It is time for dead languages to be quiet.
~ Natalie Clifford Barney ~
Many may think Latin to be 'dead' — after all, it's not in common usage anymore so does not have the opportunity to grow. However, this does not mean it is not a useful language to learn — especially when you consider that half the English vocabulary has Latin roots — either directly, or via French — and that many of the languages of Europe, including French, Spanish and Italian, had their origins with Latin.
If you have been learning Latin for a while, and enjoy it, then you may wish to consider pursuing a job tutoring or teaching Latin.
While Latin lessons aren't found in every high school or college in Australia, unlike French or Japanese, it is still very much a part of the Australian Curriculum. Along with classical Greek, Latin is listed under 'classical languages' in the curriculum — one of 16 broader foreign languages subjects.
Latin is still used extensively in science, medicine and law and is offered in at least one university in every state in Australia, as well as through online tertiary learning courses. Although Modern European and Asian languages have overtaken the classical languages in public schools, there is still a core group of both public and private schools that continue to offer Latin lessons.
In this article, we'll explore how you can utilise all those studies and put your training to good use as a new educator in the public or private school system, or as a private tutor.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Teach Latin?
For a student who loves Latin, getting a job as a teacher or tutor is often high on their list of career options. What qualifications or training do you need to obtain? Obviously, a solid grounding in Latin reading and writing is going to be necessary — but what else?
To qualify as a teacher in Australia, you need to complete a four-year Bachelor of Education degree or the equivalent in postgraduate studies. Within this general degree, a student must also choose at least one major from a range of subjects taught in the school curriculum.
For those hoping to secure a job as a languages teacher in the education system or university sector, it is a good idea to have more than one language that you are able to teach. For example, you might decide to focus on classical languages, including Latin and Greek. Alternatively, you might choose to mix modern European languages, such as French or Spanish, with classical Latin. Some students even choose to study English as a Second Language teaching and combine this with a Languages Other Than English qualification (which may include Latin if you so choose).
One thing that is particularly important to remember, particularly while you are learning Latin yourself as a student, is that teaching a language (dead or not) is not only about the words, but also about the culture, the history and the classics in terms of arts and literature.
There are a number of options for the university degree path you choose, including:
- completing a full degree in modern and classical languages (within which you can complete studies in whichever languages you choose, such as Latin, classical Greek, French, Spanish or Japanese) then undertaking postgraduate studies in teacher training
- completing a full education degree and specialising in languages and language teaching methodology.
If you don't want to pursue a formal teaching career, competing for jobs in high schools or as university tutors, another option you have as an accomplished student of Latin is to become a private Latin tutor. This is where registering as one of Superprof's tutors can really help.
How to Get a Job as a Latin Teacher in the Public or Private School System
There certainly was a period of time where Latin, as one of the languages other than English subjects, certainly seemed to be on its way out in favour of more practical subjects like electronics, graphic design and STEM subjects, as well as 'more modern' languages (as opposed to ancient, 'dead' languages).
However, more recently, there has been a gradual rise in student numbers for Latin and, as a consequence, more schools and university faculties are offering it.
In both the public and private system, foreign languages that are offered at each school are generally determined according to:
- tradition (for example, the school has always offered French or Spanish)
- relationships (such as Telopea Park School in Canberra having strong, historic links with the French community and government)
- teacher availability
- student interest.
As an aspiring teacher of Latin, with a Bachelor of Education qualification or equivalent, you may need to look around and apply for jobs in schools that list Latin in their curriculum. Initially, you may be employed to teach other subjects but you should always be on the lookout for job openings, either in your school or at another school or university.
If you have completed studies in a range of in-demand specialty subjects, it may be that you are able to secure a permanent full time or part time job in a private or public high school or secondary college fairly quickly. Don't despair if you don't, though, as there are often opportunities for short-term contract jobs, part time tutoring or private tutoring positions.
Whatever you do, remember that every job is a learning experience, and that time spent planning lessons, and working with other teachers in the classroom, even as a volunteer, is invaluable.
Private Latin Tutoring
In Australia, private tutors do not need to have a university degree or formal teaching qualification. Many do, of course, and some tutoring agencies require qualifications, but private freelance tutors can find work successfully without them.
Students who are training to become a Latin teacher will often take on high school or first-year university students as tutoring clients, working part time while they complete their own degree.
Understandably, a qualified teacher who is offering private Latin tutoring will be able to charge more than a student who is still at university, or someone who excels at writing and reading Latin, but doesn't have a full degree or major in the classical language. If you are truly passionate about a long term or full time career as a Latin tutor, it is definitely advantageous to obtain an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in Latin.
However, when all is said and done, if you gain a reputation for your Latin tutoring, word of mouth will do the talking for you — with or without a degree.
The same can be said for a proficiency test. There are tests you can take, based overseas, that will give you a score and proficiency ranking and you may wish to pursue this. Realistically, though, potential clients are more interested in your teaching experience and the results you get, rather than a percentage on a piece of paper.
Reviews and testimonials from happy clients speak louder than test scores.
Generally, most students want a tutor who:
- they can relate to
- they feel comfortable with
- understands their learning style
- helps them get the results they want.
Building a profile on a platform such as Superprof makes it easy for potential students to see what you offer and assess whether or not you will be a good fit for them. You might list things such as your experience, your reasons for learning Latin and testimonials from past students. Offering an initial tutoring session for free is also something many Superprof tutors do as it allows both student and tutor to see if they can work together.
Teacher and Tutor Salaries
On average, teachers in Australia earn between $70,000 and $95,000 a year, whereas Latin tutors may charge anywhere from $20 an hour to more than $100 an hour.
The salary of a qualified teacher depends on a number of factors, including:
- education sector (public or private)
- rank (beginning teachers through to principals)
- state they live in (for example, New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland)
It's important to note that neither the subject you teach nor the education sector you work in (primary school, high school etc.) impact salary range. Also, the university system does not fall under the same salary provider.
There is a long history of salary stand-offs between teacher unions and government and while teacher salaries remain far behind other university skilled professions, Australia is one of the highest-ranking in the OECD when it comes to teacher pay.
Should you want more control, and flexibility, over both your commitment or schedule and your fees, you may prefer to consider a full time career in tutoring. This requires strong management skills but, as a private tutor, you can set your fees. Bear in mind, you need to factor in things like:
- your experience
- overheads (like travel, equipment, insurances).
Potentially, however, you may end up earning between $400 and $2,000 for a 20-hour week tutoring either face-to-face or online.
Here are a few key points to remember as you decide your next career move:
- If you want to teach in a private or public school, you will need an education degree of at least four years, or equivalent in postgraduate studies.
- There are no formal qualification requirements to be a private tutor, however, qualifications and experience will make it easier to find students.
- Students want quality teaching, engaging activities and results.
- Latin teaching involves more than just word lists and phrases, it includes study of literature and history.
Above all else, a love of learning is essential if you want to start tutoring or formally teaching Latin. As a teacher or tutor, you learn almost as much from your students as they learn from you.
Docendo discimus — By teaching, we learn.
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