When I was in college I had a Spanish minor, so I had a certain number of language classes to take, but I spoke better Spanish than one of my roommates who was a Spanish major and had a full load of language classes.
What made the difference?
While she was tucked away studying and writing essays in Spanish, I was at the cafeteria or coffee shop or in another girl's dorm room talking with them, practicing my Spanish in real life conversations! I insisted that they correct my bad grammar and pronunciation and I enjoyed learning with them! Using the language and practicing with native speakers is vital to learning a language well.
If you are teaching Spanish, or another language, in your homeschool but are not a native speaker, I strongly recommend finding or hiring a language tutor.
Here are My Tips for Hiring a Spanish Tutor:
1. Get 2 Tutors, if Possible
First, you need an older native speaker who is educated, well-spoken and knows the grammar rules well. This is the person who will help your student most with grammar, pronunciation, expressing yourself well, etc.
The second person, also a native speaker, should be someone who is a peer or a young person with whom your student can converse. Speaking the language with this person will help the student learn how to speak everyday Spanish, the slang, and conversational Spanish that is important to every day life.
Another Personal Example: My husband learned Spanish by immersion as a teen living in Mexico, playing ball with the neighborhood kids daily. To this day, he understands street language and slang better than I do. My learning Spanish was much more influenced by the classes I took and the college level conversation practice, so, of the two of us, I am the better writer in Spanish.
If you can find these people from two different countries, it will also give you a different perspective on the Spanish culture around the world as well as a much larger vocabulary. Just as the word dinner in the US South has a different meaning than in the North, so various Spanish words and meanings will differ based on what country and culture you are interacting with.
2. Where to Find Language Tutors
There are many places to find language tutors. Think through your friends and contacts first to find a native Spanish speaker. Then, expand to churches or organizations in your area who might be able to offer suggestions and references.
Don't forget that the conversation aspect of language learning could be provided informally simply by befriending a family who speaks Spanish and enjoying regular play dates together.
If those avenues fail to provide a tutor, here is a list of online classes and tutors who offer real time, Skype-like tutoring and classes:
- Classes by Beth offers Spanish 1, 2, and 3 with virtual classrooms where students can interact and converse with both teacher and other students.
- LALI Class – Learn Another Language by Immersion – offers a real time tutor via skype once per week (or more). Sign up for a complimentary LALI Class here.
- 121 Spanish – Skype Spanish tutors for children based in Costa Rica – also offer a free class
- Maria Garcia – offers Spanish tutoring (from Spain) geared more for middle school and above
- 123Spanish – trained personal tutors from Spain and South America
3. Other Tips
If you can find a local tutor, be sure to investigate your tutor's references well. If you are uncomfortable having them in your home, you could arrange to meet at the local library, park or other public place for tutoring sessions, where mom or dad can give space, but still be visibly present.
2. A Family Affair
Have you thought about taking classes with your child? For certain personalities and learning styles this could be a great benefit for the following reasons:
- It means mom (or dad) sees language learning as important, setting an important example
- It gives the child an at-home person to practice with, and talk through what they have learned
- It gives you another thing in common with your child to bond over and to create memories with
A language tutor can be an incredible asset to learning Spanish, and if not a formal tutor, at the very least seek out native speakers to practice with. Have you found tutors other ways? What other tips do you have for finding a language tutor? I'd love to have you share in the comments!
31 Days of Homeschool Spanish is sponsored by Classes By Beth.