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April 23, 2021

How Spanish Tutors Give Students the One-On-One Help They Need

When you’re trying to memorize hundreds of conjugations and spend hours working to get the pronunciation just right, you may feel like mastering Spanish is impossible. Writing and reading in a foreign language takes a ton of practice, and speaking the language aloud fluently is even harder. It requires students to conjugate and translate faster. In a big classroom full of people, it’s easy for students to get lost in a sea of faces or intimidated by their peers. They may not get the individual attention they need to truly grasp the language. 

But the value of understanding Spanish should not be underestimated. The benefits of mastering this commonly spoken language extend far beyond the academic realm. Learning Spanish allows us to connect with Spanish speaking friends and neighbors. It empowers us to travel to different parts of the world where Spanish is the primary language. Gaining the skill of speaking a second language is also great for the brain, increasing memory and ability to focus.

So how can we help kids truly master Spanish when the classroom just isn’t cutting it? Tutoring is the saving grace you’re looking for. With a tutor, kids can have a much more individualized experience. Students can have fluid conversations with tutors in Spanish to get the back and forth speaking practice they need. If they feel self conscious in front of the class, they can get comfortable talking in Spanish with a trusted tutor. Tutoring can also switch up boring routines for students, to get them out of the mundane workbook mentality.

If students are quite grasping the material, here’s the top three ways tutoring will help them Spanish like a pro.

Cementing Speaking Skills

Tutors allow students to drive home their speaking skills by having fluid back and forth conversations in Spanish. Learning a language is not like picking up math, science, or even English. It requires more than just rote practice. Students need to have frequent conversations in Spanish to really be able to translate with speed. 

But learning in a classroom with thirty other people makes it hard for students to get those conversational skills. There’s not a lot of chances to have one-on-one conversations with their teachers, as there are so many students and only so much time.

Tutoring brings a personal component that’s missing in the classroom. Students can have discussions in Spanish with a tutor who is fluent, even doing whole sessions in Spanish once kids get to a certain level of ability. A tutor can point out exactly where kids are missing the mark in these conversations and help them really focus on changing key mistakes. Plus, tutors can educate kids about informal nuances in the language that a textbook might not mention.

I know our Spanish tutors are effective because I have every Tutor Portland tutor teach me before I hire them. With this process I’m able to see which Spanish tutors are able to break free from basic repetition exercises and have more sophisticated, productive conversation. Not only that, but Tutor Portland emphasizes principles like patience and conceptual learning, which promise to make the most out of Spanish tutoring sessions.

Self Conscious Students

Speaking Spanish regularly with a tutor can help kids ditch performance anxiety when it’s time to translate in front of the class. Being fourteen years old and having to speak to a class full of your peers is hard enough. Now try doing it in a language you barely know! One of the biggest barriers to students becoming fluent Spanish speakers is their anxiety about speaking in front of a class. 

We want to ease that anxiety. One of our most important missions at Tutor Portland is to create a deeper bond between student and tutor. Our tutors go beyond just a transactional relationship with their clients, but instead act like mentors. This emotional bond helps establish trust. This trust will be a key component for students attempting to learn Spanish, as it will help them overcome anxiety about speaking.

With a tutor, students can practice with somebody they trust. They can work out the kinks with the same person every week, without being embarrassed. With some positive reinforcement from a tutor, they’ll gain confidence. They’ll be able to head back into the class ready to run through conjugations like a pro in front of everyone.

Escaping The Endless Flashcards

Spanish tutoring creates a more engaging curriculum than boring flashcards or workbooks. While these tools help students memorize words and phrases, they don’t really allow teens to master Spanish. They’re mostly used for teaching the subject matter to large groups of students when the teacher can’t get to each person individually. Unfortunately, they don’t give students the mindset to genuinely understand the language.

Luckily, one-on-one tutoring helps with this too. Tutors can give students new and interesting ways to encounter the language, like games or unique activities. They can assign students fun writing prompts based on the student’s own interests to get kids excited about learning. Giving frequent positive reinforcement helps kids feel personally fulfilled as their Spanish language skills grow.

