Are you inspired to start-up a blog about your adventures living abroad and working at an international school?
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“Last Sunday, Anna and I had our good friends Frankie and Keith to visit from Bishkek, where they have recently moved. Keith used to live in Almaty and Frankie had been before so it was trickier to wow them with the ‘go-to’ visitor activities. (The top choices being Big Almaty Lake, Kok Tobe etc. which are great by the way.) So we decided to go a pigeon market we’d heard of. We have actually tried to go to this pigeon market a number of times but always end up lolling about having brunch and missing it as it closes at 12. But, finally, we made it there and it was definitely worth the wait.
The market is right next to Kazan Cathedral, the oldest Orthodox Cathedral in Almaty, debating back to 1854. The cathedral is plainer than most orthodox churches I have visited before and has a refreshing amount of fresh flowers. It is also home to a cat and a small but nifty little gift shop. I’d highly recommend the gift shop if you really like gold things with saints faces on which I really, really do. To work out where church is- check out the map on this Tripadvisor page…”
How fun to visit the local markets in your host country. You really get a firsthand look at the locals and what they are buying and selling. Of course, the best ones are the ones that are selling things that you would consider a bit strange; crickets, exotic animals, and pigeons!
After searching the keyword “market” on our Comment Search page, we found 76 comments. Here is one of them from Qatar Academy (Sidra): “Once the weather cools, there is an outdoor market next MIA (museum of Islamic Art) they sell food from around the world – Indian, Arabic, Thai, American, etc…clothes, art, knick knacks. It’s a nice way to spend the weekend outside, it’s one of the largest green spaces in Qatar and great for families too. I generally bring a blanket and a book during the winter months when it’s not hot and the sun isn’t intense for long periods of time (though there are shaded areas too.)”
“Most people in Almaty are bilingual and many speak three or four languages. The two big languages in the city are Russian and Kazakh. Linguistically unrelated, Russian is a Slavic language whereas Kazakh is Turkic. Kazakh is on the rise but in central Almaty Russian is the language you hear floating around the streets. Both are written in the Cyrillic alphabet but Kazakh has some bonus letters added. In 2015, the Minster of Sports and Culture announced that there would be a gradual move to transfer Kazakh into the Latin alphabet. We hope this doesn’t happen. The Uzbek government has been promoting the use of the Uzbek in the Latin script since the early 2000s. However, the strange mixture of Cyrillic and Latin Uzbek all over Tashkent hurt our eyes and brains.…”
It is interesting the language abilities of the local people. Good to know about these abilities before you move there so you can get prepared. Luckily, we have a comment topic related to the language of the local people. It is called: “Languages of the host city and the level of English spoken there.” Here is a sample comment from this topic from Alexandria International Academy: “Language in Egypt is Egyptian Arabic. Many younger people people some English, though the level is usually fairly low. It’s generally easy enough to get around with a basic understanding of Arabic, but the locals can tend not to be very helpful when language difficulties arise.”
Want to work for an international school in Kazakhstan like these bloggers? Currently, we have 17 international school teachers that have listed that they currently live in this country. Check them out here. We also have one member that is from this country.
Kazakhstan may not spring to mind as an obvious destination for either vacation or career, but for UK teacher Ian Shotter, it’s proving so successful that he’s hoping to stay for another five years if not more. “I’m really enjoying the opportunities that the position has provided me with,” he says, talking about his job as ICT teacher at the NIS school in Almaty.
Now well into his first year of teaching in Kazakhstan, Ian says the experience is both challenging and rewarding. “We use a curriculum provided by Cambridge,” he says referring to the new Kazakhstan curriculum which has been written in association with Cambridge University and is introducing rigorous skill development and progression to the country. ”The ideas are sound and we hope that the curriculum format will improve the learning of students here,” Ian explains. “The students soak up everything that you are prepared to give them. It is my intention to stay in Kazakhstan for the next five years if there’s a position here for me.”
