Learn Spanish with me My Journey to Fluency Tips, Methods, Motivation

How to make the most of people for language learning

June 20, 2015
Language Learning Partners

Hoy es sábado, el fin de semana o ‘finde’ como dicen mis amigos. (Today is Saturday, the weekend or ‘finde’ as my friends say)

Today I listened to the third episode of Luca Lampariello’s mini series designed to help you kick start your language learning.


Today it was an interview with David Mansaray (in English) and they talked about

How to make the most of people for language learning

They talked about the difference between a language coach, a language teacher, a language partner and a native speaker and what to expect, or not expect from each of them.

A language coach

For example, they talked about how a language coach can guide you through the process of language learning by helping you to structure your learning, and set goals, and they can tailor lessons around your tastes.

A language coach can assist you on your language learning journey but it’s important that you develop a good relationship with them. Basically you have to enjoy spending time with them.

A language teacher

A teacher on the other hand is a person who will explain things to you such as grammar rules, and teach you how the language works. But they won’t necessarily show you how to structure your learning in order to be a successful language learner.

A language partner

A language partner is someone who you can arrange to chat to either face-to-face or by Skype on a regular basis. I have several language partners on Italki (a language exchange platform). My language partners are learning English and I’m learning Spanish. We are known as intercambios in Spain.

Every now and again we’ll write to each other on a given topic and we correct each other’s work. We also try to have a Skype chat as often as possible, again on a topic decided between us in advance, and we correct each other’s pronunciation, and language mistakes.

Having a language partner is a great way to learn about the language (such as idioms and everyday language) and culture of a country and also to make friends.

A native speaker

A native speaker is someone who speaks your target language. It could be someone who you meet in the street or in a bar and have a conversation with or it could be a neighbour or someone whom you want to develop a relationship with. With a native speaker you don’t have an agreement to learn a language with them, rather it’s about chatting to them on a variety of topics  such as the weather, sport, culture etc. I always like to ask them a few questions too so that I can learn more about Spain and the Spanish people and way of life.

I use Italki for both language exchange and tuition. I have several professional tutors whom I have lessons with, roughly twice a week when I’m in the UK but less often when I’m out in Spain. Having lessons on Italki is a cost effective way of getting language tuition as the tutor’s fees are often less than one-to-one language tuition elsewhere.

Although I have teachers, language partners and speak to native speakers whenever I’m in Spain, I’ve never had a language coach.

I imagine that a language coach would be a bit costly. But wouldn’t it be great to have someone to help you to structure your study schedule? Someone to be accountable to?

My problem is that I often flit from one language learning resource to another. It’s really difficult not to do this as I’m subscribed to so many blogs and websites and they send me daily emails  encouraging me to watch a video, or read an article or take a test. And I can’t resist!

No wonder I don’t feel that I’m progressing at the moment!

I watch, listen and read a lot of Spanish every week but I don’t think that I’m  retaining as much as I should.

Well, I feel that my listening skills are improving, and maybe my reading skills somewhat, as I’m reading my novel on a daily basis, but my spoken Spanish and actually learning and memorising new vocabulary, well I’d say that’s come to a stand still.

I think a new plan of action is needed!

I still like the idea of memorizing a passage from a video, podcast or article, and I think that I’d have a better chance of remembering new words and phrases that way.

Well that’s for another day.

So with a short conversation with a Spanish waiter at lunchtime and 5 pages of my Spanish novel done and dusted..

Time spent learning Spanish today: 45 minutes

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