Education Requirements, Salary, and Other Career Info
If you have strong communication skills and are passionate about diversity, teaching Spanish is a great career choice. People who are fluent in Spanish are in high demand due to the growing demand for bilingual speakers in business, education, and other areas.
Spanish teachers are often passionate about literature, the liberal arts, history, commerce, economics, and mass communication. They are patient, methodical and dedicated to helping their students understand Spanish-speaking countries.
This guide provides information about the education, salaries, and job opportunities for Spanish teachers. You can browse the content or click the links below to get to your destination.
Spanish teachers at a glance
|Elementary||Middle school||High school||College/postsecondary|
|Education||Master’s preferred; Bachelor’s||Master’s preferred; Bachelor’s||Master’s preferred; Bachelor’s||Doctorate; Master’s|
|Average study time||4-6 Years||4-6 Years||4-6 Years||5-10 Years|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Note: The data listed are for elementary, middle, and high school teachers in general, as well as for teachers of foreign languages postsecondary. )
Many Spanish teachers work in subject-specific classrooms at middle and high school, junior colleges, and universities that offer foreign languages courses and degrees. Spanish teachers can specialize in reading, writing, or verbal communication depending on their grade. Teachers may also be trained in Spanish literature or world history, which help students make positive connections between Spanish-speaking communities and their American counterparts.
Multimedia courses are taught by some Spanish teachers, including video and film production, journalism, social media, mass communication, and bilingual radio and TV broadcasting (at both the high school and college level).
No matter what their area of expertise, all Spanish teachers should be able to grasp vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure in English and Spanish.
Teaching Spanish is a great career for those who love teaching writing, reading and verbal communication. It’s a great opportunity to teach Spanish and to broaden your knowledge.
Spanish teacher job description
Spanish teachers need to be proficient in school management, teaching methods, and classroom management. They should also be able to teach creative subjects such as poetry and fiction writing.
Spanish teachers who are full-time work eight hour shifts, usually from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Summers are usually taken off by most public and private school teachers. There are also holidays and winter breaks that last two to three weeks. Advisors may be available for after-school activities such as Spanish club, yearbook, and sports.
It is important to have an interest in Spanish, Mexican and Latin American cultures. The curriculum of all U.S. foreign language schools today focuses on learning Spanish, French and German as well as other languages. It also teaches how to embrace native cultures and understand the differences between people from around the globe. This includes South and Central America and the Philippines, Mexico, Spain, and large portions of the southeastern United States.
Teaching any foreign language requires passion for literature. Teaching Spanish in American schools may require you to read the works of Spanish-speaking authors, from Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra through Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Spanish teachers are also available:
- As a long-term goal, prepare coursework and assignments to class with a focus of grade-appropriate lessons.
- Students can be assigned to grade essays, reports, tests and other writing assignments.
- Collaborate with colleagues to discuss techniques and create lesson plans.
- To identify and maintain fluency in Spanish, hold conferences with students.
- Talk to parents and guardians about the academic progress of your student, behavior issues, and remedial measures that may be needed.
What makes a good Spanish teacher?
Teachers of Spanish should be able to speak Spanish fluently, and have a solid grasp of the correct spellings and pronunciations. They also need to be able to easily break down words phonetically.
ESL students and English speakers of other language (ESOL) may choose to study Spanish in order to improve their English language skills. Spanish teachers must be sensitive to the needs and abilities of bilingual students.
Spanish-speaking teachers should:
- Speaking in English and Spanish in a relaxed manner in front of large groups
- Students will be inspired to speak Spanish
- Comfortable explaining the differences between gender nouns, subject/verb agreements, and the use of accent symbols
- To keep students on track towards fluency, we have included grade-level expectations as well as progress indicators.
- Expertise in persuasive, argumentative, and expository writing techniques
- Experts in English and Spanish punctuation – from proper use of semicolons to wordhyphenation
- Ability to communicate critical thinking with students while also advancing their bilingual written and verbal communication skills
People who are good at learning languages, such as grammar, sentence structure, persuasive writing, and expository writing, are well-suited for becoming Spanish teachers.
