As American culture becomes increasingly multilingual, and as globalization lends an international aspect to many of today’s most lucrative professions, foreign language instruction at the middle and high school levels is becoming an increasingly vital part of the American educational system. Now, students who are interested in becoming middle school and high school foreign language teachers can earn the necessary credentials through the Indiana University Northwest School of Education.
Both degrees utilize French and Spanish language and culture classes that are offered through the Department of Modern Languages, along with the existing teacher education program. The School of Education has always held the state credentials necessary to offer licensure in French and Spanish education, but in past years the program had lain dormant due to relative lack of interest.
That has changed in recent semesters, according to Tim Mitchell, director of student teaching and field placement for the School of Education. The frequency of inquiries from current and potential students about secondary language instruction has jumped significantly, he said, indicating that interest in the field locally is on the rise. And, with a vibrant modern languages program and a highly esteemed secondary education program already in place, IU Northwest is ideally situated to meet that demand.
“These classes are already being offered,” Mitchell said. “Everything is already here. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.”
Mitchell said he would like to generate interest in the program not only among potential students but also among existing foreign language students at IU Northwest. The university has a strong modern languages department, complete with study-abroad options and a modern languages club. Currently, the department has 40 Spanish majors or minors and 26 French majors or minors.
Modern Languages chair and Associate Professor of Spanish Adrian Garcia, Ph.D., said that his department would encourage its students to consider teaching, and that he expects interest in the secondary education program to be considerable.
“One of the primary reasons that people major in foreign languages is teaching,” Garcia said. “Not all of them, but a lot of them do end up teaching.”
He noted that fluency in Spanish and other common languages has become a desirable professional asset in fields like business, social services and government work, which has led to increased interest in foreign language studies in secondary education.
“I think this is a moment in time when people are learning to appreciate the importance of having the ability to communicate with people around the globe,” Garcia said. “It can be very important in finding good jobs.”
Currently, the demand for skilled foreign language teachers in middle and high schools exceeds the available talent pool, Garcia said, so jobs in the field are available for those who want them. Mitchell, who works with area high schools to arrange student teaching assignments, agreed that language instructors are in demand locally.
“(The need for foreign language teachers) is becoming more and more prevalent as we prepare students to enter a global marketplace instead of just a local one,” he said. “Bloomington has a program that our students can go to where they go overseas and student teach.”
The School of Education’s secondary French and Spanish programs require 33 general education credits and 39 credits in French or Spanish, with at least 18 of those credits coming in language classes, another six in literature classes, six in culture and civilization classes, and nine elective credits. The teacher education program consists of 12 pre-professional credits, 21 additional education credits, and 12 credit hours of student teaching.
Essentially, students who pursue certification as French or Spanish teachers will tackle nearly the equivalent of a double major, since they must earn the foreign language major and take more than 30 credits in education courses, plus their student teaching.
“It’s challenging, but the benefits are great,” Garcia said.
The availability of the B.S. in secondary education with the foreign language concentration is not dependent on benchmarks such as minimum enrollment, since the classes required in both education and modern languages already are offered as part of existing programs. Mitchell said that students may enroll and begin pursuing the degree this fall.
For more information about the B.S. in secondary education with a concentration in French or Spanish, contact the IU Northwest School of Education at (219) 980-6510.