3 steps to qualifying as a foreign language teacher

Perhaps you’ve been bilingual since childhood, or have learnt another language as a passion. Or maybe you’re just interested in living in another country – whatever your reason, being a foreign language teacher can open many doors, unlocking opportunities to move abroad and form connections with amazing people.

There’s plenty of work available in this sector, all over the world, as children and adults alike look to expand their language skills. But how do you qualify for this role? Let’s take a look.

Become proficient in the language yourself

This step is fairly self-explanatory – you’re going to need to be confident in your chosen language before you can teach it to others. Even if you’re only going to be teaching junior level classes, you still need to be prepared to answer questions from keen students, and the more advanced your knowledge is, the more employable you’ll be as you can cover a range of classes.

As well as being able to speak and read your chosen language, you’ll need to be confident in explaining grammatical constructs and sharing your knowledge with others. This includes the more formal version of your language, if there is one – whilst most students will start their learning with conversational language, it’s important for them to learn the correct terminology
so they can build on their knowledge in the future.

Spanish class material

Earn your teaching qualification

When you’re ready, you can tackle your teaching qualification. This might be a university degree in education, a college course, or a professional qualification – the right course of study will depend on where you’re hoping to teach, and at what level.

Some foreign language schools will have a minimum qualification requirement for their teachers, so if you have a specific place in mind, make sure you check their preferences before you make any commitments to avoid having to do further study later on. However, having a widely applicable qualification like a degree will mean that you have more choices in the future, so it can be worth the extra effort.

AP Spanish teacher in class

Work on your classroom skills

Having the language skills to teach others isn’t quite enough – you’ll need to be able to hold your own in a classroom too. Especially if you’re going to be teaching children or teenagers, you’ll need to know how to capture their attention, and break the work down into manageable chunks so they don’t get bored and misbehave. When it comes to adults, you want to create an atmosphere of mutual respect, and encourage them to open up with any
questions they might have.

For all ages, you’ll need to be able to plan a course of study and set in-lesson tasks as well as homework assignments. Whilst your head of department will likely have some input on these, many foreign language teachers get more freedom than those following the national curriculum in schools, so it’s best to be confident in managing your own study programme.

Finally, make sure to work on your soft skills, such as giving feedback. All teachers will need to give constructive feedback to help their students learn, but it can be tricky to know how to give this in an effective and encouraging way. Taking some time to work on these skills will put you in a better position to get a role, and be a good teacher throughout your career.

So, if you’re interested in being a foreign language teacher, make sure you follow the steps above to get started in this amazing career.

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