Graduate Careers Advice

Graduate Languages Teacher Careers

James Thornhill

Do you want to be responsible for inspiring and shaping the minds of the future generation? Want to inspire individuals to become, well-travelled, global citizens? Do you think you could pass on your love of languages to those who might not yet feel inspired to engage with them?

Languages teachers pass on a huge amount of skills to their students, whether they are teaching in a secondary school or in an adult learning environment. The job involves long hours in the classroom and a lot of lesson planning and preparation, but the satisfaction of the job is good enough pay-off for the majority of teachers.

You will need a degree in the language you want to teach to become a languages teacher, and will also need to follow your degree with a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education.)

If you’re still deciding whether language teaching is for you, you can visit a school to see what being a teacher is like, or volunteer and start building up experience.

How much can I earn as a Language Teacher?

A teacher just beginning their career will earn a minimum of £22,476 (£28,098 in inner London), and their salary can increase to over £30,000 relatively quickly.

The average salary for teachers in the UK, including language teachers, is £31,000. Those working in inner city or private schools traditionally earn a higher amount than the majority of teachers.

What Qualifications do I Need to be a Language Teacher?

Once you have finished your languages degree, you will need to complete your teacher training. There are various different ways that you can do this.

School-led training – courses based in schools, giving practical training from the beginning

University-led training – courses provided by universities, which will give you both the practical and academic skills required and will include school placements

Both these routes should include a PGCE a Post Graduate Certificate of Education, which is the practical qualification needed to qualify as a teacher.

The next step is to become a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), and eventually a Qualified Teacher (QT). You can find specific information about what you need to do to teach at different levels at the Training and Development Agency for Schools website.

What Skills Do I Need to be a Language Teacher?

People with all different kinds of personalities can be amazing teachers, but there are a few key skills you'll need. These include patience when dealing with difficult students, tact in dealing with tricky situations and an ability to build relationships easily. You'll also need loads of passion for what you do - this is how you'll get your class excited and engaged in what they're learning.

When working in education, in whatever sector or role, you will be in a position of responsibility and will be looked up to by those that you are teaching. For this reason, the skills required by teachers are similar across the board.

Skills typically required by teachers in all fields include:

  • Patience
  • Good organisation
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Confidence
  • Tact

It goes without saying that you will also need to be fluent in the language that you are teaching.

What Experience Do I Need to Get a Job in Teaching Language?

Work experience is essential if you want to become a languages teacher, to gain practical experience as well as to ensure that this is the area you want to pursue as your career.

Schools are often very open to volunteers coming in to shadow teachers or help out in the classroom, so see if you can do this at a local school. You may need to complete a CRB check to ensure that you can work with children before your placement begins.

You will also have at least once placement in a school as part of your PGCE.

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