Spanish language teaching at all levels
You can become a Spanish teacher by choosing the level of instruction you are looking for: elementary, middle, or high school. The more specialized the Spanish curriculum and studies, the higher the grade.
There are many factors that influence the grade level at which you should teach. These factors include:
- Graduation: Most postsecondary institutions require an advanced degree, whereas elementary, middle, and high schools prefer Spanish teachers with a master’s or higher degree.
- The Spanish language arts subject matter ranges in breadth and depth; the higher the grade, the more advanced the curriculum
- Want to teach advanced courses in literature and writing genres starting in grade 10-12 and continuing through college?
- Students’ maturity and age — K-12 through college. The more mature students tend to be more attentive and committed to learning.
- Current demand for Spanish teachers is highest in middle school. High school and junior college are next.
The Standards for Foreign Language Learning should be familiarized with Spanish teachers. These standards have been adopted by many public and private schools in the last two decades. They were created in the early 1990s in order to raise awareness about the five C’s in foreign language study. These guidelines for teaching world language in U.S schools provide practical steps that will help Spanish teachers create and implement curriculum.
These are the five C’s to learn Spanish as a foreign tongue:
- Communication: Students can engage in conversation in Spanish to share information and ideas, as well as their personal opinions on current events.
- Cultures Help students learn about Spanish-speaking cultures by sharing their personal experiences, print, video and online. Also, help them compare the United States to Spain.
- Connections Introduce students to thought leaders from Spanish-speaking nations through literature, fine arts, media and commerce.
- Comparisons Gain insight into the culture and language of Spanish-speaking countries through opportunities that allow students to demonstrate and compare their knowledge.
- Communities – Encourage students to interact with native Spanish speakers and bilingual Spanish-speaking persons at home, in their local communities, and abroad and share their personal experiences.
In the 21st Century, it is crucial to foster cross-cultural integration of science technology, engineering, and mathematics. Teachers today are expected to encourage students to explore STEM subjects and connect them with diverse communities in the United States as well as abroad.
For the success of STEM education in our schools, which are becoming bilingual and biliterate, it is essential to develop proper communication skills for English-speaking and Spanish-speaking learners.
Spanish teachers in elementary schools
These are the most common areas for Spanish teachers in elementary school:
- Spanish language teacher who often teaches half-hour classes or hour classes several days a week
- Students can learn to be bilingual and biliterate with an immersion teacher
- ESL/ESOL students with limited English proficiency need a transitional teacher
Teachers of Spanish immersion and transitional programs have to be proficient in all core subjects, unlike traditional Spanish language teachers who only focus on one subject.
For more information about Spanish teaching in elementary schools, click here
Spanish teachers for middle school
Students between the ages of 12 and 14 can learn Spanish in middle school. Some students may have had Spanish classes in elementary school. However, middle school teachers need to be able to teach a broad range of languages.
For more information about Spanish teaching in middle school, click here
Spanish teachers in high school
Teachers of high school Spanish often work with gifted and highly-skilled students who speak more than one language. High school Spanish teachers must be able to teach intermediate and introductory courses.
Postsecondary/college Spanish teachers
Teachers of Spanish at postsecondary level have the opportunity to teach a narrowly targeted curriculum. College students can choose from a variety of subjects, including Spanish literature and poetry. They also have the opportunity to write about specific countries and cultures, such as Mexico, South and Central America and the Philippines.
Click here for in-depth details about postsecondary/college Spanish teachers
Spanish teachers can get professional development
Spanish teachers have a broad platform that allows them to search for information, practice reading and listening, and improve their bilingual skills.
