Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Teaching modern languages

Find out how to use your modern language degree to open the minds of others – and an exciting career for yourself.

Modern language teachers are highly in demand, and with planned changes to the national curriculum to introduce languages to primary school - and encourage more students to study them at secondary level and A-level, the need will soon be greater than ever. But there are other ways to use your modern language skills in education as well, such as teaching English abroad or to foreign students in the UK, or lecturing and researching in a university.

Is teaching for me?

Modern languages is all about communication – just like teaching. Good teachers need to have enthusiasm for their chosen language, and be able to explain it clearly enough for people to follow, and imaginatively enough to keep people interested. You’ll have to be patient and understanding - particularly if you’re dealing with younger learners – and prepared to do lots of marking.

Teaching in schools

If you want to teach modern languages in secondary school or at A-level, you’ll normally need a modern languages degree and a postgraduate qualification such as a PGCE. Because modern languages is a shortage subject, you could receive a training bursary of up to £20,000 during your studies. You could also train to teach modern languages in certain parts of the country on the Teach First programme.

Primary school teachers will teach other subjects as well as modern languages so don’t qualify for funding. Find out more about getting into teaching.

Teaching in universities

Modern languages are constantly changing, which means there’s always research needed to keep up. Most university lecturers do research work. They will have studied a postgraduate qualification and normally a PhD in modern languages or a related subject as well. PhDs require students to do their own piece of new research, which could be something like studying various types of world cinema or the linguistics of different languages. Lecturers normally begin by working at one university, with opportunities to travel as your career progresses.

Teaching English as a foreign language

People all around the world want to learn English, and studying a TEFL course will teach you how to teach them. You don’t have to have studied a modern languages degree to do a TEFL course, but it’ll give you a big advantage if you have. With schools all over the world, a TEFL qualification can be your ticket to international travel, enabling you to work along the way, but could also set you up for a career at home, teaching at one of the hundreds of English language schools in the UK.

Related links