Top 5 Reasons Small Spanish Classes are Best
Let’s travel back in time—think about your Spanish classes from high school: How big were they? Did you feel like you got a lot of one-on-one time with the teacher? Were the classes personalized to your learning style and needs? If you were lucky enough to have small Spanish classes, then you probably learned faster and more efficiently!
In high school, my Spanish classes were huge; I almost never got time with the teacher to work on my pronunciation, and I rarely spoke Spanish in class at all. When I got to college, my Spanish class had eight students. Suddenly, I had opportunities to converse in Spanish all the time. My comprehension skills and fluency skyrocketed after just one semester!
Let’s look at the top 5 reasons why those small Spanish classes are so much more effective!
1. Individualized attention
When you spend time with a small group of people day after day, relationships naturally begin to develop. You might have experienced this with your coworkers or teammates; after spending a lot of time with the same people, you begin to learn more about them. The same thing happens in smaller classrooms. Without the pressure of making sure thirty kids understand the concept being taught, a teacher can truly get to know each student and help them wherever necessary.
As an English teacher myself, I can attest to the validity of this. I have had classes of over thirty kids – it is chaos. I quickly realized that I could not help each student towards fluency in English with that many kids vying for my attention. Once I had some helpers come and do group work with the kids, I was able to focus on smaller groups at a time and pinpoint what each student needed to work on.
In smaller groups, students also get more time (and possibly more confidence) to ask questions. Trying to keep a couple dozen students on task can take up the whole class time, not leaving any time for students to ask questions. With smaller class sizes, the students have that option to get clarification when they need it. This is incredibly important when learning such a complex topic as a language. There is often misinterpretation, exceptions to grammatical rules, and words with multiple meanings. To move towards fluency and completely understand the language, you need to be able to ask questions, preferably in a small class so the teacher has the capacity to fully answer your inquiries.
Secondly, speaking a language requires practice. This may seem obvious, but I rarely spoke Spanish in my high school class. From what I’ve heard from friends and coworkers, their high school Spanish classes were the same – little to no focus on speaking and pronunciation. This may have to do with the large class size and the teacher’s inability to work with each student individually on their pronunciation. In a small class, though, the teacher is able to take that time and work to perfect each person’s pronunciation.
2. Adapting curriculum
Like I said before, I was bored a lot in my high school classes. There was a lot of material that I found easy or repetitive, and it was not always taught in my learning style, which is visual. With large classes, teachers are forced to follow the given curriculum closely because they can’t make changes to accommodate thirty students – it’s just not feasible.
However, in small classes, the teacher can have a conversation with the students about how they learn best, what they already know, and what they would like to focus on. Thankfully, language learning can be very flexible. If the students want to focus on travel Spanish, they can still learn essential grammar and vocabulary, just with a focus on travel. It is very adaptable, and as such, should be taught with the students’ needs and learning style in mind.
The smaller the class size, the more accommodating the teacher can be. For example, if there is a chapter in the book that the whole class is already familiar with, the teacher can skip over it. If the students have a particular style of learning, the teacher can provide activities to accommodate them without worrying about boring the 20+ other students.
3. More confidence
Relationships are nurtured more in small groups. Once you have developed a friendship with someone, you feel more open and confident. The pressure to impress them or to hide your flaws is not as present as it may have been when you first met them. It is important to create that safe environment when learning a language.
Speaking another language can be incredibly intimidating. Even now, as a fluent Spanish speaker, I still trip over my words sometimes when I talk to someone who I want to impress. It’s the nerves. My mind goes blank, and it usually takes a couple of minutes for me to get in the groove of being comfortable again. If I’m being honest, this happens in English as well! This is completely natural, but it just shows how important it is to have a group you feel comfortable with when practicing a language. If you don’t know everybody in the class, or if you don’t feel comfortable talking in front of them, it will be detrimental to your budding conversational skills.
There are some language learners that have no qualms about making mistakes in front of people, but I have had so many English students not want to speak English because they were afraid of making mistakes. In my smaller classes, my students began to open up and soon lost their fear! Making mistakes is part of learning to speak a language, and you need to provide an environment where the students do not feel any pressure – preferably in a small class.
4. Community learning
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
If you have ever tried to learn Spanish with an app, you probably know that it is quite difficult to learn a language alone. While apps are fantastic supplemental tools, it is not the same as practicing with a real human being! There is also an advantage to learning in a group, or community, rather than one-on-one with someone. While you might get even more attention in a private class, a small language class gives you the companionship of people going through the same thing as you are. Learning a language is tough, and it’s a great tool to have someone to bounce ideas off of and practice with.
Having a small class also gives you the chance to do group projects. These can range from practice conversations to presentations to quizzing each other. There is often a respectful distance in the relationship between student and teacher, but those walls come down between students. They may feel more comfortable to practice with each other, ask questions among themselves, and encourage one another. In a bigger class, you may not feel comfortable with everyone you could get paired with, whereas with a smaller class it is more of a community of learners. This creates a healthier learning environment in which the students move quickly towards fluency.
5. More practice
This last reason why small language classes are the best summarizes everything we’ve already said. Because the students get individualized attention because the curriculum can be adapted to the students’ needs, because the students have more confidence to speak, and because the students learn in a community, they get more practice in the target language.
The students get the opportunity to practice their conversational skills while learning in the small community and working one-on-one with the teacher. In small groups, they have more confidence to speak and therefore practice conversing in another language without fear of making mistakes.
With fewer students in a classroom, the teacher has more time to devote to application activities such as games, fluency activities, projects, pronunciation exercises, and whatever topics the students need to review the most. In other words, the students get more time to practice the language they want to learn, which leads them to fluency much quicker than in larger classes.
Looking for a Small Spanish Class?
Now that we’ve reviewed why small language classes are the best, it’s time to sign up for one! Whether you are looking for classes for your child or for yourself, here at the Spanish Academy we have what you’re looking for! We offer individual classes, paired classes, and small group classes. You can learn more about us here, and feel free to sign up for a FREE trial class to see what the classes are like. ¡Aprendamos español juntos!
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