Teach English to Middle School Students Abroad

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Middle school revolves around the troublesome ages between 11-14, which means an even more troublesome time for teachers to maintain classroom management while dealing with adolescent behavior and attitude.

Many middle school students need guidance, which means that they need a confident, flexible and enthusiastic teacher willing to put in the extra hours and work to yield the most success, particularly if they are learning a new language. Middle school is the crucial time for students to prepare their English comprehension for high school and later on college.

Laying a foundation for middle school students is a difficult position, but those teachers with patience, a good sense of humor and a passion for teaching will ultimately build intelligent and strong students ready to take on the world.

Fast Facts
  • Salary Range: $35,000-$81,000 USD per year.
  • Number of open positions: Over 100,000 and growing steadily
  • Requirements: Minimum: Bachelor’s Degree in early education or specific content area and a state specific teaching license or certification. Maximum: Master’s Degree in education or specific content area.

Middle school comes with some heavy baggage. Students age range proves to be a tricky feat of elementary school thought mixed with the early stages of high school social loyalty, then mix in the physical and educational development transition and top it off with maintaining students’ attention in the classroom means teachers have some hurdles to clear. Here are several options for teachers looking to teach middle schoolers abroad:

International Schools:

Teaching middle school means teaching students between the ages of 11-14, often at international schools. This vast age range means teaching students from various backgrounds from all over the globe; some may still have an elementary school thought, which revolves around impressing and showing love for a teacher, and some with almost a high school agenda where their social life ranks high above their educational life. Teachers must be able to roll with the punches and be flexible to deal with the differing ages to yield the most success with students.

With this, international schools are located in almost every major city around the world. Teachers are often required to hold a master’s degree in their field (some will allow for a bachelor’s degree + some years of experience). Additionally, many international schools will require that you sign onto a 1-2 year contract at minimum.

Language Schools:

Language schools are popular for weekend and after-school courses. Middle school is the transition for many students from children to teenagers, but also an educational transition marked by more complex and abstract content. Thus, the method English language education is crucial during this time. Most language schools will provide materials and training for their teachers, but ultimately the teacher will need to test out and develop techniques that will provide results in the classroom; building a strong foundation allows students to be more confident in their ability to learn complex concepts and improve their language proficiency.

Pro's of Teaching Middle School Students:
  • Students are enthusiastic to learn about subjects being taught.
  • Students learn in a more active way, calling for less lecturing and more peer interaction (that will help develop techniques used in higher learning).
  • Students are more optimistic about learning.
  • Students are beginning to develop independent abstract ideas that will ultimately shape their perception on subjects; teachers are then able to build on students’ thoughts and ideas, which keeps the class interested and motivated.
Con's of Teaching Middle School Students:
  • Due to students being a young age they lack maturity, usually leading to lack of respect for a teacher.
  • Lack of maturity in students also leads to new and more complex or abstract concepts being ungraspable for students, and possibly to disruptive behavior.
  • Social concerns are beginning to become more important for students than educational concerns, which means that peer loyalty is ranked above education, respecting a teacher or abiding by classroom rules.
  • Students are at great risks intellectually, physically, socially and psychologically due to the transition away from elementary school and toward high school.

Teaching middle school may seem difficult, but with a few pointers key to maintaining sanity in the classroom will help greatly. The most successful teachers are flexible, understand the role students have as learning and teaching vessels and can turn any seemingly dull classroom into a comfortable place to venture through learning.

  • Be flexible. Middle school students are temperamental, which means that teachers must be flexible in order to deal with bumps in the classroom. Teachers must be open and understanding with students in order to deal with behavioral and attitude problems. Turning disruptive moments in a class into teaching moments allows for students to be treated as adults rather than children. This provides students with the respect that teachers require in return. A flexible teacher is able to handle disruptive situations quickly, switch between different techniques smoothly, and keep the attention of students.
  • Make meaningful lesson plans. Teaching means providing a connection for the student to become involved and interested in the subject. Allow students to impact the lesson and provide possible topics. Also, transforming a classroom to revolve around students’ interactions, such as teaching and learning between peers, allows them to transform into the vessel of teaching and learning. Give students an open space to discuss thoughts and ideas and the power to sort through them with peers.
  • Create a classroom atmosphere. Create an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable. The sense of comfort for students means being able to discuss their own thoughts and ideas on material without feeling self-conscious. Provide students with an opportunity to gain confidence and work through complex content aloud to establish an atmosphere of learning.
Contributed by Samantha Coughran

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