According to a 2012-2013 Open Doors Report by the Institute of International Education, less than 10% of U.S. students study abroad—and very few of these students are in high school. Yet, studying abroad early builds global competencies such as language and cross-cultural skills, maturity, and clarity about one's post-secondary education and career.
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Top 5 Ways for High School Educators to Promote Study Abroad
Here are five ways that high school educators can promote study abroad:
1. Learn about the opportunities!
There are hundreds of public and private educational programs that send high school students abroad. The U.S. Department of State offers government-sponsored merit-based competitive scholarships that are open to students of all backgrounds and levels of ability.
Some opportunities include living in Germany with a host family (Congress–Bundestag Youth Exchange Program), learning a less-commonly studied language like Arabic, Russian or Chinese (National Security Language Initiative for Youth), or developing a better understanding of the cultures of countries with significant Muslim populations (Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad).
2. Advertise study abroad programs.
This can be as simple as sending out an email, talking to your students, or posting a flyer. Many students first heard about their program from an influential teacher or counselor. Educators can find materials to promote the Department of State's high school study abroad scholarships at: http://exchanges.state.gov/highschool.
3. Host an international fair.
Organize a fair at your school celebrating different cultures with food, performances, and presentations. Involve any foreign exchange students in the planning of the international fair. Also, include information for your U.S. students on how to study abroad or host an exchange student.
4. Help your students navigate the process.
Once your students are accepted to an exchange program, help them as they seek to obtain credit for their international courses, or apply for a gap year. While abroad, invite them to blog or Skype with their classmates and share their experiences back home.
5. Study abroad yourself!
The Department of State also offers opportunities for teachers to go on a variety of professional exchanges, including opportunities to swap places with a foreign educator for a few months, make connections with foreign educational institutions, or teach English as a second language abroad.
Learn more ways to bring global competencies into your classroom and opportunities to study abroad for your students by watching our webinar on the topic: