Your new international teaching role

Settling into your new role in an international school

Embarking on your first teaching adventure abroad is both thrilling and nerve-wracking.

Here are some valuable tips to help you navigate the transition smoothly and make the most of your exciting experience!

Preparation is key

Even before you board the plane, take time to research and get to know your international school’s country. It’s invaluable to study its culture, customs, and local norms. This will not only make you feel more confident upon arrival but also help you avoid unintentional cultural missteps.

While fluency in the local language might not be necessary, knowing a few key phrases can go a long way in building connections and showing respect to your new community.

Do gather all necessary documents such as your professional qualifications, passport, visa, work permits, and any other required paperwork well in advance a some may need to be certified in advance and this will take time. Finally, do also keep both physical and digital copies in a secure location.

When securing an international teaching position with an agency your accommodation will be a significant part of the package and knowing where you are setting up your new life will ease your initial transition. It is important before arriving in country that you know there is safe and comfortable place to stay to help you adjust to your new surroundings.

Try to engage in community events, join social groups, and attend networking gatherings to meet new people. A trusted international teacher recruitment agency will signpost a support system, whether with fellow expatriates or knowledge of the school’s onboarding system to give you a confident start for work life balance.

Teaching abroad offers opportunities to embrace cultural differences. It’s important to approach these experiences  with an open mind and be willing to learn from the new environment and adapt to local customs. Remember, your openness will help you connect with your students and colleagues.

Now let’s turn to the key reason why you are there – to thrive in the classroom! It’s important to familiarize yourself with the curriculum, teaching methods, and classroom expectations of your new school. This understanding will help you deliver effective lessons and connect with your students. Furthermore it will support the development of positive relationships with your students, colleagues, and administrators and create a welcoming and inclusive classroom environment that will set the tone for a successful teaching experience.

Being away from family and the challenges of teaching abroad can be demanding and self-care must be a priority. It is advisable to engage in activities you enjoy, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and seek support if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Stay healthy by taking care of your physical well-being, eating nutritious meals, staying active, and getting enough sleep. Familiarize yourself with local healthcare options as well.

This is an important time to keep a journal or blog to chronicle your experiences as the time will go so quickly and the challenges and triumphs will not only serve as a personal keepsake, but it could also inspire others who are considering teaching abroad.

Finally, teaching abroad for the first time is a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth. By preparing thoroughly, embracing cultural differences, connecting with your community, and focusing on your well-being, you can make the most of this transformative experience.

FAQ’s from International Teachers
  1.  Do I need to be fluent in the local language to teach abroad? While fluency is beneficial, many international schools offer programs in English. Learning some basic phrases will be helpful, but you can still succeed without complete fluency.
  2. How can I overcome homesickness while teaching abroad? Stay connected with loved ones through video calls and social media. Engage in local activities, make new friends, and give yourself time to adapt to your new environment.
  3. What’s the best way to immerse myself in the local culture? Participate in cultural events, try local foods, and engage in community activities. Building relationships with locals will provide you with insights into their way of life.
  4. How can I handle the challenges of a different education system? Attend professional development sessions offered by your school, seek guidance from experienced colleagues, and maintain an open dialogue with your students and administrators.
  5. What resources are available for handling unexpected situations abroad? Familiarize yourself with the nearest embassy or consulate, have emergency contacts saved, and learn about local emergency services. Your school’s administrative staff can also provide guidance in case of unexpected situations.

Teaching abroad is a remarkable journey of cultural exchange and personal development. By approaching it with curiosity, flexibility, and a willingness to learn, you’ll not only excel in the classroom but also create lasting memories that will shape your teaching career.



Teaching Abroad in Dubai

Dubai (or Dubayy) is one of seven territories that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE), situated in the Persian Gulf. It is the second largest city in the country and is well-known for its iconic skyscrapers, luxury shopping malls and an increasing number of international schools.

There are a significant number of international schools in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with many located in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The exact number can vary depending on the source, but according to the UAE Ministry of Education, there were approximately 624 private schools in the country in the 2019-2020 academic year. Many of these schools are international in nature and offer a range of curricula, including British, American, International Baccalaureate (IB), and other national systems. It is expected that the number of international schools across the UAE will continue to grow, as the country seeks to expand its education sector and attract more foreign students and teachers.

