I'm a native of San Diego and now reside in Utah. The French language has been an active, daily part of my life for 12 years. I started by living in Quebec, now work in an elementary French immersion program, and do volunteer conference interpreting. I am well versed in both Canadian and European French. This language brings immeasurable joy and fulfillment to my life, and I want to help others discover that same joy.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Brigham Young University-Provo - Bachelor in Arts, Communications-Broadcast Journalism
Watching movies with the French language audio track, filmmaking, movie music, piano arranging and composing, biking, swimming, hiking, skiing, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Seinfeld, stand up comedy
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Learning a new language should be an exciting adventure. While overcoming frustrations and feelings of inadequacy are a necessary part of the learning process, that doesn't mean the process itself has to be frustrating. I foster an environment that is fun, non-threatening, and common sense.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would introduce myself, tell about my background and experience with French, and ask them about themselves. Then I would try to gauge what level they're at with conversation, comprehension, and grammar/writing. Together, we'd chart a roadmap to set and progress toward goals for improving in each of these areas.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
As with any subject, the most effective learning takes place outside of the classroom. It's crucial that the student feels motivated to practice immersing themselves in French between sessions (and learning to enjoy it!). If they have access to another speaker, I might have them make an effort to converse with that person on a weekly basis and log the time and what they talked about, to discuss in tutoring the next session. We could also come up with video viewing homework assignments to increase their comprehension level. I have plenty of media examples to draw from.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Keeping the experience positive and fun is crucial. Learning a new language can be frustrating and overwhelming, but as long as I keep that student enjoying the process, hopefully they'll want to continue putting the effort in to improve.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
First, identify exactly what the hang-ups or points of confusion are, then find ways to eliminate them by explaining it in a way that makes sense to them. Then, reinforce that concept by having them practice it in a way that works for them.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Some people may come to tutoring with reading comprehension issues in their native language, which can carry over to a second language. It's important to focus on recognition of verbs before trying to understand the exact grammatical patterns, and make an educated guess about vocabulary based on context clues. We would read through passages together slowly and out loud, stopping to resolve points of confusion. If we're focusing on reading comprehension only, we'd ignore pronunciation for that particular exercise.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Everyone comes at a different skill level. You can't start teaching without knowing where that student is at with pronunciation, conversation, comprehension, reading, and writing. You have to start by setting small, reasonable goals, and treat those categories somewhat separately.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Staying excited is the key. Learning cannot be drudgery. I would find out what the student's life interests are, and find something in French that matches those interests. If it's skiing, I'll find a YouTube video about skiing in the French Alps, and we can derive vocabulary from that. If it's The Hobbit or Star Wars, we can watch clips from those movies and learn vocabulary and pronunciation that way. I also use a lot of music like Disney songs and well-known musicals to gain vocabulary. I'm a big believer in tying French to the student's interests. That's what has always worked for me, to keep myself excited about the language.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I can't just show a student how something is done; I have to then turn it over to them to show me that they understand. I'm good at quickly coming up with sample scenarios, questions, and sentences that are simple, effective examples to work with.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
You have to work with what you've got. Every student learns at a different pace and most, if not all, students will experience some degree of frustration or inadequacy. Sometimes, I'll have to act like a coach and reassure them of how well they're doing, how normal it is to be confused by a particular concept, or how close they are to mastering something. Always keep it positive, and encourage them to want to keep learning and not give up.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
By talking to them in various speeds and levels of vocabulary and then asking them what they understood, I can gauge their comprehension level. By asking them questions and hearing them talk, I can gauge their conversation ability. By hearing them read aloud, I can gauge both their reading ability and pronunciation. Factoring all this in and observing what trips them up along the way, I can help them determine small goals to reach as we journey through the tutoring process.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
If a student has little to no French experience, we'll start with the basics. I would probably do all or most of my explaining in English. If another student comes to me at an intermediate or more advanced level, I can start introducing more French into the teaching process and push them to their limit a little more.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It's important to have simple and accurate grammar conjugation charts. I'm a fan of writing words and sentences on paper (because with accent marks, it's so much quicker than typing), and showing that paper to the webcam for the student to copy down on their end. And of course, I'm a big fan of incorporating French language media into the curriculum: You Tube videos, movie scenes (either an appropriate foreign film or the French language track of a movie they're familiar with), and French language Internet radio.