My family and I moved overseas – now we have everything we need on our doorstep!
Luke Blackburn is a Humanities teacher from the UK. TIC last spoke to him in the summer, as he was preparing to move to Malaysia to start his first teaching job overseas at Tenby International School Setia EcoHill in Selangor. Luke and his family have now made the move, and we caught up with him again to find out how they are settling in, and what it’s like to live and work in Malaysia:
“After living in Yorkshire for 34 years it's great to be in a place where everything is new! The range and affordability of food is great, the weather is lovely, and there’s a wide variety of places to visit. We are equidistant between the bright lights of Kuala Lumpur and the beauty of the countryside and beach - we have everything on our doorstep! I’ve already established good friendships and have been out to watch live music and football. I took the time to socialise with the other international teachers, to make sure I formed strong social bonds from the very start.
I’ve settled into the school fairly well and since being here I’ve already been promoted! The new Head of Secondary decided to restructure the school and I’m now Head of Humanities. Of course, there have been some challenges; I’m waiting for some ICT equipment to be installed in my classroom, so I am temporarily having to reimagine my teaching style. But it’s been fun going back to basics!
School life in Malaysia compared to the UK
I receive much more respect from students and parents at Tenby International School, compared to the UK schools I’ve taught at. It feels as though teachers here are held in the same regard as solicitors and doctors, so it's been rewarding to feel a greater sense of value from the school community. Another difference is that I’m the sole teacher for my subject, so I’ve been working alone, rather than in a team. Thankfully I’m in regular contact with colleagues back home, and international teachers I’ve made contact with on social media, so I still have people to bounce ideas off.
Developing new skills
I’m definitely developing my skills at the school. During the INSET days, we received training about strategies that benefit EAL students. This is an ongoing area of development for me. Many students are not that willing to demonstrate their understanding orally, so the challenge comes in trying to coax them out of their shell and equip them with the skills and confidence to speak up.
An opportunity to give back
I’m a firm believer in giving back what you’ve received and one way of doing this is for me to mentor local teachers. I’ll be mentoring them over the coming months and have already carried out a whole staff CPD on using Microsoft Teams in the classroom. I enjoy supporting colleagues and raising standards across the school.
The challenges of life in Malaysia
It’s important to remember that moving overseas is never going to be completely smooth sailing. The more relaxed way of life in Malaysia can be challenging when it comes to getting things done. Sometimes bureaucracy can be slow and it’s different to what I’ve been used to in the UK. Thankfully most people have some grasp of English, they drive on the left, and they use UK electricity plugs, so there are lots of aspects which make living here familiar!
Moving with a young family
My family are settling well. The moment we arrived in Malaysia we were greeted at the airport and taken to our hotel. The school had also arranged for two large soft toys to be given to my children, which was a nice touch!
It's still early days, but my daughter appears to be much happier here than her school back home. She’s already making friends. During the summer holidays, a member of the Primary staff invited us to his son’s birthday party, and this was a great opportunity for my daughter to socialise with his daughter, as they’re in the same class.
Overall, the school have done everything they can to help us settle and accommodate our needs.”
TIC helped Luke find his job and be selected for his teaching position at Tenby International School Setia EcoHill, Malaysia. If you are interested in teaching internationally, register with TIC here for free. It’s quick and easy and gives you access to many international school jobs in reputable, accredited international schools, some that are not advertised anywhere else.