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How to Become a Spanish Teacher

Majors Overview January 15, 2013

Spanish teachers must have the ability to plan lessons and educate students utilizing activities and exercises that can help students understand the Spanish language. A Spanish language teacher needs to be versatile, patient, and must have exceptional communication and critical thinking skills apart from genuinely wanting to teach students.

A bachelor degree is required of Spanish teachers aspiring to work in public schools at the K-12 level. They must be fluent in the Spanish language and required to complete a teacher training program that includes student teaching experience. Once they attain a degree and pass any mandatory exam, they can receive state certification. In some states, they would need to obtain a master degree after certification. In most states, the minimum qualification is a bachelor degree though some states require Spanish teachers to hold a master degree. The degree field should be Spanish unless the teacher is otherwise fluent in the language. Teachers certification or licensure norms have to be satisfied before they can practice their profession. Experience should include participation in a student teaching internship. Apart from having instructional and communication skills, Spanish teachers are required to have patience. In this article, we will discuss a stage-wise schedule in which Spanish teachers should adhere to, in order to pursue their career.

Stage One: Bachelor degree

The most common route to a career as a Spanish teacher is through the completion of a bachelor degree program in the Spanish language. Coursework in such program emphasize on pronunciation, phonetics and conversation. Students may also learn about Spanish literary works and linguistics apart from cultures and customs of Spanish speakers. In order to get a state teaching license, aspiring Spanish teachers will have to take academic courses. A degree program typically ends with student teaching practicums. Such practicum can be at an advanced, intermediate or elementary school level depending on the age group that the prospective Spanish teacher wants to teach.

A native Spanish speaker or one who is otherwise fluent in the language does not need a bachelor degree specifically in the Spanish language. That said, a bachelor degree and teaching certification are mandatory requirements at the K-12 level. All aspiring Spanish teachers are required to submit to competency testing in fluency for the language. Students who spent a year or a semester abroad or a native Spanish speaker will improve their career prospect to becoming a Spanish teacher. Additionally, academic credits are awarded for time spent studying abroad.

Stage Two: Teaching Certification

State licensure is mandatory for employment in a public school though candidates can get employed by private schools without a state license. Licensure norms vary from state to state. However, a college graduate degree and state certification are general requirements. Coursework in graduation must include student teaching experience and teacher training curriculum. Candidates are required to pass general knowledge and subject-specific exams. Registration with the state board and completion of one or more examinations is ideal for licensure.

Stage Three: Master Degree

Often, a teacher’s education does not end after obtaining employment. Some institutions require teachers to earn a master degree shortly after certification. Master degree programs usually take about two years to complete, and students can receive a master degree in either education or Spanish, as determined by the program and personal interest. Some master programs in teaching are focused on individuals who have earned a bachelor degree in Spanish, but are not certified to teach. Other programs focus on educators who are certified in different subject areas that want a Spanish certification. Alternatively, Spanish teachers with bachelor degrees may pursue a master degree program to advance their career even if their state does not require education beyond a bachelor degree.

Often, teachers are required to continue their education to maintain licensure. In some states, they are required to complete a master degree program after obtaining a state certification. Such programs have a two-year duration and the graduate degree can either be in Spanish or education depending on the program and personal preference of the student. There are graduate programs tailored for individuals holding bachelor degrees in Spanish, but do not have certification. There are other programs for individuals who hold certificates to teach in other areas, but want teaching certification that focus on Spanish. Those who hold a bachelor degree in Spanish usually choose to enroll into a master degree program even though their state does not require continued education to maintain certification.

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