How Spanish language teachers make all the difference

In the time I’ve spent at AIL Madrid, I’ve come to appreciate that the school sees its teachers as the unsung heroes who make all the difference to us students on our Spanish language learning pathway. And I’ve really come to recognize the importance of guided learning and how native Spanish language teachers make all the difference. All the teachers at AIL Madrid are highly qualified, experienced native Spanish speakers, and they make sure that each lesson is educational, engaging, interactive and fun.  I can’t speak too highly of my teachers, and the manner in which they guide us through a wide variety of topics while doing their utmost to make sure that our Spanish lessons are a holistic balance of learning the Spanish language and culture, making friends with people from all over the world, and enjoying all aspects of our course.

In my opinion, the importance of choosing really professional and competent language instructors should be a key consideration when you’re choosing your Spanish language course. The importance of guided learning can’t be underestimated when it comes to making the right choice for yourself about learning Spanish at a language school in Spain.

Before coming to AIL Madrid, I’d learned a little Spanish in school and, in preparation, for my course, downloaded the Duolingo app, which has a good reputation for helping language students get to grips with some basic vocabulary, simple sentences, speaking exercises and grammar. But one of its biggest disadvantages is that Duolingo doesn’t allow for any kind of human interaction, so despite spending many hours using the app, I found out pretty quickly when I arrived at the school that much of what I’d learned from Duolingo made my spoken Spanish sound very unnatural and forced. So, it wasn’t long before I came to appreciate the real importance of guided learning, real face-to-face human interaction, and full immersion in the Spanish language that can only successfully take place in the classroom under the guidance of great teachers.

So, when I was asked to write about my experience of learning Spanish at AL Madrid, I thought I’d try to explain how structured guided learning really does make all the difference.

My teachers are really gifted at forming strong connections with all of the students at the school. We learn best when we feel relaxed, listened to, and are having a good time in class.  All of my teachers at AIL Madrid promote an interactive, communicative teaching approach that helps us to express ourselves in Spanish and not feel silly when we make silly mistakes (which I do all the time!) The teachers all seem to care deeply about every single student and this in turn has enabled me to feel valued, confident, and chilled out in my classes, with my newfound friends, and when I’m out and about in Madrid speaking Spanish to locals.

Passion: the teachers are really passionate about teaching Spanish to international language students, which hasn’t been my experience of many learning institutions! This passion is infectious and has filled me with the same levels of passion for learning Spanish as they clearly feel for teaching it. Seems to me that passion and enthusiasm are contagious, and the teachers go above and beyond in ensuring that classes are education focused, inspiring, stimulating, and full of laughter. My teachers celebrate our successes as if they were their own and this, to me, shows the importance of guided learning and how great Spanish language teachers make all the difference.

Interactive student participation: The teachers at AIL have a real gift for drawing the best out of us. Some of my fellow students are less extrovert and confident when it comes to speaking up in class than others. However, the guidance and support that we all receive, is one of the key areas where guided learning really makes a difference. In my class, we’re all pretty much at the same level in terms of our Spanish, and this is because the teachers make sure that no student is ever left behind.

Progressive teaching leads to better student outcomes.  Only a few years ago, the primary method of teaching a new language would focus on memorisation. But thankfully this isn’t the approach adopted by AIL Madrid. The modern teaching methods at the school, based on the Common European Framework of Reference of Languages (CEFR) means that we receive constant positive feedback, with the emphasis being on classroom activities that focus on all-round Spanish language acquisition as well as learning about Spanish history and culture. In class, speaking Spanish and activities designed to help us do so are considered every bit as important as grammar drills as they help to promote natural, free flowing conversation that’s geared to the real world. Under the guidance of our teacher, all learning focusses on the principles of promoting collaboration, fluency, and rapid progression in learning Spanish and this shows the importance of guided learning and how Spanish language teachers make all the difference.

I’d say without hesitation that guided learning is the single most important element in learning Spanish or any other language comes to that. As I’ve mentioned, there are many apps that offer fairly empty promises that you can achieve fluency in a language without the need of a face-to-face tutor. In my experience, this just isn’t the case. Apps can be a handy supplement to face-to-face teaching, but it’s only thanks to the guidance of professional, highly competent, passionate, native Spanish language teachers that my Spanish has improved so much and so quickly. In my opinion, guided learning is the essential ingredient in helping me learn Spanish and the brilliant teachers at AIL Madrid have made all the difference!

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