Teaching in Dubai

Teaching at an international school in Dubai can be a unique and rewarding experience, but as with any international teaching experience, cultural differences can present a challenge. Stringent research into the region, school, and community is highly recommended.

Dubai is known for its modern facilities and infrastructure, and international schools are no exception. Many schools have state-of-the-art technology and facilities, which can enhance the teaching and learning experience. Of course, with exceptional resources comes high academic expectations. International teachers will need to be prepared to work hard and maintain high standards in order to meet the expectations of their schools and students.

Earning potential is significantly increased in Dubai because your income, as a foreigner, can be enjoyed tax-free and salaries for international teachers are generally competitive. However, it is important to know that the cost of living in the city can also be high, depending on your lifestyle. Importantly, most international schools in Dubai will offer additional benefits in their teacher contracts, such as; housing, health insurance, and annual airfare allowances.

Life outside of school

As a foreigner, living abroad in Dubai offers a unique blend of modern amenities, cultural diversity, and a high standard of living.

Known for its modern and innovative architecture, transportation systems, and other infrastructure, Dubai is an easy place to get around. The city’s transportation system includes a metro, buses, taxis, and ride-sharing services like Uber and Careem. The city’s modern amenities, world-class healthcare and education systems, make it a comfortable and convenient place to live and work. Therefore, it is an attractive destination for expats from around the world.

It is a melting pot of cultures and nationalities, with people from all over the world living and working in the city. The expat community in Dubai is welcoming and inclusive, and is estimated to be around 90% of the total population! This diversity is reflected in the city’s food, culture, and social scene, with a number of expat clubs and organisations that offer social events and networking opportunities. You can also take advantage of online forums and social media groups designed to help expats to connect before you arrive in the country.

Outside of school, international teachers can enjoy a wide range of activities including world-class shopping malls, beautiful beaches, and a range of recreational activities. If you are not relaxing on  Jumeirah Beach, why not take in a traditional souk (market), or get your adrenaline fix at one of the many theme parks. As the sun sets, there is a chance to take full advantage of Dubai’s vibrant nightlife. There is a range of bars, nightclubs, and entertainment venues. Some of the most popular venues include Zero Gravity, White Dubai, and Barasti Beach Bar.

Local laws

In the context of the United Arab Emirates, an emirate is one of the seven constituent regions or territories that make up the country, each with its own ruler or prince. Each emirate has its own government and laws, but they all work together under a federal system led by the President of the UAE, who is elected by the seven emirates.

As a foreigner living in Dubai, it is important to keep in mind that the laws and regulations in Dubai can be strict, and punishments for breaking the law can be severe. You should always do your own research before travelling but here are some key laws and regulations to keep in mind:

  • Islam is the dominant religion in Dubai, and it is important to show respect for local customs and religious practices. This includes avoiding eating, drinking, or smoking in public during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.
  • While alcohol is available in some bars and restaurants in Dubai, it is illegal to consume alcohol in public places, including beaches and parks. Drinking and driving is also strictly prohibited.
  • Dubai is a conservative city, and it is important to dress modestly, especially in public places. Men and women should avoid wearing revealing clothing, and women should cover their shoulders and knees.
  • Public displays of affection, including kissing and holding hands, are considered inappropriate and can result in legal action.
  • Possession and use of illegal drugs is strictly prohibited in Dubai, and offenders can face severe penalties, including imprisonment and deportation.
  • Photographing government buildings, military installations, and airports is prohibited, and taking photographs of people without their permission can be considered an invasion of privacy.

Final thoughts:

If you’re considering teaching in an international school in Dubai, we are most certainly here to help. But, we always advise that you do a little research of your own too. 

Research the schools and try to find a shortlist of schools that align with your teaching philosophy and experience. Research the culture so that you understand a little more about the expectations around dress, behaviour and social interactions. Consider the cost of living particularly when negotiating salary. Be prepared for the weather. Dubai is a hot and arid climate with temperatures often exceeding 40°C in the summer. 

