If you are Looking for a Spanish Teacher in Melbourne…
Most language schools will try to impress you with claims about their teachers being native speakers, and about their coursework being the ultimate to prepare you for travel overseas, yet there are two fundamental flaws with these claims.
The problem with Credentials Based on Cultural Background
One of our teachers at the Travelling Koala is not a native speaker, but living in Latin America and being involved in the area for over a decade have led him to speak the language to a native level, with a few differences.
While many native speakers are excellent, a great deal of them offer teaching services based on the sole fact that they are from a Spanish-speaking country. While these teachers appeal to students based on the idea that their linguistic roots and authenticity validate their teaching abilities, ask yourself: how well do you understand the mechanics of your own language? Would you expect all of your English-speaking friends or relatives to know what a verb, an adjective or a pronoun is? Many native speakers who offer tuition do not understand the structure and grammar of their mother tongues very well. Our teacher, on the other hand, has studied the language from the bottom-up, and has a detailed understanding of the mechanics of Spanish.
Moreover, teaching is also a question of understanding the native language of the one being taught (in this case usually English). After all, your Spanish class will actually be primarily given in English, and don’t you think a teacher should have a knowledge of English which allows them to understand the way that an English speaker thinks when learning Spanish? Shouldn’t they be able to empathise with their students, understand their learning processes better, as well as effectively translate phrases, expressions and words from English to Spanish? Will your native speaker have near-perfect English in addition to perfect Spanish? If a teacher’s second language is not up to scratch, then can you really trust their ability to teach you a second language?
Finally, in a more general sense, teaching takes a certain level of skill and communication, and is not related to linguistic descent. Will your teacher be able to engage you and capture your interest? Will they know what it takes to motivate you and inspire you to excel?
We must stress that we are neither endorsing native nor non-native speakers as language teachers, but as you can see, teaching clearly involves more than just originating from a certain country. Teaching is first and foremost about communication, and this above all else what we base our teaching policy on at our school: excellent communication.
We would encourage you to take all of the above into account when seeking a school or teacher who can effectively teach you Spanish.
The Problem with Spanish Courses
The second issue involves the materials offered by most schools and tutors, which are usually taken from pre-published works. While many are excellent, there are a couple of problems. Firstly, is the cookie-cutter, generic nature of these materials. Most contain vague explanations about grammar, throw in a few exercises as well as some topics related to travel for good measure. While the inferior ones are best ignored for this reason, even the best, most well-rounded, best explained books often fail to captivate their audience 100%, because they are invariably published overseas, with the needs of students in the US and Europe in mind. Finally, they often fail to engage the student because the person interpreting in front of the class did not write the materials from which they are teaching.
This brings us to the second problem with Spanish courses – the interpretation of the materials. What captivates you more when you hear a lecture or presentation, someone reading from a book, or someone who really knows their topic and who has given a presentation from the depths of the heart and mind?
The Travelling Koala uses a number of materials which have been written from scratch by our teacher. They come from the mind and heart, drawing on years of experience reading about and teaching Spanish. Moreover, many of them contain stories based around real characters in Melbourne, something you will not find at another school. This is a product we believe in. Have a look at our list of group courses or individual tuition.