Teaching Bilingual Education

Bilingual education teachers instruct students who are in the process of learning English. Certificates and degree programs are available in this field. Continue reading to learn more about what this career entails and how you can prepare for it.

Is Teaching Bilingual Education for Me?

Career Overview

According to the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), bilingual education uses students' native language to help them stay on top of their academics while they learn English (www.nabe.org). Training in this field is available at the graduate level through graduate certificates, master's and doctoral degree programs in bilingual education or English as a Second Language (ESL). Many institutions require that you speak English and at least one foreign language fluently for admission to a degree program.

With training in bilingual education, you could teach individuals who speak Spanish, German, Chinese or another language in their native tongue while they learn English, according to the NABE. Another method of teaching is to teach everything in English, or the target language, while offering supplementary training or support in the students' native language. Your classroom, your school, your school district or your training may dictate the methods you use in your classroom. You could work with special needs, elementary, junior high or high school students.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 157,370 individuals taught kindergarten, more than 1.3 million people taught in elementary schools, 620,900 people taught in junior high schools and almost a million people taught in high schools as of 2012 (www.bls.gov). In addition, approximately 442,800 educators taught special education across the grade levels.

The BLS projected that between 2012 and 2022, the employment of kindergarten, elementary and middle school teachers would increase 12%, while high school teachers and special education teachers could expect slower than average job growth of 6%. As of May 2012, the median annual salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers was $53,090, for middle school teachers was $53,430 and for high school teachers was $55,050, reported the BLS.

That same year, special education teachers in kindergarten through high school earned from $53,820 to $56,830. Payscale.com reported that the annual salary for most bilingual education teachers ranged from $27,000 to $72,522 in March 2014.

How Can I Become a Bilingual Education Teacher?

Education and Licensure

To become a bilingual education teacher, you must earn a bachelor's degree, preferably in education. After that, you can earn a graduate certificate, master's degree or a doctorate in bilingual education or ESL. Some programs offer specializations in elementary education or bicultural education.

Coursework in bilingual education programs addresses cultural diversity, curriculum development, language acquisition, methods for teaching ESL and applied linguistics. You'll also learn to identify students with limited English proficiency. Through the research portion of the program, you may explore methods for teaching language and language acquisition. Before you can teach, you must also have a teaching license, which you can earn by passing the licensure exam offered by your state's Board of Education. Beyond that, certification requirements for bilingual education teachers vary by state.

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