How to Resolve the Teacher Shortage in Foreign Languages?

Dr. Barbara Sposet, Baldwin Wallace University
OFLA Teacher and Education Licensure Chair

A U.S. Department of Education report released in August, 2016, reveals that in the state of Ohio there has been a teacher shortage in foreign languages the past 10 years. The last reported shortage period was from 1993-95 (Cross, Freddy. Teacher Shortage Areas. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education).

A brief review of online sources as to the possible reasons why the shortage exists not only in Ohio but nation-wide revealed three possible but viable causes: 1) The efforts of school systems to offer a broader selection of languages and the offering of foreign languages to students at a younger and younger age; 2) Speakers of foreign languages have other options besides teaching; and 3) The need to have people who promote the profession.

Of those reasons, the third has been the focus of multiple discussions with my university peers – in-service teachers not promoting the teaching profession in general and in this case, FL teachers not advocating the advantages of being a foreign language teacher (i.e. connecting to and with people of different cultures.)

Perhaps we need to examine the area of teacher licensure to determine if changes made in 1998 going forward by the Ohio Department of Education may have played a role in creating the shortage.

Several items – for which I would like the readers’ response – include: 1) Why a PK12 license? I hold a permanent 7-12 license. As most colleges still require a minor (like my alma mater), my FL peers would take another 30 cr. hrs in a second language to meet the credentialing requirement. Thus, we often filled positions in two languages instead of one. 2) Is requiring a semester abroad – instead of making it an elective – a cause for concern for future FL teacher candidates? (i.e. extra expenses for travel added to yearly increases in tuition as well as the possible extra semester to complete one’s degree); and 3) changes in teacher testing for licensure (i.e. content exam to the OPI & WPT)?

To our readers: Your responses and/or suggestions regarding the above can be sent to yours truly at bsposet@bw.edu. Of particular interest would be suggestions that OFLA – and the position of Teacher Licensure Board Member – could further pursue, organize and/or implement.
About the author: Barbara Sposet is a full-time professor in the School of Education at Baldwin Wallace University. She taught foreign languages (Spanish, Exploratory Languages) for 30 years. Dr. Sposet has been the foreign language methods instructor at BW for the past 10 years.

This entry was posted in Advocacy, Committee News, Summer 2017, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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