Over the past couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to devote part of my time towards teaching Spanish to a group of K-6 students at a local non-profit. It’s been interesting to see the ways that I’ve had to adapt my teaching methods from efficiency for adults to fun and kid-friendly for kids. But, through this, I’ve taken note of three ways that kids learn that I also think could help adults learn Spanish. I’m writing this because I’ve seen many of my adult students reach plateaus or experience a lull in their learning, and I believe that the following suggestions can help pull students out of a rut when needed.
Learn Spanish by Rewarding Yourself
Just recently, I surprised a couple my elementary students with candy after seeing them put in a notable amount of effort in class. Now, they all put in a little extra effort knowing that it might result in receiving a reward. I feel like we all remember getting rewards as kids whether it was after doing well on a test a school or after a long day of chores at home. Can you think back and remember the satisfaction of working hard to receive a reward and finally getting it? As adults, we don’t do this enough. We can have a tendency to keep pushing ourselves towards the final goal to learn Spanish without celebrating the milestones along the way. Unfortunately, this leads to burnout and keeps the fun out of learning.
You are worthy of a reward when you reach milestones in your Spanish learning journey. Quickly, creating a reward system for yourself will help sustain your learning journey. To do this, first write down a list of daily goals, weekly goals, and overall milestones. Next, simply write down a list of simple and more extravagant things that you enjoy and insert them into a reward system. Here’s an example: I will reward myself with a small piece of chocolate if I study my vocabulary list today. If I maintain my study schedule for the week, I will purchase an extra special coffee on Friday. Once I memorize how to conjugate all of the common irregular verbs, I will go to my favorite clothing store and buy something new.
Learn Spanish by Making Realistic Goals
If you’re struggling with what your daily goals, weekly goals, and milestones should be, this should help. When I lesson plan for the elementary students, everything is bite-sized. For example, this month, I’ve been focusing on calendar vocabulary. The first week, I taught them the numbers 1-31 and days of the week. The next week I reviewed the days of the week. The following week I taught them the months of the year. Instead of overwhelming them with everything all at once and expecting them to memorize it all, I made sure that what they were learning was manageable.
Many of my adult students tend to beat themselves up for not being where they want to be within an unrealistic time frame. But, the reality is that time is not going to run out. Forcing yourself to reach unrealistic goals is an endless cycle that results in burn out and then having to start all over once you recover. You will get much further and have a lot more fun learning Spanish if you learn at a sustainable, realistic pace. So, give yourself grace. A great way to ensure that you have a realistic goal is by creating a SMART goal.
Learn Spanish by Getting a Teacher
This goes without saying, but children need teachers. My role as a teacher for the elementary students is to guide them through learning Spanish while also making it fun. I can see their best path to learning and see their gaps. Even as an adult, the best way to learn Spanish is through a teacher. Don’t get me wrong…I love the apps and online programs that help you learn Spanish, and I believe they serve a great purpose as an entryway to learning. But, if you are wanting to get serious about learning Spanish, you also need a teacher(s) who can see where you are and take you further faster. It’s the obvious next step.
Having a Spanish teacher(s) means that you have the support, accountability, and resource that you need to reach your Spanish goals. You can even go a step further by signing up for a program with a language coach who will help you navigate the journey of learning. The awesome thing about teaching and coaching adults is that I have the opportunity to help those who want to learn. As a kid, you just take Spanish class because it is required of you, but as an adult, you get to choose to learn Spanish. Can I encourage you to choose to take your Spanish to the next level?
So there you have it! These three suggestions will truly give your Spanish learning journey a boost. Which one do you think is most helpful? Share in the comments below.
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