News & Updates
April 23, 2021
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.
July 1, 2018
Research shows that, over the summer, Portland high school students are likely to experience summer learning loss. Students, on average, lose the equivalent of 2.5 months worth of math education during the summer months. Decades of research (dating back over 100 years) prove this stunning fact.
However, some students actually report slight gains in learning and brain development over the summer. Why? They read books. Work with tutors. And attend educational summer camps. (My mom used to send me to these. Thanks, mom!)
Tired of summer learning loss? You better be! Research shows that it’s cumulative. That means each summer piles on-top of each other, weighing down your child’s grades like a heavy rock.
Quick Tips on helping your Portland high school student prevent summer learning loss:
- Go To The Library
- Reward Them For Khan Academy
- Teach Them About Finance and Investing
- Read To Them
- Solve Math Problems With Them
You could consider creating a reward system, whereby if your child reads for 30 minutes (or studies math using Khan Academy for 30 minutes) they are free to play with their friends for the afternoon.
Remember, this is also important for standardized tests. Research shows that after the summer months, students score lower on standardized tests (than they did at the end of spring). And this loss is cumulative. For example, in math, students who don’t learn in the summer can end up 2.5 to 3 years behind their peers. Could this be a reason that your teenager is struggling in algebra, geometry, or calculus? In our experience, we see this happen all the time.
Is your child on the bubble?
Summer learning loss is especially important if your child is struggling or “on the bubble” in any of her classes. A few hours in the summer can mean the difference between a D or a B in the fall.
Ask your teacher for help. Often, teachers will have extra resources and ideas for how their students can catch up and improve in the summer. Ask about: workbooks, online resources, or fun activities.
Checking with next year’s teacher is often an even better idea because they can help give your child a direct head start.
Other ideas to consider:
- Summer Writing Courses
- Dance Classes
- STEM Summer Camp
Planning a lot of vacations this summer?
Try to find some teachable moments. Let your child help plan and research the trip. Take them to the zoo, library, or a museum. Encourage them to write a journal during the summer.
I know a number of parents who suspend allowance during the summer… and instead reward good behavior (studying, reading, learning) with prizes or compensation. Research shows that these rewards don’t have to be big to work. They just have to be timely.
Good luck on your summer learning and fun!