strict budget goals and meeting them.

What’s the best thing about living and teaching in your chosen city? What have been your highlights so far?

I have really enjoyed interacting and learning from educators from around the world. I wanted to be involved in a school that followed the British curriculum. I have enjoyed learning more about the differences and similarities about teaching styles, curriculum and assessments.

Are there any drawbacks? What kind of person would not be suited to this location?

Everyone who leaves home or their previous placement deals with “homesickness.” You are not unique in feeling this way. You need to be able to go out and make friends, keep a positive attitude, laugh often, and explore. Don’t restrict yourself to the school and your apartment. Be a risk-taker!

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of coming to live and work in your current location?

Bring warm winter clothes, be open-minded and excited to learn about a new culture, make friends, go out, explore, and make your apartment a “home.” Be sure to try new things, don’t get bogged down in work, and stay positive. Oh… and get massages!!

Another happy teacher, Julia Clegg, has taught in Qingdao; read her story. To find out more about international schools and general advice on China, read a blog written by our very own, Alexis Toye.

Written by Megan Banerjee, an elementary school teacher born in Indiana, currently residing in Beijing China. She is a great practitioner, licensed in many different curriculums such as US, IB PYP, OCT Canada and has QTS from the United Kingdom.