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Can you become a Spanish teacher without teaching qualifications?

From Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Tutoring > Advice for Tutors > How to Teach Spanish Without Certification

Have you completed a masters, but not passed your state’s teaching certification test?

Is your goal to become a Spanish teacher, either in the public school system, at a language school, or as a private tutor?

Don’t lose heart. While you study to prepare for your states teaching exam so you can officially begin applying for Spanish teaching jobs in the public school system, you can still explore some of these options…

Working in the private sector as a tutor or for a learning center is a great way to develop your teaching skills. You’ll be able to gain experience and try out different teaching methods while you work towards your goals of giving Spanish classes!

So without further adieu, here are some other ways in order to start teaching Spanish to your students without a teaching certificate…

What is the teaching certification?

There is a National Teachers Examination, but unfortunately, only a few states use this. Much more commonly, different states have devised their own teacher certification, like Massachusetts with the MTELs. Some states mutually recognize the teaching exams of other states, but they don’t always, so you need to think carefully about which state you want to live and work in in the future before you pick an exam to begin studying for.

Each certification system also has multiple components. Spanish teachers taking the National Teachers Examination, for example, will also need to take the foreign language education component of the exam.

Teacher certification exams can seem like a sinister challenge, but are possible to pass, even if it takes some a few tries. And in the meantime, it’s still possible to teach in other ways!

Getting a Masters in Education

In addition to passing the exam, each state will have different education and experience requirements. In order to become a Spanish teacher in Massachusetts for example, you must have completed an ‘educator preparation’ program (usually a Bachelors in Education, but it could be a Masters too), as well as pass the general MTEL and subject MTEL (in this case, Spanish).

You then have 5 years to complete a teacher induction program. In most school districts, you will also be required to complete a Masters in Education, if you haven’t already.

Teach Spanish as a substitute teacher

Haven’t passed your National Teacher’s Examination yet?

Even if you aren’t a fully qualified teacher, you’ll still be able to work in the public school system and gain some teaching experience, as a substitute teacher. You can even still teach Spanish this way.

Substitute teaching requirements vary according to the school system as well, but in many public school systems, you just need a minimum of an Associate’s Degree or two years of a Bachelors degree in order to substitute teach.

As a substitute teacher, you can still work on your teaching skills and help children explore new knowledge.

Some school systems might have certified teachers as their primary substitute teachers, and a rota of additional substitute teachers who aren’t qualified to fill any gaps. It all depends on the system in your town, so it’s worth going to your local superintendent’s office to speak to them and find out how to register.

There are generally two kinds of substitute teachers:

  1. A daily sub is usually paid on a daily basis, isn’t a qualified teacher, and can fill gaps in any subject, for any grade. They’re often called up to cover for teachers in case of last minute sickness or personal emergencies, and will often be left a lesson plan to follow.
  2. A permanent or long-term substitute teacher: sometimes a qualified teacher, but still sometimes not, these teachers are hired to replace a specific person for a specific subject and absence, often to provide maternity cover or cover for a longterm sickness.

In order to apply for substitute teaching jobs and maybe even jobs as a permanent sub for Spanish, you’ll need to register with your local superintendent’s office. Often they’ll have an online system to log in to, so you’ll need to check in regularly every morning to find a post. Although it’s helpful to have a Bachelors in Spanish or Education, it’s certainly not required.

What are the advantages?

Many people who are interested in teaching first try out the profession this way to get a bit of classroom experience. If you can find a job as a permanent sub for a High School Spanish teacher, you’ll be able to develop a good understanding of whether or not it’s the right career for you. If you then want to continue teaching Spanish after the end of your contract, you’ll need to complete your education and take the Teacher Certification Exam.

What’s the downside?

Substitute teaching jobs are precarious

Substitute teaching is a bit of chance, and you’re only ever guaranteed one day of work at a time. You also won’t receive any benefits, even if you end up subbing every day, so you need to be prepared to cover your own health care and save for retirement.

