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Teaching a Foreign Language

Requirements vary from state to state. In California, prospective language teachers must complete a course of study in the language (generally a Bachelor’s degree) and then complete additional coursework and student teaching to earn a Single Subject Teaching Credential. A Single Subject Credential is the qualification for teaching that subject in both elementary and high schools. Most CSU BA programs in foreign language prepare students for high school teaching. Teaching in a community college generally requires a Master’s degree. Teaching at a 4-year university generally requires a Ph.D.

AVC does not offer currently an Associate of Arts in any foreign languages; however, students who want to earn a BA in a foreign language can transfer to a 4-year institution by completing the lower division requirements for the major at that university as well as the general education requirements. Students can find out these requirements online or by visiting the AVC Transfer Center. The Foreign Language Department is working on an AA-T in Spanish and German and hopes to have these degrees approved by fall 2015.

For information about foreign language BA’s at  CSUs and UCs, go to Start by researching “Majors.” Select “Languages and Literature” and then select the specific language you are interested in to see which campuses have a program. Clicking on the university will lead you to a link that takes you directly to the college catalog of that institution. There you will find information on the lower division requirements for the major as well as contact information for the department.

The lower division requirements for the major can vary, depending on the transfer institution. Students should work closely with their counselor, the Transfer Center, the Foreign Language Department Chair or faculty in their language to research universities and programs as well as transfer and general education requirements.

In general, students should complete the beginning and intermediate levels of the language at AVC. Students who come to AVC with knowledge of a foreign language as a heritage learner or from previous study are encouraged to consult the Foreign Language Department Chair regarding placement in the language sequence (see Placement). Additional courses in literature, history and culture studies are recommended. These are offered in English (e.g., The History of British Literature, Masterpieces of World Literature, and Native American Literature). Many 4-year universities in California are impacted. Students with a high level of proficiency and a broad background will find it easier to transfer.

Students planning to teach a foreign language should achieve at least an advanced low to advanced mid level of proficiency (see ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines). Advanced proficiency is difficult to achieve from classroom study alone. Student who have not learned the language they are studying while growing up, from either speaking the language at home (i.e., a heritage learner) or from living abroad, are strongly advised to seek opportunities outside the classroom and/or to live and/or study aboard to achieve advanced proficiency in the language. Most universities offer study abroad programs. Student wishing to teach a foreign language should decide early the university to which they will transfer and find out about and begin planning on spending a semester or year abroad.

Languages not offered at AVC

Students proficient in languages not offered at AVC or who would like to acquire proficiency in a language not offered at AVC should also consult with the Foreign Language Department Chair. Students may be able to meet the foreign language requirement at their transfer institution through a proficiency exam rather than coursework. Students can also complete the general education requirements at AVC and meet language requirements through coursework taken elsewhere. For example, CSUSB offers an intensive summer program in Arabic. Finding lower division programs in less-commonly taught languages is challenging, but not impossible. Consult the Foreign Language Department Chair if you plan on majoring in a less-commonly taught language.

Study Abroad as Part of a BA Program 

Most foreign language programs either require or strongly encourage study abroad, usually at the upper division level through the home university. However, high levels of language proficiency and travel or study abroad before transfer will make students more prepared and more competitive when seeking to transfer. Since students often study abroad in their junior year, students who are transferring should consult with the language department of the university to which they plan to transfer during their sophomore year at AVC. Study abroad in the junior year requires careful planning for transfer students.


Students are encouraged to choose electives that complement their language studies while choosing electives to complete their transfer requirements. For example, students majoring in Spanish might take Hist 115: Cultural History of Mexico or Hist 119: History of Latin America and the Caribbean. English 225, 226 or 227 will prepare language majors for transfer by developing skills in literary analysis and introducing them to literary periods shared by French, German, Spanish and British literature. Courses such as Eng 230, 231, 250, 256, and 257 introduce students to literary works from non-English cultures. Hist 104 gives Latin students some background in Roman history
Electives to consider:

Eng 225: English Literature 800-1750
Eng 226: English Literature 1750-1900
Eng 227: English Literature 1900-present
Eng 230: Masterpieces of World Literature, Antiquity to the Renaissance
Eng 231: Masterpieces of World Literature since the Renaissance
Eng 250: Cross-cultural Literature in America
Eng 256: Chicano Literature
Eng 257: Native American Literature
Eng 269: Myths and Meanings
Eng 270: Literature and the Holocaust
Hist 104: Introduction to World Civilizations from Human Beginnings until 1500
Hist 105: Introduction to World Civilizations, 1500 - present
Hist 112: Contemporary U.S. History: Vietnam
Hist 115: Cultural History of Mexico
Hist 119:  History of Latin America and the Caribbean
Psy 211:  Introduction to Chicano/Latino Psychology
Soc 105: The Mexican American in Contemporary Society

60 unit transfer requirement

Students who begin at higher levels of foreign language may be able to fulfill the general education and transfer requirements with fewer units and may need to take additional courses to meet the 60 unit minimum for transfer. Students who plan to meet the foreign language requirement in a language not offered at AVC through proficiency examination at the transfer institution may also need to take additional courses to satisfy the 60 unit transfer requirement. Students can generally transfer a maximum of 70 units.

Suggested Plan of Study

This Suggested Plan of Study provides a solid foundation for transfer and meets the general education requirements for both CSU (Gen-Ed) and UC (I-GET-C). Some courses fulfill a general education requirement as well as a requirement of the major; hence, changing the course may require a student to take additional courses. Some courses are required for CSU General Education but not for UC’s IGETC. These courses are listed as an “Elective” (for UC) and have a suggested course listed that meets the CSU requirement.  This Plan of Study is a general outline only; students should work with their AVC counselor to work out a four semester plan of study that meets the transfer and major requirements of the university to which they plan to transfer.

Semester One UC IGETC CSU Gen Ed
*Foreign Language 101 5   C-2
English 101 Freshman Composition 3 Area 1a A-2
Elective [Comm Arts 103 for CSU transfer] 3   A-1 and E
Physical Science 3 Area 5a B-1
Science lab 1 Area 5c B-3
Total for Semester One 15    
Semester Two    
*Foreign Language 102 5 LOTE C1 or C2
Eng 102   3 Area 1b A-3
Elective [Hist 101 for CSU]  3   D-6
Elective [Hist 107, 108, 109 or 110 for CSU] 3   Am Inst
Elective [Psy 211 for CSU] 3   D-9
Total for Semester Two 17    
Semester Three    
*Foreign Language 201 3-5 Area 3 Hum  
Math 4 Area 2 B-4
Elective [Pols 101 for CSU transfer]  3   Am Inst
Art course 3     Area 3 Art C-1
Total for Semester Three 13-15  
Semester Four    
*Foreign Language 202      3-5    
Elective [History 102 for CSU]  3   D-6
Elective [History 107, 108, 109 or 110 for CSU] 3   Am Inst
Biological Science 3 Area 5b B-2
Elective [Hist 105 for CSU]  3   D-6
Total for Semester Four 15-17