How to make friends in a New Country as a TEFL Teacher

How to make friends in a New Country as a TEFL Teacher

Moving to a new country as a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher can be an exhilarating yet daunting experience. Amidst the excitement of exploring a new culture and embarking on a rewarding professional journey, there often lurks a sense of isolation.

Global English TESOL recently spoke to Louise Bezuidenhout, a TEFL teacher in Vietnam, about her journey as a teacher in two countries. After starting her teaching career in China, Louise now enjoys living in Vietnam where she has made many new friends after joining the local Australian Football League (AFL).

If you are thinking of making an international move to teach English abroad, here are a few tips from Global English TESOL to help you navigate your new journey:


Embrace Cultural Immersion

One of the most effective ways to make friends in a new country is to immerse yourself fully in the local culture. Take the time to learn about local customs, traditions, and social norms. Show genuine interest in your surroundings, and don't hesitate to engage with locals in meaningful conversations. Demonstrating respect for their culture and willingness to learn goes a long way in fostering connections.


Seek Out Fellow Expatriates

As a TEFL teacher, you're likely to encounter other expatriates who share similar experiences and challenges. Reach out to fellow teachers, both within your school and through online forums or social media groups. Attend expat meetups, language exchange events, or cultural gatherings where you can connect with like-minded individuals who understand the ups and downs of living abroad.


Volunteer or Join Clubs and Activities

Engaging in volunteer work or joining clubs and activities aligned with your interests is an excellent way to meet new people while contributing to the community. Whether it's joining a sports team like Louise, attending art classes, or volunteering at a local charity, participating in shared activities provides a natural context for forming friendships based on mutual interests.


Learn the Language

While fluency in the local language may not be essential, making an effort to learn basic phrases and greetings can go a long way in bridging cultural gaps and building rapport with locals. Consider enrolling in language classes or practicing with language exchange partners to improve your communication skills and demonstrate respect for the host culture.


Be Proactive and Take Initiative

Don't wait for friendships to come to you—take the initiative to reach out and make plans. Invite colleagues or acquaintances for coffee, dinner, or weekend outings. Organise social gatherings or cultural excursions where you can bring people together and create opportunities for bonding. Remember that building friendships requires effort from both parties, so don't be afraid to take the lead.


Tips for teaching English in China: 

* the Premier 120-hr TESOL for Asia as a basic qualification
* the 30-hour Teaching English to Young Learners course as this will be useful
* consider applying via an agency to compare jobs. Global English TESOL graduates have access to the schools and job agencies listed on our site; many offering return flights, housing allowance and competitive salary.


Not TEFL certified yet? Try…


Global English 120-Hour Premier Level 3 Course


Global English Advanced Tesol 150-hour Level 4 Course


Global English 250-Hour Tesol Professional Level 5 Course

  • Author: Annine Siddall
  • Date: 20/03/2024

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