Teachers are already in serious shortage across the nation. Those teachers with specialized areas of expertise are even more valued. If you are a bilingual teacher, your value is even greater in this already difficult field. Bilingual teachers have a great deal of responsibility, but exceptional skills in meeting the challenges faced. They can be placed in special needs classrooms teaching students whose native language is not English, or may even teach a second language to students who are native speakers.
The United States is a nation whose cultural diversity continues to grow, and along with it, a demand for teachers that can speak more than one language. Explore the qualifications, skills and responsibilities of a bilingual teacher, and what you need to do to gain certification in this area of specialization.
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Qualities of a Bilingual Teacher
There are a number of qualities you’ll need to have if you want to succeed as a bilingual teacher. The first of these, of course, is language ability. You must have complete fluency in both English and your second language, but more than that, you must have a solid grasp of grammar, sentence structure, syntax and the composition of language so you can explain and impart your skills to students.
Second, organizational skills are essential to any teacher, but especially to one teaching in multiple languages. You’ll need to conduct extensive and complex lesson planning and know just how to approach the material. This also requires your third important skill: patience.
Remember how difficult it may have been for you to learn a second language? Your students are in their early stages now. You’ll need to be patient with them, help them to take baby steps and work through their frustrations. Remain calm and be persistent in your efforts.
Finally, you need to have outstanding cultural sensitivity. You should consider yourself an ambassador for two cultures as they interact with one another. Be understanding about different cultural norms and mores, and help students with understanding and culture shock.
Bilingual Teaching Responsibilities
Teachers who instruct in multiple languages have similar responsibilities to other teachers, including lesson planning, grading, and delivering information in a way that allows students to absorb and learn it. However, these responsibilities grow much more complex when one takes into account the problems of a multicultural learning environment.
Teaching bilingual classes involves teaching multiple cultures as well. It means imparting respect and cultural sensitivity to students. It also means communicating concepts in foreign languages, when the concepts themselves might be alien to the students. Teachers in bilingual environments have a heavy burden of responsibility.
Becoming a Bilingual Teacher
Becoming a bilingual teacher has varying requirements based on the certification and licensure requisites for a given state. However, in general at minimum the teacher will need to have a bachelor’s degree and complete the requirements for state certification. Most teachers pursue at least a Master’s degree, and some states may require this level of education. If you wish to specialize in ESL (English as Second Language), you’ll need specific education and training in this area as well.
If the job of being a bilingual teacher appeals to you, take a look at the requirements to get certified in your state, and get started on your education today. The field needs dedicated teachers and there’s no time like today to get started!