Unless you re very lucky, your tutor won t actually be a teacher. What that means is that you ll end up being the Spanish teacher. That s right. You re supposed to be the student, but in this case, you ll need to be both a learner and the teacher. But you re headed in the right direction if your tutor is a native Spanish speaker. And your job will be to get that native speaker knowledge out of their head and into yours. Remember, most likely they have no idea how to get that information to you; therefore you must devise ways to utilize your tutor.
Don t come with questions, they probably can t tell you the why something is like it is. But they can tell you what is right and what is wrong. Consider writing some sentences in Spanish and having the tutor correct them. Just don t expect to get an explanation as to why a sentence is wrong. Figuring out why it s wrong will, most likely, be your job.
When you set up time with the tutor, decide what you would like to work on. There are four different kinds of lessons:
- Language production
- Understanding written material
- Understanding oral material
Pronunciation lessons are only about intonation, proper consonant and vowel sounds, etc. Do not confuse these lessons with those meant to focus on understanding. When you are reading something out loud, you are only concentrating on how to say it and not on what something is saying.
Producing language is when you either write something or say something. The focus of these lessons is to communicate ideas. Tell your tutor to only correct you if the intent of the utterance is not understandable. This is not the time to focus on grammar; only focus on whether or not the native speaker understood your intention.
Lessons that focus on the understanding of written or oral material are not about dissecting sentences or on covering vocabulary words. They should focus on the whole and whether or not you understood the intention of the material.
You may be wondering where grammar lessons should come in. You can study grammar with textbooks and online applications by yourself. Don t waste the time with your tutor on learning structure or spelling or where to put accents.
When you have an appointment with your tutor, come with something to read. Remember, you re paying this person and if they forgot to bring something, you want the meeting to be productive. With the reading material, you can do these things with the tutor:
- Have the tutor read a passage in Spanish you haven t read while you take dictation. This means you re listening to a native speaker and you have to understand it well enough to write it down. It s a great way to learn.
- Read the passage out loud in Spanish and have the tutor correct your pronunciation.
- Read the passage BEFORE the tutor comes, then have the tutor read the passage and the two of you can discuss it. Make sure that before you discuss the article you have really understood the article. Explain to your tutor what the article means.
To better your understanding of the language, have the tutor give you commands. Ask the tutor to explain to you how to do a dance step, for example. Not show you, but orally explain where to put your feet. This will really help you with words like right, left, forward, backward, etc.
Most of all, have fun with your tutor!