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Why Learn Spanish?

From Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Spanish > Why You Should Be Studying Spanish

Nobody can make it to their adult life without having studied a foreign language to some extent and many in the US don’t make it out of middle school without having done a Spanish course. After all, Spanish is the second most studied foreign language in the world after English.

There are plenty of great reasons to learn Spanish and work towards becoming fluent, too. With a bit of practice, anyone can learn the language. It’s a great use of your time.

Learning Spanish: The Reasons Why

If you’re planning on doing an exchange program in a Spanish-speaking country, you should at least speak the basics before you go. There are plenty of online Spanish resources and, while it’s difficult to achieve fluency by just learning Spanish online, a good level will make filling out college forms, applying for scholarships, and your general studies much easier.

If you plan on doing an internship in another country, speaking the language will help you look for work directly without going through third parties and also give you a better change of reaching the interview stage.

Employers are also more interested in applicants with foreign language skills as more and more business is being done with international clients. Latin America is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, too, so even just knowing basic Spanish might make that important Latin American company look more favorably on you than a yet another candidate who doesn’t speak a word of the language.

You can get more out of your vacation if you can speak the local language. Speaking Spanish will give you access to 20 different countries across Europe, Africa, and Latin America where the language is spoken and allow you to learn more about their cultures. It’s a great use of your time.

Why Take Spanish Classes?

Whether its because you want to graduate high school, visit Guatemala, or live in Colombia, you’re probably going to end up learning some Spanish at some point.

How much do Spanish classes cost? Classes are the most traditional way to learn Spanish. (Source: pixabay.com)

Thanks to the Internet, we can now freely access thousands of educational sites and learning resources including videos, podcasts, books, movies, and music. Students can be in charge of their own learning.

Here are a few links that might help:

On YouTube, you should check out TioSpanish if you want to learn Spanish while having fun. Here’s a video for practicing some Spanish before you go on vacation.

YouTube is also a great way to listen to Spanish songs con letras (with the lyrics) and watch videos with subtitles. I recommend watching movies with Spanish subtitles, then watching Spanish movies with Spanish subtitles, and finally watching Spanish movies without any subtitles.

Yabla offers language learning through videos and you can watch videos with subtitles in English or Spanish.

However, not all learning resources can help you improve your Spanish in terms of comprehension.

You can study vocabulary lists, grammar rules, watch a movie, and somehow still struggle when it comes time to say something. It’s almost as if the student has all the ingredients but not the recipe.

If you want to make the most of the time spent studying, you should find a balance between improving your comprehension and your production. You have to practice in order to better assimilate new concepts.

On the other hand, a student who only practices without studying will find themselves only remembering the most common terms.

That’s why you should use all of these resources together alongside Spanish classes if you want to improve.

Private or Group Spanish Classes?

Taking classes as part of a group can be fun but the one-size-fits-all approach to teaching the language isn’t often as effective as getting a one on one tutor.

Which are the best ways to learn Spanish? It can be difficult to stay motivated when studying on your own. (Source: snapwiresnaps.tumblr.com)

There are also ways to get “free” private classes. For example, you could be taught for one hour and then teach them for one hour. A native Spanish speaker would like to learn English, for example. You could learn Spanish from them for an hour and then teach them English for an hour.

You can do this on sites like: mylanguageexchange.com, for example.

These types of classes are good for practicing. However, your tutor probably won’t have prepared a class or take the same pedagogic approach as a teacher.

They mightn’t be able to effectively explain the difference between por and para and you mightn’t know why we use a certain grammatical tense. We usually learn our mother tongues by copying people rather than studying the grammatical rules.

Private Lessons with a Tutor Can Be an Effective Approach

The tutor is there to teach you and adapt their methods to your learning style. There are plenty of different ways to learn, after all.

If the student wants to pass a test, they’ll probably focus more on writing than they would practicing conversations whereas a  student preparing for a job interview might need to study industry-specific vocabulary and practice asking and answering questions.

Students who want to travel to Spanish-speaking countries will practice conversational Spanish more than writing. In this case, the tutor can help the student in their classes as well as outside of them. They could put together a study schedule for them and help them to learn in a way that works for them.