Finally, teaching abroad can be a truly enriching opportunity for personal and professional growth. Do your research, prepare for the challenges, and embrace the experience.




Living and teaching in Kuwait

Nestled in the Arabian Gulf, Kuwait may be considered small compared to its neighbours, but this little oasis packs quite the punch for international school teachers.

Around 70% of Kuwait’s total population is made up of expats, meaning that there is a strong western influence in the country. That being said, teaching at an international school in Kuwait can be a rewarding experience for educators looking to teach in a multicultural environment. And there are plenty of schools to choose from.

International schools in Kuwait typically follow either an American, British or International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, so teachers with experience in these curricula are currently in great demand. Some of these schools are also accredited by organisations such as the Council of International Schools (CIS), the Council of British International Schools (COBIS), the Association of British Schools Overseas (AoBSO) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).

Typically, an international school in Kuwait will offer competitive salaries, accommodation or housing allowances, health insurance, and other benefits. Kuwait is also a tax-free country, which means that teachers can potentially save a significant amount of their income. Making it a very attractive location for teachers that are new to overseas education or those that come with a wealth of experience. Outside of school, Kuwait offers a unique cultural experience with a mix of traditional Arab and modern Western influences. The country is also known for its hospitality, and expatriates are often welcomed and supported by the local community.

However, it is important to understand that living and teaching in Kuwait can also come with its challenges. The country has a hot and arid climate, which may not be suitable for everyone, particularly if you are travelling from cooler climates. The culture and customs may be different from what teachers are used to, and there may be language barriers to overcome. Expatriates living in Kuwait also need to be aware of the country’s laws and regulations, which can be strict and conservative. For example, alcohol consumption is strictly prohibited in public, and there are dress codes and other social norms that foreigners need to follow.

It is crucial that you do your research so that you are prepared for the cultural differences and potential challenges that may arise. It is essential that you also spend time researching the specific international school that you are considering applying for. If possible, try to talk to current or former teachers to get a better idea of what to expect.

More about Kuwait:

Kuwait is a country located in the Middle East, on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Iraq to the north and west, Saudi Arabia to the south and west, and the Persian Gulf to the east. It is a small country, with an area of around 17,820 square kilometres (6,880 square miles), making it one of the smallest countries in the region.

Having come through rapid development and plenty of political turmoil in the 1980s and 1990s, Kuwait is now a stable country with an oil-rich economy and a booming expat population. The country has a population of around 4.5 million people, with a large expatriate community living and working in the country.

The official language of Kuwait is Arabic, which is widely spoken throughout the country and lessons are mandatory in all schools. Kuwaiti Arabic is the local dialect spoken by the majority of Kuwaitis and is distinct from other dialects of Arabic spoken in the region. However, due to the large expatriate community, English is also widely spoken and understood, particularly in international schools, businesses, and government offices. Other languages spoken include Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog, and Bengali, among others, which are primarily used by expatriate communities from South Asia and the Philippines.

Between the end of October and mid-April, the temperatures in Kuwait are usually somewhere in the twenties (degrees C). From May to September, however, it’s not uncommon to see highs of 45 degrees Celsius. Due to the intensity of the summer heat, the international school term finishes in mid-June, giving teachers approximately 10 weeks’ holiday over the summer.

Teaching in Kuwait with a family

If you are travelling with a family and have children of school age, you may want to consider whether the international school setting is the right fit for them.


Kuwait’s international schools are usually large in size. Some schools have over 2000 students on campus; where the average class size is 25 students or less.

Final thoughts:

Make sure you have the necessary qualifications to teach in Kuwait. This typically includes a degree in your subject specialism and a Bachelor’s in Education for Primary teachers, as well as relevant teaching experience.

Be open-minded: Kuwait is a culturally diverse country, and you will likely encounter customs and practices that are different from what you are used to.

Learn some Arabic: Even basic phrases and greetings can go a long way in building relationships and showing respect for the local culture.

Embrace the experience: Teaching in an international school in Kuwait can be a unique and rewarding experience. Use the opportunity to learn and grow as an educator, immerse yourself in a new culture, and make lasting connections with people from all over the world.



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