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What Classes Should I Take to Be a Spanish Teacher?

by Kimberly L. Tohill

To become a Spanish teacher, you not only must be nearly fluent in the language but you should also be familiar with the history and culture of the people who speak it. A well-rounded course of study on your journey to becoming a Spanish teacher should include classes in the Spanish language, Hispanic literature, European and Latin American history, special topics courses related to the culture of Spanish-speaking peoples and basic education classes.

Spanish Linguistics

To become a Spanish teacher, you must achieve a high level of fluency with the spoken and written language. When entering a Spanish course of study at a university, most likely you will take a placement test to ascertain your current linguistic fluency. This test enables university personnel to advise you on the most appropriate level of language course that matches your ability. Beginning level Spanish courses address basic grammar rules at a pace that is much faster than high school classes and many are taught by native Spanish speakers. By enrolling in a series of Spanish language courses that increases in difficulty, you will improve your aural, written and reading comprehension skills.

Hispanic Literature

Vital to any study of language is a study of the fundamental literature that has shaped and been shaped by the language itself. Hispanic literature encompasses thousands of years dating back to Islamic Spain and continuing to modern day authors such as Isabel Allende and Jose Marias. It also crosses the Atlantic Ocean to writings that date back to the Aztecs and the Mayas and includes such legends as Octavio Paz, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Pablo Neruda. Hispanic literature is replete with novels, poems, legends and short stories that enhance study of the language itself.

European and Latin American History

Studying the history of Spanish-speaking peoples provides a deeper understanding of how the language has evolved and spread over the course of many years. History courses also help to explain the variations in language from country to country and reveal important cultural and linguistic connections among Spanish-speaking countries. Knowing the history of Spanish-speaking countries serves to inform and situate current events within the appropriate historical and social context for a greater depth of understanding.

Special Topics Courses

Special topics courses in Hispanic culture allow you to choose different facets of life that interest you most while improving the breadth and depth of your Spanish-language knowledge. These courses help to improve your understanding of unique cultural practices as well as encourage you to learn the beliefs, norms and cultural mores common to Hispanic cultures. Special topics courses are very wide in scope and may focus on areas such as politics, music, dance and gender studies.

Education Courses

In addition to Spanish-specific courses, you need to take education courses to become a Spanish teacher. These courses will vary with the course of study at each institution but generally include educational psychology, classroom management, assessment, teaching methods and educational technology. For those wishing to be elementary Spanish teachers, you will also need to take basic classes such as mathematics, physical science and English language arts.

About the Author

Hailing from rural Pennsylvania, Kimberly L. Tohill has been working in education since 2005. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Spanish and international studies, a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction, and is currently pursuing her PhD in learning, design and technology.

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