I am a French and Russian teacher. I am originally from Russia, but I now live in Providence, Rhode Island. I love learning and teaching languages. I use the communicative approach in teaching foreign languages. No matter what the student's aims are, I am there to help them succeed. I am a student-centered teacher so I am in charge of the structure of the class, the material I provide and the necessary corrections, but I also commit to create a free zone for my students to express themselves. That means that speaking practice is always in first place for me. I work through new themes and play different communicative situations with my students to let them use the things they learn and hone their skills in a fun way. At the moment, I speak three languages fluently, and I am learning Spanish and Portuguese. I am a very friendly, open-minded person, and I love working with people from around the world.
I work with different ages: kids from 10 years old, high school students and adult learners. Depending on the level and the client's aims, we build up a plan together and we choose the books that will allow us to follow our program step by step. I usually offer materials from my personal digital library of French and Russian books. I welcome everybody in my class, and I am ready to share my motivation with those who have a lack of it or think that serious learning is hard and boring.
Secondary School of General Education - BA, General Education
Moscow State Linguistic University - Specialist 5 year degree, Linguist, Teacher (French)
What is your teaching philosophy?
I apply a communicative approach in teaching foreign languages, no matter which one I teach. It means that we start by practicing simple speaking interaction from the very fist class, even with beginners. I believe in a modern communicative approach, because it shows proven results relatively soon, while the classes are fun and interesting. I follow certain textbooks that I can offer to students, or we can use the material you suggest. My goal as a language teacher is to give students confidence as speakers, understanding of the grammar mechanisms, skills to expand their vocabulary, and finally, eventual full autonomy as learners. I think that education should be accessible to everybody: as your language coach, I help you learn how to learn. My biggest joy in class is to hear my students talk in a foreign language for 15 minutes without interrupting them. This is the sign that they truly succeeded in speaking. I love creating new exercises, role play and fun games. Also, I use Internet resources and a lot of visual support materials (photos, pictures, drawings). If you were dreaming of learning Russian or French, today is a great day to start!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
My typical first lesson is a placement test: I evaluate my student's speaking, writing, reading and listening skills. If I work with a complete beginner (which is my favorite type of student!), I usually follow a typical trial lesson. It is a session introducing my teaching method. The student learns a certain number of "first words" in the foreign language, discovers certain concepts of writing and pronunciation, and, most importantly, makes first steps in speaking the language. For example, it can be a "routine" trial lesson I do about physical appearance. It is a simple topic, but the student learns how to say "I/he/she," the verb "to be" for the first and the third person, 7-8 adjectives to describe physical appearance and 2-3 basic interrogative words (who? what? which?). I show pictures to illustrate new words. We practice phonetics and learn the letters.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Autonomy is one of my highest priorities in teaching. I value students' time, and I do my best to teach them how to develop their skills on their own. I share my personal techniques of "vocabulary hunting." I give them tools to learn grammar online. Songs and videos are also a source of self-teaching through analysis and repetition, which I show in class.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation to me is an internal source of energy. I believe that staying motivated is our natural state of mind, so I concentrate on avoiding the motivation-killers, which are: boredom, frustration and absence of goals. I set goals for my students in a simple way (obtaining level A2 in 4 months or passing a listening test with 80%). Numbers help us stay fit and focused. I bring fun and exciting material to practice, read, listen to or discuss - that helps me avoid boredom. I pay attention to my students' psychological states and stay flexible. Carefully selected material in line with my clients' levels keeps us away from frustration/failure.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Flexibility is the key to understanding. I simply vary the way I explain until it is clear. If it still isn't, I find out the way that would make it easier by breaking it down. I ask learners how their minds/memory/perception works best.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading is challenging. Useful exercises are short texts followed by a series of exercises (true/false, rephrasing, completing the answer with the words from the text). Attention deficit may be the reason for reading trouble, so in that case the person needs even shorter texts + more variety of activities.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Figure out my student's preferences, their approach to learning, and their strengths and weaknesses. Build a strategy together. Stay focused on the practical, applied side of the language (speaking). Have FUN while learning. Reward achievement.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
The students I work with see how I feel about what I teach, and I can see them getting more excited about it as we go. Once we find what they like about the subject, getting engaged is not a problem. Culture of the languages I teach is so rich and exciting, it is hard to resist. I tell my students fun, amazing things about Russia and France, people who live there, and the history of our people. I think the recipe for motivation is the practical side of learning - meeting native speakers and enjoying their language.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I use a three-step checking technique. First, the student formulates what we just learned. Then, he does a simple exercise where he has a limited amount of options. That way I see if he can use the concept. Then we start free practice - using a concept in free uncontrolled speech (dialogue). I make students fix their own mistakes by writing down what they are saying and analyzing it together.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
My motto is: deserve your confidence by true work. Confidence can't come from nowhere, and it takes time to build the foundation of knowledge. I encourage students to speak, and I let them see how mistakes are part of the process. That gives them the freedom of expression.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
The student's needs are four basic skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. The higher the level, the more subdivision there is (creative writing, selective listening, monologues, presentation, etc.). I evaluate the skills separately, and then blend in the exercises they need into my class.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
My method is very flexible. I work according to what the practical goals are. If a student needs to speak French while traveling, I teach travel topics and basic conversational survival skills. If a student has trouble with Russian grammar, I look for solutions in that area.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I use PDF books from my digital library, authentic materials from France and Russia, and Internet resources (quizzes, tests, online games, songs, YouTube videos, etc.).