The official language of 21 countries, the second most spoken language in the United States and in the world of business: having a good knowledge of Spanish is today both a personal and professional advantage.
Teaching foreign languages is a particularly perilous exercise. Giving Spanish classes included!
Although certain languages like Spanish are supposedly easier to learn, it’s still true that a good teacher makes all the difference.
So yes, you will certainly learn Spanish more rapidly than you would German or Chinese, but don’t celebrate just yet.
Learning Spanish means studying like you would any other living language: vocabulary, grammar, conjugation, but also listening, pronunciation, and written comprehension.
But if you’re a teacher, where do you start?
How to be clear, concise, and be the best at explaining?
Here is some advice to become a master private language tutor!
To give a thorough and clear language lesson, the first rule is to be organised.
You must prepare beforehand and structure your classes.
Structure Your Course
- List the target goals
- Under each goal, list the rules to implement
- Prepare the materials
- Search for appropriate activities to practice the different ways to express the target language
- Make a clear schedule that you will give to your client (Monday: study grammatical rules. Tuesday: written comprehension of a short text…)
The Spanish language must be studied in its entirety, so try switching up the subjects and the classes to keep your tutee engaged.
To become a Spanish professor, you must challenge yourself to improve yourself and consequently improve the linguistic skills of your student.
You must do everything you can to develop as a teacher.
- To perfect your teaching skills, why not take a trip to Mexico for a total immersion in a Spanish-language culture? Or why not go to Spain for a short stay?
Is Spanish your mother tongue? Your Spanish or Latin culture could be extremely beneficial for your student, so don’t be afraid to share this in your tutorials.
Similarly, if you take a trip to Latin America or Central America, tell them about your personal experience.
You can enrich the culture of your students even more by introducing to them the art of language!
- Always look for new materials
Choose interactive exercises.
In the digital era, it would be a shame to miss out on the numerous tools at your disposal.
It has been proven that a student learns three times faster if they have fun while they work… So be creative!
The best teachers must know how to listen.
As teachers, make sure during your first session to really understand the needs of your student.
Does your student want to be able to hold a conversation before their trip to Barcelona? Improve their professional Spanish to be able to speak with their international clients at work? Or do they want to improve their general comprehension of the language?
There are dozens of ways to study Spanish, so let your student choose how they want to proceed before launching into your Spanish classes.
Why not offer a free first Spanish class to verify that you can find a productive way of working between you and your student? Some tutors on Superprof do this.
Spanish classes must be tailored to each individual student.
- Speaking and listening skills will be the most important focus for a student who simply wants to be able to communicate abroad. Your student should feel like they’re learning Spanish in Spain. Constantly speak in Spanish and ban English!
- For students who want to have the best possible chance of passing the Spanish subject SAT test, use exams from previous years to review.
- Practice will be essential for those students who want to pass a college-level exam.
- The age of your client will also play an important role in personalizing your materials. For the youngest learners, fun educational exercises are particularly useful for learning modern languages.
- If your student has to take and pass an exam, know how to motivate them! Spanish, the language of international business, is a good language to know for the future. Motivate your student by informing them of the stakes and the numerous opportunities that will be available to them if they attain proficiency in the language.
- Notice your student’s progress at each meeting and tell them how they’re improving.
Adaptability is an extremely important skill for a Spanish teacher.
Discover also how to find students for your Spanish tutoring business.
Manage Your Time Spent on Different Activities
Time can quickly become your worst enemy if you don’t pay attention.
Set a learning rhythm that seems right to you: one course per week for the school year or intensive courses during summer vacation?
There are many ways to manage your schedule effectively during Spanish class. One of them would be estimating how long activities will take prior to class and finding a way to stick relatively close to this schedule.
Another is to allocate 'chunks' of the class to different activities - ie. 15 mins speaking, 15 mins grammar, 15 mins writing and vocabulary. This allows teachers to be flexible within this paradigm, regardless of the level of the clients, native speakers or otherwise.
