Bilingual is Better

Why You Should Find An Online Spanish Tutor: Pros & Cons

My husband and I don’t speak Spanish, but we still wanted our three kids to speak it. After years of searching for a good option (babysitters, playgroups, learning groups, etc.) we finally settled on having them learn Spanish through tutoring. We searched nearby cities (our town is tiny: only 1,141 people) and tried several teachers, but we were not satisfied with the return: after long hours of driving to the lessons, our son did not progress beyond the point of basic counting and learning hi ABC’s in Spanish.

I was almost ready to give up when an idea came to me: I talk to my family abroad via Skype, why can’t we learn Spanish via Skype as well? So we started to look for an online tutor.

Is it worth looking for Spanish (or other minority language) tutor online? Here are the pros:

1. If your child is already bilingual and speaks Spanish (or any other minority language) finding a tutor who only speaks that language is a great way for child to find himself in the monolingual mode. Speaking exclusively in Spanish requires him to really push his skills.

2. When time comes to teach your child literacy skills, having a tutor is almost essential. Even if you can technically teach your child to read and write on your own, having another person helping you is a great way to eliminate some stress. You child can turn down reading time with you by saying “no, I don’t want to read now,” and if you force them it will be very frustrating. But magically, they are much better behaved with a formal teacher, and they understand that scheduled lessons can’t be skipped. It also means the child is getting regular literacy lessons even when you’re too busy for reading time.

3. There’s no driving required! This is a big improvement on meeting tutors in person, especially for rural or small town parents (like us). It’s also more relaxing for the child to learn in the comfort of his own home.

4. Because it’s a one-on-one lesson and there’s no travel time, you can fit the lessons into your schedule however you want. You can’t take gymnastics, swimming or ballet classes online. But you can practice the language online, and you don’t need a physical space or a time that works for everyone in a large class to do it.

5. There are a lot of teachers to choose from. Because you can work with anyone in the world that has an internet connection, you have more freedom of choice. If a tutor isn’t working out, you’re not stuck with him or her.

6. A private tutor can take a much more personal approach with your child than a teacher with many students.

What are the disadvantages, you might ask? Here are the cons of online tutoring:

1. There’s an age limit. Usually you can’t use an online tutor with a child younger than 5 years old. A child younger than that will have a hard time sitting still in front of a computer for 30 minutes or an hour at a time. They also may not have the skills necessary to use the computer yet, or you may not want them accessing the internet that young.

2. The lesson happens in front of the computer. This may be a concern if you watch screen time closely in your family. If you child only gets a certain amount of computer time each day, you will have to make extra allowances for lessons.

3. The lessons are heavily dependent on internet connection. Technical issues on either end can interrupt a lesson.

4. Some portion of the human interaction is lost simply by the tutor not being physically present. It may seem small, but your child will miss certain nonverbal cultural clues that occur in real life encounters.

Olena Centeno AvatarOlena Centeno a Ukrainian who lives in USA, a happy mom of three wonderful kids ages 2 to 9 and a wife to a great man. She speaks three languages herself and is raising her kids to be multilingual in English, Russian, Ukrainian and Spanish. She founded Bilingual Kids Rock where she helps families on their bilingual journey. She also enjoys photography and video making as a way to preserve precious moments of life. You can connect with her at bilingualkidsrock.com

{Image by  Mads Boedker}

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