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Lena

I am a graduate of the University of Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature. I am passionate about language fluency and, after college, spent a year abroad in Besançon, France where I taught English in French middle and high schools, and privately tutored adults one-on-one. I tutor a range of subjects in the language arts including English literature, reading, and writing, and am most passionate about working with students to improve their French. As learning a language involves developing a host of different skills, I approach teaching French holistically, treating grammar, reading, writing, listening and speaking with equal importance. My goal is always to transform what is confusing and frustrating into something fun and rewarding for my students. Students especially love attempting French tongue-twisters -- the more difficult, the more fun they are to tackle! In my free time, I love cooking for friends, reading, running, skiing, drawing, and hanging out with my cat, Marlon.

Undergraduate Degree:

 University of Chicago - Bachelors, English Literature

SAT Composite: 2060

SAT Math: 670

SAT Verbal: 670

SAT Writing: 720

Cooking, running, skiing, drawing, reading, writing, speaking French, and more!

College English

Comparative Literature

Conversational French

French 1

High School English

What is your teaching philosophy?

Meeting students at their individual learning styles and skill levels, I aim to guide students as well as to foster their self-sufficiency when problem solving and creating on their own.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

A typical first session will likely involve talking with the student about what his or her goals are -- both long-term for that week -- as well as assessing where he or she is at with the subject matter by talking to the student and testing with a few exercises.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

As a tutor, my role is to offer encouragement, guide and prompt my students to become self-sufficient learners. To this end I encourage my students to first try exercises themselves and revise their own work, giving their feedback before I offer up my own assessment. When writing, students take an active role in revising their work, where they will make choices based on what they have learned about building an argument. When learning French, students are equipped with tools to memorize and understand grammar and vocabulary that he or she will be able to apply to new material. I also stress the importance of actively reading, writing, and speaking in French to build the student's comfort level and confidence with the language and make it their own.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I believe in the power of giving positive encouragement every day, especially for those students who are struggling. I love playing to a student's interests and incorporating relevant educational material (readings, videos, etc.) that they would enjoy and relate to. I also like to supplement learning with exercises that are fun and relevant to the subject matter -- like a little break, but more exciting!

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

All students learn differently, and what helps one person may be very difficult or confusing for another. For this reason I believe it is so important to have several "tricks" in the bag, i.e., to have more than one way to demonstrate a concept to a student. If something isn't making sense on paper, we'll try a song or a video, for example. Repetition is another powerful tool -- I will incorporate that one concept into our work together again and again until it becomes second nature.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

I help students identify words and grammar structures that they do not recognize, and try to help them arrive at their meanings by looking at context clues. Going beyond the sentence, we also work on understanding the larger-scale meanings of paragraphs and passages.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

My strategies for success are: positive encouragement, assessment of the student's initial skill level to find strengths and weaknesses, active written and spoken practice, an active and collaborative revision process, providing direct, written feedback that students can take with them, and utilizing interesting material or material that the student can relate to.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I like the student to feel connected and familiar with the material. Again, finding an interesting reading, video or song can make the difficult process of learning French much more engaging. Breaking down difficult material into smaller, more accessible parts can make it much less daunting, and many students respond well to tackling the task one step at a time.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

In my experience, periodic assessment of the student's skills is the best way to be sure that he or she understands the material. For French, I test the whole range of skills -- knowledge of grammar and vocabulary, as well as reading, writing, listening, and speaking ability.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

I find that positive encouragement is always a great way to motivate students and help them believe that they are doing well and will accomplish even more. Confidence also comes from simply doing, so I prompt the student to be a very active participant in their learning -- that means a lot of practice with speaking and writing, the most active tasks in language learning! Students will also be active participants in revising their writing as well. Giving an encouraging but honest assessment of strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to address them, gives the student the confidence to tackle what is difficult or unclear.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Simply asking if the student has any questions, and listening to what they found difficult and why, is a great way for me to discover problem areas that weren't so obvious in assessments. I also pay a great deal of attention to how an individual student learns, in order to get an idea of what kinds of approaches will be most useful to their learning process.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

If a student struggles more in one subject area or skill set than another, we will spend more time on it, and approach it with a few different kinds of methods, tools, and materials. I adapt the pace to what the student needs, based on what I observe during lessons and assessments.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

I use educational worksheets (especially for grammar and vocabulary), flash cards, online dictionaries, literature, readings, photos/drawings, poems, songs, videos (such as news reports or movie trailers), sound recordings, and more in my sessions. I believe in a multi-media, multiple intelligences approach!