Modern languages teachers prepare and give lessons in one or more (usually two) modern foreign languages: Cantonese, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish or Urdu. They work to guidelines set up by the Curriculum of Excellence and prepare pupils, aged 11 to 18, for national exams.
You could be:
- using a variety of teaching techniques such as whole class lessons, demonstrations, individual project work and discussions
- using a range of materials including text books, work sheets, computers and interactive whiteboards
- organising and directing the whole class and helping individual pupils as required
- setting assignments, projects, tests and exams, preparing and carrying out continuous assessment, marking pupils’ work and writing reports
- keeping good order in the classroom and dealing with discipline issues
- doing administrative work, including keeping a register of pupils
- preparing for and attending parent-teacher meetings and staff meetings
- sometimes supervising out-of-hours activities such as visits or social events.
Teachers in Scotland are paid on a national salary scale. The starting annual salary for a probationer teacher is £22,866.
If you do your probationary period on the Teacher Induction Scheme, and are prepared to work anywhere in Scotland during that probationary year, you can also apply for the Preference Waiver Payment. For secondary school teachers, the payment is £8,000 before tax and national insurance.
After your probationary year, your salary will increase to £27,438 and increase an increment each year up to £36,480.
If you teach in a remote school or on certain islands you may get an additional allowance. £1,941 for a distance island and £1,371 or £2,574 for a remote school.
Where a teacher is employed in a remote school on a distant island both the remote schools allowance and the distant islands allowance are paid, in addition to the teacher’s normal salary.
A principal teacher can earn up to £51,330, while the scale for depute head teachers and head teachers ranges from £45,111 to £88,056, depending on the size of school.
Salaries in independent schools may differ slightly.
- You would work in a classroom or language laboratory.
- Your working hours are based on a 35-hour week and are usually 9.00am to 3.30pm or 4.00pm.
- You would probably teach for 22.5 hours a week, so you would have some time for preparation and marking or assessment in school. But you would often have to do more at home, in evenings or at weekends.
- You would have 13 weeks holiday each year, but would probably use some of this time to prepare the next term's work.
- You would have to prepare for and attend parent-teacher meetings, which are usually in the evening.
- You should be aware that teaching is a mentally and physically demanding job.
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To become a secondary school teacher of modern foreign languages, you must have a degree in one or two modern languages plus a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) OR a degree in Professional Education (Secondary) and French or French and Spanish from the University of Stirling. Where possible you should be able to offer more than one language.
- For entry to a degree course you normally need 4-5 good Highers in relevant subjects including a language.
- You must have Higher English and National 5 Maths. National 5 Applications of Maths is accepted in place of Maths at all universities with the exception of University of Edinburgh.
- For entry to the degree courses in Professional Education and modern foreign languages at the University of Stirling you need 4 Highers at ABBB (first sitting) or AABB (two sittings) including English and French or Spanish if taking the joint language degree plus Maths at National 5 at B.
- Your degree should normally contain 80 Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) credit points relevant to each subject you wish to teach, and 40 of the credit points must have been studied at SCQF level 8 (second year undergraduate level) or above.
- You must spend 6 months living in a country where the first language is spoken, and at least 3 months in a country where the second language is spoken. While abroad, you should become fluent in the language and take part in the life and culture of the country concerned.
- For entry to PGDE, you need an approved degree, together with Higher English plus Maths at National 5 - some institutions specify at B. National 5 Applications of Maths is accepted in place of Maths at all universities with the exception of University of Edinburgh.
- You may have to demonstrate that you can speak your chosen language(s) fluently.
- Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde and West of Scotland (UWS) universities offer a PGDE with one or more languages.
- There is a lot of competition for places in all PGDE courses. It helps if you have experience of working with children or young people.
- For PGDE courses, apply through UCAS.
You would require a satisfactory PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) check to show you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details.
Newly qualified teachers who want to teach in local council schools must complete a probationary period to demonstrate that they meet the Standard for Full Registration of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC Scotland). Those who wish to teach in independent schools may also require to be registered.
You are guaranteed a teaching post with a Scottish local authority for a full school year to complete this probationary period.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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Job Outlook Scotland
Percentage of workforce registered as unemployed (Scotland)
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Job Outlook Scotland and UK
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What Does it Take?
You need to have:
- an interest in child development and an understanding of how children learn
- patience and adaptability
- enthusiasm and energy
- a firm and assertive approach when necessary
- good organisational skills
- a sense of humour and a positive outlook.
You need to be able to:
- hold the attention of pupils of all abilities and encourage them
- work on your own and as part of a team
- stay calm under pressure
- get on well with other staff members, parents and carers.
- You will do in-service training (often provided by local councils) throughout your teaching career.
- You might also take part time courses in specialist aspects of education, run by universities.
- You may be promoted to be a principal teacher or head of department.
- You may then become a depute head teacher and then a head teacher.
- You might move into related work such as learning support teaching, further education lecturing, advisory work, education authority administration or schools inspection.
Most teachers work in local authority schools but there are also jobs in independent schools, British schools abroad, such as schools for the children of British armed services and in private tuition.
Job vacancies are normally advertised on local authority websites or look on the myjobscotland website.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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