Studying abroad is a major step for any child to take, and it’s one that can be fraught with difficulties as well as packed with opportunities. From having to decipher a new language to coping with feelings of homesickness, students can experience all sorts of problems when they start studying abroad. Luckily, schools around the world are wise to these additional needs – and respond to them well. Here are just some of the ways in which international students can be supported by teachers and other staff.
By far the biggest barrier that many international students face is the language issue. When moving to a new country and enrolling in a local school, hearing lessons delivered in an all-new language can be baffling – and it can hold back progress. Schools can respond to this by offering additional English language teaching resources to international students, but it’s also sometimes wise to let kids immerse themselves in the new language instead. While conventional wisdom might suggest that older students are more adept at learning languages, there’s actually evidence that younger children are better at picking up a new tongue – so English-learning resource allocation is perhaps best done on an age-appropriate basis.
When a child moves to a new country, it’s almost certain that they’re going to feel some element of sadness or homesickness at having left behind so much that they knew and were used to. There’s no getting around this, and it’s not something that can be prevented. However, it’s something that can be dealt with by setting up a strong pastoral support system. Teachers of international kids, for example, can be primed to watch out for any signs of moodiness or withdrawal, while a buddy system designed to pair up the new student with someone who has been at the school for a while can also help.
Depending on the school, it’s sometimes even possible for a child to study a curriculum that was designed to suit their home country. The International Baccalaureate program in Singapore offers a range of western subjects to study, which means there’s a pretty seamless transition between what the child was learning at home and what they will learn in their new country. This often allows students to feel more confident about their studies, which in turn can lead to better educational outcomes and a more rewarding international experience. The great thing about programs such as these is that they combine the best of both worlds: students get to study what they would at home, but they can do it in a highly diverse environment that provides amazing opportunities for development and growth as a person.
Studying abroad isn’t easy, especially when problems such as language barriers and homesickness are in the way. But there are plenty of methods that modern schools are employing to give kids the experiences they need to tackle these problems. From setting up pastoral care systems to offering international curricula, there are many options available.