Becoming a Language Teacher


If you’ve followed my posts, you’ll understand that language is the subject I love. Especially Latin—it’s where I started and what has got me to this point. I’ve considered studying Classics in college but I’ve also considered how many jobs are available for teaching Classics (not all that many). So I considered History as a backup—my interest in the classical world and languages would work here. But the more and more I think about it, I want to be a foreign language teacher no matter what— but when I think about the jobs in teaching French, there’s the same issue. I want to be a language teacher at all costs. What should I do?

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You should become a language teacher.

Life’s far too short to not be doing something you love.

But if you can, double up. My Catholic High school teaches Latin, but not all schools do-- so pairing it up with French is a good idea. Network while in school. Consider staying close to home, so you can build relationships in the schools you’re likely to apply to. Make yourself more marketable by doing things that schools are looking for-- consider coaching something or moderating something at your local high school.

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But French isn’t a very common job for teaching anymore either.

It’s probably much more common than Latin. If you’re good at languages, would you consider learning Spanish?

I’m taking Spanish. But my real passion is for Latin. I’d love teaching French though.

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OK. So get as many certifications as you can.
As a first year teacher, you may not get what you want; they’ll hire based on what they need, not on what you want to teach. And you may end up with a combination of things-- two Latin classes, one Spanish and two French. Again, they’re not going to work around your preferences; they’ll hire based on what they need for the upcoming school year.

But two, even three, different preps isn’t the end of the world; it’s pretty typical. It breaks up the day a little if you’re not repeating the same lesson 5 times a day.


How many certifications would you recommend on getting then? And what degree? By the way I’m in high school—not college yet.

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I would get certified to teach as many languages as I could teach with real competence. That doesn’t mean staying one day ahead of the kids. It means being fluent enough in the language to have real conversation with a parent who spoke that language instead of English. (OK, obviously not going to happen in Latin, but you get my drift. ) So start with Latin, and French if you’re fluent, and move on from there.


But this would cost lots of money and I would surely come into deep debt. What do I do here (I know I’m responding negative to everything you say lol, but it is what I’m actually thinking when I think about this stuff).

Why would it cost extra? It doesn’t cost anything extra to, say, minor in French. Or to take Spanish courses as electives. And the cost for extra certifications is minimal… especially if it can help you land a teaching job.

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But I wouldn’t say that Spanish elective courses would give me any degree to teach them? Thus I would have to pay the minimal cost for an extra degree, no? And I want to major in Classics (it’s what I love)

And the reason I don’t want to teach English is because I find the whole process of second language acquisition fascinating. The methods people use just fascinate me. I am thinking about taking the AP French Exam (it’s just a thought, I am not sure yet).

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ESL teachers are in high demand, and would satisfy your fascination.

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@Langoid Many independent day schools, Catholic schools, and boarding schools continue to teach Latin. Admittedly this is a somewhat restricted job pool within teaching but the number of applicants is also likely to be smaller too. A Classics degree might also enable you to teach World History courses. If classics is your passion, I say go for it, perhaps supplemented by a more “practical” minor or second major.

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If you’ve not studied French you can’t take the AP French exam.
Are you currently in a Catholic or boarding/day school?
Start there - ask the foreign language and Latin teachers.
Your path is basically French+Latin at a private/Catholic school or Latin + another specialty (ESL would work, especially since you could study Language acquisition at the Master’s level). Latin is far rarer than French in public schools.
If you want to teach in private schools it’s important to attend a college that has good ties to several of them, which often means Catholic universities and selective LACs (all NESCAC would be an obvious list for you). A minor in history or philosophy would help, as would the ability to coach a sport, theater, any club related to languages. You wouldn’t need certification but you’d need the pedigree.
The other path works better from your state’s Flagship and the former normal schools requalified as full-fledged universities. It’d mean a lower likelihood of being able to teach Latin so you’d need to have a versatile profile, with the most flexible major and some minors.
Plan to spend a year abroad so choose carefully whether you can combine two semesters and languages. A good example of this is Dickinson. More selective, Middlebury. Less selective, Goucher.

@Langoid Aren’t you still a sophomore in high school? If so, then you have a lot of time to figure this out.

Do you know what your budget is for university? Do you live in a state where the in-state public universities have a strong language program?

It seems to me that you should be able to find an affordable university that has a strong classics and a strong languages program.

As one example Bishops University in Quebec is strong in classics and very strong in languages (particularly French of course, but also Spanish and a few other languages, and has a combined French/Spanish major) and the total cost of attendance in US dollars for international students is only about $25,000 per year – and the locals in the area can speak to you in your choice of English or French. I am sure that there are some universities in the US that would similarly be strong in Classics and Languages. In-state schools might have an advantage in terms of being certified for teaching (if you have an appropriate in-state school).

If you decide to major in something other than languages, for many careers being bilingual or trilingual is a plus. As one example I know a nurse who tells me that being bilingual has been helpful in every job that she has gotten. She does have patients who do not speak much if any English.

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“If you’ve not studied French you can’t take the AP French exam.”

I have a daughter who went to a high school that did not offer any AP classes at all. She did take Spanish in high school, but did not take AP Spanish. It was quite a challenge finding a school that would allow her to take the AP Spanish exam, but in the end we did find a school that allowed her to take the exam (and she took it and got credit at her university).

If you’re a sophomore, look into a Rotary year in France, or YFU, for a gap year between junior and senior year in HS ornpoet graduation. You’d need to learn French first to the highest level you can (Middlebury’s intensive summer program is the best but selective and deadlines may be near if not passed; Concordia Language villages are a fun introduction over the summer; there’s the Summer Intensive Language program at Penn State if you’re 15-16+, don’t know the living situation).
However if you can reach level 3-4+ (AP best) France offers something of interest to you: a choice of specialties in Terminale (12th) where in addition to basic classes you’d be able to take 6 hours/week of “spécialité LCA Latin”(grammar, literature, civilization/art,+ comparative literature) + 6 hours of another spécialité (including a choice from philosophy, History& geopolitics, sociology &economics, calc, Physics… sometimes Spanish Literature & culture or art history…) + 3 hours of ancient Greek. So, you’d learn French from being immersed in it AND continue with Latin (and might take up Greek).
The suggestion of studying in Quebec is another good one - Mc Gill, Concordia, Bishop’s are the English speaking universities there. You also have universities that teach in French, plus French speaking programs such as Moncton’s.

@DadTwoGirls : yes it’s not necessary to have taken an AP Foreign Language class to take the exam, but one must have taken some Language classes (either 4-5 years in HS or 3-4semesters in college through dual enrollment) to have a shot.

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I was under the assumption that you can take the AP French Exam if you don’t take the course. I’ve studied it and I think my level is okay. I can use it more naturally than Latin in a lot of ways. I’m focusing now on studying literature in French by myself, but AP would be a good way to demonstrate to colleges my love for languages and perhaps my skills in the languages prior to college.

Yes you can, but have you studied French or just Latin? If you’ve studied French and are at the Intermediate/B1/1+ level you can take the test without a class.

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