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Building a connection with your international students

As foreigner teaching abroad, you might be worried your students have a hard time relating to you. However, the opposite is almost always true – they’re curious and keen to get to know you. Making yourself available and approachable will allow you to forge a stronger connection with your classes. There are a few techniques you can use to achieve this.

1. Make yourself approachable

As a new teacher from a different country, your students may not initially feel they can talk to you, particularly if they’re shy when it comes to speaking English. However, if you’re working in a middle or high school, it can be really beneficial to both you and your students to invite them them to come and talk to you at anytime about anything. Dedicate some time in your week to students. Be welcoming and understanding. You could recommend your pupils make an appointment with you, or simply display some available hours on your office door, if you have one.

2. Catch up with class

Spend a few minutes every morning, or at the start of each class, catching up with your students. How are they feeling today? What have they been doing outside of school? Do they have any interesting news? Encourage them to share their lives with you and talk to them about what you’ve been up to as well. What are your hobbies? What local sights have you visited recently or customs have you taken part in? Share your perspectives on life in their country. Not only will you learn more about their lifestyles and their personalities, they’ll also get a valuable insight into how you think and that understand that their teacher is human too! This helps get students engaged with you and settle into their lesson.

3. Get involved

It’s a requirement of many international schools for teachers to take part in extra-curricular activities. If there is an opportunity to do so, offer to run a class or group. Whether it’s sports, music or art, engaging in a fun activity with your students is a fantastic way to gain a better understand them and the way they think, as well as gain their respect and trust. It lends the chance to relax and bond in the school environment.

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