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How do I Become a Language Arts Teacher?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2019
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People become a language arts teacher usually in one of two ways: they study the primary language of their region or elementary education/middle school education and get a teaching credential, or they study a foreign language which they’ll teach at the middle school, high school or college level. The term engenders some confusion because many people call their writing/literature programs, in the primary language, language arts studies. Often, people who teach a foreign language are called foreign language teachers.

Since the paths are different to become a language arts teacher, both require explanation. The language arts teacher at the elementary, junior high or sometimes even high school level tends to get an undergraduate degree by studying the primary language or by taking a liberal arts bachelor’s degree. Most people will then need to progress to a teaching credential program.

Many teaching credentials certify people to teach at specific levels. Single-subject credentials are earned by people who will teach one subject, but the elementary school teacher may be a generalist, teaching a number of subjects. He or she won’t just become a language arts teacher, but will instead teach math, history, geography and other subjects the school offers. Best advice is to determine what grades a person wants to teach and then use advice from universities or local credentialing agencies to determine undergraduate studies and type of credential for which to apply.

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In contrast to the person teaching in the lower grades, the person who wants to become a language arts teacher and instruct in a foreign language has a more specialized course of study. Preferably, prior to entering college, this student should begin studying a foreign language, or more than one. It can take many years to gain fluency in foreign languages, particularly if they are learned later in life. Students might want to consider participating in foreign study, since it can help to be in a country where the language is spoken regularly.

In college, those who want to become a language arts teacher will major in their language of focus, and they might minor in another language. They may again study abroad or it’s possible to acquire language skill just through classes, or more often by working with a population nearby that speaks the language. People in the US could have plenty of opportunities to speak Spanish, and those in Canada, can get to areas of the country where French is spoken all of the time. People in Europe may have it easiest because many folks are located near other countries with different languages.

Once an undergraduate degree is earned, those who want to become a language arts teacher will probably need study for one or two more years to earn a single subject credential. They can then be qualified to teach at junior high and high school levels. Some students eschew this path in favor of getting a master’s degree or a doctorate. They might become a language arts teacher at community colleges or universities.

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