Choose your language learning materials wisely…

You’re all set up to enjoy your first Spanish lesson or a lesson in another language you have always dreamed of speaking.

You might have been planning for this moment for some time now and you finally took the plunge and signed up for a course in Spanish/French/Japanese/ Italian/ Basque, etc. (The possibilities seem endless!)

And that’s great, but there a few minor details you could think about first.

Choose your language learning materials wisely.

Language learning materials come in a whole range of people and items.

  • The tutor or teacher you decide to go with:

There are four types of tutors you could hire to help you speak the language of your dreams ( your ‘Target language’).

a) Native speaker of your ‘Target language’ who offers to help you learn.

b) Native speaker of your ‘Target language’ who is a trained, qualified teacher of their own language.

c) Very Fluent speaker of the Target language, someone who has learned the language themselves, like you are learning, and who offers to help you learn.

d) Very Fluent speaker of the Target language, who has learned the language like you are learning, and then trained and qualified to teach your Target language.

There is no one tutor or teacher who can give you everything you want or need in your language learning.

If you are determined to get to at least a conversational level in your ‘Target language’ you will need to be determined and committed to your quest.

Along your language journey you will meet all types of ‘tutors and teachers ‘ and other ‘randoms’ who will help you on your way.

Take what they all have to offer and use it for your language learning.


  • Class style you choose to join

A language teacher has limited time and limited resources. I really do know this!

I remember when I first started out teaching languages in a small private Academy in Spain, quite a few years ago. This was an Academy catering for after-school and after-work learners of English.

The owner of the Academy,  Juan María, wasn’t a teacher himself, but he had jumped onto the bandwagon of the increase in demand of evening language classes that were becoming very popular in the eighties in Spain.

These ‘Academies’ were springing up all over Spain at the time and he wanted a slice of the pie.

Juan María kept things simple.  He handed me my timetable and told me to get on with it. You are  qualified, right? So you can do this, right?


Beginners  at  5 pm;

Lower Intermediate at 6 pm;

Intermediate at 7 pm;

Upper Intermediate at 8 pm;

Advanced/ Conversation  at 9


(He actually attended the Intermediate class at 7 pm in order to brush up his rusty English. Imagine teaching your boss the very thing  that he is paying you to teach his customers…it was very nerve-wracking but we got through it! )

I could tell things weren’t going to go so smoothly on the first day of class.

As way of example:

Beginners: 8 students = 2 eight year-olds,  1 ten year-old, 1 eleven year-old, 2 fifteen year-olds (who were friends from school), a 30 something year-old female bank manager and a 50 something year-old waiter.

Seriously? Where could I go with that mélange?

quijote page
Perhaps “Don Quijote ” would be a bit too much for you at the moment?
  • Course  Materials the teacher has already chosen.

Which course book could possible be appropriate in topic and vocabulary to meet the needs of such a disparate, unfortunate grouping?

So, to cut a long story short (oh, what a relief, I hear you say), I was challenged, very challenged, because the same story repeated itself in the other 4 groups of learners I had to battle with.

You have to admit, as a 50 something year-old waiter who needs to learn English to attend clients in a restaurant, you are not going to relate too well to examples of sentences in a textbook where the context is a sixteen-year-old lad asking the girl he’s had a crush on for three months to go to the school prom.

But the same goes for  a sixteen-year-old lad who won’t be able to relate to a coursebook with references to the international banking system and the “pros and contras” of investing on Wall Street.

Although diversity and diversification is to be honoured, applauded and celebrated at all times, you have to remember you are probably now trying to take the fast-track to speaking your Target Language.

You have to be smart. You have to be wise.

If you are planning to join a physical group a few times a week, that’s marvellous. You will meet other people who share your dream and also want to learn a new language. But perhaps that’s where the similarity ends.

Ensure that the teacher, course/method  and the materials to be used are in accordance with what you need to get started on your language journey. You have no time to lose. You must start now!

Because it IS a journey, an exciting journey.

Don’t get disheartened too soon and give up.

You really WILL be able to speak the language you want to speak, but nothing so big and fabulous comes easy, obviously, otherwise we would ALL be doing it!

Language is special.

Language is massive.

Language is life.

I hope this helps.

Please let me know how I could help YOU with your dream of learning Spanish by leaving a comment below.

For more advice on starting your language learning course now, see the link below.

September’s here! It’s time to enrol for that language you’ve always wanted to learn.


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