Why Does my Instructor Speak Almost Exclusively in Spanish?

Language is a complex and abstract system that resides in your head. It gets there in (essentially) one way: by hearing (and reading) Spanish in meaningful contexts. That is, you get language in your mind/brain from what we call “good input” from speakers around you. Thus, the main job of the beginning language learner is not to speak all the time—speaking will come with time. The main job of the beginner is to listen (and read), and try to understand as much as possible. As the beginner comprehends language, the internal mechanisms responsible for creating language do their magic on the “input.”  This is similar to—but not exactly the same as—what children do when they learn a first (or bilingual) language.  (Of course, we’re leaving out lots of details here!)

For this reason, your teacher tries to speak only in Spanish, but in a simplified way so that you can grasp as much as possible. This is also why all of our online activities and materials are comprehension-oriented in nature. If, in class, you think your teacher speaks too fast or you are having difficulty understanding, raise your hand and ask for repetition. Here are some handy phrases to help you “negotiate” interactions with your teacher:

Otra vez, por favor.                              Once again, please.

No entiendo.                                           I don’t understand

Más despacio, por favor.                   Slower, please.

La última parte, por favor.               The last part, please.