12 Things Effective Spanish Teachers Do Differently
Who was your favorite teacher ever?
Why? Why do you remember them? What made them so special?
I was lucky enough to meet at least one great teacher in every stage of my education.
Later, I became a teacher myself and tried to imitate what I liked best. I had to build a team on many occasions and choose and hire staff members. I quickly learned that a stellar resumé and an impressive portfolio do not necessarily equal an outstanding educator.
Keep reading to discover the characteristics of great Spanish teachers. You’ll discover that you’re already doing many things right and get helpful ideas on how to become even better!
Do you need support in your Spanish classroom?
Homeschool Spanish Academy provides 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 online Spanish classes for K-12 students.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What Is an Effective Teacher?
- What Do Effective Spanish Teachers Do Differently?
- How HSA Can Support Your Classroom
What Is an Effective Teacher?
Currently, I have brilliant teachers with numerous degrees and certificates on my team, but they struggle with effectiveness. Their students feel unprepared for major exams and that they don’t progress as fast as they could.
I also have some young teachers with much less impressive education backgrounds and work experience, and students don’t want to leave their classrooms.
Graduating from a prestigious teaching university and landing a job in a big-name school doesn’t make you a great teacher. It’s important to understand the difference between “highly qualified” and “highly effective.”
“Highly qualified” refers to how well teachers understand their content and is often measured by their education and work experience.
“Highly effective,” however, is a different way of thinking as it moves toward the focus on a teacher’s performance with students and their progress in learning.
Nobody wants to be an ineffective Spanish teacher.
What Do Effective Spanish Teachers Do Differently?
What makes an effective Spanish teacher, then? What do you need to do? How shall you behave? Let me share with you some tried-and-true behaviors and characteristics that we can all strive to imitate.
1. They Challenge and Motivate
Effective Spanish teachers challenge and motivate their students.
Language students are only successful if they study with materials that are slightly above their level. If you want your students to succeed, present them with challenging tasks to provoke natural learning strategies such as guessing the words from context and inferring meaning.
Handpicked for you: The Most Critical Ingredient in Learning Spanish: Comprehensible Input
The motivational aspect is also key. Students succeed only if they believe they can. Students who aren’t motivated won’t learn anything.
2. They Are Creative
Effective teachers provide creative stimuli for their students.
I will always remember my college Spanish teacher who would come dressed up to our classes according to the vocabulary topic we were studying. Believe me, seeing her as a torero (bullfighter) and explaining all the corrida-related vocabulary will be engraved in my memory forever.
I was always looking forward to her classes and 20 years later, I still find her teaching methods effective.
3. They Are Empathetic
Students are not learning machines and an effective Spanish teacher is able to understand the ups and downs they may be going through.
If a good student suddenly does not bring their homework or does poorly on an assessment, a bit of human touch and an empathetic approach is called for.
An effective teacher knows when to slow down and wait for their students to be ready for the lesson.
4. They Are Enthusiastic
If you don’t like your subject, if you’re not enthusiastic about it, your students will hardly learn it.
Enthusiasm is contagious and you need to believe that what you teach is the most exciting and useful thing in life.
Don’t ever tell them, “it’s not very useful but we need to study it.” It’s a recipe for failure.
5. They Are Fair
Students lose interest and motivation if they see their teachers acting in favor of some students or evaluating them unfairly. What’s the point of studying if your grade does not depend on what you do?
Be fair, no matter what. We’re only human, and it’s natural that there will always be students that we like more than the others, but nobody needs to know it, right?
6. They Are Inclusive
Not all students learn with ease. Some students are linguistically more talented than others and will progress more quickly. It’s easy to focus on the quick learners, as they seem to be proof of the effectiveness of our teaching methods.
They’re actually not. Some people learn new things no matter what and no matter the teacher.
Your effectiveness is measured by the whole-class results and especially by the results and progress of students who struggle with the subject and learning.
7. They Are Open to Long-Term Goals
An effective Spanish teacher is open to long-term goals and plans their curriculum accordingly. Just like we ask students to look for long-term motivation, teachers should also see beyond the current unit or lesson.
What do you want to achieve with your students? What’s the final goal? Know it yourself, plan accordingly, and inform your students to get them excited and motivated.
8. They Are Ambitious
Effective teachers are lifelong learners. Always moving, upgrading their skills, and looking for innovative solutions.
A great teacher needs to continue growing. Attend at least one course or workshop per year. Learn something new, and give a boost to your teaching methods.
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9. They’re Reflective
In my unit plans, I always leave a space for a reflection in the middle of the unit, during teaching, and another one after I finish the unit.
Ask yourself what resources are proving useful, what other things you need, and what to adjust or change. What should you change and do differently? What went wrong?
You’ll only be an effective Spanish teacher if you’re able to learn from your mistakes.
10. They’re Student-Centered
Do you remember language classes from the past? A teacher would sit behind the desk, and dictate the content that the students have to repeat and memorize.
If you want to be an effective Spanish teacher, forget about teacher-centered classes. Even if you’re the best performer and your students love watching and hearing you, they should be the protagonists. They should read, sing songs, and act things out. They learn by doing, experiencing, and practicing over and over again.
11. They Have a Sense of Humor
Laughter has numerous positive effects on your body and brain. When you laugh, your brain releases various hormones that make you feel relaxed. It reduces stress and bonds people together.
Humor is not just to keep students’ attention. It has positive effects on teachers themselves as it reduces stress and prevents burnout. However, students tend to engage more easily in a low-stress environment.
Don’t overdo it. You certainly don’t have to be a class clown!
Start a lesson with a joke, show a funny meme, or put a funny song on. Anything works.
- How to Be Funny in Spanish: 10 Knee-Slapping, Good-Humored Jokes
- How to Use ‘Quien’ in Spanish (and Make Better Jokes)
12. They’re Optimistic
Remember I told you that your students need to be motivated. Same with you. You need to be optimistic about the outcome of your classes. There’s nothing that cannot be solved; you just need to find the way.
A simple phrase like, “Hey, we can do it” sends a message to your students that everything is possible and that you’re on their side.
Read these interesting studies that provide more information on how to increase your effectiveness.
Do You Need Support In Your Classroom?
I’m sure that you’re already doing many of the things mentioned in this article. And the fact that you clicked on an article on how to be an effective Spanish teacher tells me that you’re doing things well. Remember that nobody is perfect, but we can always get better!
Spanish is the fourth most spoken language in the world. Your students will be able to communicate more easily with people around them if they master it. As a Spanish teacher, you can provide them with life-enriching tools.
Do you need support in your classroom? Homeschool Spanish Academy provides 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 online Spanish classes for K-12 students. We help alleviate the difficulty of having many students of varying levels of performance. Check out our school solutions options for group classes and sign up for a free trial class to give us a try today!
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“HSA offers very affordable, quality, one on one classes with a native speaker. My son has greatly benefited from taking classes. We have seen his confidence increase as well as his pronunciation improve, because he learns from a native Spanish speaker. HSA has quick, personal customer service. Our family has been very pleased with our experience so far!”
– Erica P. Parent of 1
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