Posts Tagged ‘teach’

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.

Teach English in Latin America and Learn Spanish at the Same Time

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Feel like adding a bit of spark to your life and broadening your horizons? Why not consider teaching English in Latin America and learning Spanish at the same time? There are multitudes of locations all around Latin America that offer programs where you can teach English to locals while becoming a Spanish speaker.

If you would love to be able to chat away in Spanish and not sound clumsy, then the only way to do it is through immersion. By living and breathing the Spanish language and Latino culture for an extended period you can become truly fluent and have an incredible experience to boot.

All throughout Central and South America there are places crying out for English teachers and you can visit for just a few weeks or extend your stay. From teaching business executives to street children, there are programs and schools that would love to have you working with them.

When coming to Latin America to teach English and learn Spanish you have two possible plans of attack. The first is to enroll in a volunteering program: these are generally all inclusive. They will organize home stays or accommodation; food, training, a teaching position and Spanish language classes. Basically they do all the complicated stuff and leave it up to you to enjoy your experience. The downside to these programs is that they are often quite expensive and you do not earn much of a wage from your teaching work.

Some well known organizations that run teaching programs around Latin America include: World Teach; Alliances Abroad and Global Vision International Global Vision International also has a six month program that takes volunteers to work and learn in Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador and Peru.

In addition to these very well organized and well-connected programs, there are also many small programs looking for volunteers to teach in poor areas. The little guys rarely have the resources for fancy websites, but have very valuable grassroots programs happening. These can generally only be discovered once you make it to Latin America and start scouting around.

The second option is to DIY. Start by working out where you would like to go, and then pack your rucksack and start knocking on doors of language schools when you get there. After you have found a job and a place to lay your head, you can organize yourself some Spanish lessons. This option will probably result in more of a living wage for you and lower costs, but if you do not speak Spanish it may be tricky to organize things like accommodation.

Many enthusiastic travelers to Latin America send out resumes and CVs hoping to line up a teaching job before they arrive. In reality, this almost never works. You are much more likely to land a job by knocking on doors and presenting yourself in person. Forums on websites such as and can help you to make some valuable contacts and get great advice about where the jobs are.

You may be wondering how you can teach English if you do not have any qualifications, but most volunteer programs offer some basic training and materials before you make it to the classroom. Many language schools in Latin America will also accept you if you have a university qualification – although you will most likely be working there illegally. International and bilingual schools may also be an option. They are unlikely to hire you as a classroom teacher, but they are often looking for native speaker class assistants.

Teaching English while immersing yourself in Spanish language and Latin culture is a surefire way to become fluent in no time. Not only that, but you will make lifelong friends and have endlessly fond memories of the hectic and noisy, but warm and friendly place that is Latin America.