Ways to learn Spanish

What kind of Spanish course will suit you?

So you've chosen to learn Spanish and now you have to decide how you are going to achieve your goal in an easy, painless, interesting and inexpensive way.

The main types of Spanish course available generally are:

Some schools and colleges offer evening and part-time-day classes for Spanish learners.

Advantages of classroom group language courses:

  • Sometimes a good social experience in the classroom.
  • You may get mutual support from other students.
  • The teacher can organize various pair and group-based learning activities.
  • You can ask the teacher questions.
  • May be good value, depending on the school or college's pricing policy.

Disadvantages of classroom language courses:

  • Insufficient individual attention from the teacher.
  • Inflexible. You have to be at a certain place at a fixed time in all weathers.
  • You might not want to wait for the fixed start date of the next course.
  • The pace of the class may not suit you. It might be too fast or too slow.
  • Others in the group may be less motivated than you and cause distraction.
  • Other students may dominate the group and even alienate the teacher.
  • Other students may be much higher / lower in language ability/level than you.
  • The course may be very expensive and you may have to pay for a year's course right at the beginning.

Overall: if you can find a class that is within easy travelling distance for you, at the right level, has a good teacher, and is not too expensive, this might be a good choice for you.

You can buy home study courses for various languages, including Spanish, from a local bookshop or over the Internet. They usually consist of one or more books, and tapes or CDs.

Advantages of home study language courses:

  • Such courses are usually not very expensive (but some are, so be careful).
  • They can be studied in your own choice of time, place and pace.
  • You can even listen to the tape/CD in the car, on the bus or while doing other things.
  • Once you have bought the course, you can continue to use it for as long as you want.

Disadvantages of home study language courses:

  • Language learning is a two-way process and these courses generally work in one direction only; there is no feedback for the student.
  • There is often an undue emphasis on listening and repeating or mechanistic responses (instead of dialogue).
  • Writing activities tend to be filling in gaps, multiple choice tests, and grammar manipulations (or contortions, as some would say!).
  • Home study can also be isolating - lacking interaction with a tutor and other students;
  • You usually have to pay for the whole course up-front or incur additional charges to pay by instalments.
  • Although there is usually a choice of beginners' courses, more advanced courses may be hard to find.
  • Home study requires a lot of self-discipline to work on a regular basis without reminders.

Overall: a home study course can often be used in addition to other methods of learning but is unlikely to produce fluency and accuracy due to the lack of feedback from an expert's ear. Independent home study also takes high levels of self-discipline to engage in regular learning activities without anyone else involved.

Advantages of having a personal tutor:

  • You can schedule lessons at times to suit you (and your tutor) and as often as you want.
  • You can have the lesson wherever you are.
  • You can learn at home, taking account of your family or other personal responsibilities.
  • Lessons can be scheduled flexibly.
  • You get undivided attention which is particularly suited to the needs of busy professionals.
  • The tutor should be able to ensure that the teaching materials are right for your individual needs and use methods that take account of your personal learning style and preferences.

Disadvantages of relying on a local, face-to-face personal tutor.

  • Intensive learning may not allow for peer group socializing.
  • As with classroom learning, you and/or your tutor have to travel to meet for the lessons.
  • There may be no suitable tutor in your neighborhood or they may be much too expensive.
  • You may not want your tutor coming to your home.
  • With young learners, parents may be anxious about the relationship with the tutor.
  • Individual personal lessons in Europe and North America are usually very expensive for the student but still do not always produce a professional income for the tutor.

Advantages of going to a Spanish-speaking country

  • Spanish is spoken all around you.
  • Routine daily events like shopping are language-learning opportunities.
  • The hard work of learning a language can be mixed with sports, entertainment and social activities.
  • You will learn more about the country, its people and culture.
  • Help with learning the target language is more readily available.

Disadvantages of going to a Spanish-speaking country to learn Spanish

  • You might not be able to afford the time to be away from home and work.
  • The cost of travel and accommodation may be too great.
  • Total immersion can be overwhelming, especially for beginners.
  • A monolingual local tutor may not appreciate the cultural and linguistic difficulties that you may be facing.
  • There is the danger of picking up some very local expressions instead of standard Spanish.

Overall: An excellent thing to do, especially for more advanced learners who have the time and money, and enjoy travelling.

Using Skype to learn Spanish the 121Spanish way

Online learning is a great way to achieve fluency in Spanish, especially with your very own teacher. You can learn quickly on a one to one basis. You can do this simply through Skype at pre-arranged times. The lesson is a live 55-minute video conference where you get detailed instruction that is going to accelerate your learning.

It is very economical because the cost of living is much lower in Latin America than in North America or Europe. One-to-one teaching by webcam and microphone means the tutor can give you undivided attention and adapt to your needs (instead of a notional class average or 'typical').

You can have your personal Spanish lessons in the comfort of your home - you can see and hear the tutor face to face even though you are thousands of miles or kilometers apart.

Your 121Spanish teacher of Spanish understands the difficulties that an English-speaker is likely to have when learning Spanish and sympathetically provides encouragement and carefully chosen ways of explaining things.

Using Skype, your learning has an immediacy and relevance to your individual needs.

You and your tutor can share the same learning material by using Google Docs.

You can schedule your lessons at times to suit your home and work commitments including the particular needs of shift workers.

What does 121Spanish offer?

  • Online Spanish lessons at a time and place to suit you.
  • Low cost - see our prices and discounts page.
  • Working at your own pace, building on your strengths and preferred learning styles.
  • Adaptable curriculum - you can ask your tutor to respond to you individual needs and interests.
  • Immediate feedback from your tutor who can see and hear you.
  • Sympathetic encouragement and high expectations from your tutors.
  • All 121Spanish Spanish tutors are professionally qualified teachers, not inexperienced people making some extra pocket money.