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How to Stop Wasting Your Money & Time on Language Lessons

February 21, 2023

How to Stop Wasting Your Money & Time on Language Lessons

Are language lessons worth the money, or should you learn another way? French tutor Jinky B.  shares her tips here… 

Learning a new language can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be expensive and time-consuming. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself wasting money and time on lessons that don’t actually help you learn the language. 

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your language lessons. 

How Often Should I Take Language Lessons?

Depending on your goals, you may want to take language lessons every day, several times a week, or just once a week. Here are a few things to consider:

  • If you’re trying to learn a new language for work or travel, you’ll need to devote more time to it than if you’re simply trying to improve your conversational skills. 
  • Daily classes or private tutoring sessions may be necessary to make rapid progress. 
  • But if you’re not under any time pressure, once-a-week classes may be sufficient. 
  • The most important thing is to be consistent in your studies and to find a schedule that works for you. 

With enough practice and exposure, you can learn any language – it just takes time and commitment. Remember, language lessons can be invaluable – you’ll learn all kinds of fun new facts and skills for your new language, including what you see in the video below: 

What Makes a Good Language Lesson?

Thinking about taking a language class or working individually with a language tutor for French, Spanish, or another language? With so many resources available these days, it can be a daunting task to pick the right way to learn. And it’s no secret that signing up for private language tutoring is usually one of the pricier options.

Aspiring learners often ask, “Are language lessons worth it, or are they a waste of money? Do they even work?”

Here’s the thing: while private lessons can be more expensive than using a free app online, the benefits of individual lessons can pay back tenfold.

Yes, those language lessons can be a waste of money — if you’re not taking learning seriously. That’s true regardless of whether you are taking Spanish language lessons, French language lessons, sign language lessons, German language lessons, or some other type of language lessons entirely.

Language lessons and classes work — if you put in the effort.

In order to reach your language learning goals, here are five things you can do to better maximize your progress and not waste your money.

1. Determine your objectives and goals.

Let’s take a French student, for example. Why do you want to learn French? Do you have an upcoming ski trip to the French Alps? Are you moving to the south of France for graduate school? Do you want to perfect the French accent?

Decide the reason for your language lessons. Saying that you want to become fluent is too broad of an objective. Narrow down the specifics. When you’re on the ski trip, would you like to be able to talk to the ski instructors about une piste (a ski trail)? For your move for graduate school, would you like to be able to carry on a 30-minute conversation with a colleague about the lesson?

With your final objective in mind, this is why private lessons are so much more effective than other learning methods. Together with your tutor, you can break your objective down into manageable (and measurable) goals. Then, he or she will know exactly how to organize your time together. Reaching your goals and seeing the direct outcome of the money you’ve spent will help you understand that your lessons were worth it!

2. Practice every day.

Most students take language lessons once a week, but you’ll also need to commit to practicing on your own — every day. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to take up a ton of time, and you can even incorporate it into your daily life. If you like to drink a cup of coffee every morning, for example, use that 15 to 20 minutes while drinking your coffee to go over any new words or phrases that your teacher introduced that week.

If you’re not setting aside this time each day, you risk forgetting the information you’ve learned, which can set you back. Make the most of your money by committing yourself to at least 15 minutes every day. At your next lesson, your tutor will review your progress — and you’ll get direct feedback and corrections so you stay on track.

3. Make that practice time efficient.

Many students balance language lessons with work and other responsibilities — so the trick is to make sure the time you are spending on practice is efficient! For vocabulary in particular, the best way to learn is through rote memorization. Flashcards are a great way to do this: each week, create new flashcards using the new vocabulary words you’ve learned, with a picture on one side and the word on the other side. With this method, it’s best to not write out the English translation on the card, so that you’re training yourself to recognize your target language. Here’s an example for a French vocabulary word:

Apple Flashcard - French vocab

4. Talk out loud.

Another one of the biggest benefits to working with a tutor is having someone to talk to in your target language, who can also correct any mistakes you’re making. Staring at vocabulary words alone isn’t going to make you fluent. Instead, you need real-time conversation practice, and that’s what your language lessons and classes are for.

However, you should also be talking out loud when you’re practicing on your own. Pronounce each word as you review your flashcards, and with longer words, tap each syllable out. The more you actually speak the language, the better progress you’ll make.

Also, try to start conversations in your target language when you’re out and about! Here are 20 conversational Spanish phrases, and 25 conversational French phrases to get you started. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also find a local or online language learning group to practice with!

5. Review and prepare for your lessons.

Lastly, to really make the most of your language lessons, make a habit of properly preparing for them. During the week as you’re reviewing what you’ve learned, note items that you have difficulty mastering (pronunciation, grammar rules, translations, etc.). This way, you’ll have a list handy to go over with your tutor during the next lesson — which is exactly what they’re there for!

Your tutor will prepare lesson plans with your objectives and goals in mind, however, it’s important to communicate any obstacles that may be hindering the learning process. In the end, you’re the one in charge.

Language Lessons Online vs. In Person

There are many options available for those looking to learn a new language. For some, the most convenient option is to take lessons online. This can be a great option for those who have a busy schedule or who live in a rural area. 

However, there are also some benefits to taking language lessons in person. One benefit is that you can get immediate feedback from your instructor. This can be helpful if you are having trouble with a particularly difficult concept. 

There is also the opportunity to practice your conversation skills with other students in class. This can help you become more confident when speaking the language. 

Ultimately, the best option for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences.

How Often Should I Have a Language Tutor?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including your level of proficiency, your goals, and your schedule. If you are a beginner, you may want to have weekly tutoring sessions in order to make rapid progress. 

However, if you are more advanced, you may only need a tutor once or twice a month. Likewise, if you are solely focused on learning conversational skills, you may not need as much intensive tutoring as someone who is preparing for an exam. 

Ultimately, the frequency of your language tutoring sessions should be based on your individual needs and goals.

Is Getting a Language Tutor Worth It?

When it comes to language learning, everyone knows that practice makes perfect. But what’s the best way to practice? Some people swear by Duolingo, others prefer to watch foreign films. And then there are those who believe that the only way to truly learn a language is to get a tutor. 

So, is getting a language tutor worth it? 

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.

On the plus side, language tutors can provide personalized attention and focus on your specific needs. They can also help you to develop a better understanding of the grammar and structure of the language you’re trying to learn. 

Additionally, they can provide valuable insights into the culture and customs associated with the language. On the downside, language tutors can be expensive, and they may not always be available when you need them. Additionally, they may not be able to provide the same level of speaking practice as a native speaker.

So, should you get a language tutor? 

Ultimately, the decision is up to you. If you’re looking for customized attention and want to accelerate your learning, then a tutor may be a good option. However, if you’re on a budget or looking for more flexibility, then other methods may be more helpful. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re like most people, you want to learn a new language. And if you’re like most people, you don’t have the time or money to waste on ineffective methods. 

So there you have it: five tips for NOT wasting your time and money on language lessons. And in the future when you’re speaking in your target language with others — whether you’re on vacation, at your job, or meeting with new friends and family — you’ll realize that was money well-spent!

Make the move and commit to learning with a trained and experienced tutor who not only speaks another language, but wants to share their love for languages. Good luck!

Photo by Luka Knezevic – Strika

Post Author: Jinky B.
Jinky B. teaches French and ESL in Jacksonville, FL. She has her Bachelor’s of Arts in French, French Literature and Psychology from Florida State University and has over five years of teaching experience. Learn more about Jinky B. here!

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