Living Abroad, Learning Online: Easing Your Student’s Transition
New languages, customs, foods, and adventure await American families temporarily moving abroad. Together, you’ll face exciting, even life-changing, opportunities to explore other cultures and lands. But as exciting as these opportunities are, transitions and logistics can also be tough—especially when it comes to schooling in a foreign country.
Do you immerse your students in the local school? Or do you opt for an online international solution?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but there are common questions every expat family must face. Today, we’ll answer some of those questions, contrasting your local school options abroad with International Connections Academy’s (iNaCA’s) private online school for students in grades K–12.
Getting Started with 5 Basic Questions
- How difficult is it to enroll my children in our host country’s local school? Like in the United States, public schools across the globe run on tax money, and many countries will require you to obtain a student visa before your children can attend their schools. You’ll also need to provide transcripts and complete any required health forms and other paperwork. These may require translation if you’re moving to a non-English-speaking country. Unless you work for an organization that provides relocation support services, you may find yourself navigating these waters alone. By contrast, enrolling at iNaCA is as simple as transferring to a new school in the United States, which is perhaps simpler because you’ll be assigned an admissions advisor to walk you through the entire process. No translation required. Which brings us to another common question…
- Will my children be at a disadvantage at a local school if they can’t speak the local language? Most likely yes. If your children don’t have a background in the language, they will be unable to capture all of the intricacies of their teachers’ instruction and teacher-to-student and student-to-student communication. This adds another layer of challenge for students trying to learn new skills and adapt to a completely new environment. If you choose this route, you’ll want to be prepared to step in and find additional resources if your students start to struggle or experience stress. While immersion in a non-English-speaking school can help your student gain fluency in the local language, you’ll want to weigh that advantage carefully against your student’s educational goals and personal preferences. At iNaCA, however, all classes are conducted online in English. Many of our teachers also have a background in teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages).
- Will my students be accepted by the local community if I enroll them in a local school? Some countries and communities are more welcoming than others. Rapidly changing global attitudes make it increasingly difficult to predict which communities will embrace your student. The more important question to ask is whether the school’s staff has a background in serving the educational and social needs of international students. Experienced, culturally aware faculty can make all the difference in easing your students’ transition to their new school and community. That’s why iNaCA carefully screens its faculty, choosing experienced content experts trained to anticipate the learning needs of students living abroad. At iNaCA, your students become part of a global community of students undergoing many of the same experiences and adjustments. From each other, they’ll learn strategies for making a place in their local communities as they connect via LiveLesson® sessions, chat pods, and secure WebMail.
- If my children struggle with certain subjects, can they get the individualized attention they need to master those subjects? For public schools abroad, the answer varies widely depending upon local resources and the way schools are structured. In some countries, it’s not unusual for parents to pay fees to get private tutoring for their students—whether those students are struggling in a specific subject or looking to ace their national exams. You’ll have to do your research to find out what’s available in your specific locale. By contrast, iNaCA is the only school that offers LiveTutor, a tutor who is always available during your students’ workday—regardless of the time zone you’re living in. Through interactive one-on-one online tutoring sessions, certified teachers will help your student with everything from geometry to Shakespeare.
- We’ll want to travel while abroad. Will local public schools allow us that flexibility? Again, it depends on your locale, the school system there, and the local customs. Local schools accustomed to serving expat families may be able to offer some flexibility, but the burden of catching up on missed classes can still be a challenge. On the other hand, iNaCA is designed for young globetrotters. All your students’ lessons are available online 24/7 anywhere with an Internet connection. They can work at their own pace, on their own schedule. Because our teachers are on a flexible work schedule, they’re available to help at all hours as your family hops between time zones.
Of course, these questions are just the beginning of one of the most important decisions you’ll make when moving abroad. Don’t be intimidated, though. Many have gone this road before you and thrived. So get inspired and check out some of our students’ stories about living and learning abroad—in 30 countries ranging from the Bahamas to Bulgaria.
Still have questions? Connect with one of our admissions advisors at an online information session to learn more about our private school program, socialization in an online school, our award-winning teachers and curriculum, and our innovative and interactive technology.
Then tell us where your family is heading. We’d love to hear your stories, too!