At Tutor Portland, adopt a growth mindset and want to help students always be improving and changing. Beyond just boring and unhelpful activities, we create a personal connection with students and use that bond to give them truly effective teaching, so they can strive towards improvement.

The Perfect Tutor is One Click Away

If you want kids to master Spanish, tutoring might be the way to go! A tutor can give your kid the practice they need to speak fluently and confidently, and allow them to break out of a boring class curriculum. With Tutor Portland, you can be certain that your child is getting the personal, effective tutoring that they deserve. Sign up for your first session, free of charge.

August 19, 2019

Home Tutor for Spanish

There are numerous benefits to having a home tutor for Spanish. Many students fall behind in their Spanish courses. This is very challenging because Spanish is a cumulative subject. In addition, once the teacher and class begin speaking entirely in Spanish it is nearly impossible to continue learning anything if you are behind. Spanish teachers naturally focus on the most gifted students, compounding the problem.

Spanish is one of the hardest languages to learn. Spanish is uniquely challenging when students fall behind because the course is conversational in nature. This causes extreme embarrassment. If a student doesn’t understand the material, it is readily apparent to everyone.

I remember when I was trying to learn Spanish. I was way behind everyone else. I had no idea what was going on. And it showed. To compound this problem, my accent was terrible. It sounded like the classic white-American version. Other kids laughed at me and teased me because. This decreased my desire to participate and learn. And this caused me to do even worse in the course! I even stopped attending many of the classes because I couldn’t stand the continual rounds of failure and embarrassment.

The Benefits of a Home Tutor for Spanish

Wow! How I wish that I would have had a home tutor for Spanish. That would have been so helpful. I could have practiced with my home tutor and learned Spanish in a safe and protected environment, before having to venture out into class to test my newfound skills. That’s why I think having a home tutor for Spanish is uniquely important. It can help students boost their confidence at a skill that inherently leaves people vulnerable. Students need to feel safe when they are learning. That is a core need that needs to be met for learning to place. But many students simply don’t feel comfortable in a traditional Spanish classroom. That’s why having a home tutor for Spanish can be an excellent supplement to traditional methods of instruction.

The bottom line is that learning any foreign language is extremely challenging. Sometimes students need every advantage they can get. A home tutor for Spanish can provide the following benefits:

Personalized Education

Decades of research shows that who you are influences how you learn languages. There are several factors that influence a person’s ability to successfully acquire a second language. A student’s attitude and motivation are paramount in learning. In addition, a person’s cognitive style, age, and personality all play key roles. This is one key reason why hiring a home tutor for Spanish is so important: they can help you create a customized personal learning program that suits your learning needs and strengths best. Having a home tutor allows you to leverage your strengths and skills. 

A lot of classroom-based learning fails because learning a second language is such a personal thing. How you learn depends on your personality. In most courses, this hinders learning. One-on-one home tutoring changes this.

Develop Spanish Speaking Skills

Learning to speak Spanish is arguably the most vital skill a student of the language can possibly develop. You simply have to be able to speak the language to improve at it. There are many factors at play here. Learning strong oral communication skills requires the ability to listen to and accurately hear the right words. Students then have to be able to quickly formulate a response, and then be able to articulate it. Often, the biggest barrier to being conversational in Spanish is lacking the proper accent. Mispeaking words by even a small amount can change the entire meaning of the sentence.

If you or your child is enrolled in a large Spanish class, the small errors that they are making either go largely unnoticed by the teacher. If they do notice, they likely simply don’t have the time or energy to correct them. Working with a home tutor for Spanish is one solution to this problem. A home Spanish tutor can focus in on the student, effortlessly hearing these small errors, and swiftly moving to correct them. These errors in pronunciation can be corrected through practice and focus and through correct modeling.

Increase Listening Comprehension

Most Spanish courses work by teaching students sets and chunks of words. They teach students large lists of vocabulary words. They also teach students verbs that pair well with them. Then they work on constructing sentences, paragraphs, and longer blocks of text and speech.