Whether you teach in a language school, in higher education, or private tutoring, you absolutely must keep track of your plan and prepare your lessons accordingly.
Also, of course, if you are giving tutorials in the student's family home, please allow sufficient time to arrive early at their home! Don't miss out on precious class time, it's unprofessional!
You must be able to estimate the length of each course: the lesson, the student’s comprehension, and practice time.
The tutee must finish each class by the end of the allotted time. Continuing a lesson the next week is difficult because of the way our brain works, people are not made to remember half-taught ideas!
Here are a few tricks for not running out of time:
- Suggest an intensive course if the student needs to catch up on a particular subject or if a particularly difficult lesson requires extra time.
- Use a watch: 30 minutes for teaching the lesson, 30 minutes for practice, 30 minutes for questions and for going over in more detail the areas your student is struggling with.
- If you give private lessons, don’t be afraid to set a rhythm that seems appropriate for the person in question.
- Take advantage of the numerous materials on the Internet to save valuable minutes: online lesson plans, online exercises, YouTube videos…
Online Spanish tools are abundant: there are Spanish resources with numerous exercises for all levels. Free practice tools can be a precious aid for you.
- Give your tutee homework: you will save time if they prepare before each lesson. Learning a language requires daily practice to progress, especially if they hope one day to become bilingual. Giving work to do at home will also make them communicate more with their family about what they are doing. This will keep them more engaged personally in the subject, even if they are not native speakers.
- Speaking Spanish is necessary during the lesson: explain in Spanish, correct in the language of Cervantes. Without even realizing it, you will double your efficacy during the same amount of time.
What level of Spanish will you teach? Find out what tests you can take to certify your level...
Prepare Your Lessons Ahead of Time
Each of your Spanish classes must be prepared in advance. Being organized will allow you to find clients to take your courses, especially through word of mouth. You have to plan for the long term, you cannot give Spanish tutoring without any preparation beforehand.
Once you know the areas your tutee wishes to improve, come up with a tailored plan for them to most effectively reach their goals.
You will need to use your imagination and utilize different exercises: video, audio, photos, games…
Here is some advice for preparing your tutorials ahead of time:
- If the student needs to work on their oral skills, focus on speaking and listening exercises. Select exercises on the Internet, from the many sites that offer free materials, YouTube for example.
- If you would like your client to make quick progress, you will need to choose interesting and tailored materials.
- Teaching adults and teaching children is of course different. How should you set the rate for a Spanish lesson for adults as opposed to for children? For students who want to pass the SAT subject test, plan academic lessons. Grammar courses, conjugation practice, vocabulary lists, the rules of the Spanish language… They must master every aspect of the language, written and oral comprehension. For adults, you are more free, adapt your courses to their specific wishes.
- Your teaching style is important. The tutee must feel at ease, try not to change your approach each week.
- If they are a beginner, it’s okay to familiarize them with the language bit by bit. Don’t speak too much in Spanish; to start, communicate and prepare the class content in English.
- Find concise and easy explanations to put in writing, and prepare examples to demonstrate each rule.
- Use a different color for the things that are most important to remember. For example: write in red the rules they need to memorize, and in green the rules that are of secondary importance.
- Make worksheets and index cards for words, expressions, phrases…
You can check for online tutoring jobs here.
- Don’t forget to quiz them regularly to evaluate the student’s level.
You will need to choose your lesson materials carefully.
- Don’t forget: your lesson should be fun! Favor interactive exercises.
- Verify that your client has the comprehension necessary for each exercise.
- It would also be wise to adapt the exercises. Why not work on a text that relates to the student’s passions? For example, a passage from Don Quixote for a literature fan.
As you can see, your need to design Spanish lessons that are up to date, that are adapted to the individual in question, and that develop the confidence of your student in a relaxed atmosphere.
There is no miracle formula to be a good teacher. Just explain clearly, be empathetic, and be creative.
Wondering what to charge? Check out how Spanish tutors in Australia set their rates.
For information on the DELE certification, read this post.