NIS schools lead educational reform
There are NIS (Nazarbayev Intellectual School Network) schools in several locations throughout Kazakhstan including the capital Astana and the cities of Semey, Kokshetau, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Taldykorgan and Uralsk, all of which are leading a programme of educational reform in the country. The aim is to develop a new way of educating local Kazakh students and the NIS Network is enlisting the skills of qualified, experienced English-speaking teachers to spearhead the progress. Ian is one of these teachers. He trained as a teacher in the UK and had worked for several years in secondary schools and academies in England which helped in his recruitment to NIS. “The way teachers teach here it is quite different to the UK way and you need to adjust to the language barriers but I think that I have adjusted reasonably quickly,” he says.
Ian is teaching ICT in English to local students in collaboration with local teachers. This mentoring process is one of the specific roles for the expatriate teachers and involves supporting the Kazakh teachers with teaching, planning and assessment. Corey Johnson is doing the same as a Geography teacher.
Gaining from cultural differences
Corey is a Social Studies teacher originally from Missouri, USA. “The curriculum is very different from the one I used in America so I had to learn a lot about it very quickly,” he says. “Doing this was hard work at the beginning, but I have quickly adapted. The teachers I work with are very diverse, and that is different than the schools I worked at in America. Also the students come from a different culture and background and this means I have to be aware of cultural differences, and adapt my teaching to fit my students. Even though all of these teachers and students come from different backgrounds they find a way to work together in harmony, and I think that is pretty amazing,” he adds.
In addition to their teaching, both Corey and Ian are enjoying discovering many new social experiences in Kazakhstan too. “Adjusting to life in a new country is always challenging, but it is also rewarding,” says Corey. “The food here is great. I was surprised at how friendly and kind the people are; it really helps the transition to living here.”
Corey has now been teaching internationally for seven years and says that each time he moves to a new country, he gains more experience. “Saying goodbye is a hard thing to do, but knowing that a grand adventure is waiting for you out there is very enticing,” he says, adding that flexibility, adaptability, strength of character, and an adventurous spirit are all necessary qualities for teaching internationally. He offers advice to others considering it as a career option: “Take everything for what it is, and don’t compare where you are to your home country. Of course it’s not the same; things are different, and some things are hard, but that is the adventure of it all. Enjoy yourself, and you will have a lifetime of memories to look back on after your time is finished.”
Increasing options for international teaching
Since taking on his first international posting in 2005, the opportunities available to Corey in international schools have increased significantly. “The number of international schools around the world is growing at a phenomenal rate,” explains Andrew Wigford, Director of Teachers International Consultancy, an organisation that specialises in the recruitment of teachers for international positions. “Many international schools provide excellent learning provision for both expatriate children and for local children who are seeking an English-speaking education. Most international schools have a very good reputation for learning and for the higher education opportunities that they provide, and this is fueling their growth. There are some regions of the world, such as Dubai, where the number of international schools is simply not meeting the demand and so right now schools are continually expanding. There are other regions, such as Singapore, where the international schools are helping to support new global business development due to the education infrastructure suitable for expatriate students that is being put in place. And there are other places such as Kazakhstan where international schools are actually changing the face of education throughout the country. It’s a very exciting time for teachers who have good experience and skills and who want to travel. Not always is it sunshine and sand that motivates a teacher to select a destination. Corey and Ian are both examples of teachers who have selected their teaching job for quite different reasons. Being part of educational reform is a compelling, challenging and rare experience and one that they are bound to gain from both professionally and personally.”
The Nazarbayev Intellectual School Network is continuing to recruit experienced English-speaking teachers to support Kazakhstan’s education reform.
Teachers International Consultancy offers a recruitment, placement and advisory service for qualified teachers from all over the world who are looking for jobs in international schools including those at NIS in Kazakhstan. The service is completely free to teachers. For more information visit www.ticrecruitment.comcontinue reading