Next stop: Teaching abroad in India! We asked Katie, a Placement Coordinator at Teach Away, about her experience completing her university teaching practicum abroad in Mcleod Ganj, India. This is what she had to say:
What were some of your biggest challenges as a teacher in India?
The language barrier. I taught students in grades 6-8 (approx. 11-14 years old) and it was especially challenging not speaking the language when teaching younger students. My students’ English was basic, so when I needed to teach abstract topics like metaphor and media bias (concepts already tricky to understand in their native language) it was very difficult to get my students to understand.
What was your favourite part about Indian culture? What was the most challenging part?
I travelled to India in 2012 and the majority of my students were Tibetan refugees living in India, so I was immersed in the Tibetan culture. My favourite part about the culture was how positive, hopeful, and accepting the people I met were. Local families invited my teaching colleagues and I over to share food and stories, and were extremely inquisitive about our cultures. There were also challenges. There was so much noise in the streets all day and night compared to my hometown in Canada. I had to adapt to bucket showers, the food was totally different, and I couldn’t get Starbucks – devastating, I know!
What was your most memorable experience?
Being in India during Diwali, the Festival of Lights. I got to watch the amazing fireworks from the rooftop of a local family’s home. I also got to meet the Dalai Lama!
How did you prepare for life and teaching in India?
I visited my doctor and got the recommended shots and medicine, researched the culture and also talked with teachers who had completed the program before. This was great because I was able to ask them all my questions about the accommodation, what the school was like, etc. I didn’t do anything to prepare for teaching, which I regretted. I really wished I had brought more resources, for example scanned electronic copies of worksheets and other teaching materials I used at home.
What teaching advice would you give to someone looking to teach in India?
Get a TEFL certificate. I didn’t have the knowledge to properly get my ideas and lessons across to foreign language learners. I would suggest looking into strategies for teaching normal subjects, like Math and Social Studies to ESL learners, being flexible and expect the unexpected! Teaching in India is not going to be an easy adjustment, but can be really rewarding. Research A LOT and know that it’s something you want to do.
Finally, what is your number one must see spot in India?
Hard to pick! Obviously everyone needs to visit Taj Mahal, but the the lesser known Golden Temple in Amritsar was incredibly beautiful.
Want to teach in India just like Katie? To learn more and compare our courses, click here.