An international internship in education is a fantastic way to prepare for a career as a principal, teacher, librarian, or educational administrator. By spending time in another country and getting to know a new system of curriculum and teaching, you will have a new frame of reference. Educational policy and school structure are constantly changing, and getting a global perspective will make you a more qualified and marketable educator. Completing internships abroad can put you ahead of the trends and conversations and give you new tools to use in the classroom back at home.
Why Intern Abroad
Internships abroad can give you direct experience in the classroom in a way that studying and reading cannot. Being part of a classroom in another country will boost your confidence and provide you with new situations to help you craft your teaching style. You’ll learn a different perspective on education from working with local teachers and administrators who were trained in an alternative format to, which will give you flexibility and openness to multiple points of view when you are in a full-time position back home.
If you are interested in improving your foreign language skills as well, education internships abroad in non-English speaking countries could give you specific experience and abilities in your target language.
Completing an internship abroad in education sets you ahead of other potential candidates for education jobs in your home country, and more importantly globally. Depending on your career goals and previous experience, education internships may be a good way to learn more about a specific role within education before committing to a focus area. Many education internships abroad are related to English language education, since the demand is high throughout the world. So internships are the perfect opportunity to test drive teaching English before committing to a full year contract. Beyond English language classrooms, you can also intern in a specific subject area, such as science or math and even sports or music, and see how you feel about that setting as well.
There are many locations that boast world class internships in education. Below are a few suggestions to get you started, but this is by no means an exhaustive list!
England: The educational system in England has both similarities and differences from the United States and Canada. Students here are split into four main groups rather than elementary, middle, and high school, with an optional “sixth form” for 16 and 17 year olds to prepare for college. If you’re looking for an English-speaking country, this is an obvious choice.
China: In terms of teaching English abroad, China is a leading country for both pay and sheer number of job opportunities. By getting familiar with the classroom and local culture as well as honing your teaching skills, you can have an understanding of the structure and process of education in China, which may be very different from your background. You will also gain experience with the Chinese language, especially if you choose to take a language course in tandem with your education internship in China.
Ecuador: If you’re interested in boosting your Spanish language skills and making yourself more marketable as a teacher, an education internship in Ecuador is an ideal choice. Since the Spanish spoken in Ecuador is generally slower and easier to understand compared to other South American countries, this can be a good location even if you are just learning. You can expect to have a lot of input and responsibility in the classroom in Ecuador too, especially if you are in a rural placement at an understaffed academic institution.
Other countries that offer opportunities for international internships in education include Italy, France, South Africa, Costa Rica, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand. Be sure to ask yourself if you want to intern in an English-speaking country or one where you can build your language abilities. If you are looking for a placement that will allow you to teach a specific subject, you will want to focus on locations where you are able to effectively communicate with students.
Education Internships Abroad
In most education internships abroad interns will be working in primary schools or secondary schools, as well as private institutions, or for education-based non-profit organizations. In general, you can expect to work between 20 and 40 hours per week as an education intern, depending on your specific role and country of placement. For most countries school hours are somewhere between 8:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and students are in class from Monday to Friday. You will want to research the academic school year before applying for a placement as an education intern abroad - remember that anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere has summer in the opposite time of year from the Northern Hemisphere.
During your time as an education intern abroad you will most likely work with a team teacher and be able to discuss classroom management, lesson planning, teaching strategies, and even organize things like outreach or tutoring in the community. You will have direct interaction with the students, who could range in age from 3 to 18 years old, and may be doing things like skills-building, monitoring progress, and helping with running the classroom.
Education interns will work with other educators and assistants as well as the parents of the students, so good communication skills are important. By bringing your background and experience to the education placement, you will have the opportunity to help with activities and possibly curriculum choices. An international internship in education will allow you and the full-time local teacher to learn from each other and discuss different ways of working with the class.
For most education internships abroad, you do not need to be a certified teacher or have specific courses in education. Instead an interest in education is all that is required, especially if you are flexible with your placement. Internships in education usually last between four and twenty-five weeks, the length of time is up to you. You should be sure a supervising teacher will be in the classroom to assist you before committing to an education internship abroad in most cases as well.
GoAbroad Inside Tips
Getting an education internship abroad is the perfect way to try teaching abroad before committing to a year-long contract. If you are looking to teach in your home country, international classroom experience will give you a new point of view and make you more competitive for future positions.
You’ll gain soft skills from your time working in education abroad including cross-cultural sensitivity, adaptability, relationship-building, and being able to think on your feet. Beyond that, your time in the classroom gives you the opportunity to make a difference in the local community for both students and their parents.
Most education programs require some form of student teaching. By choosing to do your student teaching abroad through an internship, you will be a more self-assured educator with an entire set of skills from your host culture that you would not otherwise have. In addition to standing out on your resume, the true difference will come when you have your own classroom and can draw from your direct experience leading a group of international students.