There is no other state in the union that puts to work more foreign language teachers than California, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry with the highest level of employment in this occupation is education. In Los Angeles, credentialed foreign language educators earn an average yearly wage of around $80,000.
“There are at least 224 identified languages in Los Angeles County,” said Stephane Antoine Muller, academic director of the humanities and social sciences department at UCLA Extension. “And companies are increasingly recruiting employees who are able to speak two languages.”
Muller said in order to take advantage of copious employment opportunities in the L.A., Long Beach and Glendale metropolitan divisions, English-speaking job seekers will need to add Spanish and French to their list of languages mastered.
“Spanish has 500 million speakers in the world and is the second most commonly spoken language in the U.S.,” said Muller, who earned his Doctorate in Applied Linguistics and education from Universite du Maine in France. “French, my native tongue, is the second most-studied language in colleges. More than 200 million people, throughout 68 different countries, speak French.”
As our Asian community nears 600,000 in L.A., what impact has this created?
“There has been significant growth in Chinese language programs and the demand seems likely to continue to increase.”
What is your outlook for foreign language instruction?
“In 10 years, effective foreign language educators will be more collaborative and less restrictive with changing instructional methods and better teaching tools. Mobile technologies and new physical spaces will ease the teaching process, and virtual integration between the learner and educator will also become the norm.”
How does one prepare for this rewarding career?
“I recommend starting by enrolling in a language certificate program offered at UCLA Extension, which is the equivalent of the first year of college. You can then pursue teaching credentials for middle and high schools. A master’s degree is the minimum necessary to teach at a community college, and a Ph.D. is essential to teach at a university. A total immersion in a foreign country, where the language is spoken, is highly encouraged.”
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.