Recruitment & Retention

Scarcity of Language Teachers Retards Growth

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — March 28, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Even with growing demand and the prospect of new federal and state aid for improving foreign-language instruction, expanding offerings is especially difficult because of a shortage of qualified teachers in what are deemed critical languages, many experts say.

Here in Portland, officials have hired native speakers to staff classrooms for the Mandarin Chinese-immersion program at Woodstock Elementary School and Hosford Middle School.

Many of the teachers, who may have had some teaching experience in their native China, are working under limited state licenses while they complete coursework for full licensure.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, foreign-language teachers must meet the requirements for being “highly qualified” that their counterparts in other core subjects are also held to. That generally means holding a standard license and demonstrating content knowledge, such as through a college major in the subjects they teach.

But Oregon has no state endorsement for teaching Chinese, as it does for the more-common languages.

Attracting native speakers with teaching experience, however, is not a sure strategy, according to Michael Bacon, who works with foreign-language teachers in the 47,000-student district.

“We often have an applicant pool of people with, say, two master’s degrees and a doctorate pending,” he said, “but what they often lack is experience dealing with American children, and they almost always do not have certification.”

Expanding the Pool

The district frequently provides professional development to help the teachers come up with more-interactive instructional approaches, in contrast to the traditional, teacher-centered methods they may have used in China.

School leaders and policymakers will need to find new ways to expand the pool of teachers before districts can offer the kind of comprehensive, ongoing language instruction experts say is needed, according to Michael Levine, the director of education programs for the New York City-based Asia Society. Accelerated-licensure programs and initiatives for retraining teachers of other foreign languages could help, he said.

“Shouldn’t we make available to those teachers who are interested in teaching these critical languages some kind of mechanism for doing so?” Mr. Levine said. “The key question in all of this is, where are we going to find the teachers?”

Coverage of new schooling arrangements and classroom improvement efforts is supported by a grant from the Annenberg Foundation.
A version of this article appeared in the March 29, 2006 edition of Education Week as Scarcity of Language Teachers Retards Growth

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
When SEL Curriculum Is Not Enough: Integrating Social-Emotional Behavior Supports in MTSS
Help ensure the success of your SEL program with guidance for building capacity to support implementation at every tier of your MTSS.
Content provided by Illuminate Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Profession Webinar
Professional Wellness Strategies to Enhance Student Learning and Live Your Best Life
Reduce educator burnout with research-affirmed daily routines and strategies that enhance achievement of educators and students alike. 
Content provided by Solution Tree
English-Language Learners Webinar The Science of Reading and Multilingual Learners: What Educators Need to Know
Join experts in reading science and multilingual literacy to discuss what the latest research means for multilingual learners in classrooms adopting a science of reading-based approach.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Recruitment & Retention Spotlight Spotlight on Teacher Retention
This Spotlight will help you investigate how schools can hold onto valued staff, learn how to build a healthier school culture, and more.
Recruitment & Retention From Our Research Center After-School Programs Face Perfect Storm of Staffing and Funding Problems, Survey Finds
Staffing shortages come at a critical time, as schools are looking for more assistance helping students recover academically.
6 min read
A student juggles a soccer ball on a playground amid the COVID-19 pandemic at Washington Elementary School Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Lynwood, Calif. California is making it easier for school districts to hire teachers and other employees amid staffing shortages brought on by the latest surge in coronavirus cases.
A student juggles a soccer ball on a playground at Washington Elementary School in Lynwood, Calif. Schools and outside organizations are struggling to find workers to oversee after-school programs, which provide crucial opportunities for social-emotional support and homework help for students.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
Recruitment & Retention Letter to the Editor A Note of Appreciation
A retired administrator shares why it's so important to appreciate colleagues in this letter to the editor.
1 min read
Illustration of an open laptop receiving an email.
iStock/Getty
Recruitment & Retention One School District's Unusual Recruitment Tactic
Can a rural district in New York entice staff with a commuting perk?
4 min read
An electric vehicle charging station pictured in New Rochelle, New York on June 5, 2022.
An electric vehicle charging station pictured in New Rochelle, N.Y. An upstate school district hopes that its investment in EV charging stations will appeal to new and existing staff members.
AP