Bachelor's programs can prepare students for initial teaching certification. Admissions requirements typically include a high school diploma or equivalent, and fluency in both English and another language. Most bachelor's programs culminate in a student-teaching externship.
Bilingual education master's programs are typically designed for certified teachers seeking advanced skills and career advancement. In addition to valid teaching certification, applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and be fluent in a second language. Master's-level students may choose a specialization, like gifted education or early childhood.
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Bilingual Education
Bachelor degree programs in bilingual education prepare students for teaching certification and additional certification to teach in bilingual programs. Students learn to work in multilingual classrooms and instruct non-English students in all subject areas. Like traditional education programs, students are trained in theories of learning and child development. They also study cultural issues, language acquisition, and how to operate in multilingual environments.
Academic thresholds, tests, essays and application requirements vary from college to college. Some schools require students to enter a pre-major program and complete general coursework before applying to the education program. Students take courses in education theory, pedagogy, bilingual education and English as a Second Language (ESL). Programs also include a practicum or student-teaching experience. Course topics include:
- Foundation of education
- Child behavior and development
- Curriculum development
- Hispanic culture
- ESL methods
- Bilingual teaching methods
Master's Degree Programs in Bilingual Teaching
Master's degree programs in bilingual education are designed to prepare currently-licensed teachers to instruct in multilingual classrooms. Graduates may be considered master teachers or specialists in this area. Programs cover second language learning, pedagogy, theoretical principles of education and social and cultural concepts.
These graduate degree programs typically require 30-36 credits hours of coursework. Some programs require a thesis or a research project. Course topics include:
- Cultural perspectives
- Teaching ESL
- Evaluation and assessment
- Technology in multilingual classrooms
- Language acquisition
- Language development research
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The number of non-English-speaking students in U.S. school systems continues to grow, fueling a demand for bilingual teachers to teach bilingual education, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). As of May 2015, teachers of kindergarten and elementary schools earned a median annual salary of $54,550, while secondary school teachers earned $57,200. Both had an expected job outlook of 6% between 2014 and 2024.
Licensing Certification and Continuing Education
All states require public school teachers to obtain a license, which generally requires a bachelor's degree, completion of a teacher training program and passing an exam. Licensing for bilingual teaching varies by state. Some states require separate licensing or endorsement to teach in bilingual programs. Certification is voluntary. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is the most widely recognized certification, and they offer a certification for bilingual teaching. Continuing education is necessary to maintain both teacher licensing and certification.
In addition to being a condition for maintaining a license, continuing education helps bilingual teachers keep up with current topics and may lead to career advancement. Professional associations, such as the National Association for Bilingual Education, may offer opportunities or information about continuing education.
With an increase in English as a second language (ESL) students, there is a need for teachers who can teach in a multilingual classroom. Individuals wanting to fulfill this need can get a special bilingual teaching bachelors and/or masters degree.