But this isn’t how conversation works. Conversations are fluid. Native speakers don’t learn Spanish the way we do. Speaking Spanish naturally is more complex and nuanced than the simplified versions packaged for us nicely in school. These are good introductory building blocks to learn. But they never help you truly master a language. Mastery comes through practice. That’s why speaking with conversational partners is one of the most valuable things you can do to learn Spanish. Home tutors are great partners because they speak Spanish fluently and are also well-versed in teaching, communication, and psychology.

Improve Spanish Accent

Most American students develop a really bad, unnatural sounding Spanish accent because they are never taught the proper way to speak. This has undoubtedly caused a lot of pain, embarrassment, and frustration over the years. However, rest assured, there are a few tricks you can learn in order to improve your Spanish accent. Many of these skills and tricks a home tutor could help you with.

One important thing is to learn how to correctly pronounce vowels. Most teachers gloss over this or move too quickly past it. But these are vitally important to learn! Another Spanish accent trick is to learn and speak your “T’s” and “D’s” more softly. Many Americans speak the “T” very harshly. This is done by placing the tip of your tongue on the tip-top of your mouth. However, most Spanish speakers don’t speak this way. They speak their T’s much more softly. They usually place their tongue on their front teeth, soothing the sound. There are countless little tricks like this to optimize. That’s something they certainly never taught me in class!

Learn Important Spanish Verbs / Verb Conjugations

Not all verbs were created equal. In fact, each level of Spanish that is taught in school has certain verbs which are critically important to master. For example, in beginning Spanish, some of the most important verbs to master are Ser and Estar. These verbs also become more nuanced as you move into higher levels of Spanish. Tener and Haber are also really important verbs to know.

And just as important as learning the verbs themselves is to be able to conjugate those verbs effectively and efficiently. Actually, most courses take the approach that in order to learn Spanish students simply need to memorize long lists of verbs. And so students begin to believe that they need to memorize all the verbs before they can start “truly” speaking Spanish. But this is false. It’s actually more important to be able to use (conjugate) a few key verbs extremely well and accurately than it is to memorize hundreds of verbs that are rarely used.

Learning Spanish Benefits the Brain

There is a lot of research being done these days on how the development of a second language impacts brain function. Studies show that people who are bilingual are better able to focus on assignments and tasks. They have higher levels of concentration and a better ability to focus in on the important details of what really matters. In addition, they are also better able to switch *between* tasks and are thus better at multi-tasking and synthesizing together ideas from different fields. People who are bilingual have also been shown to have better decision-making skills. They make more rational choices. They also have better stronger memories. They are better able to accurately recall information. People who are bilingual also have a decreased risk for developing dementia. Fundamentally—the research is clear—learning Spanish is good for your brain. It will help you succeed in all of your other subjects. No subject exists in isolation. These are some of the indirect benefits you or your student can gain from hiring a home tutor for Spanish language acquisition.

Improve Your SAT and ACT Scores

I know, it sounds crazy—right? You are probably thinking, Eric, last time I checked Spanish wasn’t on the SAT! You’re right, of course it’s not! Still, the research is clear: learning Spanish helps improve SAT scores and a student’s overall ability to score higher on any standardized testing. This is because a significant amount of evidence shows that learning a foreign language will actually improve a students English. Other studies and suverys have found that bilingual students have higher science exam scores and generally develop a better understanding of mathematics. This illustrates that all courses are connected. Learning one subject will help your child develop the skills to succeed in another.

These have been just some of the benefits that can come from hiring a home tutor for Spanish. There are countless other benefits that come from working with a one-on-one tutor for Spanish. If this is a subject that you or your student is struggling in, then home tutoring is something you might consider. Another reason might be if your child is simply curious about Spanish and wants to learn it. Or it might be that you think Spanish will be a great subject for them to know someday. These are all perfectly great reasons for you to encourage home Spanish tutoring for your child.