English is often privileged to the detriment of Spanish.
However, the Spanish language is, according to numerous experts, the living language of the future.
Spanish in a few figures is:
- A language spoken by more than 400 million speakers
- The official language of 21 countries
- The second most utilized language in international trade
- The second most spoken language in the United States, a country whose Hispanic community is continually growing
Numerous employers and numerous schools thus view mastering Spanish as a real asset and, due to the growing interest in the language, there is an increasing need qualified Spanish teachers and for private Spanish tutors.
Do you have a good mastery of the Spanish language? Have you acquired those linguistic skills over the course of the past few years?
Are you asking yourself whether you too could give Spanish lessons to meet that sky-rocketing demand?
Here is our advice to gauge your Spanish level before launching into the adventure of teaching - either in a school or giving bespoke lessons as a one-on-one private tutor.
Discover also this complete guide to becoming a Spanish teacher...
At Minimum, You Must Have a Good Grasp of Spanish!
Language learners spend a long time perfecting their skills and, on their way to language mastery, necessarily rely on their teachers for instruction and guidance. However, sometimes a not-quite-so-qualified teacher can slip through the cracks, leading a class when s/he has no language qualifications to speak of!
Such a strange situation actually came to pass in the American city of Houston, when a substitute teacher was promoted to full time teaching of French... but he could only say bonjour!
Admittedly, it is much more likely for such a situation to take place within the realm of private tutoring than in a heavily regulated public school, where teachers' credentials are stringently examined and verified.
Nevertheless, in light of such a possibility - and at the risk of belabouring the obvious, we formulate Rule #1: to become a Spanish tutor, teacher or professor, you need to have a good level of Spanish!
But what does it mean to be at a good level?
- Capable of understanding written and spoken Spanish
- Able to speak Spanish
- Having mastery of Spanish grammar, conjugation
- Understanding important ideas - culture, literature, current events and other areas of interest to Spanish speakers/learners.
Confidently, you aver you have all of that already. But how can you go about proving your mastery of this most preferred Romance language?
Sitting the DELE
If you intend to prove your Spanish language skills in the most creditable way possible, nothing says ‘official’ like a DELE certificate.
The Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera, or DELE is a language examination and certification programme advocated by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science and administered through Instituto Cervantes branches around the world.
You can find branches of the Cervantes Institute in Leeds, London and Manchester, or touch on Spanish culture and language learning on their website. You may even schedule you DELE from the convenient links they provide!
This exam, which challenges candidates’ knowledge and use of European Spanish, is set up according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL).
Exam takers may choose to test at any of the 6 levels offered.
The lowest level, A1, denotes language skills equivalent to a beginner speaker; the B-range indicates intermediate Spanish skills and the Cs represent near-fluency and fluency.
You would need to test in the B range – B1 or B2, in order to teach through secondary school. Of course, the higher your certification, the better your chances are of earning a position as a teacher of Spanish so, if at all possible, testing at C1 or even C2 would greatly improve your potential for hire.
A B-range exam would also be suitable to becoming a Spanish language tutor, with one caveat: at best, you would be qualified to work with students up to Key Stage 3.
“Wait a minute,” you say, “I thought there were no laws regarding tutoring qualifications!” and you would be completely right, but only up to a point.
While there are no laws governing certifications and qualifications of tutors, the accepted rule of thumb is that you must be at least one year/level more advanced than the students you work with.
So, if your language skills are officially assessed as intermediate, you would be qualified to teach beginner to low-intermediate language learners. If that is the group you were hoping to work with, you’re golden!
What if you’re a native Spanish speaker or bi-lingual?
If you are a native speaker of Spanish, you would have the inverse situation: you would need to prove your English language skills before stepping in front of a classroom or taking on private students! In such a case, the TOEFL or IELTS exams are for you.
If you are bilingual – if you’ve earned your Masters degree in Spanish language studies, you too should sit the DELE even though you have travelled a clearly documented path to language mastery.
The DELE certificate provides you with a double layer of qualifications, with the one earned through the Spanish Ministry bearing more weight. And, as a bonus, a DELE certification never expires!
Besides, a C2 certificate would look so good on your CV, and think of how it would boost your chances of landing the job of your dreams!
Now, let’s talk more concretely about what you want to do with those newly-earned certificates.
Learn how you too can become a Spanish teacher without formal qualifications...
Employment Avenues that Demand Spanish Language Skills
Naturally, the direction you go with your Spanish knowledge all depends on what you would like to do: become a Spanish professor? Or give private Spanish lessons?
Of course, there are other career paths that call for Spanish language capability, such as international trade, banking and import/export. Our focus, however, is on teaching Spanish.
To become a Spanish professor and give Spanish lessons, the most common path is to obtain a master’s degree in education.
And, if you intend to teach Spanish in a classroom setting, as an instructor teaching under the National Curriculum, is necessary to attain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and undergo Initial Teacher Training (ITT).
If your intention is strictly private tutoring, it would be a good idea to get teaching experience at the same time as you are finishing your courses.
