Spanish As a Second Language Certification Info for Teachers

Sep 19, 2019

Aspiring Spanish as a Second Language teachers can gain certification through traditional Spanish education programs or alternative certification programs. Alternative certification programs are for candidates whose bachelor's degree did not include teacher certification. Certification includes passing an exam and obtaining practical experience.

Essential Information

Traditionally, a Spanish as a Second Language instruction certification is obtained as a part of a bachelor's degree program in Spanish with a concentration in education. Graduates of an accredited college or university should then receive a teaching certification along with their degree in the language. However, there are alternative certification programs which include teacher certification coursework outside of the university setting as well as continuing education for experienced Spanish teachers from The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Required Education Bachelor's degree and certification program
Required Experience Spanish language proficiency
Required Testing Examinations to evaluate language proficiency
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% for middle school teachers; 4% for high school teachers
Median Salary (2018)* $58,600 for middle school teachers; $60,320 for high school teachers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Traditional Teacher Certification Programs

All Spanish education programs require demonstration of language proficiency for acceptance. Coursework in these programs might include linguistics, psychology, and child or adolescent development. Major requirements in these programs are likely to include courses in Spanish language and composition, Spanish literature, Spanish culture, and General Education.

Typically, students in traditional Spanish education certification programs will take part in teaching internships. Students may also be required to pass proficiency exams, such as the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI), prior to actually teaching in the classroom. The ACTFL OPI is an interview-style examination performed either in-person or over the phone with the purpose of assessing an individual's language speaking ability.

Depending on state requirements, students are required to pass Praxis tests or state-issued teacher certification exams before graduation. For certification in Spanish as a Second Language, students take the Praxis II Subject Assessment exam titled 'Spanish: World Language,' which covers listening, reading, writing, speaking, and culture. Everyone who seeks this certification will be required to demonstrate Spanish language proficiency. However, there are alternative ways to obtain this certification outside of the university setting.

Alternative Teacher Certification Programs

Most states offer an alternative teacher certification route for college graduates with a bachelor's degree in a major that did not lead to teaching certification. Candidates must pass a screening process which may include interviews, criminal background checks and exams to test for basic liberal arts skills as well as Spanish fluency.

Students in an approved alternative teacher certification program complete additional coursework to meet professional teaching standards, based on the individual's skill level, previous coursework and state requirements. Experienced teachers provide individual mentoring to students in alternative certification programs during in-classroom employment. Graduates must pass Praxis exams or a state-issued certification exam to receive teacher certification.

National Certification Information for Spanish Teachers

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) awards national certification in World Languages Other than English. Teachers must be state-certified, have three years of teaching experience, take a content knowledge assessment and submit a portfolio to NBPTS showing classroom interaction, teaching, written analysis and accomplishments outside of the classroom that have contributed to the education of the applicant's students.

The content knowledge assessment, involving six exercises, is given at computer-based testing centers throughout the United States. Teachers must have high Spanish-language proficiency as well as an excellent understanding of Spanish culture, language acquisition and education.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 3% growth for all middle school teachers and 4% growth for high school teachers between 2018 and 2028. In May 2018, the median salary for middle school teachers was $58,600. The median salary for high school teachers in May 2018 was $60,320 as reported by the BLS.

Undergraduate Spanish education programs typically include certification to teach Spanish as a second language. Alternative certification programs are available for individuals whose undergraduate degree did not include this, but who wish to teach Spanish. Gaining certification includes passing a Praxis exam and practical classroom experience. Candidates must demonstrate proficiency in a number of areas relating to Spanish fluency and understanding.

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