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Studying a Foreign Language - how fluent would you like to be?

When I am contacted by potential clients for my language tutoring services, I like to ask them what their current level is with the target language, and how fluent they would like to be. Everybody says, "As fluent as you can make me!" Well, the truth is, although I am pretty fabulous, :) our sessions together will be much enhanced if the student is willing to commit to doing some language review outside of our sessions, on his or her own time.

I was gathering my WyzAnt information together for tax season this year, and I realized that one of my most successful students is approaching her three-year anniversary with me. She made a commitment to herself to learn to speak and read Spanish, and she has made incredible strides. The reason I mention her in particular is that she only sees me twice a month! Once every two weeks, for an hour each time. She has, however, bought CDs which she listens to on her daily walks with her dogs, she uses her grammar book as a bathroom reader, she buys books that have parallel text - English on one side, Spanish on the other - and when we're together, she really makes the most of her time. She asks me questions about translations that are confusing, she lets me explain subjunctive tenses to her when we come across them in the readings, and she works diligently on improving her accent, particularly while I'm there to lend an ear.

I have had other students who have had more time and more money to spend on lessons, but they didn't get as far because they hadn't found their inner motivation, which is what inspires a student to work on the target language even when the tutor isn't right there next to her. Kudos to my student (you know who you are, my dear), and to all others who are learning a language just for the fun of it - it's more fun, and you'll progress more rapidly toward your goals when you put some effort in on your own time, and not just when I'm sitting across from you!