To become a Spanish teacher in a school in Scotland, you will need to complete similar education requirements, satisfactorily complete a TQ exam and undergo Initial Teacher Education (ITE).
Whether in Scotland, England or anywhere else in the world, these steps all demand an excellent level of Spanish.
If what you want is to become a private tutor and give Spanish lessons from time to time to earn some pocket money, the path is less convoluted and offers two options. You could join a company that offers academic tutoring, or set off independently.
What are some companies that offer Spanish tutoring?
- Competitive Edge Tutoring
- Cactus Language Courses
- Professional Home Tutors
- Keystone Tutors
But be aware that you will need to have a bachelor’s degree, and possibly even a master’s degree, and official proof of your Spanish language capability to tutor for the most reputable companies.
And you might be expected to pass an entrance exam as well, testing your written and oral skills. Your Spanish level will be scrutinized!
Don’t go down this path unless you have an advanced level of Spanish!
If you would like to become independent and tutor in Spanish as a freelancer, you are free to work without attaining a professional degree. It will be exclusively up to you, however, to find students to give Spanish lessons to!
How would you go about it?
One very effective way to find students for your Spanish lessons is to register for an online platform like Superprof, fill out your profile with your experience and your teaching style.
Be sure to emphasise that you have submitted to a DBS check and, before you laugh all the way to the bank with all of the fees you will surely collect, make certain you have registered yourself with HMRC!
Numerous students, both A-Level students and those already enroled at university launch themselves into private tutoring without being an expert of the Spanish language.
Should you still be in school and looking for a way to earn a bit, you too will be able to choose between giving at-home or online lessons - or a combination of both! .
Join the discussion: what essential qualities must a Spanish teacher have?
Being Bilingual in Spanish
Studying the language of Cervantes to give Spanish lessons isn’t necessary for everyone; some people are bilingual and thus have the possibility of skipping over the learning and certifying processes described above.
If you grew up speaking English as well as the Spanish language, you may consider yourself bilingual.
What does being bilingual mean?
This word is often used incorrectly. To be bilingual means that you speak Spanish as well as you speak your mother tongue.
So you are able to understand, write, and speak fluently, as well as you can speak English!
The Benefit of Travel
Many people improve their foreign language skills by traveling.
- Why not go on a language-immersion trip in Spain?
- Spend your summer vacation in Spanish-speaking destinations: Latin America or Spain… the choice is yours!
In recent years, the most popular tourist destination for Britons has been Spain. Other popular Spanish-speaking cities that globe-trotting Brits love to travel to are San Jose, Costa Rica; Havana, Cuba; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
This personal experience will allow you not only to improve your Spanish but also to enrich your culture.
If you would like to improve your Spanish rapidly, you will need to get as much total-immersion experience as possible: go to public places, speak up, meet new native Spanish-speakers… You will need to experience a true linguistic exchange.
Learning Spanish in Spain is a rare opportunity, so make sure you familiarize yourself rapidly and communicate as much as possible.
Being bilingual will also allow you to set your Spanish lesson rates higher!
Learn all about why travelling abroad is essential to becoming a Spanish teacher!
Finally, some people will have no need at all to go on a trip to Spain or to take Spanish-language courses to become bilingual!
If you are a native Spanish-speaker, if Spanish is your mother tongue or your second mother tongue, becoming a professor will be a piece of cake.
Students who want to learn a language online are always looking to enrich themselves culturally but also and above all to obtain excellent pronunciation and a perfect accent.
Working on Oral Expression Will Be Much More Appealing with a Spanish-Speaking Professor!
But be careful not to rest on your laurels: pass the TOEFL, IELTS or and your teacher certification, so you can offer lessons catered to the widest range of Spanish learners!
Discover more ways to become a Spanish teacher without a teaching certificate...
Get a Foreign Language Degree
Getting your bachelor’s degree in a foreign language, such as Spanish, will open doors for you in the world of Spanish teaching and tutoring. But be careful before you enroll in such a degree—you should already have developed good language skills!
Did you know that GCSE Spanish is the most sought-after language exam? That nugget of information serves to notify you how you can best find students for your lessons and to inform you how to get started on your language learning adventure!
After sitting your GCSEs and A-Levels in Spanish, you may choose to pursue a Comparative Literature degree, which will also push you to choose two or three languages, and to study the literature of those languages in addition to your written and oral comprehension.
Here is a pertinent point to consider: the demand for Spanish teachers keeps growing the more students realise that this language is becoming globally significant. In light of that, why not pursue a degree in Spanish and Cultural Studies?
In any event, you will gain an undeniable cultural richness!
What’s stopping you?
As mentioned above, there are multiple polyglot professions you will be able to apply for: translation, tourist development, etc. But above all you will be qualified to apply for numerous tutoring companies. If you would like to be independent, these degrees will demonstrate your Spanish level and are great alternative jobs for teachers.
