If you've got a knack for linguistics and grammar, you may be a French
immersion teacher in the making.
French immersion usually begins with students taking kindergarten, Grade
1 and Grade 2 in French. After this, more courses are taught in English, with
some French still being used. French immersion may continue, in some cases,
right through to high school.
According to the ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics, immersion
language programs for elementary students are available in 31 states.
However, some programs offer only Spanish or German as the immersion language.
While there are many Spanish immersion schools, French schools are harder
to come by.
In general, people who teach public French immersion programs have a
degree in education and are proficient in French. According to Sari Kaye,
foreign language specialist for Fairfax County, students hoping to become
second language teachers in French generally take an undergraduate degree
in the language and a master's degree in elementary education.
She adds that the University of Virginia is particularly renowned for its
Since French immersion programs are more typically offered to elementary
students, you don't want to be trained as a high school teacher. "That
really doesn't tell you anything about teaching little kids," says Kaye.
Needless to say, French immersion teachers need to know the language --
"Students who are considering this field need to be linguistically inclined,"
says Jim Cummins, a second language education professor.
If your high school offers French classes, take them. Of course, there
are other things you can do. "You can read a lot in the language, watch
French TV or go on an exchange program," suggests Cummins.
Kaye adds that most bachelor's students go abroad to really expose themselves
to the language. Aspiring French immersion teachers, she says, "have to do
something during their four years of college to get to a proficiency level
in French. So, they'd have to do intensive French study and spend some time
in a French-speaking country."
Most French immersion teachers in the public school system now need
a master's of education in order to find work. "There are some places
you can go and come out with a four-year degree, but most states now are looking
for a master's in education, which provides you with the student teaching
experience," says Kaye.
Requirements for education programs vary. Some institutions require
two years of university-level education before admission, while others require
a bachelor's degree.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Teachers
-- Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle and Secondary
A great online resource for French teachers and students
Resources for First-Time French Speakers
Tips geared towards travelers