English Literature Teacher Career Info and Education Requirements

English literature encompasses all creative and imaginative writings in the English language, from novels and plays to poems and essays. English literature teachers teach the uniqueness and importance of English literature from a writing and historical standpoint. English literature teachers typically teach at the secondary and post-secondary levels.

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English Literature Teacher Career Info

From Chaucer to Shakespeare to Hemingway and beyond, English literature includes more than just novels and poetry from England. It also encompasses the work of American authors and writers from any other country whose creative work is written in English. Those who enter the teaching field as English literature teachers typically have a love for literature, which they share with (and ideally transmit to) their students.

Literature teachers' duties include designing lesson plans, keeping grades and other records and maintaining discipline. They may meet with parents and may perform duties outside of the classroom, such as study hall and lunch supervision. Literature teachers typically must be available outside of class to help students with questions.

Middle school and high school literature teachers may also teach other English subjects, such as composition and grammar. At the college level, teachers are often literary scholars who write and publish academic articles on literary topics, as well as serving on departmental and school-wide committees.

Education Requirements

In order to teach English literature in a secondary school, one must have obtained at least a bachelor's degree, typically in English or education. However, in some states, public secondary schools have begun requiring that teachers hold a master's degree or be in the process of obtaining one, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In addition, one must be licensed by the state in order to teach in a public school (private schools do not require licensure). Many states require that post-secondary teachers of any subject complete continuing education courses to maintain their teaching skills.

In order to teach in a post-secondary setting, college professors in literature must have a minimum of a master's degree. A Ph.D. in English Literature is usually required in order to get a tenure-track position at a university. College professors typically teach literature subjects in which they specialize, such as Elizabethan literature, Irish drama or 20th century American literature.

Employment Information

According to the BLS in 2008, jobs for secondary school teachers were expected to increase by about 13% through 2018. Jobs in rural areas and cities are expected to have the best employment prospects. These jobs come with a tradeoff: poor funding, overcrowding and low salaries mean that these areas can have difficulty retaining qualified teachers.

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