Spanish teachers’ associations offer webinars, correspondence classes, one-day seminars and symposiums as well as other continuing education opportunities. These courses are designed to assist teachers in improving their Spanish literature and writing skills, teaching techniques, and extending their knowledge base. These platforms are great for improving one’s knowledge of Spanish language arts concepts and meeting like-minded professionals. They also allow them to improve their professional profiles, social media pages, and resumes.
Spanish is an ideal language for teachers who are interested in advanced degrees. It can be used as a complement to journalism, archaeology and marketing, public relations and web publishing, and other professions that need translators and interpreters. The primary incentives are to expand knowledge in specific subjects, such as speech therapy or play writing, while also remaining competitive as bilingual experts on the job market.
Benefits of continuing education
According to the BLS statistics, professionals who have a master’s degree are more likely to be promoted and receive a raise in their salaries. This is especially true for bilingual teachers who hold bachelor’s degrees and foreign language teachers. A bachelor’s degree is equivalent to a master’s for novice teachers, but the difference in salary is $3,000 per year. According to BLS data, this bump rises to $4,500 after 10 years of teaching experience.
Continuing education can be a great way for a person to stay on track in their career, increase knowledge, stay competitive, and increase their real value in the job market.
What graduate programs are available to help Spanish teachers?
Studies show positive correlations between teacher subject-specific expertise, student achievement, and teacher skill. These results suggest that not all degrees can be equal. Therefore, Spanish teachers who are interested in graduate studies should seek programs that will help them improve their knowledge of the world languages.
These recommendations reflect two important trends in primary education, both of them reflected in Pew Research research. The first is the demand for Spanish-speaking teachers due to the increase in native Spanish speakers throughout the United States, especially in the South, Southwest and West Coast.
Secondly, there are many opportunities for bilingual teachers to teach English and Spanish in the United States due to an increase in ESOL students in public schools.
Spanish teachers can improve their chances of securing a job by pursuing advanced degrees in ESOL or early childhood education, or in educational leadership.
ESOL students and graduate programs for Spanish teachers
Students in ESOL classes are taught almost entirely in English. Students are not often given the opportunity to learn their native language.
Spanish-speaking students can also take ESOL curriculum and Spanish. This allows them to compare their native language with English. This helps to distinguish between English and Spanish syntax, sentence structure rules, and word meanings. For example, Spanish-speaking students can address strangers using formal nouns. They also understand Spanish gender-specific pronouns (masculine, feminine).
This requires Spanish teachers to be patient and understanding with ESOL learners. They should be able to integrate students whose first language is English or Spanish. Enrolling Spanish-speaking students in Spanish classes has the added benefit of helping non-native learners better understand Spanish and simultaneously learning English fluently.
Spanish-speaking teachers’ associations
Spanish teachers can join professional associations in order to improve their teaching skills and network with like-minded people. These associations can be of benefit to both Spanish and foreign language teachers.
American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
American Association of Teachers of Spanish & Portuguese
Modern Language Association
World-class Instructional Design and Assessment
Association of Departments of Foreign Languages
Similar careers: Jobs for Spanish teachers other than school
A 2013 Pew Research study revealed that more than 10% of Americans speak Spanish at home. This number is increasing not only for native Spanish speakers, but also for those whose heritage can be traced to other Spanish-speaking countries.
Pew Research and other studies show a rising demand for bilingual workers due to population changes. This includes managers and supervisors who can speak English and Spanish.
Some jobs, such as translator or interpreter, don’t require any additional training beyond what is required for a Spanish teacher with at least a bachelor’s degree.
Spanish teachers may be considering a career shift or if they are aspiring to teach in highly competitive markets. Spanish-speaking teachers may be interested in employment opportunities that require specialists who can explain complicated concepts to native Spanish speakers, such as fluctuations in mortgage rates, property assessments, taxes, and complex health insurance policies.
There are many other career options for Spanish teachers:
- Translator and interpreter
- Healthcare administrative assistant
- Agent for bank loans
- Real estate agent
- Retail store manager
- Specialist in human resources
- Social services coordinator
- Vocational guidance counselor