Foreign language teachers are at the forefront of erasing the international borders that divide Americans from people in other countries; they accomplish this by teaching students at all levels of education foreign languages. These teachers are responsible for ensuring that students have a comprehensive understanding of the languages that matter most in America; they do this by creating and executing curriculums that teach valuable skills to students, including grammar, syntax, and more. These teachers often hold master’s degrees in foreign languages and have spent years teaching their language to students at all levels. They have the ability to work at all levels of education; in many cases, these professionals go on to work for the government as teachers for the intelligence and diplomatic communities. Foreign language teachers can make as much as $85,000, depending on their level of language immersion; this job outlook is expected to grow in the next decade as globalization becomes normal for the public and private sectors.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, foreign language teachers can make an average salary of $63,500. Salaries increase depending on the level of education in which a foreign language teacher works at, with annual salaries topping out at over $85,000.
Payscale reports that the average beginning salary of a foreign language teacher is about $43,000. Salaries depend on region and whether a teacher is employed by a high school, junior college, or university.
The main responsibility for a foreign language teacher is to teach a foreign language to students, from exploratory lessons to immersion-level experiences. They are responsible for ensuring that their pupils understand and can demonstrate different levels of mastery of the language, from writing and speaking to discussing topics using the foreign language as the mode of communication. They are responsible for evaluating a student’s mastery of the language and making recommendations for their success; this may include tutoring or additional assignments outside of the classroom.
All foreign language teachers are required to have a command of the foreign language they teach. This does not apply just to grammar and syntax, but also the history of the language, the culture from which the language originates, as well as having mastery over the differences in dialect and accent. Foreign language teachers must also have good communication skills, both oral and written, and can work well with their students in order to ensure their success in the classes. These teachers must be hardworking, articulate, and dedicated to education; this may include reforming the foreign language curriculum in order to be more useful to students.
Degree and Education Requirements
Any professional who wants to become a foreign language teacher at any level of education must first earn a bachelor’s degree in foreign language education. This degree must come from an accredited university in order to be eligible for certification as a teacher, which is the primary requirement for working in this field. Along with the bachelor’s degree comes the two semesters of student teaching and classroom observation, which is then followed by graduation. Foreign language teachers who want to teach at the college and university level are often required to hold a master’s or doctoral degree in the foreign language they wish to teach. They may also have earned certification based on field exams in their language. The difference between degrees is denoted by the level of education a teacher is able to work at and may also include a substantial difference in terms of their salary; university-level foreign language teachers make more money than high school teachers.
Rewards and Challenges
Like most teaching jobs, becoming a foreign language teacher has its rewards and challenges. This job requires a great deal of time indoors, communicating with students, which may be a benefit for those who enjoy helping others. As a teaching job, it also means that most teachers will get the summer off, as well as weekends and holidays, making it a great choice for many professionals. The career also pays quite well, and if a foreign language teacher can demonstrate enough proficiency, they may even be able to find a career abroad, which can boast a good salary with benefits. However, this career can be very competitive; a high level of proficiency is needed in order to find a good job, something that can be difficult for individuals who don’t have a bilingual-level of proficiency in their language. Another challenge is that this position requires a great deal of commitment, with these teachers regularly working more than 40 hours a week.
Education plays a major role in how foreign language teachers earn employment; however, it is not the only requirement. Once a student completes their degree, they must also learn their teacher certification in order to teach in the state of their choice. They may also be required to take language-specific certification exams, each of which have their own requirements for recertification. Additionally, while work experience in the classroom is important and can come in the form of internships and student teaching, many employers are also looking for volunteer work. This is work in which a professional uses their skills to help the community, including immigration services, translation and interpretation, and literary classes in an after-school setting. If a student wishes to teach foreign languages at the postgraduate level, they may also be required to demonstrate competency in the form of field exams.
It is currently estimated that the job outlook for foreign language teachers is about six percent through 2024, putting it on track for as fast as average job growth as other industries. However, as the workforce becomes globalized, it is thought that this career will experience a boom in the next few years. Foreign language teachers have the option of working at every level of education within the United States, from primary schools to postsecondary institutions. In some cases, these teachers can also find employment at local, state, and federal agencies, including intelligence agencies, who have need for professionals who can teach government officials foreign languages. Alternatively, these teachers can decide to work online or for themselves, allowing them the freedom to travel and work remotely while taking care of familial obligations or pursing other interests.
Foreign language teachers are becoming more important as the number of languages in the country grows. In fact, there is one school district in New York City that boasts students that speak more than 200 languages combined. With this quick primer on the job of a foreign language teacher, professionals can make a plan to pursue this career with confidence.