Be an English Literature Teacher: Education and Career Roadmap
Learn how to become an English literature teacher. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements and find out how to start a career as an English literature teacher.
Requirements to Become an English Literature Teacher
English literature teachers assist students in the examination, analysis and discussion of literary works, such as novels, short stories, essays and poetry. A bachelor's degree is necessary for teaching English literature at the middle and secondary school levels. Prospective English literature teachers are also required to finish a teacher education program that includes student teaching experiences. After completing a degree program, as well as all necessary exams, aspiring teachers receive state certification. In some states, completion of a master's program is required after earning initial certification.
The following table reflects the chief requirements, as stipulated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for English literature teachers:
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree required; some states require a master's degree|
|Degree Field||English, English education|
|Licensure or Certification||Certification required for public school teachers|
|Experience||Student teaching internship required|
|Key Skills||Patience, instructional skills, communication skills|
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
In order to teach English literature at the middle or secondary level, aspiring instructors need to complete a bachelor's program in English along with teacher education coursework. At many schools, students can enroll in an English bachelor's program with a concentration in teacher certification.
Bachelor's degree programs in English emphasize the cultural, historical and social relevance of literature and commonly include intensive writing and rhetoric courses. Teacher education classes cover child and adolescent development, language acquisition and development, literacy, group supervision and lesson preparation. While enrolled in a teacher education program, a prospective English literature teacher must complete a student teaching internship at a local school.
- Work as a substitute teacher. Some states allow aspiring teachers to work as substitutes while still in college. Those interested in subbing should check with their state's board of education; special permits or licenses may be available. Working as a substitute gives teachers the chance to glean knowledge from seasoned professionals, develop experience in the classroom and improve the skills essential to success as a teacher, including effective communication and classroom administration.
Step 2: Obtain Teaching Certification
After completing a bachelor's program, teacher education coursework and a student teaching experience, aspiring instructors qualify for state certification. Completion of state-administered exams is also required, although exam types vary by state. Requirements to stay licensed may also differ by state but often include continuing education coursework.
Step 3: Complete a Master's Program
A few states require teachers to earn a master's degree after obtaining initial certification. Certified teachers may also enroll in a master's degree program to further their careers even when their state doesn't expect education beyond a bachelor's degree. In addition, some master's programs are designed for those who've received a bachelor's degree in English literature but aren't certified, or for educators certified in different subjects who'd like an English literature certification. At the master's level, English programs concentrate on literature, literary theory, linguistics, rhetoric and composition, and many require completion of a master's thesis or research project.
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