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Teaching at Home Versus Teaching Abroad

Erika Phyall currently works in community relations for University of Southern California Rossier School of Education’s online master’s programs. USC Rossier Online provides current teachers the opportunity to earn teaching credentials and aspiring C.A. teachers a California teaching credential. Outside of work Erika enjoys networking, DIY projects, and spending time with her two dogs.


When it comes to teaching, the landscapes are endless. Classrooms are sprouting up in urban cities, along the coast and nestled in the mountains. Whether you choose to make an impact close to your community or decide to brave a new world far away, know that there is a classroom for every teacher. Teaching in the United States and teaching abroad are both incredible experiences with their own unique students, teaching styles and opportunities. Here are a few of the distinguishing benefits:

Teaching in the United States

Teaching in the United States includes instructing a broad spectrum of students. Here, teachers can encounter both urban and rural students, depending on their school’s location.

One big difference between teaching abroad and in the United States is teaching styles; in America, creative approaches to teaching are highly valued. Learning can be imaginative and kinesthetic while teachers look for ways to spark student interest. In a recent Huffington Post article, Joshua Glenn writes about the power of hands-on experiences in the American classroom. In the article, one school computer lab manager says, “My goal is more about inspiration than education.I don’t believe you can just pour knowledge into students. They have to learn things by trying them out.” This freedom to develop curriculum in exciting ways can be appealing to many teachers.

Teaching in the United States also typically comes with a strong support network; often, just the fact that you speak the native language is a huge help in finding resources and becoming a more connected educator.

Teaching Abroad

Teaching abroad often offers a different range of students and teaching environments than teaching in the United States. Most educators working abroad will be teaching English as a foreign language. This requires a whole new approach to instruction as teachers must employ highly visual tactics to help bridge understanding between their English lessons and their students’ native languages. Also, many cultures have different approaches to learning than those employed in the United State. Many foreign classrooms emphasize organization and analytical methods over more imaginative and abstract approaches.

Being immersed in a different culture is a unique reward of teaching abroad. Stepping out the door every morning is an adventure into another world and way of looking at life. Overall, many teachers are finding that teaching abroad is also a great career builder. According a New York Times article, teaching abroad can be a great resume building experience. In the article, Brandon Steiner, who teaches with the Japan Exchange and Teaching program, says, “Admittedly, it is a way to goof off and have a good time in a foreign country,” but adds that “having international experience under your belt — employers are enthusiastic. It looks good and is not a bad step out of college. It shows you already are open-minded.”

Whether you choose to teach in the United States or journey to another country, some things will never change. You will always have the thrill of seeing a student grasp an idea for the first time. You will never tire of seeing students laughing and working together as they accomplish a goal through teamwork. While the classrooms may be far apart and filled with very different students and teaching styles, the human spark is alive in each one. Teaching will always be an adventure, both in the United States and abroad. The only question is where your classroom will be.

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