Interested in learning Spanish? As you’re deciding between in-person and online Spanish lessons, consider these points by Fairfax, CA tutor Jason N...
Spanish continues to gain traction as the undisputed second language of California, and the United States for that matter. In the next decades, Spanish could even become the most commonly spoken language in this country. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Los Angeles, California, for example, is 53% Latin American and growing. That means that if you’re Caucasian or born in this country, you could be an English-speaking minority in the near future!
So clearly you want to learn Spanish, but you are busy with children, work, family relationships, and many other competing demands on your time. Maybe you are a college student and don’t have time or space in your schedule to take a Spanish class. Maybe you may have tried mobile applications to learn Spanish, but have noticed that you learn best with a live human tutor rather than through an app.
A couple months ago, I wrote a blog about what to look for in a tutor, where I underscored seven key traits of an effective tutor, which was written assuming that you meet with your tutor in person. In this day and age in 2015, as technology increases in effectiveness, increases in use, and becomes progressively commonplace, many people are seeking tutors via Skype. The global market of “Skype tutors” continues to grow by the day. Consequently, for a myriad of reasons, you may be considering Skype Spanish lessons. Here, I underscore four points to consider before deciding to take Skype Spanish lessons.
1. Skype lessons are often cheaper
Maybe you are interested in private Spanish lessons but don’t have the budget to regularly meet with a private tutor, and have realized that Skype lessons can be a cheaper or more convenient option. Let’s be honest: private, in-person Spanish lessons can be expensive. Skype lessons can very well be a cheaper option. Many Skype tutors charge around $10 per hour lesson, when the average Spanish tutor in this country charges between $20 and $100 per hour.
2. Spanish via Skype can be convenient
Often we are too busy to fit in another outside activity. Undoubtedly, meeting with a tutor via Skype enables you to have the personal live tutor experience without having to leave your house or invite a tutor into your home whom you don’t know yet. It’s important to shop around first and find a great match. TakeLessons has a network of instructors who offer live Spanish lessons online via video chat.
3. Consider the technology
Despite the two benefits above, speaking from three years of experience tutoring Spanish usually in person and seldom by Skype, I strongly believe that learning is enhanced when the tutor explains and writes key words down on paper or in a textbook with you next to him or her, to facilitate learning. While Skype has a convenient screen-sharing option, it can be easily compromised by not being able to see your tutor’s face and hand gestures as he/she explains to you what they are demonstrating on the screen. This makes it similar to a short YouTube video lesson, which is not worth paying for or scheduling.
4. Key pitfalls
There are undoubtedly pitfalls to learning Spanish via Skype. These include:
- Interruptions can be a lot more frequent than if the lesson were live. Having a regular Skype Spanish student, I’ve grown accustomed to the inevitable bad Internet connection on either or both sides, which can be frustrating and disrupt the flow of the lesson.
- As I stated above, it is harder to teach conjugation and the nuances of the many and complex irregular verbs in Spanish. Screen sharing can only do so much.
- It is hard to teach pronunciation across a screen, for example where to place tongue while pronouncing Spanish words that end in L, and how that differs from English.
- Just like the visual pixel resolution is particularly superior in-person than on an iPhone 6, for example, the hearing ‘resolution’ is undoubtedly better in person. Have you compared the difference of a drum set and electronic drums? The electronic sounds will never sound as pure.
In conclusion, Skype Spanish lessons can be an attractive option depending on your specific needs, preferences, and life situation, while you don’t lose touch of the pitfalls. Skype lessons can be a cheaper, convenient, and unique adjunct to successful second-language learning. That said, based on my experience of learning Spanish in other countries, I’ve come to believe human contact in person is an indelible part of learning a language. Click here to find a tutor in your area!
Readers, what do you think? Have you tried taking Skype Spanish lessons? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!
Jason N. tutors in English and Spanish in Fairfax, CA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis, lived in Mexico for 3 years where he completed a Master’s degree in Counseling, and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica. Learn more about Jason here!
Photo by Mattias Frenn