Date of Award

12-2018

Culminating Project Type

Thesis

Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.

Department

English

College

College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

James Robinson

Second Advisor

Choonkyong Kim

Third Advisor

Judith Dorn

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

teachers abroad, teachers overseas, intercultural adjustment, working abroad, culture in the workplace, education

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to analyze how teachers adjusted to living and teaching overseas. Many teachers choose to move abroad for their careers, or for a portion of their careers. It is therefore vital that they adjust to the host culture and host culture within the educational institute, with a level of adaptability and cultural sensitivity. Some teachers appear to adapt well while others seem to struggle, causing distress for themselves and their workplace. The scope of this research was wide, searching for common themes regarding cultural adjustment among those living abroad as teachers. Eleven teachers were interviewed using a qualitative, ethnographic approach. The teachers were all currently teaching abroad or had recently taught abroad (within the last 12 months) in countries outside of the United States. The average length of time abroad was five years. Their responses resulted in a variety of topics concerning cultural adjustment; these were organized into four larger themes, including: 1) positive orientation towards different cultures, 2) school and workplace adjustment, 3) family and home life, and 4) additional factors. The results were then applied as strategies for international schools and international teachers to use to better support teachers’ intercultural adjustment. The implications included seven strategies: 1) hiring teachers with previous experiences abroad or interest in other cultures and languages, 2) providing initial support and orientation programs, 3) choosing a positive mindset towards the host culture, 4) developing a support network with other international teachers and with local people, 5) accepting and valuing cultural differences in the workplace, 6) appreciating the benefits that the differences in cultures offers, and 7) prioritizing immediate family needs. This research should be helpful for both international teachers and schools abroad who hire teachers from overseas in any capacity.

Comments/Acknowledgements

First, I would like to thank my Committee Chair and Advisor, Dr. James H. Robinson. His consistent support and guidance was critical throughout my studies and this research paper.

I also want to thank my committee members, Dr. Choonkyong Kim and Dr. Judith A. Dorn. Their input deepened my understanding of my project and of the research process.

Next, I want to thank the participants who shared their stories of their lives abroad to inform this research. Their stories clearly illuminated this growing group of teachers.

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