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Spanish Teacher: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Requirements

Learn about what you need to become a Spanish teacher in a public or private school. Read on for more details about starting a career in this field and the employment prospects.

What Does a Spanish Teacher Do?

As a Spanish teacher, you'll provide instruction in speaking, reading, writing, and understanding the Spanish language, as well as lessons in Spanish literature and culture. Topics vary between grade levels and courses, focusing on grammar, pronunciation, composition, spelling, vocabulary, and dialogue. History of Spanish-speaking countries may also be included. Like all teachers, you will be in charge of planning lessons and activities, grading students, and meeting with parents as needed.

What Will My Duties Be as a Spanish Teacher?

As a Spanish teacher, you'll be employed at public and private schools in kindergarten through 12th grade, but most often in middle schools and high schools. You'll teach Spanish grammar, pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary, composition, and dialogue. You'll also expose your students to Spanish literature and Latin American history and culture. Part of your duties will include creating lesson plans and classroom activities, assessing student progress, and meeting with parents about students' progress.

What Is the Outlook?

Employment for middle and high school teachers (including Spanish teachers) is expected to increase by 3-4% from 2018-2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reports that many schools lack foreign language teachers, causing an increased need for Spanish teachers. This may allow you to work with a temporary license, used on a provisional basis while you complete other requirements for full teaching credentials.

Job prospects will also be better in urban areas, where there are teacher shortages. The BLS reported that as of May 2018, middle school teachers earned a mean annual salary of $60,320, while secondary teachers earned median annual salaries of $58,600.

What Should I Study?

To become a Spanish teacher in a public school, you must be a licensed teacher and be fluent and literate in Spanish. According to the BLS, you can become licensed by completing a Bachelor of Science degree in education or in Spanish instruction. Once you've completed your bachelor's degree, you may consider a master's degree in Spanish or education. Some states require a master's degree for licensure, and you can meet additional classroom experience or education requirements for the states that don't require master's degrees.

Then, you must pass licensing and certification exams. Licensing requirements usually include student teaching experiences and classroom observations. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers a 10-year World Languages national certification. This certification is renewable and can be earned by those teaching early childhood and adolescent students. National certification is particularly useful if you plan on moving from state to state during your career, or if you live near state lines and work in multiple states' school districts.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Interpreters and translators are often employed in the education industry, and they use their knowledge of Spanish to help people understand speech and text across language barriers. Bachelor's degrees are common among these professionals. If you're most interested in the writing and communication aspect of a teaching career, you might consider becoming a writer or author. These professionals craft content for all types of publications, from books to blogs and magazines. Most writers have a bachelor's degree.

In some cases, becoming a principal is a natural progression for certain teachers who have years of experience. Principals oversee teachers and students in schools and handle numerous school operations as well, like budget management and class scheduling. These professionals need to hold a master's degree at minimum, as well as principal licensure.