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Ashley

I am a certified ESL instructor with bachelor's and master's degrees in linguistics. I received my Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois in 2006, and my Master of Arts from the Graduate University of Applied Linguistics in Dallas, Texas in 2012. My teaching experience includes one year of teaching elementary classes in South Korea (2009-2010), one year of teaching all ages at a private school in Japan (2013-2014), and one year of teaching adult classes in Pasadena, California (2014-present). I have also tutored students in a variety of subjects and grade levels. In addition to ESL, I offer tutoring in reading, writing, grammar, and test prep for the ACT, SAT, and TOEFL. I love teaching because it allows me to use my passion for language to help other people. I believe that we should always be learning, and that learning should be wonderful and exciting. I strive to inspire my students to curiosity and guide them towards independence in their education. In my free time, I enjoy reading, going out for coffee with friends, and occasionally going dancing.

Undergraduate Degree:

 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - BA, Linguistics

Graduate Degree:

 Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics - MA, Applied Linguistics

ACT Composite: 33

ACT English: 34

ACT Math: 32

ACT Reading: 34

ACT Science: 32

SAT Composite: 2130

SAT Math: 710

SAT Verbal: 700

SAT Writing: 720

traveling, learning about other cultures and languages, reading about society, culture, and history, watching movies and TV shows, art, music

