How to Tutor Spanish

Spanish is a fun language and the people are so very friendly. An outgoing Spanish-speaker will stop and help you on your questions if you don't feel you are saying your Spanish words correctly. However, if you feel you've got the knack, here are a few words of advice on how to Tutor in Spanish.


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    Establish the rules. Tell your student that this will be fun if the student wants to learn. If the student resists or does not pay attention then it will only be them who suffers. Say it once, then drop it.
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    Make it fun. No one wants to learn topics that are boring. If you teach it that way, there is no way someone will want to learn it that way. Put on a Mexican hat, dress up in either a Bull-fighter costume or a special dress. Or just wrap a colorful blanket around you and make it dramatic. Prepare authentic foods and make it a party. Just don't eat too much and take a siesta too soon.
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    Modulate your voice. If you speak in a monotone it becomes very hard to concentrate on the subject. You suddenly become very fixated on the person and why it is they are talking like a robot. Think like an actor. You are playing the part of the very charming professor. Be sweet, play nice, and speak with passion. Remember, Spanish is a Latin-based language, plays a part in the romantic languages, and is spoken by very passionate people all over the world. It is rare to hear a monotonous Spanish speaker.
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    Prepare a list of 10 vocabulary words. Try not to exceed this number and have that list be your go to topic for the day's lesson. Apply each word in a scenario to drive home their meaning. Once the student has got the meaning clear, have them craft their own Spanish sentences with the words.
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    Create your own Multiple Choice questions. Give the student a small and no stress quiz at the end of the lesson. If they get it wrong, ask yourself if you did everything you could to make the lesson clear. If you have more than one student it helps you to get a better gauge because if one fails but the other passes then it may be the habits of the one. If both fail, its probably your techniques.
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    Know your subject. You can't very well teach a subject if you can't even explain what a pie means in Spanish. If you can, try to use your command words in Spanish only. "¡Mira!, look, and "¡Escucha!", Listen!; are some of the ones you can use to get your students attention. "¡Sientate!", sit down; is usually a last resort because, unless your students are five, they should already know to sit. However, you can use it if you have everyone doing an activity.
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    Pronounce it correctly. The Spanish language is very pretty and very specific about its phonetics. Once you have the vowel sounds clarified with your students, A (Ah), E (eh), I (EE), O (oh), U (Ooh), then cover the letters that are not part of the English dialects. The Enye (Ñ), the elle (ll) and the erre (rr) are different for the Spanish. In addition, the pronunciation of the letters h, j, and x are all different.
    • The Enye (Ñ) makes a Nya sound as in the word: jalapeño
    • The Elle (LL) makes a ya sound as in the word: caballo
    • The Erre (RR) makes a rolled R sound, as in: Guitarra (Don't worry if this does not happen for you right away or even ever. The Spanish are very forgiving. If you wish to practice this technique, however, the best thing I have found to do is to breathe out hard, and allow an L sound to emanate from your tongue. Leave the tip of your tongue very loose so that when the hard breathe comes out over the tongue tip, it will flip up and down. The L sound converts in our ears as an R sound.)
    • The H can sometimes be silent, as in Hielo (ice) which can be pronounced Ee-el-o
    • The J and X can sometimes be pronounced as we would say the h sound. So, once again the word jalapeño would be pronounced: hal-a-penyo. Also the word Texas would be spoken as Tehas. This is not a hard-and-fast rule for the X. The more Westernized a thing becomes the less strength is emphasized for a particular rule. Occasionally, for the J it can be more of a zha sound.
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    Speak it. Try to speak to your students only in Spanish on the words you have already covered.
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    Listen for it. Have your students speak the words in Spanish already covered that they know. Familiarity comes from use. Make your "classroom" an all-Spanish all the time zone.


  • Never stop learning, even if you teach or tutor in a subject because there is always something you can learn.
  • In specific dialects of Spanish speaking countries, you may hear something that sounds like a lisp. You have just met your first theta sound. Don't worry, when in Rome, but don't apply it to every Spanish speaker you meet.
  • Every culture adapts to its local customs. No matter what you teach, as a tutor, try to give the subject more of a broad stroke, applicable to all Spanish speaking, rather than just one area.


  • If a student asks you to explain a term that you are uncomfortable with, such as a curse word, ask where your student heard it and then give it a consistent broad-stroke explanation without lingering too long on its more negative aspects. You are not there to preach. Simply state you do not use such words and don't expect to hear them in your sessions.
  • Never use curse words in front of your students that they may pick up. If they wish to learn slang, there are plenty of clean slang words.

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Categories: Spanish | Teaching