If you're learning Spanish (or any other language) on a budget, you should check out iTalki.
The site provides access to hundreds of vetted language tutors from all over the world for one-on-one private tutoring sessions.
The lessons are generally taught via Skype, so you can chat with anyone, anywhere in the world.
I love the interface because it's super easy to schedule sessions, communicate with your tutor, and make changes to lesson dates and times.
2018 Update: iTalki recently released an online classroom feature that allows you to have lessons directly on their site instead of having to use their site. Personally I've found the interface can be a little slow, especially if your tutor is in a country with less-than-stellar internet speeds. For that reason, I'd stick with your tutor's preference (usually Skype).
Affordable Private Tutoring
Many Spanish tutors are available with affordable rates (on the lower end, in the range of $6 – $9 per hour).
If you're looking for low rates and high quality, I would look for native speakers that live outside of the United States with a significant number of positive reviews.
You can save even more if you pre-purchase a package of lessons with one tutor. I recommend finding a tutor you like before you select the package option.
You can choose professional tutors for structured lessons, or community tutors for conversational practice. Community tutors do not have teaching certifications and tend to be cheaper than professional tutors, but the classification doesn't guarantee one is better than the other. I've personally had great experiences with community tutors.
Keep in mind that tutors can literally be anywhere in the world, but iTalki will always show you lesson times in your time zone. Keep that in mind when chatting with your tutor, especially when trying to coordinate rescheduling a lesson.
Pro Tip: You can sync iTalki with your Google, Outlook, or other 3rd party service so that your lessons automatically show up on your calendar.
Let's say you have some free time and want to have an impromptu conversation, or you have a burning question you want to ask a native speaker. There's an instant tutoring option so you can find someone to talk to right away. These 30-minute sessions are generally at reasonable rates, although they may be slightly higher than a scheduled lesson.
Find a Tutor for Your Type of Spanish
iTalki‘s global reach is especially helpful if you want to learn Spanish from a particular region or dialect.
Chances are you will find a tutor from a country you want to learn more about.
Planning a trip to Costa Rica? Find a tutor from San Jose and ask questions about the culture and any vocabulary or slang particular to the region.
You can also get accustomed to hearing different accents and types of Spanish from different tutors.
Never again can you use the excuse of not knowing any native speakers to talk to.
Note: If you sign up with this link, you'll get a free $10 credit after your first lesson
How to Find the Best Spanish Tutor
It's important that you take the time to find a tutor that you work well with.
Review tutor profiles and introductory videos to get an idea of their teaching style, areas of focus, and personality.
You can schedule up to 3 trial lessons at a steep discount with different tutors. This gives you an opportunity to test out the service and the tutor.
It also helps you determine if the tutor is reliable. Many of them work from home and have other jobs and responsibilities, so you may find lessons are cancelled, rescheduled, or the tutor may be a no show (not to worry, iTalki will credit you back for the missed lesson and doesn't release funds until YOU confirm the lesson was completed successfully). Trial lessons will help you weed out unreliable tutors.
Look at their schedule and make sure the tutor has regular availability that fits your schedule.
I also recommend sending the tutor a message before scheduling a trial lesson. Introduce yourself, your language level, and explain what you would like to focus on in your first lesson.
This also allows you to confirm the tutor is accepting new students if not indicated clearly on his or her profile.
Check out the video below for a step-by-step guide to choosing a tutoring on iTalki:
For more videos on how to sign-up for an iTalki account and schedule a lesson, go to the iTalki Tutorials playlist.
I've found iTalki to be a great, low-cost way to refresh and maintain my Spanish. I also turned to iTalki when I started learning Portuguese and found great tutors from different parts of Brazil.
No matter what your language skill level is, getting started speaking as often and as soon as possible can be a game changer. So if you've never talked to a native Spanish speaker, there aren't any in your area, or you're just plain shy about speaking Spanish with people you know, book a trial lesson on iTalki and start chatting away!
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¡Hola! My name is Tamara Marie. I'm a language coach specializing in brain-friendly methods to learn foreign languages faster. I speak English (US native), Spanish (advanced), and Brazilian Portuguese (beginner). I'm a Latin music & dance addict and passionate about helping people learn languages.