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that learning is one of the most important and wonderful things we do as people. Curiosity and learning is essential for growing and finding fulfillment as a human being, whether or not we are students in an academic facility. For me, teaching is a way to connect with other people and to guide them towards growth. I consider it an honor and a gift to be able to do so. This is why I am passionate about teaching. As a teacher of English as a second language, my role is to facilitate learning of language, which is another passion of mine. I have always been fascinated by language. I love its possibility; I love how it empowers us to share ideas with one another; I love its patterns and its structure; I love to learn about the enormous variety among the world's languages. This passion for language led me to study linguistics, and it now motivates me to share my language with my students. I also recognize that each of my students has their own reasons for wanting to learn English. There are almost as many reasons for learning English as there are students. Some want to be able to attend a college or university in the United States; others want to use English for business; others want to be able to have conversations with English-speaking friends or family; still others are focused on passing the TOEFL or IELTS tests. My ultimate goal is to enable my students to reach their goals. I make it a priority to get to know each of my students as an individual and to find out what they are hoping to get out of my class, as well as their interests, their learning style, and their personal and cultural background. It is of great importance to show value for each student as a person and to be sensitive to their individual needs, and feelings. In order to facilitate learning, however, it is not enough to say that I want to teach my students what they want to know. I believe that the best learning is self-driven. If my students do not want to learn, they will not learn; or, at least, they will not learn well. Furthermore, wanting to learn is not the same thing as wanting greater ability; I have little doubt that all of my students would like to be more proficient in English, but they may not be enthusiastic about doing the work to achieve this goal. My top priority for student learning, therefore, is to ignite a spark of curiosity and a love for learning within my students. In order to encourage their enthusiasm for learning, I keep three principles in mind as I plan and lead each lesson. First of all, since language is first and foremost a tool for communication, the class' lesson should reflect that and encourage communication which the students will enjoy and find interesting. I look for topics that will interest them, and I provide activities that they will find enjoyable, whether it is a competitive game or a stimulating discussion. In order to do this, I take their personal interests and preferences into account. While I always maintain professional boundaries, I also make my lessons personal. Each lesson is an opportunity for the students and myself to learn more about each other, share our ideas with each other, and learn from each other. This way, the students are not simply learning about the English language; they are using English to share ideas and to connect with each other. This principle influences everything I do in a lesson, from my lead-in activity at the beginning (often a question about the students' experiences or opinions related to that day's topic), to the examples I give when explaining material (I look for ways to relate the material to the students' lives, if I can), to the final activity, which is always interactive and encourages the students to be creative and have fun. Although the lessons still require the students to work hard, they can still enjoy and even look forward to the work. Second, I make it a priority to always aim for clarity and avoid confusion. Whether I am teaching a new grammatical point, a vocabulary list, or a writing task, I present the content in a simple and logical way, in context, and with plenty of examples. As a result, my students feel confident and prepared, rather than frustrated and discouraged. To do this effectively requires a great deal of thought and preparation, as well as high linguistic awareness. This is where my background in applied linguistics has been the most useful. Having studied and practiced linguistic analysis, I am equipped to recognize the underlying principles behind linguistic phenomena and demonstrate them in simple terms to my students. For example, when teaching the distinction between the simple present and the present progressive (e.g. "I ride a bike" vs. "I am riding a bike"), I emphasize two key points: that the present progressive is only for things being done at the moment of speaking, while the simple present may be used for habitual actions; and that the present progressive is only for actions, while non-action verbs (e.g. see, know, want, etc.) must be used in simple present. I illustrate each point with clear examples, and I generally try to avoid unnecessarily mentioning exceptions to the rules. When the rules simply stated and easy to understand, new linguistic structures do not seem overwhelming; as a result, students feel empowered to use the target language and proud of their progress. Clarity also means keeping a logical order and a sense of coherency and cohesiveness to the overall lesson; that is, everything in the lesson should fit together and should be ordered in a way that makes sense. For example, sufficient practice time must be given after new material is introduced, and practice activities should progress from easy to difficult. Third, I always remember to keep a positive attitude. Often my students are afraid to speak, for fear of making mistakes and being embarrassed in front of their classmates. Having been in their shoes myself on many occasions, as a student of several different foreign languages, I can empathize with these feelings. I frequently remind myself to think of how they feel as students. Whenever a student makes an effort, whether their speech is correct or not, I praise them for trying and focus on the things they did well. One particularly important situation to which I apply this principle is when I correct their writing. I never hand back an essay with only the errors marked; I try to mark just as many places where the student used new vocabulary, varied sentence structure, or especially strong phrasing for a certain idea. This way, they are encouraged to keep taking risks, rather than doing the bare minimum in an attempt to avoid errors. Finally, when I do correct mistakes, I do so kindly, reminding them that mistakes are opportunities for learning. I make every effort to avoid embarrassing my students. I also make it clear that my students must not make fun of each other, but must support each other and show kindness and respect to each other at all times. Thus, I create a positive and encouraging environment in which students feel comfortable and their confidence is nourished. By making communication enjoyable, clarifying the linguistic patterns, and maintaining positive and encouraging classroom environment, I give my students a desire to continue learning, rather than simply a desire to have more knowledge. If a lesson succeeds in using these three principles to build the students' enthusiasm for learning, then by the end of the lesson, each of the students will be freely and enthusiastically using the target language, and will continue to practice it after the lesson is over. One example of such a successful lesson was a lower-intermediate vocabulary lesson about manners. I began the lesson by giving the students a list of various behaviors (such as opening the door for someone or finishing all the food on one's plate) and asking them to rank the behaviors on a scale from 1 (very polite) to 5 (very rude). This was a question which was easy for them to answer, without needing any new language skills, and which generated interest in the topic. I had them share their answers in pairs, which allowed each student an opportunity to speak while preventing any of them from feeling put on the spot. I then presented a set of related vocabulary words, writing them on the board and clarifying the meaning, grammatical form, and pronunciation of each word. The class easily understood the meanings of the words, but struggled with the difference between "polite" and "good manners," so I gave them a number of simple, clear example sentences for each. I gave them a simple gap-fill exercise to practice the vocabulary, putting them in pairs again in order to increase their confidence. As they worked, I monitored each pair and corrected their errors discreetly, which increased their understanding of how to correctly use the vocabulary without embarrassing them. Finally, I put them into groups and asked them to share what politeness looked like in their own cultures. I encouraged them to ask questions and reminded them to respect one another's cultural differences. The students used the vocabulary without hesitation as they eagerly discussed standards of politeness, intrigued by both the similarities and differences between their various cultures. In subsequent lessons, they continued to use the vocabulary words they had learned. Because they enthusiastically participated in the class activities, used the target vocabulary freely, and remembered the vocabulary later, I considered the lesson to have been a success.