Photo Contests

New Photo Contest: The Street You Live On (All entries win free premium membership!)

May 16, 2022


How is the street you live on??

Is it interesting to look at? Inspiring to walk on?

Maybe it is full of trees and greenery, or maybe it is lined with apartment buildings that all look the same.

Where an international teacher lives is important, but you don’t always initially get what you are looking for…your dream neighborhood.

But some international school teachers luck out and find the perfect area to live in which matches their hopes and dreams.

Even if it is not on your dream street, wherever you live often becomes your home. And when you live in a certain area for 1+ years, that area creates many fond memories of that time in your life.

At ISC, we are really curious to see the streets our members are living on. The next time you leave for or come back from work, take a picture with your smartphone of the street that you live on. We’ll have a vote and then chose the top 3 photos that are the most interesting to win the photo contest prizes!

So, what is your best of the street you live on? Submit your photo to us and enter our photo contest! All participants receive free premium membership to our website!

Photo contest topic:
Best photo of the street you live on

The PRIZES:
1st prize: 2 YEARS FREE of premium membership
2nd prize: 1 YEAR FREE of premium membership
3rd prize: 6 MONTHS FREE of premium membership

(Those submissions that are not in the top three will receive 1 free week of premium membership just for participating.)

Send your photo to editor @ internationalschoolcommunity.com. Please remember to:

• Write your name and email address
• Attach your picture and write a short description about it
• Enter these words in your subject: International School Community Photo Contest Entry: Best photo of the street you live on

or

Tweet the photo and mention our profile @IS_Community to make sure we will see it. If you are on Instagram, tag us when you post the photo and/or use the official hashtag #iscommunityphoto

(Deadline to submit your photo: Monday, 23 May 2022. Maximum one photo entry per contestant.) Winners will be contacted around 4-5 days after the contest deadline and that is also when all participants will receive their free premium membership prizes.

Check out our previous Photo Contests here.

Photo credits: Pixabay

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Kuwait

May 9, 2022


Around the world, there are countries (like Kuwait) that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

The big question always is…how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same country.

Kuwait

Currently, we have 26 schools listed in Kuwait on International School Community.

17 of these schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are some that have the most submitted comments:

American International School Kuwait (74 Total Comments)
Cambridge English School Mangaf (41 Total Comments)
Ajial Bilingual School (27 Total Comments)
Al Bayan Bilingual School (30 Total Comments)
American Creativity Academy (31 Total Comments)
American School of Kuwait (51 Total Comments)
Dasman Bilingual School (24 Total Comments)
The Universal American School (22 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“Teachers can save 15% of their salary on average and you could definitely support a non-teaching spouse on this salary…” – The Universal American School

“Saving money here is doable if you are conservative. Many staff tutor which almost doubles their income. I know of many staff that tutor enough for their travel and cost of living so they bank near all of their salary. As a single provider with a family tutoring would be a must to save…” – American Creativity Academy

“I can save around 1000 to 1500 USD each month. Kuwait can be an expensive country, but because the dinar is strong (it’s the strongest currency in the world), it doesn’t fluctuate much at all when compared with the dollar…” – Al Bayan Bilingual School

School Campus

“The school is in a new state-of-the art purpose-built building; with a multi-level cinema with a capacity of 80 seats, 2 floors theater of 400 seats, 2 swimming pools, 4 science labs, 4 computer labs, 2 basketball courts, 4 libraries & a 3 cafeterias…” – Ajial Bilingual School

“The school is now in a new building with new equipment and furniture, rooftop playground for seniors and two play areas for Early Years providing climbing equipment, bicycles and imaginative play area…” – Cambridge English School Mangaf

“The school relocated from Surra to its present location in Salmiya, Kuwait City in 1995. The campus, sheltered by a brick wall from the wind and weather, has middle and high school buildings that open onto an interior court in the Arabic style and three elementary buildings that surround an open play area. A 1200 seat auditorium, an indoor gymnasium and a sheltered outdoor gymnasium form another part of the complex. The roof of these structures holds a third story soccer field and running track…” – American International School Kuwait

Housing Information

“Staff housing has very basic furnishing. Nice places though. Need to pay the caretaker 5KWD a month for services. No utilities to pay…” – American International School Kuwait

“Shared accommodation for teachers or a housing allowance. Management have single accommodation. Utilities paid for except gas which is very cheap. There is internet but poor connection so most teachers provide their own…” – Cambridge English School Mangaf

“Foreign hires get single furnished apartments that are well-equipped and very nice…” – Ajial Bilingual School

Benefits for Teachers with Children

“Shameful that an expatriate would have to pay 50% for their child to attend a school where they would be the only non Arab and only English speaker. That 50% means you would still pay about 6000 US…” – American Creativity Academy

“One dependent’s tuition is paid for each contracted teacher…” – American School of Kuwait

“Your first child gets free tuition and the 2nd gets 50% off…” – Dasman Bilingual School

Are the Expectations High of Teaching Staff?

