How Do I Become a Bilingual Teacher?

Research what it takes to become a bilingual teacher. Learn about the education requirements, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Teaching ESL degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Bilingual Teacher Do?

Bilingual teachers instruct students in a foreign language. They may work with students in kindergarten and elementary school, middle school or high school. These teachers may instruct students in languages such as Spanish, German, or American Sign Language. In some cases, they may teach English as a second language to students whose native language is not English. They use curriculum guidelines and develop lesson plans. They teach their students the concepts required by the curriculum, and they grade student work to determine their progress in the class.

Degree RequiredBachelor's degree to teach in most public schools; master's degree improves job opportunities and is sometimes required
Licensure RequiredTeacher's license generally required to teach in public schools; may not be required by private schools
Job Growth (2014-2024)6% (for K-12 teachers)*
Median Salary (2015) $54,890 (for elementary teachers, not specific to bilingual teachers)*
$55,860 (for middle school teachers, not specific to bilingual teachers)*
$57,200 (for high school teachers, not specific to bilingual teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Bilingual Teacher?

A bilingual teacher must be fluent (able to read, speak and write well) in both English and at least one other language, such as Japanese or Spanish. If you become an instructor of English as a Second Language classes (ESL), you may work with children and adults who are trying to learn the English language in addition to their native tongue. In these programs, you'll usually teach in a fully engaged English language and cultural environment.

What Education Do I Need?

All states require their public school teachers to earn at least a bachelor's degree in an education-related field. You could major in any subject, though applicable subject areas include education or a foreign language. Many colleges offer supplementary or post-baccalaureate programs to provide you with classroom training and experience.

You might need to earn a master's degree or graduate certificate to continue teaching or teach ESL classes. You can find several graduate programs in ESL, education or bilingual teaching. A few classes you might take in these programs include second language teaching, English grammar and writing instruction. Bilingual education programs usually offer you cultural training specific to your language specialty as well as diversity training and classroom management.

How Do I Get My License?

After completing the necessary degree program, you'll need to acquire a teaching license in order to begin working with kindergarten, elementary, junior high or high school students in a public setting. Some states also require special licensure or endorsements if you teach ESL. Licensing requirements vary from state to state. You'll usually need to take at least one exam and have clocked a specified number of classroom hours, which you can often complete through your education degree program.

What Are My Job Prospects?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of positions available for kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers was expected to increase 6% from 2014 to 2024. The job outlook for high school teachers was also at 6% during this same time period. However, the BLS stated that bilingual teachers would be in high demand due to the continually growing population of non-English-speaking students in K-12 schools.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Preschool teachers and career and technical education teachers perform many tasks that are similar to the work that bilingual teachers do. Preschool teachers work with children ages three to five, and their focus is to prepare their students to enter kindergarten. They need an associate's degree and sometimes certification or licensure. Career and technical education teachers need a bachelor's degree and teaching licensure. They focus on teaching vocational courses that prepare students to enter a career after graduation. Like bilingual teachers, both of these professions involve preparing lesson plans, teaching classes and assessing student performance.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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