Teaching and Learning Abroad for Ontario Educators

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Teach Abroad involves working as an educator overseas; Learn Abroad involves chaperoning students on an international learning excursion or participating in a professional development activity.  Opportunities for Ontario teachers wishing to participate in a Teach Abroad or Learn Abroad international education experience have existed for many years.  Teach Abroad and Learn Abroad PD experiences serve to enrich teaching upon the teacher’s return to Ontario, and participating educators are expected to the share new or alternative educational approaches with colleagues.

A Variety of Teach Abroad/Learn Abroad Opportunities

There is a wide variety of Study Abroad and Learn Abroad programs, and the duration of the learning experience may range from a brief visit of days or weeks to an extended period over several semesters or even years.  Teach Abroad opportunities tend to be governed by policies and procedures within each school board, the years of teaching experience and recommendations from administrators, the initiative of individual educators, and the expenses involved.

Teach Abroad and Learn Abroad opportunities for Ontario educators tend to fall into the following categories:

  • International Trip: A school or community organized international trip of 1-2 weeks in duration and organized by educators or travel organizations which cater specifically to students. Often these trips will involve touring a certain geographical area or country based on a theme, such as the “Canadian Battlefields of WWI” or the “Art of the Renaissance Painters.”  Students and educators would usually be accommodated in hotels on these kinds of excursions; consequently, this type of Learn Abroad experience is fairly expensive.  These trips include “Service education” trips with students.
  • Short Term Study Tour: These are educational tours that are organized to expose educators to the educational systems and culture in different countries. These study tours may take place during the school year, but usually occur during school holidays or during the summer break and are 1 to 2 weeks in duration. These tours tend to be organized by specific organizations, limited to specific subject areas and take place on an annual basis,  such as the Goethe Institute Transatlantic Outreach Program (TOP) Fellowships  [ www.goethe.de/ins/us/en/spr/eng/top/top_teachers/top_study_tour.html ] or the Kezai Koho Centre Fellowships to Japan [ www.kkc.or.jp/english/fellowship/fellowships/index.html ].  Many of these study tours are wholly sponsored by institutions and there is no or only nominal cost to the teachers awarded a fellowship. Note that these types of scholarship programs receive many applicants and are extremely competitive and may have limited places for Canadian educators.  A limited number of scholarships for educators in specific subject areas are the Fulbright Scholarships: www.fulbright.ca
  • International Teaching Exchange:  A teaching exchange may involve a short term reciprocal visit between countries, or be a stay of one year or more.  Teachers apply and are partnered with an educator in a participating country or jurisdiction and the teachers essentially “swap” jobs.  Often the exchange partners will exchange living accommodations an automobiles as well. Each situation will depend on the exchange partners involved.  Understandably, a year long exchange requires a great deal of paperwork, including such requirements as visas, medical clearances, etc. and can be expensive as travel costs, legal costs and medical costs may not be reimbursed. Family responsibilities may also need to be considered. A reciprocal  international teaching experience is a very “rich” teacher experience and allows for integrating into a new educational environment and offers opportunities to immerse oneself in a different culture,  make new acquaintances and travel.

Information on international teaching exchanges for Ontario teachers can be obtained at the Canadian Education Exchange Foundation which two different types of exchange programs:

The Educator Exchange Program

Short Term Principal and Administrator Exchanges

  • International Schools: Teaching in an international school provides many possibilities for Canadian teachers, and potentially opens up chances to work and live in many countries throughout one’s teaching career.  Canadian teachers are well respected for their educational training and professionalism, and many international schools actively recruit Canadian teachers, especially in countries where parents are interested in having their children taught by educators who have English or French as first languages.  Most of the companies that recruit international teachers are privately owned and participate in teacher recruitment fairs. One of the oldest and largest international teacher recruitment fairs is the Teachers’ Overseas Recruiting Fair (TORF) [www.educ.queensu.ca/torf/teachers] which is held annually each January and is organized by Queen’s University Faculty of Education. Other Ontario universities which have a Faculty of Education also organize international recruitment fairs.

    Another avenue for teaching overseas is through a secondment with the Canadian Department of National Defence which operates two schools in Europe

  • While a few Ontario school boards are beginning to offer bursaries and scholarships in order to encourage and enable more teachers to participate in Study Abroad and Learn Aboard experiences, in general there is little financial support available.

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