Learning Spanish: Private Lessons or School?

Sleuth

Registered
#1
I'll be there in less than 2 weeks and my attempts to learn Spanish beforehand have not been so successful. We'll see if 3 years of high school Spanish help at all (probably not).
I wanted to get some opinions on what people thought was the best method for learning Spanish quickly - hiring a private instructor or enrolling in one of the Spanish schools. I'd love to hear about any experiences and would appreciate recommendations too.
Thanks.
 
#2
This may differ from person to person. In my case, tutoring proved more effective than classes, even small ones. And some tutors are better than others -- we've all heard of others' nightmarish experiences.
I'd recommend my own tutor, Stella M. García. She lives near the intersection of Tucumán and Callao -- right downtown, in other words -- and teaches either in her apartment or, I think, a student's home or office; her telephone number is (54 11) 4373 7716. Perhaps her advantage over other tutors lies as much in her education as a teacher as it does in her cheerful personality; her knowledge of English doesn't hurt, either.
Finally, remember that Spanish is a comparatively simple language to learn. If you've already mastered English, Spanish shouldn't be too very difficult!
 
#3
Hi Sleuth. I'd do a mix of both. Group lessons are a good way to spread the cost between the class and measure your progress against other people, private tuition can address and doubts you have or any specific issues you want to get to grips with. Wouldn't go overboard though, there's only so much you can learn and the process takes time. I'd recommend a daily group class and maybe 2-3 private classes per week if you can afford the money and the time.
RWS, I'm curious - why do you think Spanish is a simple language, and what do you think is comparatively difficult?I think there's a general idea that spanish is a simple language, but the more I study it the more intricate and specific it seems. English despite its weirdness seems comparatively simple - no tenses to learn or conjugate, no gender, words run in a specific order to convey meaning etc. Apparently when kids go to school they have lessons in how to correctly conjugate verbs in their mother tongue, which seemed a strange concept to me - having to learn your own langauge. Not sure if its the same in other countries, but I can't remember learning english grammar like that, or needing to...Still, learning a language makes your brain grow. Love that fact!
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#4
Quoting "jp": ". . . . why do you think Spanish is a simple language, and what do you think is comparatively difficult? . . . ."
I found both Russian, which I never mastered, and classical Greek more difficult. English is simple to make oneself roughly understood in (so, indeed, is Spanish), but difficult for a foreigner to speak well (and, judging from misuse of conditional and subjunctive, or confusion in or avoidance of more complex structures, difficult for many native speakers, too, to use well). Spanish, by contrast, is fairly regular in construction, with a much smaller vocabulary (a bit unfair to measure that against English, I admit, as it has the world's largest), much of which is close enough to its Latin origins that hispanicizing an already-known French or Latin word will obtain the correct result.
 
#5
Argh.. don't mention classical greek! My brain still has the scars....I'd agree that sentence stucture is more regular, but the syntax is tricky to master - you need to know your verbs and tenses backwards to know who did what to whom. I still find I can lose the thread of a conversation quickly if I'm not familiar with the subject matter.
Sleuth - I found the Michel Thomas CDs really helpful to start off with. I'm sure your high school spanish will come back to you, might just need a little coaxing!
 
#7
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