How to make use of conversation lessons most effectively?

The title question says it all. I want to start conversation lessons via Skype. I must improve my speaking in Spanish. I don’t really need lesssons about grammar or vocabulary - I have books and the internet for it. I just want to start speaking Spanish more fluently. Could you please share some advice, tpis, ideas on how to spend this time most effectively?

In one of his videos Steve siad that he expects the teacher to make notes all the time, giving feedback on mistakes after each lesson. I think this is the way to go but what else should I ask my future interlocutor for? Whta should I do (apart from speaking as much a spossible, of course) Thank in advance for any ideas. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Do what is most enjoyable and relevant to your own goals at that moment. If you just want to practice speaking, then pick a topic that you really want to discuss. If there’s a grammatical issue that needs clarifying, then ask… You can do both in any session, according to your needs and interest. I recommend starting with a 30 minute session. If you find this easy, you can always increase to longer sessions as you feel comfortable.

In my own Skype sessions, I generally prepare a topic that I want to talk about. This way, I make sure I know the key vocabulary. Like you, I am not looking for a tutor to teach me new words, but rather I need to practice conversing, using the words that I already know. During our session, my teacher asks me questions (as she would do in a normal conversation) and writes corrections on the side of the screen which I can then print and review later. (I have never done this, but if you figure out how to record these sessions, you could review them later.)

Sometimes I come to the session with questions. Sometimes it’s about a grammar point or about word usage – two words are similarly translated in English but are used differently in my target language. Even though I prepare for a lesson, I generally learn a few new expressions in the course of a Skype conversation. I always receive corrections.

The topics vary considerably and change over time as my knowledge increases and thus conversational options expand. As an upper beginner, I originally talked about things that were of immediate relevance to my life, often using vocabulary that I learned from a LingQ lesson but then applied to myself: e.g., the history of my city, how I spent the weekend, a typical morning, etc. As my vocabulary increased, I have been able to talk about TED talks I’ve watched as well as items in the news.

By contrast, some teachers have lessons they give students (especially at the beginner level) – e.g., something to read or a video to watch. The teacher then can then tailor the session around that content. This could work, provided the material is well-matched to what you find interesting and your competence level which is not so easy to achieve. I would guess that you’d have to have a few sessions with the same teacher in order for the latter to know what you like and what level material you can comfortably handle. For me, something that is too difficult is de-motivating. By contrast, something that seems easy may be very motivating because then you would feel very confident about talking about it and can expand on the topic, just as you would in a normal conversation. (That reminds me of…)

I recommend being flexible and that you try different strategies to see what works best for you. If you feel energized and motivated after a session, that’s a good sign! If you feel discouraged and overwhelmed, then it’s time for some tweaking of your expectations/approach.

Keep in mind that for most adults, speaking is the hardest skill in language learning and often lags behind their skills in reading, writing and listening. Good luck!


This is a great and detailed piece of advice or I should say a lot of very useful ones! :slight_smile: Thank you very much for your time and your help.

Your last remark seems to hit the nail on the head. I am reading novels and articles in Spanish and watch lots of videos in this language and understand most if the content. I am enjoying reading and listening but I still am really bad at speaking, I get nervous, forget words etc. That’s why I need conversations with a proper strategy and a lot of them.

Once again, I am really grateful for your comment. :slight_smile:

Hi Nexus,
Try 2 or 3 conversations without expetation, and see. Then you will be able to evaluate what you need to. I adivise you to write some lines everyday or quite everyday at Community - Exchange writing. Native speakers will correct your writings. It is a good way to get better.

1 Like

From my experience as a student, a teacher and a tutor on Lingq, here goes my 10 tips:

  • 1: Speak as much as you can, of course
  • 2: Don’t be affraid of making mistakes, the important at the beginning is to communicate and the tutor is here to give you feedback.
  • 3: Make sure to be able to use exclusively Spanish: do you know all the useful expressions and questions to say you don’t understand, ask to repeat, to talk slowlier. If not, ask the tutor during the first session. It’s also very useful to know all the basic vocabuary to describe, explain the words you don’t know (is it big, small, what color, what shape, what do we use it for, when do we use that word, in which situation, etc.) That way you practice the language and you don’t need to use translation.
  • 4: Tell the tutor when you don’t understand something. A good tutor will be able to talk slowlier, to reformulate, to give examples, in order to help you understand without using translation.
  • 5: Prepare yourself 10-15mn before the lesson, listening something, reading something in Spanish or preparing what you want to talk about in order to be 100% ready to speak in Spanish at the begining of the conversation. If not, the first 10-15 mn can be hard, untill your brain adapts to the new language.
  • 6: Review the notes / feedback the tutor gives you. On lIngq we always send a report. I write the new words, things you can correct, improve and some useful explanations. A good tutor should write the words in context, in sentences, not isolated. It’s easier to understand and to remember. If he doesn’t, ask him/hr to do so.
  • 7: Take notes outside the lessons about any new word, expression, in order to use it during next session, or any doubt or question you would like to ask the tutor.
  • 8: Don’t expect eveything from the tutor. Practice and learn outside the sessions, of course, reading, writing, listening, speaking. You are the one who needs to be in charge of the learning process. Prepare something to talk about before the session if you can.
  • 9: Ask questions to your tutor like you would do in any conversation, don’t let the conversation be only in one sense. (the tutor asks, the learner answers). If you want to talk about a topic, aks it to the tutor first, he/she’ll use useful words and expressions you may not know and you’ll be able to use them right after. At the begining of the session you can tell him/her somthing like “ok, today I’ll talk about that topic, but before I’d like to ask you some questions about it”: 1st exposure & comprehension, then practice, it’s a very good way to learn.
  • 10: Tell him/her what you need, what you would like to do during the session. Tell him/her when you like what you do together or when you don’t and if you’d prefer to do something else. A tutor is a person like you, he/she can’t be in your head to guess what you like or dislike.

I hope it’ll be useful :slight_smile:

1 Like