International School vs. Local School: Benefits and Challenges

Living abroad is an enriching experience that usually has a lasting impact on a child’s development and future prospects. Whether your child attends a local Portuguese or Spanish school or an English language international school, they have the opportunity to gain:

Cultural Awareness and Global Perspective: An experience outside of your home country can help children develop a more open-minded and global outlook, fostering cultural sensitivity and tolerance.

Adaptability and Resilience: Living and studying in a foreign environment can foster adaptability and resilience. Children learn to navigate different cultural norms and systems, which can make them more adaptable and resourceful.

Language Skills: Immersion in an international environment can greatly enhance a child’s language skills. If you opt for a local school, your child will more likely than not become fluent within a couple of years. They may even become proficient in a third language, which can be a valuable asset in an increasingly interconnected world. English language international schools also offer the opportunity to learn new languages but it can be more challenging to become fully fluent in a language other than English.

Enhanced Career Opportunities: An international experience can open doors to international career opportunities. Employers often value the global perspective and language skills that globally mobile individuals can possess.

The benefits of an international experience and education are clear but should your child attend a local Portuguese or Spanish school or an English language International school? The answer depends on various factors including school fees, age and personality of the child, and educational goals.

An international school offering the British, American and/or IB curriculums can offer certain additional advantages:

Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: International schools often emphasize critical thinking, collaborative and problem-solving skills, preparing students to navigate complex challenges in their future careers.

Extracurricular Activities: International schools typically offer a wider range of extracurricular activities than local schools, allowing children to explore their interests and develop skills beyond the classroom.

However, attending a local school also has its advantages:

Developing close ties to the local community: At a local school, your child will be fully immersed in the culture of the country. They have the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of cultural norms and to develop friendships within the community, thereby deepening ties to it.

Lower cost: Local schools are usually a fraction of the cost of international schools. There is also the option to sign up your child to a public school which is free of charge.

Whereas there are numerous advantages/benefits to an international education, it may also come with challenges such as adjusting to a new culture, language barriers, and being away from one’s home country. Making an informed decision is the best way to ensure success.

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