How to Become a Spanish Teacher

Do you have a love for the Spanish Language? Is it mixed with a passion for helping people learn new things? If so, then a career as a Spanish Teacher is something to explore. We break down everything you need to know about becoming a Spanish Teacher in this article.

 

What Does a Spanish Teacher Do?

A Spanish Teacher educates their students on how to speak, read and write in the Spanish language. They also give students an overview of the different Spanish-speaking countries around the world. Like any other type of teacher, Spanish Teachers work in a school setting.

First and foremost, being a Spanish Teacher requires mastery of the Spanish language. It also requires mastery of teaching strategies proven to help students learn languages. Spanish Teachers also must have excellent public speaking skills, as most of their day is spent speaking in front of students. Here are some standard tasks Spanish Teachers perform daily:

  • Communicative tasks, such as lecturing students and providing one-on-one help
  • Performance review tasks, such as grading student work and providing constructive feedback
  • Clerical tasks, such as keeping track of student grades
  • Organizational tasks, such as developing lesson plans according to state curriculum guidelines

Spanish Teacher Skills

Just because one is fluent in Spanish does not necessarily mean they have the soft skills required to be a successful Spanish Teacher. First off, Spanish Teachers have excellent public speaking skills. They can clearly convey information while simultaneously observing their audiences and assessing their level of engagement. They also must have stellar interpersonal skills to successfully tailor their one-on-one approaches to students with different proficiency levels and varying learning styles.

Other key Spanish Teacher skills include:

  • Active Listening
  • Adaptability
  • Organizational skills
  • Patience
  • Observational skills

 

How do You Become a Spanish Teacher?

Education and Training

Becoming a Spanish Teacher requires one to complete an accredited Bachelor’s degree program in secondary education with a concentration in Spanish. An accredited program has a state’s required number of observational hours built into the program, which are similar to field hours in the nursing field.

In addition to general education requirements, student coursework covers educational psychology, different theories of teaching and intensive Spanish courses. The student’s final semester is spent student teaching, which is when they shadow a Spanish Teacher at their chosen grade level full-time.

Students must pass their state’s teacher certification exam upon graduation in order to find work as a Spanish Teacher in a public school. Each state’s requirements are different, but 40 states use the Praxis exams. The Praxis exams are administered by the Educational Testing Service. There are two types of Praxis exams: Core Academic Skills and Subject Tests. The Core Academic Skills section is broken into three separate exams on reading, writing and mathematics.

The subject test will test prospective Spanish Teachers in their proficiency in both Spanish and strategies for teaching their chosen grade level. The scores required to pass vary from state to state. It is also important to note that passing the praxis in one state does not carry over to another. If you move states, then you must take the test again. You can find more information about your state’s requirements here.

Finding a Job

According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for High School Teachers is predicted to rise 6 percent through 2024. Although they list no specific data for Spanish Teachers, one can expect Spanish Teachers to always be in demand in states with a large Spanish-speaking population. This growth is estimated to create 55,900 new jobs through 2024.

Getting a job as a Spanish Teacher starts with a great resume. Check out our Spanish Teacher Resume Samples to get you started.

The next step is to search online for job opportunities. Given that the need for Spanish Teachers can vary widely depending on location, you can increase your odds by being open to relocation.

Impressing the person who decides if you get an interview starts with your cover letter. If you are stuck on crafting an awesome cover letter, then you can check out our Cover Letter Samples for inspiration.

 

Insights from a Spanish Teacher

We wanted to give you a holistic picture of life as a Spanish Teacher, so we spoke with Spanish Teacher Steve Sonntag. Steve has been a Spanish Teacher in the Manteca Unified School District for the last 46 years, which has included serving as a mentor teacher and winning his district’s Teacher of the Year award. Here’s what Steve had to say:

What is the common career path for a Spanish Teacher?

The most common career path for a Spanish teacher is the appreciation of language, people, and their culture. In terms of Spanish, the appreciation of language means to have studied English and Latin very well so that they can associate these 2 languages to the Spanish language. In this way, they can help students understand and appreciate the ease of learning Spanish.

What should someone consider before becoming a Spanish Teacher?

The appreciation of people and their culture. How unique they are and to have students realize that because Spanish people speak a different language and live in a different country, that they are not “weird”, but simply different. Seeing that I studied at the University of Madrid in Spain for a year and have travelled extensively there and other parts of Europe and Mexico, I share such experiences with my students. Sometimes, the students laugh, although they understand people are different, just like each one of us is different in our own ways.

What type of person excels at this job?

The type of person who excels in this job is the person who loves and appreciates people for their uniqueness. He or she needs to have a positive attitude.

What are some of the most important skills for a Spanish Teacher to have?

He or she needs to know how to encourage and to praise people in order to motivate students to thrive and to appreciate Spanish. He or she needs to adhere to the curriculum and to have high standards. He or she needs to be flexible, seeing that students have their ways and their own time of learning. So, presenting the Spanish language is simple ways with exercises, websites, and apps will help out tremendously.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Spanish Teacher?

The most rewarding aspect of being a Spanish teacher is to inspire students be able to ultimately gain realistic self-confidence in learning and to feel good about themselves and others so that they carry this self-confidence in this subject, in all their classes, and in their personal and professional lives.

 

How Much do Spanish Teachers get Paid?

According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for for Secondary Teachers, which includes Spanish Teachers, is $57,200. Spanish Teachers at the bottom 10 percent of the spectrum make $37,800, while those at the top ten percent of the spectrum make $91,200.

Top Ten States for Secondary Teacher Median Salary

  1. Alaska: $78,900
  2. New York: $76,600
  3. Connecticut: $75,300
  4. California: $74,800
  5. Massachusetts: $71,600
  6. New Jersey: $71,600
  7. Rhode Island: $67,900
  8. Illinois: $66,300
  9. Washington: $64,000
  10. Maryland: $63, 700

 

Spanish Teacher Resources

On the Web

Teaching Spanish With Comprehensible Input – This blog is run by three Spanish Teachers and features articles on strategies for teaching Spanish effectively. It can be a great resource for an aspiring Spanish Teacher.

Vamanós – This is a blog dedicated to technology’s role in teaching languages in today’s classroom

Reflections of a Spanish Teacher – This is the blog of Jeremy Jordan, a Spanish Teacher with years of experience. You can subscribe to his blog and email him any questions you may have about becoming a Spanish Teacher.

Professional Organizations

The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese – The AATSP is a professional organization dedicated to advocating for the teaching of Spanish and Portuguese in public schools.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages –  Founded in 1967, the ACTFL is one of the oldest organizations for Spanish Teachers. Its 12,500 members make it a great networking opportunity.

The information in this article comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job postings and other online sources.

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