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Thursday, August 11, 2016 (read 1053 times)

7 Common Mistakes New Spanish Teachers Make and How to Avoid Them

by Esther

7 Common Mistakes New Spanish Teachers Make and How to Avoid Them

Even the best teachers put their "feet in their mouths" once in a while. Take a look at some of the most common mistakes made when teaching Spanish as a foreign language that all teachers should avoid:

1. Class Introductions

The thing that differentiates real Spanish teachers from those who simply “give Spanish classes” is that specialized teachers know what they are doing, they are professionals and they prepare their classes. So why not convey that professionalism to your students? In a couple of minutes before each class gets going, teachers should explain what the class will entail (the types of activities and exercises, the resources they are going to use) and what the purpose of the class is, so that students can be aware of their own learning. Of course, an introduction, when well presented, can also be used as an appetizer, to get students' mouths watering and to get them excited to learn.

2. Detailed Instructions

All too often, we forget how important it is to clearly present a new activity to students. It is extremely beneficial to take a few minutes to explain a task very well in order to get students' attention and to get them to cooperate with something like a captatio benevolentiae.

3. Transitions between Tasks

As in the previous point, transitions between classroom tasks or activities have to be intentional and make sense. A teacher should know how to end one task and begin the next, explaining very briefly why students are moving from one to the other in order to both create continuity and so that the order of the activities carried out in class makes sense and follows a didactic sequence and are not merely the sum one exercise after another.

4. Class Endings

A good teacher should not look at the time, realize that they have run out and end a class hastily. The class should be brought to an end a few minutes before it's scheduled to finish so that you can summarize what students have done and link back to the introduction you made at the beginning of the class. This allows students to understand what you've covered in class and the things they should have learned. It is also important to leave time to answer questions and to get students’ feedback, in to order to be able to improve and fine-tune your future classes.

5. Homework

The homework we assign our students should be programed in accordance with a specific learning plan. Teachers should choose varied tasks that help reinforce the lessons learned in class or help to support the introduction of new content for the next class. We should run from the impulse to assign the activities we didn't have time to complete in class or improvised tasks that are boring to both do and correct. For example, searching for information about a topic and taking notes on it in order to complete a group activity in the next class, or completing a writing composition to present in class.

6. Translate

Sometimes, when we understand our students’ native language, we fall into the trap of translating some vocabulary words or explanations, which is a mistake. We should always use the meta language our students are trying to learn. If classes are made up of a mix of nationalities with different native languages, translating into one language and not others also creates an advantage for some and a disadvantage for others, which we should always try to avoid.

7. Frontal Teaching

Finally, we should run far and fast from frontal teaching. Teachers should not preside over students in the front of the classroom as if they were giving a lecture. They should use the figure of the teacher as mediator between students and the learning process which the students themselves should lead. Teachers should sit down with students, move from one group to another and be a facilitator, and not a static figure at the head of the class.

Sometimes it's difficult to avoid making these kinds of mistakes, but with time and a willingness to improve, we'll gradually be able to eliminate them from our classes, because as the saying goes: practice makes perfect, don't you think? ;-)



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