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How to Become a Spanish Teacher in California

Spanish teachers offer students a learning experience outside of traditional subjects like math and reading. In California, teachers will need to complete a bachelor's degree and state certification examinations.

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With a significant Spanish-speaking demographic and a major teacher shortage, California is fertile territory for new Spanish teachers. Earning a teacher certification in Spanish in the state of California requires a bachelor's degree and completing a state-specific teacher preparation program, among other requirements.

California Spanish Teacher Requirements

Average Salary for Teachers in California (2016)* $74,270 (Elementary); $70,100 (Middle); $74,940 (Secondary)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Spanish
Testing Requirements CBEST and CSET Spanish

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Individuals who wish to teach Spanish in California will need to complete a bachelor's degree at an approved educational institution. Students can pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish that will provide them with the necessary knowledge to qualify for the Single Subject Teaching Credential. Students will take courses like intermediate Spanish reading, advanced conversation, Spanish for teachers, Spanish applied linguistics, and the history of the Spanish language.

Step 2: Complete a Teacher Preparation Program

Certain universities and colleges in the state of California offer integrated bachelor's degree programs that combine teaching credential coursework with subject-specific coursework, in this case Spanish. These programs are intense but allow the student to earn a bachelor's degree and teaching credential in four years.

Otherwise, the student must earn a bachelor's degree and then complete approved teacher credential courses, also offered at various colleges and universities. These can take an additional year or year and a half to complete. California requires 600 hours of clinical teaching experience, so all training programs include a student teaching assignment. These assignments can last one school semester or an entire school year.

Step 3: Pass Certification Exams

After completing the educational and training requirements, individuals will need to fulfill the basic skills requirement as well as a subject-specific exam.

One way to fulfill the basic skills requirement is to pass the California Basic Assessment Educational Skills Test, known as the CBEST. This exam tests individuals' proficiency in writing, reading, and mathematics. The sections can be taken individually or all in one testing session. A total combined score of 123 must be earned, which equates to a score of 41 on each section. It should be noted that individuals can earn a score of 37 on one or two sections, just as long as their total score is 123. The basic skills requirement can also be fulfilled in a number of other ways, including certain qualifying scores on the ACT, SAT, and AP exams.

The final examination individuals will need to take is the CSET Single Subject Teaching Credential in Spanish. This examination consists of three subtests. The first subtest has 40 multiple-choice questions and three constructed-response questions, while the second one also has 40 questions, but only one constructed-response questions. The final subtest has 30 multiple-choice questions and six constructed-response ones. Individuals will need 220 on each subtest to pass. Certain commission-approved Spanish degree programs in the state of California allow graduates to waive the CSET exam requirement.

Prospective teachers in California have a few unique coursework requirements to complete:

  • A United States Constitution course
  • A reading instruction course
  • A computer technology course

After meeting these requirements, individuals will receive the preliminary credential, which is good for five years. The next step is to apply for the clear credential, which offers two standard ways to qualify. Teachers can complete an approved teacher induction program or become certified through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

Spanish teachers will need to receive a clear fingerprint check from the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Certification Resources for Spanish Teachers in California

Spanish teaching candidates can prepare for the CBEST examination by utilizing this study guide:

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