Faculty of Education helps students expand overseas horizons

Faculty of Education students at York University who want to teach abroad will soon be able to graduate with a unique specialization option in international education.

Starting in the 2011-12 school year, students entering or currently enrolled in the bachelor of education concurrent program at York may tailor their degrees by choosing elective courses, extracurricular activities and learning experiences that have an international focus. The specialization option is the first of its kind in Ontario.

Education Poster (green leafs with one red leaf)“Almost 64 per cent of our bachelor of education students told us in a recent survey that they would like to teach internationally when they graduate. However, most of them had not taken courses or done international internships that would help them to move easily into the field,” says Laura Crane, international education coordinator in York’s Faculty of Education. “This new option will encourage them to take advantage of first-hand, experiential learning opportunities that will prepare them to teach internationally.”

The specialization option is not a new program per se; instead, the option will enable students to strategically focus in on international education electives and experiential learning opportunities while they are completing the regular bachelor of education requirements.

Students will be required to complete three aspects of international learning: elective courses with an international focus; an international learning activity such as an exchange, internship or other program-based teaching experience; and co-curricular experience with an international focus. They have the opportunity to work abroad for three months in the summer in internationally located schools or orphanages, for example, to study at partner institutions through exchange programs, and to work on campus as language partners or buddies for international students entering York’s Faculty of Education.

A variety of types of schools and institutions employ teachers with international teaching skills and Ontario teaching degrees, ranging from Canadian-curriculum schools in international locations, to private and public schools that need both English as a second language teachers and teachers who can teach a variety of courses in English.

Many international teaching opportunities require applicants to have two years of teaching experience prior to applying, but there are a number of schools in international locations that do not have this requirement, says Crane. “York students often apply to these schools as soon as they receive their bachelor of education degrees. We think this new specialization option on their transcripts will help employers recognize that our graduates have a deep understanding of international issues and educational systems that will help both in teaching internationally and in diverse classrooms in Ontario.”

York’s Faculty of Education will also offer in October, for the first time, a five-day professional development course. “Preparing to Teach Internationally” is open to current University students, in any faculty, who want to teach internationally when they graduate, as well as practicing teachers and school administrators who plan to teach abroad when they retire, take a leave of absence from teaching, or who just want to have a better understanding of school systems outside Canada.

For more information about the “Preparing to Teach Internationally” course, visit the Faculty of Education website.