Teri Marin

A Brief Guide to Teaching Spanish for Beginners

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Why is Spanish one of the best languages for you to teach? It’s certainly one of the most popular languages spoken across the planet. A 2018 survey showed that Spanish was by far and away the most popular choice for potential learners. It is the official tongue of more than 20 countries, and many businesses see it as an advantage for employees to speak Spanish. This means that, even as you start teaching Spanish, your services could be in demand. 

 Whether you choose to teach in a classroom, or via an online platform such as Preply, there’s a few things you’ll need to know to help make your career a success. 

Be Mindful of the Mechanics

There are some key skills needed in order to teach Spanish to beginners successfully. Perhaps the most important one is the mechanics of the language.

Spanish isn’t spoken – or written – in precisely the same way as English. Before you start loading your pupil with new vocabulary or sending them out to order food in the language, they need to understand how to say the words and phrases. 

This is something that adults can find challenging. Having spent their lives pronouncing combinations of letters in a specific way, getting to grips with the Spanish approach can take some getting used to. This needs to be among the first skills you engage them with. 

 Demonstrate to them how accents in the written word affect the stress of the spoken word, encourage them to roll their Rs confidently, explain that an “ll” in a word is pronounced as “Y”. These things that seem obvious to the long term linguist can trip up the newcomer. Give them the groundwork to make progress!

Give Your Pupils a Taste of the Spanish Lifestyle

You can use a variety of techniques when planning how to teach Spanish. One thing that is always true is that you’ll be more successful if you immerse your students in the language. This doesn’t mean that you need to get them on a plane to Mexico and force them into interactions! You can inject little tastes of hispanic culture into their lessons, or assign them extracurricular activities.

 Read a book together. There are many great novels to choose which will help you to teach in Spanish – whether it’s a classic such as Don Quixote, or a modern thriller. For beginners you may want to build slowly by discussing content from Spanish news websites, or celebrity gossip pages. Find something that is within their interests and they’ll be more willing to engage with the exercise. 

 Spanish language movies are widely accessible. Whether you encourage them to head to their local arthouse cinema, or use a streaming service, there’s a wealth of Hispanic stories being told in all genres. Discuss the movies they watch in your next lesson, and set them challenges to see how much they understand without subtitles.  

 Introduce your student to great Latina/Latino songsmiths, get them to sing along to their favourites. The point is, bring some culture to their learning experience! 

There’s No Better Teacher than Experience

When you’re trying to understand how to teach someone Spanish, it’s helpful to know their motives. That said, whether they’re hoping to get ahead in business or have a better vacation, it usually boils down to the same goal: confidently engage in conversations. 

 Your pupil is really relying on you to ensure your teaching methods will help them communicate effectively. It’s essential that as often as possible you find ways for them to have conversations that use the knowledge that you’ve been passing on to them. 

 The conversations they have with you during their lessons are fine to begin with. But Spanish teaching doesn’t end when your lesson is over. Do some research, help them find an online forum or social platform where they can make friends to have conversations with outside of lessons. If you’re planning a lesson around food vocabulary and grammar for ordering, also see if there’s an authentic Spanish restaurant in your student’s local area, and encourage them not only to order food but make conversation with the waiting staff. 

 Nothing will get your student to progress faster than actually using the language you’re teaching them. You have the power to not just provide them with knowledge, but also guide them toward experiences. Make sure they know that it’s okay to make mistakes, to stumble a little through difficult vocabulary – when they emerge from each new engagement they’ll be more confident. 

Develop Your Approach and Open New Doors for Students!

Each teacher has their own approach. Yes, there are essentials to cover, but soon you’ll understand how to teach Spanish to adults in your own personal style. Whether you plan on joining an established school, or going it alone online, remember that you are offering something fantastic. You’re giving your students the keys to discover new and exciting experiences. 


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