Aspiring high school Spanish teachers can prepare by earning a bachelor's degree in Spanish and completing a teacher preparation program. Students who already hold bachelor's degrees can earn a master's degree in foreign language education. The coursework in both these degree programs can be taken entirely online, but most programs require student teaching work in a school.
While course requirements vary, degree programs at both levels offer courses in Spanish grammar, writing and conversation. The education component of these degree programs covers teaching theory, adolescent development and classroom management.
All states mandate that teachers be licensed. Licensing requires at least a bachelor's degree, supervised student teaching experience and completion of an approved teacher education program. Many states require that teachers pass a general certification exam as well as one on the content area they wish to teach, which would be Spanish, in this instance.
Bachelor's Degree in Spanish Teaching
People with a goal of teaching high school Spanish can prepare by completing an online Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Spanish; however, to be hired by a public high school, this must be paired with a teaching certificate or teacher preparation program which may or may not be offered by the same school online. If not, plenty of schools offer an online teacher certification intended to follow earning a bachelor's degree. Sometimes a university's school of liberal arts will partner with the school of education for a program tailored for aspiring high school Spanish teachers.
Completion of a bachelor's degree in Spanish provides the recipient with fluency in Spanish as well as comprehension of the culture, history and literature of key Spanish-speaking countries. Most colleges do not have any set prerequisites for admission to the Spanish program, though a strong familiarity with the language, such as that which can be achieved in high school Spanish classes, is strongly recommended. Some schools require that prospective students participate in an interview entirely in Spanish with a professor or write a short essay entirely in Spanish to be admitted into a Spanish major.
Program Information and Requirements
The online bachelor's degree in Spanish program usually takes at least four years to complete; however, the classes necessary for teacher certification might add to the total time. Typically, about 120 semester hours are required.
The B.A. can be completed entirely online, though some schools may require at least one on-campus meeting or orientation. The online material is generally delivered through a learning management system such as Blackboard. Students typically log on to the online courses at least four times per week. Some schools emphasize online discussion boards as important learning tools and require that students post a minimum of three messages per week.
In the B.A. program, about half the classes are general education courses, and the other half are split between electives and the core Spanish courses. Some courses are taught entirely in Spanish.
Grammar courses survey the structure of the Spanish language and how it has progressed through the years. Special attention is paid to the inflection, derivation, and composition of individual words and the rules for combining and ordering words in a sentence. Specific points and grammatical anomalies are highlighted by selected readings. Students are expected to write brief essays in Spanish expressing coherent ideas and using proper grammar, then present them orally.
This course examines the history, geographic features and past and present cultural climate of Spain and other Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. Students explore how cultural beliefs and ideologies have affected art and literature and how they, in turn, have shaped cultural identity in the Spanish-speaking world.
Correct pronunciation, expression and sentence structure are the main focus of this class with a strong emphasis on casual conversation and common patterns of speech. Students learn to communicate in Spanish about commonplace topics such as movies, music, food, clothes and current events. Written essays supplement the spoken word.
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Master's Degree in Spanish Teaching
Students can pursue online master's-level training for Spanish teaching through a Master of Science (M.S.) in Education with a specialization in Spanish Language Education or a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Foreign Language Education with a Spanish concentration. Spanish teaching methods may also be covered by a basic Master of Arts (M.A.) in Spanish. In these online master's programs, students learn about Spanish grammar and linguistics, language instruction styles and literary and cultural aspects of the Spanish language.
Most master's degree programs require that all applicants possess a bachelor's degree in Spanish or Spanish education. Many schools also require that native Spanish speakers pass an English language proficiency test such as the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Conversely, non-native Spanish speakers may be required to pass a Spanish language test to be admitted to the master's degree program.
Program Information and Requirements
The 30-36 credits of a master's degree program can usually be completed in two academic years including the summer semesters. Some schools provide the program completely online, though others require some study abroad experience to immerse students in Spanish language and culture. Some schools might even require students to attend a small number of on-campus seminars.
Most course material is presented in an asynchronous format that can be accessed and worked on at any time as long as certain deadlines are met. Some schools might require some synchronous lectures, discussions or presentations that are held at a specific time. Students communicate with instructors and other students through message boards or electronic chat rooms.
Schools may present all of the courses almost entirely in the Spanish language. Some schools also require two years of study of a second (non-English) language to complete the master's degree program.
Foreign Language Curriculum and Teaching
Students learn effective methods of instruction as they pertain to a foreign language. There is a strong focus on arranging a lesson plan, choosing appropriate class readings and employing modern technologies in the classroom. Some courses also cover the cultural context of language in the Spanish and Latin American worlds.
This course presents a detailed study of the distribution and patterning of speech sounds, the structure and form of words, the rules for the formation of grammatical sentences and the vocabulary of the Spanish language. The dialects present in different countries or parts of the same country are examined. Students also learn to recognize the difficulties that English speakers have in learning Spanish and how to help overcome them.
Classic Spanish language literary works are read and discussed. The themes and genres prevalent in Latin American and Spanish literature are identified and examined. Students also learn ways to teach and explain these readings to other students.
When paired with a teaching license or certificate, an online Bachelor of Arts in Spanish is considered sufficient to teach at the secondary level in public school, though private schools often do not require the teaching license. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2015 that 962,820 people were employed as secondary school teachers in all subjects, with a median annual salary of $57,200 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also predicted employment growth of six percent in secondary school education between the years 2014-2024.
Graduates of an online master's degree in Spanish teaching are qualified to teach at secondary and postsecondary schools, though most 4-year universities strongly favor doctorate holders for employment. Most full-time teaching positions at 2-year colleges go to those with master's degrees, but doctorate holders are still favored if available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 30,120 teaching jobs in foreign languages and literature in 2015, covering all languages. The BLS also reported that, in May 2015, postsecondary foreign language and literature teachers in all languages had a mean annual salary of $69,520.
Continuing Education Information
Students interested in furthering their Spanish education can do so through a doctoral program in Spanish. This gives degree holders a better chance of being hired by a 4-year college or university. Due to the advanced and intense nature of doctorate programs, the availability of online doctorate degrees in Spanish is limited; however, many universities offer a Ph.D. in Spanish in an on-campus format.
Students can find both bachelor's and master's programs online in the discipline of teaching Spanish. At the bachelor's level, students will be required to complete teaching practicums before pursuing state licensure, while master's-level programs will explore more complex Spanish grammar, linguistics and pedagogy.