Let’s say that you are fluent in European Portuguese (or Brazilian Portuguese).
Naturally, you would like to put your language skills to work, not just because they are marketable but because you love that Romance language and wish to do your part in proliferating it.
That is highly commendable and urgently needed.
The British Council reports that the Portuguese language ranks in the top ten languages necessary for our country’s continued economic growth and standing in the global community.
In the same breath, they report on a dire shortage of teachers qualified to deliver foreign language lessons, let alone any teachers who could conduct language instruction in Portuguese – never mind whether Brazilian or Continental.
So, here you are, either a native speaker or bilingual, and you’re looking for students who want (need!) to learn a new language: sounds like a match made in linguistics heaven, doesn’t it?
To an extent, it is… with one caveat: are you qualified to teach?
That is the meat of the subject your Superprof reports on today.
You may find yourself teaching Portuguese to middle-schoolers Source: Pixabay Credit: Coyot
If you have absolutely no teaching experience beyond your student teaching days, primary grades would be a good starting point for your teaching adventure.
Even if you have led a learning experience, primary school is still a good place to start: the learning stages are not as rigorous and your audience would definitely be forgiving.
In the UK, teachers at primary level are expected to hold at least a Bachelor’s degree in their university major, as well as a QTS.
Briefly stated: a QTS is a teaching certificate that entitles you to teach in any maintained or non-maintained school in the UK.
All of this can be a bit overwhelming but there is a light at the end of this tunnel: if you were trained as a teacher in the European Economic Area, you may apply for a QTS without undue hassle.
However, a problem might arise when proving you can indeed speak Portuguese.
Native speakers of any language don’t generally go around carrying their language credentials in their pockets; in fact, few seek them out.
You may be asked for additional proof of your language skills; perhaps by taking an exam online, that will test at least your reading and writing skills.
Furthermore, Portuguese being your mother-tongue, most likely you will be called on to present a TEFL or IELTS result in order to teach in England or Scotland.
If you have studied Portuguese as a second language; in fact, if it was your major at university, you are golden: your diploma certifies your language skills.
Still, you may consider sitting either the CAPLE or the CELPE-Bras – depending on the style of Portuguese you have mastered.
Once in possession of your QTS, you may immediately cast about for a classroom to teach in.
It is quite unfortunate that most public schools in our country do not offer language courses until secondary school.
Nevertheless, the same criteria apply when teaching a language course, whether in middle school or high school: you must have some certification of your Portuguese language ability (or that you speak English if you are a native Portuguese speaker), as well as a valid QTS.
It would also help if you’ve had some teaching experience.
It sounds like a Catch-22 situation: you cannot gain any experience teaching Portuguese without a teaching certificate, but you cannot get a teaching certificate without any experience in front of a classroom.
There are several workarounds to this conundrum.
1. You taught people to speak Portuguese in your native country – maybe tourists or international students learning a foreign language
2. You have a proven success rate as a tutor: you may prove your experience through student testimonials.
The only key factor here is that your experience must be demonstrable: either through a letter of recommendation (in the first case) or through the aforementioned testimonials.
Independent schools and private schools are sometimes more amenable in hiring passionate teachers and they are not held to the same documentation standards as public schools are.
Thus, if Portuguese is your native language, you may approach such schools without necessarily having to worry about qualifying your language skills.
However, you will still need some sort of demonstrable higher education, if only a Bachelor’s degree in Language Arts or Humanities.
The same potential ease of restrictions applies to those English speakers who have dedicated their lives to teaching Portuguese speaking: you may or may not be required to obtain a QTS but you will most likely be held to a high educational standard.
There are so many variables to consider when applying at any public school!
Fortunately, all of the criteria needed for a successful application can be found in this checklist.
Unfortunately, it does not mention language teaching specifically…
You may find it easier to qualify to teach at a language school Source: Pixabay Credit: Tumisu
You may have already intuited that those most desirous of language learning seek it out, rather than it being fostered on them through the public education system.
As such, teaching conversational Portuguese or going in-depth into the language and culture of Brazil or Portugal – depending on the language you have cultivated, could prove much more rewarding outside of the traditional classroom.
Still, you need a few credentials before you can address anyone learning Portuguese in any official capacity.
For one, most language learning companies require their teachers to have some sort of higher education.
If you are native to Portugal or Brazil, you may present your university degree in any subject; the idea being that you meet the higher education requirement more so than having studied Portuguese as a second language.
If Portuguese is not your first language, you may have to prove fluency, either through your university degree or certification from your Portuguese proficiency exam.
Also, you may be required to undergo a basic DBS check.
In fact, a DBS check is required for any teaching position, anywhere.
There is no law stating that you cannot give lessons outside of our country’s educational structure.
It might take a little more work but, once you are established, you may find that people enamoured of Brazilian culture or Portuguese culture are beating a path to your door!
Be sure to be properly certified before they get there.
To give language classes on your own, you should obtain a DBS certificate (although it is not mandatory, it is a good idea) and also declare your language training operation with HMRC, so that you can meet your tax burden.
Other than that, you are ready to go: no other documentation or qualification needed to teach language studies in the UK.
The benefit to teaching independent of any established learning centre is that you may set up your curriculum as you see fit. You have the freedom to teach, with any specialised focus you’d like:
Portuguese conversation – maybe to prospective holidaymakers
Vocabulary: words and phrases
You may even teach linguistic nuance!
The one aspect of tutoring in any language – tutoring the German language, Arabic and even Mandarin Chinese: it is the soft skills that will boost your effectiveness as a teacher.
While not an official teacher qualification, enthusiasm definitely rates! Source: Pixabay Credit: Mohamed Hassan
You won’t find them anywhere on any job application even though the job advert calls for them.
They are called interpersonal skills, and every good teacher must have them.
Learning a language is not a casual proposition: the learner must set aside all of the grammar rules s/he internalised from the moment s/he learned how to speak.
To learn a language effectively, one must consciously adopt a whole new set of rules for communicating: not just making different sounds, but embracing different rules for word order, pronouns and usage of verbs.
Speaking of different sounds…
There are sounds in Portuguese that simply do not exist in English and your students may have difficulty saying words that contain the -lh or -em sound – to say nothing of the rolled R.
Learning a new language is difficult, especially one that varies from English to the degree that Portuguese does.
Obviously, laughing at your students and/or belittling their difficulties in learning how to pronounce words like comem or massagem (comay and massageay, respectively) would be counterproductive, both to their learning and to your future as a teacher.
In all cases, understanding and empathy is key!
Having a distinct method of teaching Portuguese is vital, whether it is your native language or your second language.
There is a difference between a native speaker’s linguistic priorities and those of one who learned the language in school.
Native speakers may emphasise tone and stress on vocabulary while scholars would impress that using proper verb tenses is of paramount importance, and thus, drill on that aspect more so than others.
Defining your method of teaching before giving your first Portuguese lesson is critical: where will you put your focus most heavily?
As you gather up your flashcards and other teaching materials, you may reflect on this information prior to your interview as a teacher of Portuguese in the facility of your choice.