Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

The Benefits of a One on One Spanish Teacher

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

There are several benefits to getting yourself a one on one Spanish teacher. Since I have run the gauntlet of just about every study Spanish option there is, I am going to share with you my experiences and you can decide for yourself which road to go down.

It cannot be denied that a personal language teacher is going to set you back more cash than enrolling in classes or self-study. However, the benefits to you most certainly offset the extra investment. With your own Spanish teacher there is nowhere to hide. They will notice if you have not completed your homework, you cannot avoid speaking in class and you cannot get away with pretending you understand something when you do not. You are the entire focus of the class and that means that you are going to be working hard.

It also means that you are going to be reaping the benefits. The individual attention that a private Spanish teacher gives you is a chance to accelerate your learning. You can dictate the content of the class and you can be taught in a diagnostic manner. That fancy word means that the teacher can identify your language weaknesses and teach specifically to iron them out for you.

When you join a language class it is most often the case that they follow a curriculum. Week one of a basic program might be introductions and greetings, week two you could be learning how to share personal information so on and so forth. Now what quite often happens in a class setting is that there are some classes where you actually gain almost nothing from the class. When you already know and understand the content of a class it can be frustrating and kill your motivation.

My personal problem with Spanish is that I am very fluent and have excellent listening and vocabulary skills, but I need my grammar reinforced. I will openly admit, that my grammar is below par. Because my abilities in regard to different parts of Spanish are unbalanced, I can’t count the amount of group classes I have been in where I have spent most of the time doodling in my notebook completely withdrawn from the class. On the other hand, there have also been times when I have dominated the class too much and not given others the chance to learn effectively – I try very hard not to be like that because I know it is annoying.

So for me the only really satisfying answer is to have a private Spanish tutor. If you and your private Spanish teacher communicate effectively about what your expectations are then you will never have classes where you feel like you are not learning much. Each class will be demanding and help you to develop your Spanish ability in the most efficient manner.

There is also the self study option, which I have attempted to employ with limited success. If you are disciplined then self study can work well for you. Since procrastinating is one of my chief skills in life, self study is not really a valid option for me. On the Internet there are millions of wonderful Spanish language learning resources and many of them are free. If you take advantage of them they will really help to boost your grammar and vocabulary. There are also Spanish language programs you can download and listening exercises too. The Internet is a vast and invaluable resource in learning a language. Here comes the but…BUT…in my experience you will not be able to significantly develop your listening skills and speaking ability unless you have a Spanish speaker helping you out. A private Spanish teacher will correct your pronunciation and intonation and help you to become fluent in a way that no amount of self study can.

There are many benefits to having a one on one Spanish teacher. While they are more expensive in the short term, you will see your Spanish skills develop at a much faster rate than just about any other method.

What Makes a Good Spanish Student?

Friday, June 28th, 2013

There are several factors that add up to create a good Spanish student. Having been a language teacher and language learner for many years I have seen first hand many different learners: I have seen people excel in language learning and for various reasons I have seen people stagnate in their learning. If you want to learn Spanish in the most effective and efficient manner, then follow this advice to become a super student and you will impress your teacher with your Spanish before you know it.

The first thing to remember when you are learning Spanish is that practice makes perfect. You have to get over any inhibitions you have or any fears that you hold about sounding dumb or making a mistake. The first thing I always tell my language students is that I expect them and I want them to make mistakes. If you were perfect at Spanish already, you wouldn’t be studying would you? So forget about your shyness and put your all into communicating in Spanish with your class mates and your teacher.

Another key component to being a good Spanish student is this: you are responsible for your own learning. Unfortunately there is no Spanish chip that your teacher can insert into your brain, nor can they open up your brain and pour a jug of Spanish in there. A teacher is a facilitator and they give you the tools to learn Spanish with, but they cannot force you to learn. You still have to do the hard work yourself and that means coming to class with a great attitude, completing your homework and asking questions.

Following your class you should always review the lesson objectives and your notes while it is fresh in your brain. It normally takes us a couple of goes at something to really have it sink in. If you learn something in class one day and you never revisit it, chances are you are not going to remember it or be able to use it effectively. If you had trouble with the class objective, then find other resources that explain the point in a different way. You can find everything on the Internet and there are generally worksheets or on line exercises to accompany explanations.

A good Spanish student includes Spanish in their daily lives. They do not just go to class one hour a week and forget about their learning for the rest of the time. There are many things you can do to advance your learning everyday. Instead of reading the newspaper in English read a Spanish on line newspaper; switch your Internet search engine to Spanish; change your cell phone to Spanish language; seek out extra worksheets and exercises on the last lesson objective to reinforce your understanding; write a journal in Spanish. There are many, many different things you can do to make Spanish a part of your life.

Making connections outside of the classroom is another trick that good Spanish students employ. Find a Spanish speaker to do a language exchange with either in person or on line. One day you can chat in Spanish and the next in English. Find friends to chat with on Messenger in Spanish, or even start a conversation club with some of your class mates. Chances are there are Spanish clubs close to your home where Spanish speaking people meet to socialize. Don’t be shy, find out when they have events and go along.

If you simply rely on a weekly class to develop your Spanish skills, it is going to be a very slow road to fluency indeed. The key to being a good language student is giving your best in class and then seeking opportunities outside of the class to practice and hone your skills.