Spanish is already the second-most common language spoken in homes in the United States, and the most popular foreign language American students study in school. With the popularity of the language comes the need for teachers. If you aspire to be a Spanish teacher, you'll need to earn a degree and certification from the state in which you wish to teach.
Spanish teachers often work in high schools and middle schools, although elementary schools also employ Spanish teachers. If you want to teach in a public school, you'll be required to have at least a bachelor's degree, and in some states and school districts, you'll also need a master's degree. People who want to become Spanish teachers generally pursue a degree in teaching with a focus in Spanish language instruction. If you already have your degree in Spanish, you could go back to college and obtain a degree in elementary, secondary or middle school education, with a credential that allows you to teach Spanish. This could include a bilingual educator credential or a Spanish language credential, depending on your interest.
The Language Portion
Your college courses are going to include courses in child psychology, pedagogy and other education-related subjects, but as a Spanish language teacher you also may need to take courses in Spanish language, Spanish literature and Hispanic culture, depending on the college you attend. If you're already a native Spanish speaker, you'll need to demonstrate your reading, writing and speaking proficiency through Spanish language testing.
Throughout your teacher training, you'll be participating in a number of "practicum" experiences in which you spend time in a Spanish language classroom and assist the teacher in his duties. At the end of your training, you'll need to do a longer student teaching experience, in which you're effectively in control of another teacher's classroom for long periods. You won't get paid for these -- in fact, you'll still be paying college tuition in most cases. Student teaching is typically a semester-long experience. After that, you'll apply for teacher certification through the state in which you live. Certification typically involves a round of testing to demonstrate your expertise and experience.
To increase your chances of landing a job after student teaching, gain more experience by volunteering at a nonprofit or after-school program. During your training, you might study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country to gain more experience in Spanish language and culture. You might even seek teacher certification in several subjects to increase your chances of getting hired. Commonly, the connections you make through student teaching, volunteering or substitute teaching can help you land a job. As of May 2013, secondary school teachers earned a median income of $55,360 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By earning a master's degree or participating in administrative training provided by the school district in which you work, you may be able to advance in this career by being promoted to a principal, vice principal or other administrative position. With a master's degree or higher degree, you could advance to becoming a Spanish professor at the college level.
- U.S. Census Bureau: Language Use in the United States: 2011
- Forbes: Most Popular Foreign Languages
- Concordia University: Spanish Teacher - Education Requirements and Career Info
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: High School Teachers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 25-2031 Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education
- Boise State University: Department of Bilingual Education Graduate Program
- Photo Credit Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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