Spanish is among the most popular global languages and is the most common non-English language spoken in the U.S., with over 41 million residents speaking Español in their home. Native and non-native Spanish speakers have a distinct competitive advantage in their careers, and Spanish-speaking teachers can choose career paths that would be impossible for their monolingual colleagues to pursue.  

As we explore these pathways, offering you a glimpse into your potential future in education, try to keep in mind that your foreign language skills can support Spanish and English learners alike. The most rewarding teaching position may be one where you help all students, regardless of their native language, learn two languages at once.    

Teaching Spanish to English Speakers 

Pivoting to a career teaching Spanish to primary or secondary school students is perhaps the most obvious use of your talents. To become a certified Spanish teacher in Texas, you’ll need to complete a Texas-approved educator preparation program (EPP), specifically a languages other than English (Spanish) program. Classroom teachers in Texas will recognize the certification process. Once you’ve completed the EPP and applied for and passed your certification exam, you’ll have to submit a state application to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Then it’s only a matter of applying to teaching positions.  

Nobody likes being put in a box, so don’t think you’re obliged to teach Spanish just because you’re fluent in the language. It’s worth noting, however, that this career path will leave you with few other options unless you plan on earning a doctoral degree or becoming fluent in another language. (21% of high school foreign language classes focus on French.) Before long, your career will have once again plateaued. Fortunately, there’s another path you could take: one that would let you devote your language skills where they’d be needed and appreciated most. We’re of course talking about bilingual education.  

Teaching English and Spanish to English Language Learners 

To become a bilingual educator in Texas, you’ll have to complete a Texas-approved bilingual program and pass the appropriate certification exams, including the Texas Bilingual Target Language Proficiency Test (BTLPT). These prerequisites may seem similar, identical even, to those required of Spanish teachers, but they offer a unique opportunity for career advancement. By joining an EPP at a prestigious college, you’ll have the opportunity to earn your graduate credential and work toward becoming a dual-certified educator.  

The University of Texas Permian Basin’s online Master of Arts in Bilingual Education program will help you meet some of the TEA’s certification requirements, thereby helping ensure your success when it comes time to apply for bilingual certification. As a graduate student, you’ll explore theories of language acquisition, challenges encountered in bilingual and English as a second language (ESL) education, and methods for teaching school subjects in Spanish. Upon graduating, you’ll be prepared to work closely with native English speakers and English language learners (ELL) and, let’s not forget, that much closer to passing the BTLPT and earning your dual certification   

What Is Bilingual Education?  

A bilingual classroom is like any other that teaches science, math, reading, and other traditional subjects. The difference is that these subjects are taught to ELLs in both English and their native language. Dual-language classrooms take this idea a step further by having ELLs taught alongside native English speakers in the hopes that all students will achieve functional bilingualism and biliteracy. 

Critics of bilingual education question how ELLs can learn English when so much of their school day is devoted to studying Spanish. “[O]ur data shows that proficiency in literacy in the child’s first language is a very good indicator of how well that child is going to eventually learn English,” said JoAnne Negrin, supervisor of bilingual education for Vineland Public Schools. ELLs taught in a bilingual setting retain and build upon their language skills and are shown to have improved outcomes in the areas of reading, empathy, and school performance, among others.  

Know Your Worth  

Bilingual educators help students regardless of their native language, background, or culture, which explains why they’re in such high demand. Over 30 states have reported a shortage of bilingual, dual-language, and English as a second language (ESL) teachers.   

The need for bilingual teachers is so great, in fact, that federal funding may cover some or all of the cost of their education. For example, graduate students in our online MA in bilingual education program may be eligible to receive a Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant of up to $4,000 per year. Texas school districts are also known to offer signing bonuses and additional incentives to teachers, especially those who are bilingual. Considering that bilingual educators in Texas make nearly $60,000 per year on average, there’s no better time to pursue this career.  

Spanish language skills, while appreciated in traditional language education, are treasured in bilingual education. Now is the time to leverage your strengths and follow a career path that will reward you for your proficient bilingualism and devotion to teaching, and you can do so by earning a master’s degree from UT Permian Basin.  

Reach Your Full Potential at UT Permian Basin 

UT Permian Basin’s online MA in bilingual education program was designed with the busy schedule of educators in mind. Online courses will give you the flexibility needed to complete coursework on your schedule, while our practicum course will provide the real-world experience you needed to transition smoothly into a career teaching in bilingual settings. The cross-cultural communication skills imparted by our program are also transferable to careers outside of education that promote diversity and cultural competence, enabling you to pursue new opportunities if you so choose. There’s no telling how far a master’s degree will take you.  

Become a pillar of support for English- and Spanish-speaking students. Apply to our online MA in bilingual education program to earn a graduate credential that will help you reach a broader range of students and secure your future in the field of education.