“Non est ad astra mollis e terris via" (There is no easy way from the earth to the stars) - Seneca
Languages like Ancient Greek and Latin were once considered an essential part of education in the UK but now they’re far less common. That said, Latin is responsible (both directly and indirectly) for over half of the vocabulary in the English language. After all, around a quarter of the English vocabulary is from Latin directly and another quarter is from Old French, which evolved from Latin.
If you look in the right places, you’d be surprised at how many jobs there are for those that know Latin. This is a good reason to start your career teaching this “dead” language.
So how do you become a Latin teacher? What qualifications do you need?
In this article, we’re going to look at teaching Latin, Latin higher education, the qualifications for teaching Latin, and becoming a Latin private tutor.
How to Start Teaching Latin
Latin has been an important and influential language since the Antiquity and until the 1960s, it was taught in 25% of UK schools.
If you want to become a Latin teacher, you’re probably going to need some Latin qualifications and learn the language when you're at primary school if you can. Of course, all is not lost if you’ve already left school or have chosen other subjects.
If you're still in school, getting GCSEs and A Levels in Latin (if available) is highly recommend. This will help you get onto Latin degree courses and give you a good foundation in the language when you start your degree. Again, the choices you make in secondary school can help but they’re not entirely essential.
You can always start learning Latin once you get to university and a lot of universities accept the fact that many students won't have had the opportunity to study Latin before getting there.
Latin Higher Education
Once you’ve got your Latin A Level (or not), you can move onto university. You now need to choose exactly what you’re going to study.
Latin will be part of it, but it’s often taught with either other languages or history, and then there’s whether you’ll go down the teaching route or the academic route. Generally, these are courses that you’ll study at university.
Keep in mind that you can’t usually study Latin on its own. You’ll have to either go down the languages or history routes. You can study either Classics (often with Ancient Greek), languages, or history as part of your Latin education. After all, Latin, as a dead language, is rarely taught as a second language but rather as a gateway into another subject area.
Once you reach your master’s degree, you can start focusing solely on Latin.
So exactly what are you going to study for your degree?
You’ll see that you’re spoilt for choice. Depending on which university you attend, you’ll have the option to study Latin with:
- Modern Languages
- Ancient History
- Medieval Studies
- Ancient Greek
In short, a Latin degree not only will teach you about the language, but also about related languages, the history surrounding the language and its use, and help you with disciplines that rely heavily on the language.
Once you’ve finished your degree, you’ll have the option to study a master’s degree in Latin. This is when you can start to focus on Latin itself. A master’s degree is a way onto a PhD or it might lead you into teaching Latin. If you head down a research pathway, you’ll probably end up working in a university and will probably be expected to also teach at said university.
A master’s degree is a step towards becoming a full-time lecturer at a university. Once you’ve got your PhD, you’ll be able to become a full-time lecturer. You’ll be expected to also have an impressive knowledge of the language. By the time you reach a PhD, you’ll be studying very specific aspects of the language.
If you’re certain this is the route you want to go down, expect to study a lot!
Find out more about how much Latin teachers earn.
Qualifications for Teaching Latin
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” - Mahatma Gandhi
You can start teaching Latin with two qualifications: a degree in Latin and a PGCE. As with almost every teaching job in the UK, you’ll need a qualification in a given subject and then a teaching qualification, namely the PGCE for secondary schools.
The PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) is a qualification for becoming a secondary school teacher in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This is how you become a bona fide Latin teacher.
The PGCE (as well as the SCITT, GTP, certain undergraduate QTS routes) is a way to get Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). This is a requirement if you want to teach in schools and is the most common type of teacher certification for those working in secondary education, except for independent schools and academies, which don’t have a formal requirement for teachers. However, many of them still ask their teachers to have QTS.
The PGCE lasts either one or two years and can be done at university or in a school. You might have noticed that we didn’t mention Scotland earlier. This is because the PGCE is widely recognised in Scotland but is no longer offered there. Students there can study the PGDE, which is recognised throughout the rest of the UK.
The PGCE is essentially an education degree for school teachers during which students learn about pedagogy and how to teach their given subject. Once you’ve finished your PGCE, you’ll have "newly qualified teacher" (NQT) status and can start your first job as a teacher.
In short, to become a Latin teacher in a school in the UK, you’ll need your degree and a PGCE (or equivalent). You can find teacher education at most universities with a school of education.
If you want to teach or research Latin in a university, then you’ll need to continue with your academic studies in Latin, studying a master’s degree or PhD as we said earlier. Once you’ve got your doctorate in Latin, you’ll be able to to become a full-time lecturer in a university.
Find out more about opportunities for Latin teachers.
Teaching Latin as a Private Tutor
If you don’t fancy working for a school or at a university, there are other ways to teach Latin. If you’re passionate about languages and teaching but don’t have any qualifications, there’s still hope.
Independent schools and academies technically don’t require qualified teachers though they do often ask applicants for them. However, if you can prove yourself as a worthy teacher, there’s nothing to stop them from hiring you.
Another option is to teach as a private tutor. You can teach online via webcam, find students online (using a platform like Superprof, for example), or let word-of-mouth help you to find your students. Your students’ results will act as your credentials.
There are also Latin qualifications you can take to prove your level in the language. This is a good way to reassure students who may be sceptical. From there, you can start teaching students face-to-face, online, or in groups. The most important thing is that your lessons are engaging, enjoyable, and educational. If you can do this, your students will keep coming back. Good luck!
Whether you're interested in early childhood education, secondary education, or teaching adults, getting a teaching credential is an essential part of teacher training if you're planning on working in schools and highly recommended if you want to teach a foreign language such as Latin as a private tutor.
Of course, as a private tutor, you don't need any formal teacher training if you have a stellar reputation and plenty of former students that can vouch for you. However, it'll be much easier to find teaching jobs or become a teacher with a teaching certification and the right teaching skills.
If you need more help with your Latin or getting your teaching career off the ground, consider getting help from a private tutor on Superprof. There are plenty of talented tutors on the platform who can help you with your Latin or your teaching methods and many offer the first hour of tuition for free!