A high school teaching position is a great deal more specialized than a position teaching students in elementary school or in the middle grades. For English teachers, that means choosing from fields like literature, linguistics, and more. Unlike several other specialties for high school teachers, English is actually pretty broad It represents some of the most unique teaching possibilities based on the degree an aspiring teacher chooses.
Choosing the Right Program: Best Degrees for an English Teacher
Today’s students need to learn and understand everything from grammar to sound punctuation and the numerous ways to dissect a classic work of literature. English teachers can accommodate these students by choosing one of several available degree options:
B.A. in English
A broad bachelor’s degree in English will expose an aspiring teacher to:
- American and British literature
- basic linguistics
- courses that focus almost exclusively on the semantics of the English language
As a result, the English graduate will be able to help students:
- write better papers
- choose better sentence structure
- gain insight into an author’s work through careful exploration
B.S. in Linguistics
Some English teachers are more adept at dealing with matters of linguistic origin than they are at handling the various topics in a work of literature. That’s perfectly fine, and it’s why the linguistics field exists. Those who pursue this topic while at the undergraduate level will be excellent at teaching writing classes and classes in vocabulary,. They’ll also be able to help students prepare for the SAT and for their college pursuits.
B.S. in English Education
This combined program teaches students the essential skills they need to teach high school students about the rules and authors of the English language. That means going above and beyond content knowledge. Those who choose this major will also learn how to:
- manage a classroom
- handle students who are falling behind the rest of the class
- prepare a proper lesson, pacing guide, and more
Students will also engage in student teaching opportunities. These are instrumental when learning how to put their skills into practical, everyday use.
B.A. in Literature
This degree is the exact opposite of one in linguistics. Undergraduate students will explore literature intensely, with required courses and electives that focus on:
- American authors
- British authors
- international texts
- the future of the written word
The result is a new teacher who can effortlessly teach high school students about symbolism, themes, and even the implications of an author’s life on their work.
Dual Major in English and a Second Language
Though English is a broad topic, it’s generally not as in-demand as teaching positions that cover math, science, and technology. One way to stay competitive in a growing pool of English-teaching candidates is to choose a dual major. The second major should focus on a foreign language like Spanish. At the end of the program, graduates can opt to be dual-certified for teaching both English and the language of their choice. This gives them more ways to:
- serve students
- compete for job positions
- provide context for each of their specialties
B.A. in Education Studies
Many students who enter college aren’t sure what they want to study. Those interested in teaching can earn a B.A. in Education Studies. This degree prepares them for teaching students and getting their licenses in specific states. Though these programs do not include courses designed specifically for English teachers, they can help graduates work in those classrooms. Many education studies programs feature concentrations that get students ready for teaching young kids or older teens as well as adults. They learn how to:
- design a curriculum
- create a reading list
- determine assignments
- grade their students’ work
B.S. in Middle Grade Education
The middle grades can refer to students in seventh and eighth grade. But schools can also educate students as young as sixth grade through ninth grade or the higher levels of high school. It depends on whether the school district has middle schools or junior-highs. The B.S. in Middle Grade Education programs prepares students to work with kids who already have some basic skills but need more help. Graduates often work as advisors for different clubs and activities such as the yearbook or school newspaper. The programs often ask majors to focus on two core areas, such as English and social studies or math and science. Graduates can then teach more than one subject.
B.S. in Secondary Education
Another popular option for some students is a B.S. in Secondary Education program, which gets them ready to work with high school students. Most undergrad degrees in teaching or English help students get a license to teach in their states. This type of degree shows that they have the skills necessary to work in a high school classroom. It usually features two years of required courses. Students can then customize their degrees to fit their future goals. Those who want to teach English will take classes in literature and similar topics. Many schools allow students to earn an English education endorsement, too.
B.S. in Teaching Reading
Certain students of all ages may need more help with their reading than their peers do. This is why some schools now offer degrees in teaching reading. Majors take standard elementary education courses but choose an emphasis on teaching reading. They learn some of the conditions and disabilities that make it hard for students to read and understand what they read. Many programs include one full year of reading courses. Others feature fewer of these classes and only allow students to take them once they complete their prerequisites. Graduates can work as both teachers and reading assistants who help students in the classroom or library.
B.S. in English Language Arts
The Core Standards that schools use identify English language arts as one of the key areas that students need to study. Those who earn a B.S. in English Language Arts will learn how to identify those key areas and teach them to their students. They will also monitor their work and spot any issues. Majors look at how to read books and then answer questions about what they read. These programs usually prepare students for working with both middle school and high school students. Some schools offer education programs with a concentration in English language arts.