Become an Italian Language Teacher: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become an Italian language teacher. Read about the education, experience, and licensing needed for starting a career in teaching a foreign language.

Should I Become an Italian Language Teacher?

Italian language teachers are in charge of developing lesson plans, grading homework and training students in both Italian language and culture. Most Italian teachers have a bachelor's degree for teaching high school. To work at a college or university, an Italian teacher needs a master's or Ph.D. degree. High school Italian teachers must fulfill teacher-training and licensing requirements before being hired.

Degree Level Bachelor's for high school; master's or Ph.D. for college-level teachers
Degree Field Foreign language teacher education
Licensure Required for public high school teachers
Training Completion of teacher education program for high school teachers
Salary (2014) $56,310 per year (Median salary for all secondary school teachers, except special and career/technical education)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Typically, the minimum amount of education an Italian high school teacher needs is a four-year degree. Students majoring in Italian studies must become proficient in the language. They need to be able to read, write and comprehend informal and formal Italian for verbal and written communication. Additionally, students often learn about the unique culture of Italy, including the art, literature, and history of the country.

Students might consider participating in college programs and organizations, like an Italian club, school trips, summer programs in Italy, or international study abroad programs. Extracurricular affiliations are beneficial to students who wish to immerse themselves in the culture and language of Italy, as well as help students improve their language proficiency.

Step 2: Obtain Teaching Experience

In addition to earning a degree in Italian, aspiring public school teachers need to complete a teacher education program. Some schools include this as another program that can be taken in conjunction with, or immediately following completion of the Italian major. Teacher education programs take a year or less to finish. The programs include practical experience components that give students a chance to observe and participate in lesson planning, instruction, and administrative duties they'll encounter in their own classrooms. Additionally, graduates can obtain experience by substitute teaching for local high schools.

Step 3: Become Licensed

All states require public high school teachers to be licensed. Eligibility criteria vary by state, but most require at least a bachelor's degree, teacher education and practical experience. After meeting academic requirements, individuals generally need to pass a series of tests that consist of teaching practices, as well as topics within the subject they'll be teaching. Many states use the PRAXIS exams, though some issue and administer their own exams. To maintain a license, teachers may need to complete continuing education.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports employment prospects for teachers at the high school level should increase by six percent between 2012 and 2022. Individual state budgets have an impact on the number of teachers hired. Job availability and salary expectations change based on location and the subject taught.

Step 4: Graduate Degree for Career Advancement

Community colleges hire Italian language teachers who have earned a master's degree. Programs, such as a Master of Art in Italian Studies, provide courses in Italian literature, language, art and culture. Study abroad opportunities are also available at the graduate level and could involve affiliated Italian universities. Students that have no prior teaching experience can also find Master of Education programs that infuse Italian studies with teacher training.

Universities might also accept a master's degree for foreign language teachers, though a doctoral degree is a more common. Doctoral programs in Italian studies can take three to seven years to complete. Students must be fluent in Italian, and some schools could require proficiency in at least one other foreign language. At the doctoral level, students engage in research of Italian history, literature, art, culture and various other topics. Though teaching assistantships might be a requirement at some schools, all students interested in a teaching career should apply for these experience opportunities.

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