Learning Spanish Part 10 The Benefits Of Attending Spanish Classes Instead Of Self Study

There is​ no reason​ why anybody shouldn’t be able to​ learn Spanish by themselves without having to​ attend language classes or​ take private lessons. There are certainly ample learning resources in​ the form of​ textbooks or​ online material that can guide you​ through the entire learning experience. The question​ is​ which method of​ learning works best for​ you! in​ this​ article I explain​ why I decided to​ attend classes at​ a​ Spanish school in​ Guatemala even though I had previously studied most of​ the material they were about to​ cover via some form of​ self-study!

After spending about a​ month or​ so in​ Mexico I decided it​ was time to​ head further South into Guatemala via Belize. Mexico was my first experience of​ being in​ a​ Spanish speaking country and​ trying to​ communicate using the Spanish I had learnt from a​ text book back in​ the UK. Not only was the Spanish I learnt in​ Mexico invaluable but the entire experience taught me a​ lot about different learning methods and​ in​ particular the benefits of​ learning via cultural immersion.

Although I had done some previous self-study in​ the UK one of​ the biggest problems I encountered when trying to​ communicate in​ Spanish in​ Mexico was not knowing enough vocabulary and​ not being able to​ structure my sentences properly. I was putting words together but in​ the wrong order or​ I was using verbs in​ the completely wrong tense, or​ just using a​ verb in​ its infinitive form because I didn’t know any better!

These are some of​ the reasons why I decided that I needed to​ do some repeat studying. I basically felt that I had forgotten a​ lot of​ the things I had previously studied! this​ type of​ problem is​ of​ course a​ very common​ one. Nobody can be expected to​ learn and​ retain​ absolutely everything they have studied. to​ forget things is​ completely normal!

There are many reasons why we might forget the things we learn. Many of​ these reasons stem from bad learning techniques. I talked about some of​ these things in​ more detail in​ an​ earlier article, but generally speaking using a​ variety of​ techniques (written, oral and​ listening), and​ using different types of​ quizzes and​ exercises generally works better than just reading from a​ textbook.

One of​ the things I could have done was to​ spend more time each day by myself with my head in​ a​ book going over Spanish grammar and​ trying to​ learn and​ remember more Spanish words. Even though I could have used a​ number of​ different techniques to​ best achieve this, the idea still wasn’t very appealing! Something that was much more appealing and​ logical, especially as​ I was already immersing myself in​ Latin​ American culture was to​ attend classes at​ a​ Spanish school run by local Spanish speaking teachers.

I am not suggesting that attending language classes will work better than self-study. as​ I said before this​ really depends on​ the individual! There are however some real benefits of​ having someone teach you​ Spanish face to​ face rather than trying to​ learn entirely by yourself.

The obvious advantage of​ being taught by a​ real person​ is​ that a​ person​ can talk back to​ you​ and​ answer your​ questions if​ you​ don’t understand​ something. a​ real teacher can explain​ things in​ more than one way or​ in​ a​ way that makes you​ understand​ better. Textbooks cannot change the way they explain​ things based on​ who it​ is​ that is​ reading the book!

Another great advantage of​ being taught by a​ real person​ is​ that you​ can put what you​ have learnt, into practice immediately. you​ can get instant feedback on​ whether or​ not you​ have understood something correctly.

Although it​ is​ not essential, being taught by a​ teacher that is​ a​ native speaker of​ Spanish can also be an​ advantage! this​ isn’t because they will necessarily know more, or​ be better teachers. Actually it​ is​ often the opposite! Native speakers of​ Spanish might know less. They can tell you​ how the language should be spoken without thinking about it​ but they might not be able to​ explain​ to​ you​ why it​ is​ spoken in​ the way that it​ is! this​ is​ because they don’t need to​ understand​ the grammar that underpins the language. They just speak it​ naturally! of​ course any good Spanish teacher whether a​ native speaker or​ not should be able to​ teach you​ Spanish grammar.

Being taught by a​ native Spanish speaking teacher means you​ can practice listening to​ how the language is​ actually spoken! Listening is​ a​ very important part of​ the entire study process and​ the more accustomed you​ get to​ hearing real Spanish the better.

The Spanish language school I decided to​ go to​ was situated in​ Antigua, Guatemala. My choice of​ school was dictated by location​ more than anything. it​ was the obvious choice after leaving Mexico! I had read that not only was Antigua a​ good place to​ study Spanish but it​ also offered a​ rich colonial history and​ was surrounded by several volcanoes, one of​ which (Pacaya), was continually active and​ could be visited via a​ guided tour.

Antigua is​ home to​ a​ number of​ different well-established Spanish schools that are geared towards teaching Spanish to​ foreigners. The specific school that I chose in​ the end was larger than some of​ the others and​ was able to​ provide accommodation​ and​ different guided tours as​ part of​ the entire study package.

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