DiversityJobs network is now part of Circa. Learn More.
find jobs
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip code

This trilingual Anglo professional teaches Spanish to students in the United States. She speaks English, Spanish, and Serbo-Croatian. If you have considered a career in teaching, or have wondered how you can use your language skills to gain a professional advantage, this interview is for you!

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

A: I have worked for the past three years as a Spanish teacher in a private secondary school. If I had to describe myself in three words, they would be curious, talkative, and analytical.

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: I am an Anglo girl, from Texas. Honestly, I have noticed that many hispanic people do not like to speak Spanish to Anglos. I have been in situations where I have helped answer questions for Spanish speakers who have chosen to ignore me because there seems to be some strange line that isn't crossed. Perhaps it is because of their immigration status, but it is sometimes very awkward.

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: Very simply, I teach students another language. Sometimes it is simply about the mechanics, sometimes it is about having a conversation, sometimes it is dissecting a Spanish short story. One thing it is not, is boring.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: My job is a 9. I absolutely love to teach and I truly love Spanish. I learn more every day and so do my students. The one thing that is difficult for me is coming across a student who is just not curious.

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: Teaching Spanish is the perfect job for me. I get to share my enthusiasm for language, etymology, and cultures. I have found that my talent is for getting kids curious and excited about learning a language, and for helping those who think they just can't get it, to get it.

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: I actually speak three languages. When I began teaching Spanish, I had actually been speaking another language as my primary language. Oddly enough, one every day word in Serb-Croat is a mildly profane word in Spanish. One day during my first year teaching, I was speaking Spanish and out popped that particular word. Thankfully, it was a beginning Spanish class, and they didn't catch it at all. It did give me a good laugh afterward, though!

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I got started teaching Spanish completely by chance. I went in for an interview to teach English and came out with a job teaching Spanish. The only thing I would change is that I would have become a state certified teacher in college, when it is much less complicated than trying to do it later.

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: I have thankfully learned few lessons in my job the hard way because I chose to learn from those around me. I am surrounded by veteran teachers and I've paid attention to them and what they have to say and learned many invaluable things from them.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: As a younger person, I always thought of the working world as the mature, professional people who take things very seriously. Strangely, I have found as I've gotten older, that those professionals aren't as serious and mature as I thought they were, and the working world, in an odd way, is really an extension of a junior high school cafeteria, with the same social situations at play.

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: A seam ripping in the back of my dress would certainly be the strangest and certainly most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me. The next strangest thing would be blanking. I had never blanked before in a working situation, but I have found when I am fatigued, I don't speak well in Spanish. I was in a situation once when I was called upon to speak in Spanish, and I literally had no words. It was a strange experience, and not a fun one.

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: Students' success is my success. When I get to write a recommendation for a former student to an honors Spanish program in college, I am reminded of the great and lasting benefits of what I do and it makes getting up and going to work very much worth it.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: Challenges occur daily. Just getting through some days can be a challenge. However, a difficult boss is what can make me want to quit.

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: Stress is a relative thing. I stress about things that I usually can't control, while things that others consider stressful don't really faze me. I find my job to be very low stress and I am very comfortable working every day. However, when there is stress at work, I feel it at home more than at work, and i find myself very tired and irritable with my family. That is when I know that I need a break.

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: Teaching, as a profession, is a notoriously low paying job. However, depending on where you live, it can be a perfectly good income, with great time off.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: For me, there is never enough vacation. I have worked consistently for the past three years and taken a few weeks off every six months, which is great for just relaxing and getting centered again.

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: A college degree is an absolute must, but certificates in language and a teaching certificate in Spanish is the real ticket for success in teaching a foreign language.

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: Not everyone can handle teaching. Patience has not been my strong suit, and I have learned a lot of patience on the job. But even more important than that has been my ability to translate what I know into an explanation to someone else. Teaching is much like coaching in that it isn't always the best players that are the best coaches. There is a talent for knowing a subject and being able to relate it to others.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: If I could write my own ticket, I would own a language school in five years. It would be a place that celebrated language, culture, cuisine, and humanity.