(My lessons have been kindly gifted by Whee but all opinions are completely my own)
Ah 2020, what a year!
Rather than jetting around the world like I originally planned, thanks to COVID-19 I am instead spending my days travelling back and forth from my bedroom to the kitchen, gradually losing my mind along the way.
After spending the first few weeks of lockdown moping around sulking about the fact I couldn’t leave the house (let alone the country), I decided to make sure something good came out of all of this extra time by finally getting around to my life goal of learning a new language.
Having a boyfriend originally from Colombia combined with the fact that South America is verryyy high on my bucket list, I decided to give Spanish a go this time and this is when I discovered Whee Institute.
What is Whee Institute?
Whee Institue is one of the best Spanish schools in the whole of Colombia, offering Latin American Spanish language classes.
Usually, the school welcomes students from all around the world to their physical school based in the capital city of Bogota. However, due to the current pandemic and social distancing rules, they have had move from the classroom to the virtual classroom by offering online classes instead.
A win for those of us who stuck at home who still want to make the most of Whee’s talented local teachers and great teaching methods.
How do online classes work?
Whee Institutes Spanish classes are now being run over the zoom video platform, with a native-speaking teacher and up to 5 students per class (this can be less, there were just 3 of us during my first week of classes).
You can choose to take 2 or 3 hours of lessons per day, with classes running Monday to Friday from 5-8pm British time – perfect for those still working during the days. 3 hours may sound like a lot but the times flies by so quickly once you’ve started!
During each lesson, the teacher shares their screen with the class which has a mix of presentations and tasks to go through. The classes are extremely interactive with plenty of opportunities to practise what you’re learning by interacting with the other students and playing games together.
What if I’m not a complete beginner?
The classes are split into many different ability levels, so depending on your existing knowledge of Spanish you can start wherever is right for you.
A teacher from the school will call you up for a quick 10-minute chat before you start your classes so they can recommend which level you’d be best suited in.
How much do classes cost?
Whee Institute’s online classes are extremely affordable and amazing value for money!
- 10 hours of lessons (2 per day) costs around £55 for a week
- 15 hours (3 per day) costs roughly £65 a week.
You only have to sign up and pay on a week at a time basis so you’re not locked into a long term course if you realise it’s not for or you need to take a break for a week. When you’re ready to continue you can pick up right where you left off.
You can also take one free class on a Friday before you start to see what the classes are like.
PLUS USE THE CODE ‘EMILYWHEE’ FOR 10% OFF CLASSES!
Benefits of learning Spanish at home with Whee:
One of my favourite things about taking classes with Whee is that being able to sit face to face with a teacher and other students for 3 hours a day is a fantastic motivator for working hard at learning a new language.
The teachers keep the classes interesting and immersive to get you excited about learning.
Plus in an online class setting, there are fewer opportunities to procrastinate, it’s harder to get distracted, and you’re less likely to just give up when things get too hard or you don’t understand something.
Before I began with Whee, I had started trying to learn Spanish on my own with free sites and apps such as Duolingo, however, after the first few days I could feel my motivation tailing off and the time and energy I spent on it each day getting less and less.
So if you’re like me and need the help of other people to stay motivated and stop yourself from getting distracted, face to face online classes are a great option.
Improving listening and speaking:
Another downside of learning Spanish on my own via free apps was that even though my reading, writing and general vocab were improving, I wasn’t really learning to speak or listen to the language anywhere near as well (and let’s be honest, these are probably the most important parts).
Having a native-speaking teacher at Whee to listen and speak to 5 days a week has helped massively to improve that, from hearing the correct pronunciation of words (this has always been a downfall of mine) to learning and practising important everyday conversations so often that they start to roll off the tongue naturally.
Learning about the local culture:
In addition to learning the language, Whee’s teachers are all from Colombia and passionate about their home country, so will happily teach you about the local culture and customs, as well as recommendations for the best places to visit, traditional foods to try and more during the classes.
So when the lockdown is eventually lifted, you’ll be more than prepared in all areas to start your backpacking adventure in South America!
Plus I’ve been learning local etiquette and manners so I don’t embarrass myself in front of my boyfriends family.
Aside from language learning, I’ve found that another benefit of these classes during the current lockdown is finally getting some structure back into my life.
Even as a freelancer who normally works from home, I’ve still found that not being able to leave the house has led to a lack of structure in my life. My sleeping pattern is all over the place and I seem to just be eating and working whenever I feel like.
Now that I know that I have class from 5-8pm each day, I have something to structure the rest of my day around and a reason to actually get other work and admin done before 5pm.
Finally, one of my favourite things about Whee’s Spanish classes is that they’re actually fun!
You get to meet new people from all around the world, work together and play fun interactive games which are a great way of learning a new language.
Don’t think that just because you’re going back to school that means the work is going to be boring. If you’re dedicated to learning Spanish, you’ll definitely enjoy Whee’s classes.
Tips for making the most of your online Spanish classes:
Go over your notes outside of class:
Much like when you’re learning any new subject or skill, it’s also important to study outside of class.
The day after each lesson I make sure to go back over my notes, revise the parts I found most difficult and practise forming sentences at home.
Additional out of class revision ideas:
- Put post-it notes on items around your house to practise vocab
- Watch movies in Spanish with subtitles (start with kids movies/series to keep it simple)
- Read stories in Spanish (once again start with kids stories/books)
- Play computer games in Spanish
Combine with other methods of learning:
While I have already pointed out several reasons why face to face classes are better for learning Spanish than the free websites and apps, this isn’t to say the others aren’t useful as a supplement.
Even since starting with Whee, I have still been using Duolingo even for just 15-20 minutes each day for additional practice. Now that I’ve been learning the proper grammar rules and how to correctly structure sentences in Whee’s classes, Duolingo is great for picking up some additional vocab and testing my knowledge (it’s crazy how much easier it becomes even after just one week of Whee classes).
BONUS – More about Whee Institute in Colombia:
For when lockdown is over of course!
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