Where have all the language teachers gone?

This year we have a new Spanish teacher position, and have had almost no applicants. To be honest, when I got my job at this school 5 years ago, I think it’s because of the same situation; they hired the first relatively qualified person who walked through the door. I am amazed and confused by the seeming shortage of world language teachers, specifically Spanish teachers. I don’t know whether it’s just here in Denver, or whether it is across the nation. I know teaching in general is not as attractive a career as it used to be, but I am wondering what can be done to encourage more young people to become world language teachers.

This article explains the situation and has a couple of possible solutions: http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Schools-confront-shortage-of-world-language-10996278.php

As I think of solutions, a few things come to mind:

-Make teacher, specifically world language teacher, an attractive career option to middle and high school students. With my Spanish IV class at my former schools, we used to do a partnership with the elementary school across the street where the students taught a week or two of lessons. I gave the students class time and support in creating and practicing the delivery of their lessons. I can’t say that any of those particular students became language teachers, but three of them did become teachers.

-Partner with area colleges and universities to encourage world language education in the School of Education and also Modern Languages. This would also aid in direct recruitment of recently-graduated teachers. I have heard that there are so many PhD Spanish candidates out there that teachers with a Master’s in Spanish are having trouble finding jobs in colleges and universities. If this is true, perhaps we can woo those master’s students to K-12 education.

-Develop an intensive in-house teacher recruitment and training where a college graduate without prior teacher training/experience is hired and receives on-the-job training. This would require a full-time instructional coach whose sole job was to be in the classrooms of these few individuals and to meet with them with feedback, professional development, and next steps. One pre-requisite to hire would be at least an advance-low proficiency level in the target languages. This would only be possible in areas where alternative certification is allowed, or a teaching license is not required, such as charter schools.

-The article above mentions looking to teachers to hire from abroad, which sounds enticing but also complicated.

Feel free to comment below if you have any explanations for the shortage or suggestions as to how to address it.






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One Response to Where have all the language teachers gone?

  1. Cristina says:

    I fear, it may be everywhere :(. In my county, there were a few Spanish positions available and from what I understand, it has been difficult to fill them! Teaching is tough and not very attractive to many students; it is definitely a “calling” and one must be willing to work hard and understand the “rewards” may come later on or never. People like the idea of impacting the future, what better way, than with teaching? Over the years, I have had students tell me they were going into education. This year, I’m privileged to have 2 who will become SPANISH teachers! I like the idea of partnering with the local schools, maybe encouraging at the colleges. It’s a good beginning…at least!

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