English is the only subject that colleges require students to study throughout the four years of high school. This is because they expect students to have strong reading, writing, and communication skills regardless of their chosen subject.
How to know if you should be an English major? Is it a worthwhile career option? What are the requirements for enrolling in an English program?
Requirements For Prospective English Program Applicants
Almost all colleges require students to have four years of English study in high school to qualify for English programs.
Furthermore, taking supplemental classes like AP, Honors, and IB can strengthen an application. Students who have taken writing-intensive courses are preferred, and international students must need strong IELTS or TOELF scores to verify their proficiency.
Many colleges prioritize students who have taken writing-intensive courses. Although there isn't a specific definition of these subjects, the focus is primarily on various writing techniques and styles.
While many colleges don't necessarily require four years of high school English as a prerequisite, admission officers prefer applicants who have met these guidelines.
Because a firm grasp of English in high school is the most obvious indication of how well the student will perform.
Admission officers look out for students who go above and beyond the recommendations and seek applicants who challenge themselves in high school.
Naturally, students who have taken AP Language and Composition or AP English Literature will be preferred over those with a regular English background. Other than that, dual enrollment English classes can also strengthen your applications.
For students who have attended four years of high school where English was the primary language, that in itself suffices as the requirements set forth by most colleges for their English admissions.
Four years of high school denotes that students have taken an English course each year that was not remedial. Also, keep in mind that students do not necessarily have to speak English as their first language to qualify for the admissions process as long as they have completed four years of high school education in English.
With all that said, how to be an English major if you haven't completed high school studies in English? If the medium of instruction during high school was in any other language besides English, they can show their proficiency through standardized testing methods. This criterion applies mainly to international students.
The most common options for testing proficiency in English are the TOEFL, the Test of English as a Foreign Language, and the IELTS, the International English Language Testing System.
A good score in these tests demonstrates the applicant's capabilities; therefore, it is routinely used by admission officers to determine the English proficiency levels for international students.
However, these two tests are not the only options — many colleges and universities accept scores from other standardized exams like AP, IB, SAT, and ACT.
Additionally, the best English programs in the US also take personalized interviews, where they converse with students, to determine their fluency and ability to communicate effectively in English.
Responsibilities Of An English Teacher
It goes without saying, but an English teacher instructs students in the English language and literature. They may encourage learning the language in a fun and engaging environment, depending on the age level. Plus, they may have to teach native speakers of English as well as non-native students.
For those pursuing careers with English majors, it's essential to know what their potential jobs entail, specifically for a teacher's job.
An English teacher must possess a deep understanding of grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, and literature.
They must be well-versed in different styles of literature, such as prose and poetry, as well as facets of technical writing, such as news articles, journals, reports, and essays.
Teachers must work with students to develop their oral and written skills, including comprehension, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Teachers must also plan lessons following the school's curriculum and frame their teaching to meet the state education standards.
English teachers in K-12 schools must coach students in the correct language usage for writing and speaking and develop their reading and comprehension skills through literature study.
They must be in tune with the learning requirements and temperament of the students, particularly if they're working with non-natives.
Teachers should also engage their students and employ alternative strategies if the need arises. Their job isn't just limited to tutoring but entails classroom management as well.
In the best colleges, English majors program teachers must participate in professional development activities, train students, supervise extracurricular clubs, and do other tasks beyond the teaching scope.
Qualifications For English Teachers
When seeking elementary-level English teachers, schools look for candidates with a bachelor's degree in elementary education, not necessarily a degree in English per se.
However, for secondary level or above, a bachelor's degree in English is required along with a teacher training program. In some cases, teachers can acquire a degree in secondary education while specializing in English.
Teaching English at the college level requires a postgraduate degree in English, such as a master's degree or Ph.D. In some cases, a degree in teaching ESL may also be a requirement, especially if there are a large number of international students.
A student seeking a bachelor's degree certification must complete their general education courses in the initial two years, after which they can apply for the teacher training program at their university.
Starting from that point, they will take advanced classes in literature and education, which train them to teach English for the grade level they wish to acquire certification for.
This is the path followed by most candidates in the K-12 public school setup who wish to become English teachers. However, the way followed by private school candidates might be a bit different since licensure is not always required there.
In short, a bachelor's degree is the minimum educational qualification a candidate must possess to qualify for an English teaching position.
If you're looking to go down the traditional route of K-12 school teaching, you must also undergo a teacher training program alongside your degree that meets the state standards.
Then candidates must take their state evaluation tests for teacher certification and apply for a teaching license.
If possible, they must also complete a teaching internship in English or other related subjects like literature. After that, they can start applying for teaching positions
After attaining a bachelor's degree, some students wish to teach and may not have enrolled in the teacher training program. In that case, they can take an alternative route for teacher certification.
Many universities offer master's degrees in education which are designed for individuals looking to train as teachers.
Regardless of the route they take, candidates must pass the state tests to earn a teacher certification and spend at least one-semester teaching. Some universities demand three semesters of classroom observations.
Finding Teaching Jobs With An English Majors
You might be thinking: what jobs can I get with an English major?
A bachelor's degree in English can help teach writing and critical thinking skills necessary for a teaching career. This equips teachers to teach English at the secondary school level. A master's degree in English qualifies an individual to teach the subject at a community college.
Furthermore, if you're looking for a tenured position at a university, you will need a doctoral degree. Some of the topics explored in a master's English program include creative writing, linguistics, literature, and critical theory. These programs might also offer components that can help prepare students for teaching.
Doctoral students can work as teaching assistants, which helps them gain valuable experience if they aspire to become English professors.
The programs feature thesis or dissertations which are specialized as per each candidate, and these programs generally require proficiency in a foreign language.
English professors also tend to have graduate teaching and research experience and strong writing and communication skills. Graduate students should network with their professors and university faculty to find greater job opportunities with an English degree.
Candidates who are hired by universities with 4-year programs start off assisting professors. They may gain tenure and find a permanent position after a few years. Also, the majority of research universities expect their professors to publish articles and partake in research alongside teaching.
If you're looking for more varied career opportunities with an English degree, it's a good idea to answer calls for articles.
Are you an English graduate looking for private tutoring jobs around your local area? Then, make a profile on Superprof and find easy teaching jobs around you!
Plus, if you want to be an exceptional teacher, a good idea would be to take private sessions to polish your skills further.
And Superprof can also help with that. Simply search for a subject and enter your current location. Within seconds all teachers in proximity will be displayed along with ratings, reviews, and hourly rates.
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