As you see, obtaining your degree is one way to prove your Spanish language skills. Having a university degree will also teach you how to organize a Spanish lesson!
First Lesson Ideas
How exciting: you’ve landed your first teaching gig! Whether in a public school, through a tutoring agency or tutoring on your own, you will need a place to start.
Admittedly, it would be easier to start your career as a Spanish teacher in some formal setting – again, be it through a school or company that specialises in helping students excel, because you will have materials to work with.
However, should you decide to make a go of your own tutoring business, it would be helpful to know where to start.
Naturally, you could use the books your tutees are already using to learn from but relying exclusively on textbooks can make for tedious lessons!
What follows now are some tips to prepare for your lessons – be they your initial foray into teaching Spanish as well as any learning session your lead.
1. Conduct an ice breaker: whether your student is primary-school aged or learning Business Spanish, starting your sessions off with a small game or monologue – given by you or your student(s) is a sure-fire way to get them in the mood for Spanish!
This activity doesn’t even have to be intellectual! You may prepare a traditional snack or treat that relates to Spanish culture and discuss said culture while you munch. If your students are more advanced, be sure to hold that conversation in Spanish!
Other ice-breaking activities include: word games, discussion of current events or festival happenings, should the lesson take place around the time of such a festival, asking how the student has done on an exam s/he was nervous about...
This portion of your lessons should take no more than 7 minutes at the most!
2. Ask questions: if your student is taking Spanish in class ask what difficulties and what successes s/he encountered since your last session.
3. Review: get your student on solid ground, a place s/he felt comfortable during the last session.
Were you conjugating verbs? Covering adjectives and adverbs? Was there a particular phrase or sentence that struck a chord?
This light refresh of your most recent session is a confidence builder; it gives your students a jumping off point for the day’s learning.
4. Broach new material: only after you are assured that all previous difficulties have been addressed and all past lessons have been mastered should you start teaching a new facet or aspect of the language, be it vocabulary or grammar.
5. Give your students plenty of opportunity to use the language s/he is learning.
For some, teaching represents presenting material without giving students a chance to use it. Don’t be that teacher!
Throughout your lessons, you should maintain a positive, encouraging attitude. You will find that students respond and learn better if their teacher is open and engaging than if the entire session consists of hitting the books and drilling in Spanish pronunciation.
You might also consider bringing lots of visuals and other teaching aids to your lessons.
Spanish culture is vibrant, colourful and fun! The music is lively and the language melodious; your lessons should reflect the cultural tone the Spanish language represents.
One last tip: keep detailed notes on every student.
By keeping records of where your students are at in their learning, the difficulties they’ve faced (and, hopefully, overcome!) and what their ultimate learning goals are, you will be able to better prepare yourself to meet and teach each of your charges.
Your questions answered: what degrees do you need to become a Spanish teacher?
The Level Required Depends on the Level of the Student
Obtaining an excellent level of Spanish to become a good professor is obvious, but is it necessary?
If a beginner student wants to progress in Spanish, must you necessarily possess the same capacities as a professional to give them an introduction?
Spanish Lessons in Middle School and High School
If a student currently in middle school or in high school wants to improve their foreign language skills, you will just need to show that you are at an intermediary level.
What do middle school and high school students learn in their high school classes?
- Listening skills
- Reading skills
- Pronunciation and conversation skills
The coursework at this level is not very complex.
At an intermediary level, you will be able to help a student if you know how to write in Spanish and have basic conversations.
In sum, you don’t need to be bilingual to help a student in middle school or high school!
What’s more important? Your teaching skills, your listening abilities, and your capacity to explain concepts clearly and simply.
Preparing for tests, such as the GCSE or A-Level Spanish exam generally follows the same rules as ordinary, periodic classroom exams, but with one crucial difference.
Whereas periodic exams focus on the material in the current segment being taught, end of year exams and school leaving ordeals are comprehensive: the material is more complex, the conversations are more advanced and there is more to be tested on.
However, if you are asked to help a student prepare for their Spanish GCSE subject test, there are tools at your disposal!
The numerous tools available on the Internet will become your best ally. You can use online tools to create exercises or review sheets for your student.
You should have no trouble finding any; a simple search for 'Spanish teaching materials' will yield millions of hits: worksheets and videos, blogs from experienced teachers and other resources you may make use of, either for free or a small fee.
The Necessary Oral and Written Level for Students Beyond the School Leaving exam
Beyond GCSE level, if you have attained intermediary Spanish speaking skills, they will no longer suffice. These students will need a tutor who has mastered the written and oral aspects of the language.
Do you speak Spanish fluently? If the answer is no, you won’t be able to take your lessons with those students any further.
You must have an advanced or even expert level of Spanish to be able to teach those of an intermediary level.
You will most importantly need to be able to write without mistakes and speak fluently about anything and everything before you will be able to help a student who is already beyond the secondary school level.
You must also have excellent teaching skills!
If you’re unsure, simply ask yourself whether you could easily pass the test or class that the student is studying for.
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