Rates are also often depressingly close to minimum wage.

Teach Spanish at a learning center or a language school

Adult learning centers are often large employers of language teachers! And since they’re private, there’s often no set required qualifications to teach Spanish…

As private entities, there’s no set qualification to teach at a learning center, and they will often be looking for people who can provide a wide range of classes, including foreign language courses.

Some of the teachers at these centers will be fully qualified teachers who might be teaching in the evenings to earn a bit of extra money, while others will just be subject experts. There are also permanent and temporary positions, depending on the current course catalog, so you may need to do a bit of searching to find the right post for you.

In short, even if you aren’t a qualified teacher, you can still teach Spanish at a private learning center or language school.

Substitute teachers aren’t always certified teachers.

At private learning institutions, pay can vary widely depending on the type and location of the center, your qualifications, and experience, so it’s worth talking to a few different potential employers to get a sense of remuneration.

Teachers at the centers usually come from a range of backgrounds, including teachers with second jobs, retired persons looking to share their knowledge, or individuals freelancing.

In general, in order to teach at a learning center, it’s good to have qualifications, but the most important thing is that you are a subject matter expert in the field you intend to teach. Teaching ability and fluent Spanish will be much more important than having passed a teacher certification exam.

Depending on your background, experience, and skills, you can easily find a job at a private adult education center and begin teaching Spanish.

Become a Spanish teacher at a private school!

Similar to learning centers, private schools don’t have any set requirements for teacher certification and can more or less hire who they like.

Of course, convincing parents to shell out thousands for their children’s education is a bit difficult if the school doesn’t have any fully qualified teachers, so this doesn’t mean that private schools will just hire anyone.

Normally, they will want you to have gone to a good college, (and perhaps a private high school yourself) and to have a high level of knowledge about the subject you’re applying to teach. Preferably, they will also want you to be a fully certified teacher with a Masters too.

However, they will all have their own selection criteria and will certainly be hiring language teachers for subjects like German, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian…

So if your mother tongue is Spanish, or you’re already bilingual, don’t hesitate to apply. With their emphasis on expertise over formal teaching qualifications, teaching at a private school may counter-intuitively be easier than finding a job teaching Spanish in the public school system.

How can you find a job teaching Spanish without passing a Teacher Certification Exam?

What about becoming a Spanish tutor?

Do you like the idea of giving personalized Spanish classes one on one?

What motivates you the most about teaching and makes you want to see students succeed?

There’s nothing to stop you from working as a private in-home Spanish tutor, even without a formal degree or teaching qualification. And as a private tutor, you’ll be able to develop a much closer relationship with your students, and really get to know them and how they learn. You’ll be able to personalize your teaching to their learning style and needs and help them achieve true academic success.

This is even more true than usual when you’re tutoring someone in a second language, and getting the student to participate actively is a key part of the learning process. It’s important for them to take an active role in the learning process, and it’s easier to tackle tricky concepts when you’re working one on one. Things like spoken Spanish, grammar, etymology, vocabulary, conjugation, syntax, pronunciation…

If you haven’t yet considered it, why not jump straight in? Even if in the long run you plan to become certified and teach Spanish in the public schools, doing a bit of private tutoring gives you a chance to:

  • work on your teaching skills
  • learn to stay organized and develop lesson plans
  • adapt your teaching to different ages and levels

Tutoring can be a rich and demanding experience that will require a certain level of discipline and self-improvement.

However, if you want to become a private Spanish tutor, even if you don’t have a degree, we’d at least recommend spending some time in a Spanish speaking country and immersing yourself in the language and culture.

Private tutoring can be a great experience for teachers, whether they’re teaching Spanish or another subject like Chinese, Portuguese, ESL, French, history, geography or math…whichever subject you choose to teach, you’ll still be gaining teaching experience.

So while you’re working up to passing your teacher certification exam, why not become a private Spanish tutor?!

You can also find plenty of Spanish classes and teaching resources online if you’d rather avoid any additional formal education…

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