My name is Michael Brown, or “Prof. Lebrun” for my students. I love French and, hopefully after a tutoring with me, so will you! I learned to speak French during exploratory classes of French and Spanish in my elementary school and have continued speaking it ever since. I try and sample little bits of any and every language I come across. There is no better way at expanding your world than learning to communicate with a new person and culture.
I am enthusiastic about creative and unique expression and strive to use simple explanations for difficult concepts. “Everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler” & “Play is the highest form of research” (Einstein) are the inspirations I use when teaching and learning new languages. I want to encourage you to work hard, and have fun in my tutoring sessions, as well as when you are exposed to French in your everyday life.
During my studies, I focused on Québecois literature and culture, being especially close to the Canadian border, but have also focused on French plays, poetry, and film. I love to make references and parallels to American culture, as well as popular culture, i.e. films, comic books, sports, etc., So if you decide to work with me, prepare to speak French and open your eyes to a new world full of amazing ideas, and haute cuisine!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: SUNY at Fredonia - Bachelor in Arts, French Language and Literature
Graduate Degree: West Virginia University - Master of Arts, French Language and Literature
Music, video games, art, history, science, sports, cuisine, drama, literature, TV... everything really
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Anyone can learn a new language with the right encouragement!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Depending on the level of the student, with introductory students I start with a basic greeting conversation (hello, how are you, it's nice to meet you, goodbye). With more advanced students I like to talk about their interests (hobbies, sports, etc.).
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I try and keep learning fun by using pop references, and by talking about subjects based upon the tutee's/student's interests.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I try and use multiple methods to target a broad base of learners. Being able to explain things simply and differently can be the difference between confusion and knowledge acquisition.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I try to find simple texts (authentic) for them to start reading, then gradually increase the difficulty to improve their skills. If there is not sufficient time, I encourage a "speed" read through, then a "vocabulary" read through, and then one last "understanding" read through.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I think finding a link with one of the student's passions is the first step to encouraging positive engagement. Sometimes the student just needs to see that the hobbies and activities they love are just as appreciated in a new culture.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I love information gap activities, and to emphasize speaking, I have fun games the students can play. I appreciate the direct input approach for vocabulary, and the communicative approach.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I use positive encouragement and psychological tools to improve the student's confidence in the targeted subject. Frequently, a word of encouragement or a figurative pat on the back is what a student needs.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
After talking with the student for a short period of time, I assess areas of difficulty and give them exercises to validate my initial thoughts. Afterwards, I use special exercises and games to improve the student's capacities in the weaker areas of study.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I use specialized activities that best fit the style of the student. If the student needs to move around, I have kinesthetic activities, and I have grammar-based ones for the more traditional learner, etc.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I have dozens of activities that I created during my three years as a college professor. I use and adapt those to best fit the students. I also use electronic handouts and activities such as paper dice, maps, and conjugation charts.