“Teachers without IB experience may find their workload higher than usual until they adjust. Teachers are usually expected to participate in and/or lead extra curricular activities, one day per week…” – American International School Kuwait

“Most staff are there for the money and don’t have high expectations. They arrive as late as possible and leave on the dot…” – Cambridge English School Mangaf

“When I worked there, core subject secondary teachers taught an average of four 45-minute periods per day, with occasional subbing duties. All teachers were required to supervise one after-school extra curricular club or activity for six weeks per year…” –Ajial Bilingual School

(These are just 5 of the 66 different comments topics that are on each school profile page on our website.)

If you work at an international school in Kuwait, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited free premium membership!

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Top 10 Lists

11 International Schools that have a Supportive Environment

May 2, 2022


When there is a supportive environment at a school, then everyone thrives.

But times can get stressful and things can change at the last minute in schools which can cause teachers and other stakeholders to seek help and support.

If there is a supportive environment at a school, then these stakeholders are likely to lend a helping hand to others in need.

There are many stressors at an international school: new students starting all of the time (some that are even new to English), endless meetings (sometimes not so useful for everyone), workload, having to reply to concerning parent emails, etc.

During the COVID19 pandemics, all stakeholders at the school really needed help and support to cope with all of the changes (sometimes very last minute!) to how your school runs their day and teaches their students.

But luckily, there are some international schools out there that have quite nice and supportive environments for their students, teachers, staff, and parents.

So which international schools then have these supportive environments for their stakeholders? Can you guess which countries/schools around the world would make for the best supportive conditions?

Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 166 comments that had the keyword “supportive” in them. Here are 11 of them:

Vietnam

“The school meets my expectations due to on-time and competitive salary / benefits; broad range of Cambridge curriculum, excellent facilities, supportive administration, involved and supportive parents, mostly cooperative colleagues, excellent IT support, fresh and free Vietnamese lunches and incredible students…” – VinSchool The Harmony (18 total comments)

China

“The school has been supportive during the pandemic. During the height, when many teachers we outside of china, the school often let us know that our jobs were safe, which was much appreciated…” – Keystone Academy (189 total comments)

Italy

“For starters administration is awesome. The head of school and principals are supportive and empathetic. Now that the epidemic is ebbing we are starting to have community-building events such as happy hours…” – American Overseas School of Rome (40 total comments)

Argentina

“Appraisals are held by the HoD which are usually very supportive and motivates teachers to improve and develop further their teaching practices…” – St Georges College (27 total comments)

Turkey

“Very well established IGCSE Cambridge school with lots of international teachers. Few students are Turkish. Others are foreigners. Even though students represent many different countries including England, Venezuela, and Korea, they are mostly from Middle Eastern countries. Very supportive staff. No hierarchy at all. You feel real like working in USA or Canada. As long as you treat your students as your King and be loyal to them and master IGCSE you d be doing great there…” – Istanbul International School (15 total comments)

Barbados

“The workload is very manageable due to small class sizes and supportive leadership. There are hardly ever stressful times…” – The Codrington School (International School of Barbados) (111 total comments)

Thailand

“There is a probationary observation after about 3 months then a mixture of formal observations and drop-ins by senior and middle managers. The system is generally positive and supportive…” – Lanna International School (LIST) (55 total comments)

Czechia

“There are sufficient staff children that the school is very flexible and supportive to working parent needs. For example, there is a shuttle bus across the various sites, so if a staff member works at one campus with children at another, the children are transported for free on the shuttle bus…” – Prague British International School (65 total comments)

Bahamas

“If you are active, there is a wonderful community of open water swimmers, bikers, and runners, etc. to connect with. There’s also the annual Conchman triathlon that takes place every November that is a great event to train for and participate in. It really brings the community together and everyone is very supportive. Great for the kids, too. There are other events to look forward to as well, including the annual Bernie Butler’s swim race and beach party in August…” – Lucaya International School (30 total comments)

