How To Become a Language Instructor

how to become a language instructor

If teaching others a foreign language sounds exciting, then pursuing a career as a language instructor is your best bet. Not only do you get to learn and appreciate the language yourself, but you can also specialize in various languages to become a teacher in different settings.

Language instructors get to share their love of languages with their students while helping them become fluent. However, if you want to become an educational leader, then EdD programs online may be a better choice. Keep reading to learn how to become a language instructor, certifications, salary, and educational requirements.

What is a Language Instructor?

Language instructors are educational teachers that cover a specific culture and language. Lessons include language usage,  grammar, spelling, and reading. Language teachers may also teach courses that help attain language proficiency through levels such as beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses.

What is the Job of a Language Instructor?

The main duty of a language instructor is to teach students a specific foreign language. Other duties can include:

  • Classroom and student management
  • Recording and assessing student performance
  • Planning cultural activities to emphasize their relation with a foreign language
  • Enabling students to write and read a foreign language
  • Creating lesson plans
  • Organizing and sticking to the syllabus/curriculum

Steps to Become a Language Instructor

Step 1: Obtain a Degree

Most educational institutions will hire foreign language teachers with bachelor’s degrees. This is a must since the degree ensures intensive knowledge of culture and language and makes an individual apt for a teaching role. You can specialize in any foreign language that you would like to teach, but the most common ones are Latin, Spanish, and French. A bachelor’s degree holder can also teach online or in another country.

Step 2: Consider Higher Education

The more qualified you are, the better the chances of landing a job that pays well. Consider getting a major in both education and language to stand out to employers. This will also help you develop teaching skills essential for imparting education as an instructor.

Make sure to also think about where you would like to teach. Job requirements can vary based on this and the proficiency level you wish to instruct. If you wish to become a university professor, for example, then you will most likely require a master’s degree in the language you pick.

Step 3: Complete a Student Teaching Internship

Getting experience before starting a job as a certified language instructor can prove quite beneficial. Most colleges help students find job placements and schools to pursue teaching. A student teaching internship covers lesson preparation, subject teaching, and class instruction.

Teaching requirements vary by country and state, but most education programs require experience, such as having observed a classroom. Internships often have a 12-week commitment as a minimum but can vary by state.

Step 4: Get Certified

Once you complete your internship, you can apply for a teaching certification exam online. You may also have to pass the American Council on Teaching a Foreign Language or Language Testing International exams.

Note that only qualified professionals that are fluent in the language they pick with sufficient knowledge of the language’s history and culture are eligible to sit. Once you pass these exams, you can apply for certification, which most institutes require. This may not be necessary if you plan to teach online.

Step 5: Apply for a Job

Once you get certified, it is time to start looking for jobs. You can look for teaching positions near you or in cities you wish to relocate to. Make sure to create a stellar resume that highlights your skills and achievements before you apply. You can also include language proficiency, educational qualifications, certifications, and teaching experience to stand out.

Skills Employers Look for in a Language Instructor

Skills that most employers appreciate and ones that you must mention in your resume for a chance at landing a good job include:

  • Cultural expertise and ability to impart cultural knowledge and the language being taught.
  • Foreign language fluency both at native and higher levels.
  • Ability to form relationships with teachers and students for proper communication and need assessment.
  • Educational leadership qualities required to manage a classroom.
  • Strong communication skills for accuracy in teaching a foreign language.
  • Designing lesson plans to enable effective student learning.
  • Proofreading skills to ensure accuracy in reviewing, reading, and revision of student work.

Language Instructor Salary and Work Environment

The average annual salary of a foreign language instructor is $72,346. Private teachers may make more based on the job location and the type of students they teach. Greater teaching experience, expertise, and language proficiency allow instructors to make even more.

Most foreign language teachers will work in a college, high school, or elementary classroom. Some others may work in private schools or offer private tutoring with their own schedule. Recently, it has also become possible to work remotely by teaching online.


Becoming a foreign language instructor can be exciting and eye-opening. Make sure to network from the start to have someone to turn to if you get stuck. It is also a good idea to obtain computer literacy and practice reading and writing to become more fluent.

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