Some students are visual learners while others are auditory or kinesthetic learners. A good tutor can help put together the right resources for each student:

  • Visual: vocabulary lists, grammar rules, reading materials, movies, etc.

  • Auditory: audio vocabulary lists, grammar rules, podcasts, movies, etc.

  • Kinesthetic: rewriting vocabulary lists, doing grammar exercises, writing, etc.

Spanish Tutors: Adapting to the Needs of the Student

During your Spanish courses, your Spanish tutor can help you express yourself, correct your errors, improve your pronunciation, give you the vocabulary and grammar you need. They can also suggest activities that will help you improve the skills you want to improve. You might read a text, give a presentation, improve your comprehension, or learn to writer better, for example.

The Psychological Aspect of Learning Spanish

There’s also a psychological side to learning a foreign language. We often think of languages as black or white. You either speak them or you don’t. Thinking like this has made language learning in schools and whole language learning process less enjoyable.

A teacher can have around 30 children in front of them and have to plan a class that works for every one of them. This can be even harder when the students don’t even want to learn. After 5 or 10 years of studying a language, students can leave school without being able to even hold a conversation. 

A tutor can help a student overcome this and stop them from being scared of making mistakes or not understanding anything.

The most important thing when speaking a foreign language is making yourself understood and understanding the other person.

How Can You Learn to Speak Spanish?

The Spanish language is spoken in a lot of places around the world. How can you learn it?

More often than not, this process can seem long, boring, and difficult. We often think of our time spent at school doing boring grammar exercises.

Vocabulary and grammar are just a part of learning a language. Practicing, speaking, listening, reading, and writing are all skills you need to master, too. If you don’t use a word, you’ll forget it.

Where is Spanish spoken? Visiting Spanish-speaking countries is a great way to improve your Spanish. (Source: Adrianna Calvo)

500 words are enough to start speaking to people in a language. However, it obviously depends on which 500 words you learn and how useful they are. You should make a note of 10 useful words a day and go back over them regularly until they’re second nature to you.

For a lot of people, learning a language means spending a lot of time when they don’t really have that much free time to begin with. If you’re smart about it, you can minimize how much time it takes. Instead of watching a movie in English, why not watch a Spanish movie with English subtitles or an English movie with Spanish subtitles?

Instead of twiddling your thumbs on the way to work, you could put some Cuban music on and practice the lyrics a couple of times a week. Instead of going to your usual bar, why not look for a bar with more Spanish speakers?

2 months should be enough to start speaking in Spanish: 20 minutes of practice a day and 2 hours of private tutorials per week.

Why Take Online Classes with a Native Tutor?

It makes a lot more sense to get lessons from a native tutor even if they don’t speak your language.

People will usually speak in the language that is better spoken by both people. If Juan from Chile speaks English better than John from Boston speaks Spanish, the two of them will inevitably end up speaking in English. In a private tutorial where both the student and the teacher are native English speakers, it seems a bit stupid and fake for the two of them to have a conversation in Spanish.

How much do online Spanish tutorials cost? If you get on well with your online tutor, you could even arrange a trip to where they live. (Source: pixabay.com)

With a native tutor, speaking in Spanish won’t seem silly anymore and you can even learn more about their culture. Even if Juan does still speak English better than John, it’ll feel more natural in class for both parties to speak Spanish during a tutorial. If a student already knows the basics, they can demand that their tutor speak to them exclusively in Spanish.

Even the interactions are different because the tutor’s from a different culture with its own norms. It’s like you’re traveling before you’ve even packed your bags. You can discover more about another culture, get recommendations for music to listen to and movies to watch, and learn more about a specific country’s history and society.

You can also learn Spanish to help improve your career. Online classes are a great way to make the most of your time and tutors are available most hours of the day. They are more cost effective since you can find tutors from countries’ where the cost of living is less and therefore so are their rates.

For less than $100 a month, you can benefit from 2 hours of weekly classes which also means you can stay with the same tutor even if you move.

Generally speaking, private tutorials are over Skype and the activities and content is shared using Google Docs. This allows the student and the tutor to read and write simultaneously on any given document. The tutor can copy the exercises and images straight onto the document. This can save a lot of time.

They can also immediately see any error the student makes and correct them. This allows the student to focus on important things like interacting.

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