United Arab Emirates

“The Headteacher is always approachable and will back you and support you. My department was amazing, a great group of people. Very supportive. There is a community feel around the school…” – Ajman Academy (44 total comments)

United Kingdom

“Excellent, caring, supportive teachers who truly understand their students and how they learn best! Lots of wealth & mostly traditional families but it is growing more diverse…” – American School of London (49 total comments)

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Discussion Topics

LEARNING THE HOST COUNTRY LANGUAGE and LOCALS’ LEVEL OF ENGLISH

April 25, 2022


In this article, ISC would like to highlight some of your recent thoughts and experiences on the topic of learning the host-country language and the level of English of the locals living there.

Many seasoned international school teachers want to learn the host-country language and put their best effort into taking classes, etc.

However, that is easier said than done. It can be difficult, expensive and often time-consuming to achieve this goal.

Some international schools offer free host country language classes to their newly hired teachers, but this can be optional and sometimes of a low quality.

And because homelife and the workday for international school teachers are often only in English, teachers really need to make learning the host country’s language a priority.

We asked five seasoned international school teachers their thoughts on some or all of the following questions:

• How often do you speak (or need to speak) the local language while going around your city/country?
• Has the level of English of the locals increased over the past 10, 20 years in your city/country?
• Have you taken language classes, for how long and how did they go for you? Did your school provide free host country language classes?
• Have you ever had to pass a host country language test in order to get permanent residence/citizenship, for example? and how was that experience?
• What is the level of your school’s expat staff with regards to speaking/knowing the local language?

Thoughts from an international school teacher who lived in Lebanon.

When I lived in Beirut, Lebanon, I was very keen to study Arabic there, specifically the local dialect (the spoken Arabic of Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Jordan). I had studied the language some prior to arriving and wanted to become more conversational. I worked in a school that had a lot of Lebanese teachers, so I would hear the language every day in school as well as out around the city which helped me to learn. Our school provided some lessons with an Arabic teacher from our school, but this wasn’t ideal because they put all of us together in one class, whether we were beginners or advanced. I ended up taking some classes at a local language school, which was really great. The challenging part was that I had to travel across the city in traffic to get to the language school and then the class was three hours long, 2x per week. Also, all of the people that I was studying with were full-time students of Arabic, so with a full-time job, it was hard for me to keep up with them! In Beirut, most people are trilingual to some extent (English, French, Arabic), so it is possible to get by without studying the language, but of course, it makes the experience of living there much richer if you do. I had a colleague that studied French while she was in Beirut and that also helped her to connect with locals.

Thoughts from an international school teacher on their entire career abroad so far.

I’ve committed to three languages in the past 20 years while living abroad. Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. [I will be] adding Arabic to the mix when I move to the UAE in August and use my High School/Uni French in my kindergarten teaching (along with English).

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in Portugal.

In the school, there is minimal need to speak the language (Portuguese). Since we are an English medium school, almost all staff are fluent or at least functional in English. At times, it is easier to communicate with some of the staff in Portuguese, but that is rare. Since Portugal´ s economy is very heavily based on tourism, English is a required course in public schools. Although many people complain that it is not well done or the standards are not high, my experience has been that a large percentage of younger people in major cities speak English well. I have not seen a huge shift in this over the past 10 years that I have been here.

I took private lessons once per week from a former colleague. Having spoken Spanish for more than ½ my life, there were times when that was helpful. For others, it created much more confusion than help. Some false cognates could be rather embarrassing. Did my school provide free host country language classes? No. there was ongoing discussion of it, but it never panned out.

For citizenship, I was required to prove that I was at an A2 (high beginner-low intermediate) level. Although the design of the test was different from any I´ ve experienced before, it was relatively easy. For the oral portion, it was very much dependent on the level of the other student you were randomly paired with. I was paired with a person who used Portuguese in business every day, and we had a lively and interesting discussion, so it went very well. My partner was paired with someone who lived entirely in a predominantly English-speaking area of the country and had very little experience or skill. As a result, my partner’s score was negatively affected.

Approximately 50% of our staff speak several different languages, and many have picked up a conversational level of Portuguese fairly quickly. Those who don´ t have admittedly not made an effort to do so. One final point I would make is that as immigrants to a country, we have a responsibility to show respect for that country, by at least attempting the language. In Portugal, people are appreciative of the efforts of foreigners to try to learn the language and are very patient with mistakes. An attempt to learn the host country’s language is a sign of respect toward that country, and its people.

