Thinking of Becoming a Language Teacher? Here’s What You Need to Know

April 5, 2022 | Author: Robin Greene  | Exclusively written for ELL Technologies

As the internet makes countries across the globe more connected, more people have begun to appreciate the benefits of knowing more than one language. As we explained in Why Being Bilingual Is Key For 2021 and Beyond, in today’s globalized business landscape, being multilingual gives job candidates an edge in the hiring market. Learning a new language lets people build their networks, be it in their professional or personal lives. Languages also give people insight into the way other cultures think, which opens minds to new points of view.


Learning new languages improves people’s lives. That’s why becoming a language teacher can be an extremely rewarding career. As a language teacher, you become the bridge between two cultures, helping people develop the skills they need to access diverse experiences and perspectives. Here’s what you need to know to become a language teacher.


To teach any language at a professional level, you first need a bachelor’s degree. You can enter the field with any degree, but it’s generally a better idea to pick a program that focuses on your preferred language. The most helpful qualification for ESL teachers is a degree in English. English degrees will teach you literature, language analysis, and communication skills in-depth, which will make your understanding of the language more complete. Mastering grammar and syntax is also important because when you teach language, you don’t just need to understand whether sentences are correct; you’ll also need to know why they’re correct. The same goes for other languages.


If you graduated with a degree that didn’t focus on either language or education, there are still ways you can break into the field. ELL’s English Teacher Prep course can teach aspiring language educators everything they need to know about Teaching English As A Foreign Language (TEFL).The course includes practice questions that can be used by future students, worksheets, and learning points that go over helpful skills, teaching methods, and materials. Completing the course will earn you a digital badge and get you one step closer to your TEFL certification.


Depending on what level you want to teach, you might also need to complete additional requirements. Instructors that want to teach at a college level will almost always be required to complete a master’s degree in education or in their language of choice. On the other hand, K-12 teachers in the United States usually need appropriate teaching licenses and certifications, which can vary from state to state.


Balance Theory With Practice

As a young child, how did you learn to speak? Was it through lessons in school, or by listening and engaging with the people around you? Most likely, it was both (probably with help from kid’s TV shows), with interactions serving as your foundation, which you would later refine through grammar and language lessons.


The point is, lectures on grammar and vocabulary are important, but the best way to develop language skills is to put them to use. When developing lesson plans, make sure to give your students interactive opportunities in which they can apply what they learned. To make this easier, ELL provides customizable lesson planner templates.

Above all, it’s essential that teachers navigate generational differences with sensitivity. Students like to feel respected and validated, and they’ll have difficulty engaging in the classroom when they feel misunderstood. Consider the diverse needs of your students when teaching and try some of the approaches listed above to motivate even the most challenging learners in your classroom.

Mix Textbooks With Modern Media

Similar to the above point: textbooks can help students learn the basics and the rules of a language, but they can’t quite capture its fluidity. Expose your students to mediums where they can witness the target language in action. Some teachers even use social media to show how the average speaker uses their language in informal settings. But popular mediums, such as songs, videos, movies, and TV shows can all help. Currently, ELL is developing a platform that can teach students language through popular Hollywood movies.


Mix Textbooks With Modern Media

Language has a way of reflecting and even shaping the way speakers think. For example, note how Japanese speakers address their opposites with honorifics. The practice reinforces the importance of respecting hierarchies within Japanese culture. Similarly, the Chinese language has a lot of idioms centered on family. Language can tell you why certain beliefs are prominent in different cultures.


As Edutopia’s guide to teaching culture in world language classrooms explains, providing cultural context can help students stay more engaged. After all, students learn languages to better interact with communities they may not otherwise have access to. You should do thorough research on the culture associated with your target language. It can also help to expose your students to authentic resources from their target communities.


Teaching languages can be a fun and fulfilling experience. Improve your students’ lives by learning how to teach in an easy and engaging way. 






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