How to Become a Language Lab Coordinator: Career Guide

Oct 20, 2021

Learn how to become a language lab coordinator. Research the education, training information, and experience required for starting a career in language lab administration.

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Language Lab Coordinators

Language labs help people learn foreign languages or improve their English-speaking skills through the aid of computers, software programs, and other technologies. Most language labs are found at secondary schools, universities, and libraries. Language lab coordinators maintain these facilities by creating lab-use schedules and providing training sessions to users.

Coordinators also might hire staff members, collaborate on lesson plans with language teachers, write budget reports and make recommendations on technology purchases and upgrades.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate or bachelor's degree
Degree Field World languages, English, social sciences, psychology, cognitive sciences, or linguistics
Experience 2-3 years of related experience
Certification TESOL certificate
Key Skills Capable of developing relationships and helping people; English grammar and punctuation expertise; knowledge of other languages, able to work without supervision; familiarity with spreadsheet, language lab, and word processing software programs; comfortable maintaining electronic records
Median Salary (2018)* $66,590 (for English language and literature teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Individuals interested in seeking employment as language lab coordinators should have an associate or bachelor's degree. Relevant majors include world languages, English, social sciences, psychology, cognitive sciences or linguistics. Those seeking work in this field, typically should have 2-3 years of related experience. Key skills include being capable of developing relationships and helping people, being familiar with English grammar and punctuation, having knowledge of other languages, and being able to work without supervision. Aspiring language lab coordinators should also be familiar with spreadsheet, language lab, and word processing software programs, and be comfortable maintaining electronic records. According to 2018 date from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, English language and literature teachers earned a median salary of $66,590 annually.

Becoming a Language Lab Coordinator

Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree

Since language lab coordinators are responsible for a wide range of tasks, there are many different degree programs that can prepare students for this career field. Individuals may want to supplement their learning by pursuing a minor in a related field or by selecting career-specific elective courses. For example, a student could major in world languages and minor in English.

Language lab coordinators require a strong understanding of technology, so they may consider taking instructional technology courses. At the undergraduate level, instructional or educational technology courses teach students about utilizing different software programs in classroom settings. Most of these courses provide training in digital multimedia applications, instructional program methods, computer networking and instructional materials development.

College students can learn about job responsibilities by working at language lab facilities. Many labs have entry-level tutor or staff positions available to college students. The majority of language labs offer pre-scheduled laboratory training sessions, and the topics covered in these sessions may include pronunciation workshops, cultural studies, language skills or online language learning resources. Language lab tutors and staff members may supervise these training sessions and help students learn about using on-site technology and software programs.

Step 2: Get Foreign Language Training

Although it's not absolutely required for language lab coordinators to speak other languages, many employers listing job postings on college websites in September 2012 preferred bilingual applicants or individuals with previous experience working with non-native speakers. People can learn foreign languages through formal classes, private tutors or individual study sessions. There isn't a particular language that a lab coordination should be fluent it. The decision on which language to learn rests with that particular person.

Earning a TESOL certificate is another good option. Teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) certificate programs are available for undergraduate students or for those who already hold bachelor's degrees. Courses in these programs may include language analysis, lesson plans, teaching methodologies, linguistics and classroom preparation. TESOL certificate programs mainly train people to teach English to non-native speakers, but many of the basic principles can be applied to foreign language acquisition, which is important for language lab coordinators to learn.

Step 3: Gain Related Experience

Besides working directly in language labs, employers seek applicants with management experience. Many of these same employers also desire professionals who could design budget reports, maintain data-sets and implement company policies. Employers might also prefer applicants who have significant experience working at academic institutions, which could include purely administrative duties or previous teaching experience.

Individuals can find employment at colleges, universities, and language research centers. Global businesses may have on-site language labs to prepare employees for working in other countries, and these facilities often need coordinators or supervisors as well. There are also potential job opportunities abroad at language labs that focus on teaching English to foreigners. Students don't always jump into their desired job right after they graduate, but finding an administrative, teaching or management position can lead to a language lab coordinator job.

Language lab coordinators typically need an associate or bachelor's degree in a related area, such as languages, linguistics, or English, and a TESOL certificate might be helpful. A few years of field-specific as well as management experience is usually needed and the median wage in this field was just around $67,000 annually in 2018.

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