Thoughts from an international school teacher on living in a number of countries.

This is an area of high concern for me, and I am rather disappointed in the level of support I have found in the schools I’ve been with. I was on active duty from the mid-70s for 15 years, and in that time, one of the first things I tried to do was learn the language where I was stationed. I was rather successful, as I still speak three of those languages well enough to get by. However, in each international school, I have taught, I have asked if there were host-nation language classes provided for the teachers. Only one, in Manila, had anything. While my current school is in a country where English is one of the national languages, in other countries that wasn’t the case. In one country where the local language was Arabic, the number of people downtown who spoke English was quite limited, making it difficult to do simple things like buying a phone load, groceries, paying for electricity, and even buying gas. While I tried learning the language by myself there, and in Korea, the differences in writing and the lack of cognates to link to my Romance languages left me floundering. This is one area where the schools can easily provide lessons at minimal expense, yet make the expat teachers’ lives much more simple AND help them understand and appreciate the host-nation culture.

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in Budapest.

When I was offered a job in Budapest, Hungary, I was excited at the prospect of learning a new language “from the beginning” and even took a few introductory lessons before moving. Once I got to Budapest, many people discouraged me from learning the language saying it was “too hard” and “not useful outside of Hungary – don’t waste your time.” After a bit of time in the country, I decided that I didn’t really love the language, and I thought my time might be better spent pursuing other languages that I had already invested in studying (that I was actually interested in). I didn’t realize at the time that I would stay in Hungary so long and looking back, I now know that it would have been useful to study the local language. English is spoken more and more around Budapest, but it is mostly the younger generation that is learning it in school now (as opposed to in the past when Russian or German was more widely studied). There can be some challenges in not speaking the local language when going to shops or non-touristy places in the city – and definitely outside of Budapest. Luckily the school helps us with everything related to housing, cars, contracts, etc., so that part is not a problem at all!

These statements were submitted anonymously by ISC members. Thanks! If you are also interested in sharing your thoughts and perspective, please contact us here.

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Information for Members

Become an ISC Mayor and Get Unlimited Free Premium Membership

April 17, 2022


Our mission for the International School Community website is to have the most updated information about what it is like to work at the numerous international schools around the world. One way to help us achieve that mission is to have Mayors.

Being a Mayor is super easy, and the best part is that you get unlimited free premium membership to our website!

And ANYONE can be the Mayor of their school. Most of our active Mayors are just regular teachers at their schools, but we also have heads of schools, HR representatives, principals, etc. as Mayors as well.

Mayors are commenting on the school and the benefits information, but they also comment on the city and travel information of the country as well. Mayors also don’t need to represent all aspects and perspectives of the school. They are recommended to just share their experience and perspective on living and working at that international school and in that city/country.

Mayor Responsibilities:

• Submit at least 3-6 new comments on your school every 1-2 months (on the 68 different comment topics). It takes like 5-8 minutes of your time to do this. It will take a Mayor 2 years to submit one comment in all 68 comment topics.

• Make sure to check on your school’s Wall and occasionally post updates about their school (any big changes to the school that are happening, good tips to know about, recent events at the schools, etc.)

• Make sure that your school has the most updated and correct information (e.g. basic info, links, Facebook page, Youtube video, etc.) on the Overview and Social Media tabs.

• Submit job vacancies that are currently available at your school.

Here are just a few of the almost 700+ schools that have or have had a Mayor on our website:

Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 547 Comments

NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 304 Comments

Tarsus American College (Mersin, Turkey) – 278 Comments

Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 168 Comments

American School Foundation of Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico) – 129 Comments

Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 180 Comments

Yongsan International School of Seoul (Seoul, South Korea) – 145 Comments

Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 414 Comments

Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 223 Comments

American International School Dhaka (Dhaka, Bangladesh) – 130 Comments

International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 135 Comments

Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 193 Comments

Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) – 157 Comments

The more Mayors that we have on our website means the more our members will be informed; as there will be more up-to-date information on the schools they want to know about!

Become the Mayor of an international school that you work at today!

Screenshot 2015-10-20 18.23.34

Please note that being the Mayor of a school is anonymous and that all comments and job vacancies submitted on our website are also done so anonymously. Posting on the school profile page wall though is not anonymous.

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