Working with a tutor is a great way to keep yourself focused, motivated and on track to improve your Spanish, but there are several things that you must do in order to take advantage of your precious time with your online Spanish tutor.
"I want to use my time smart with you" said one of my online students when we first met. She’s a 60-year-old woman who had been studying Spanish on her own for over two years, and who, overwhelmed with the amount of resources on the net, decided to take private online classes with a tutor in order to achieve the fluency she wanted. In the first session, she set her priorities, the amount of time she wanted to invest in the learning process, and the topics she wanted to talk about.
As I really appreciate committed students who are crystal clear about their goals and how they want to achieve them, I believe that once you find the right person, there are several things that you must do in order to take advantage of your precious time with your online tutor.
1. Have clear objectives
Without a specific objective, you could spend your time on something that isn't important or that makes your Spanish learning process difficult. Being in your tutoring session without knowing the direction for learning is similar to taking a purposeless trip to an unfamiliar city. You need to work with your tutor in setting objectives to ensure your learning is purposeful.
2. Take responsibility for your own success
Don’t expect the teacher to do everything for you. Your teacher can answer questions, explain grammar and other aspects of the language and culture, teach you useful phrases and expressions, challenge you, correct you and provide support. In short, your tutor will maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses, but he or she can’t make you learn. Learning is your job; you must put in the necessary time and effort.
3. Prepare before the lesson
Your tutor will have a plan and prepared materials for you, but you need to do your part. If you have homework, do it ahead of time and come to your sessions ready to present your homework to your teacher. Prepare questions to clarify any concerns you may have such as pronunciation, definitions, use of verb tenses, etcetera.
4. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes
Some students are shy when speaking, but your teacher will work to help you gain confidence. Even though you may feel embarrassed, shy or unsure of yourself, do your best to express yourself, even if you make mistakes. There is no better place for making mistakes than your private class.
5. Don´t be afraid of asking or answering questions
Students who are genuinely excited to learn, are curious and ask lots of questions, learn much quickly and stay more engaged in their learning process. Also, try to push yourself to answer questions in more detail. If you don’t know how to say something, your tutor can help you, you just need to ask. A conversation involves two people, you need to be an active participant in the conversation by asking and answering questions.
6. Listen to some Spanish
Listen to some Spanish podcast, movie or radio programs right before your session, so that you are in the mood and ready to go. Also, you become more familiar with Spanish sounds.
7. Ask for feedback
The teacher will not correct all your mistakes for you to improve, much less interrupt when you make a mistake. If a teacher stops you every time you say a wrong word (for example, for using an incorrect verb tense), the language process will be slow and boring. In order to improve fluency, you need to speak. Then, afterwards, you tutor can provide some feedback and corrections.
8. Listen to your Spanish tutor
Listen to what your tutor is saying, even if you are so eager to speak. Sometimes you tutor corrects you in a subtle way, saying the same that you just said, but with the correct grammatical structure, but if you don’t pay attention, you will miss it. So slow yourself down, and listen. Listening is really important for proper speaking, so don’t see it as having little value if the tutor does some of the talking.
9. Don’t expect miracles
Don’t expect miracles overnight, because learning a language takes time and effort. You won’t become fluent in a month just by speaking with a native once a week. Your tutor can help you in many ways, but if you don´t spend time working on your own, it’ll take much longer to see results. To make progress, you need at least an hour per day.
10. Have fun during your tutoring sessions
Learning shouldn’t be boring, so if you are really committed to studying Spanish, try to enjoy as much as possible your time with your tutor.
Working with a tutor is a great way to keep yourself focused, motivated and on track to improve your Spanish, but ultimately it is up to you use your time wisely with a tutor because in reality you’ll do most of your learning on your own.