When I heard the first time about the possibility of teaching abroad during my studies, I was so excited. I’m looking forward to becoming a teacher and I love to travel and experience new cultures. Teaching abroad meant I can combine my two passions. I really wanted to experience a Swiss school abroad. I was wondering whether the conditions were the same as in the schools in Switzerland. Furthermore, the timing was very perfect, as I just completed my language course in France and I was ready to teach abroad in French as well.
The Swiss school is small and they offer classes from kindergarten to 9th grade. Some teachers have known the children for 11 years and were able to build valuable “teacher-student relationships”. This gives the school a family friendly atmosphere and I really enjoyed it and felt comfortable instantly.
Looking back at my time in Italy I have some lessons learned that will be most relevant for my future career as a teacher in Switzerland:
The students speak Italian at home and they have only been learning German for about five years. When I decided to teach abroad, I was scared to go to Italy because I can’t speak Italian and I didn’t know whether I could build a relationship with the children. However, the kids were wonderful and I was able to develop a very good teacher-student-relationship despite the lack of my Italian.
The focus at the Swiss school is to help the students learn German fluently. As a result, they have advanced tools, methods and exercises for German-as-a-foreign-lessons that provide the best learning experience for the children. This experience was very valuable for me and I will be reusing the methods I learned. This is especially relevant, because Switzerland has increasingly diverse classrooms with children who speak German as a second language. Finally, I would like to mention and highlight again, my experience showed me that even if the children cannot speak German perfectly, you can build a pleasant relationship with them.
*please note that the participant was part of the proof of concept project at the FHNW PH and organized her internship abroad by herself without the support of Backpack2school.