After working as a registered nurse for over 30 years, I became certified in TESOL so that I could teach English to speakers of other languages. I have been tutoring since June of 2013, and I love my new career!
What I enjoy most about working with students from other countries is their dedication and enthusiasm to learn or improve their English speaking and writing skills. While living in Mexico intermittently for over 10 years, I studied Spanish whenever I was there and can appreciate the challenge of learning both a different language and a new culture as well.
I have taught in a classroom setting and have worked one-on-one with students ranging in age from 8 to 70. What I love most about tutoring is being able to focus on the needs of each of my students and having the flexibility to alter our lessons, on the spot if necessary, to help them meet their goals.
As a published author and editor of manuscripts for other writers, I have helped native and non-native English speakers create personal statements for college, write essays, or compose effective business letters or emails for work.
I am the proud mother of two and grandmother of six.
John F Kennedy University - Bachelors, Liberal Studies
John F Kennedy University - Masters, Management
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Using an ESOL student as an example, in our first session I would introduce myself and tell the student a very brief personal/professional history. I would assess the setting to assure that it was conducive for learning, and discuss with the student what might need to change (example: turn off the TV or radio, etc.). Then I would ask the student to tell me his or her expectations for our tutoring sessions - do they have a specific goal? Do they want to focus on conversation/pronunciation? Improve their writing ability? I would also ask how they think they learn best (are they more visual, auditory or tactile - or a combination?). Our conversation would give me an idea of their speaking ability, including grammar, syntax, and pronunciation. Then I would ask the student to write a short paragraph about their time in the U.S. or anything else they would like to tell me. If the student did not feel comfortable writing, I would ask them to dictate to me, and I would write down their words and then read it back. I would also stress the importance of the student telling me when something was not understood so that I could present the material in a different way. I would probably use an online news source that we could read together and discuss. If the student was not at that level, I would use pictures to discuss - what's going on here? Based on the student's level, needs and goals, we would make a plan for subsequent sessions, including a homework assignment.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that teaching should be based on respect for the student, including listening to their needs and helping them achieve their goals - not mine.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By being encouraging and supportive of their endeavors and letting the student know that I will be a resource if needed. Tutor talks less, ask open-ended questions, and allow students to talk freely. Encourage the students to set goals and make a plan of how to achieve those goals.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Reframe the concept or try another approach: perhaps the student's optimal learning style is different from the method presented. The fault lies with the tutor, not with the student.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Encourage them to use the strategies of a skilled or active reader. Interact with the text. Try to predict what will happen next based on clues provided. Create questions about the main idea or plot of the story.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Establish rapport at the initial meeting - putting the student at ease is critical for future learning. The student must feel safe and know that they will be listened to and that their responses will not be criticized. The tutor needs to stay positive and reframe or mirror back a more correct response, rather than say that the student's answer was wrong. The tutor needs to ask that the student be an active partner in their learning, not a passive participant.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Ask open-ended and leading questions. Encourage the student to explain what he or she has just read, and to not hesitate to say when something is not understood.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
By setting short-term goals and being able to measure success when the student reached those goals. In ESL, I would start with an easier level reading and ask questions to determine that the student understood. Only when that happened, would we progress slowly to a higher level.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Firstly, ask the student what it is that he or she wants to learn in our time together. What do they perceive to be their strong points? What gives them the greatest challenge? Then, I do a careful assessment of their English speaking, reading, and writing skills to see how that compares to how the student perceives their own ability.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
By staying flexible, receptive, and listening to what the student says. By reinforcing to the student that it is okay to ask for what they need and what they want to accomplish, even if it's different than what we started out doing. By not being afraid to throw out a pre-planned lesson and design something on the spot to ensure the student is successful.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I use ESOL texts, anthologies, various Internet sites, as well as practical materials such as how to read traffic signs, how to interpret menus from various restaurants, how to complete a job application, or a driver's license application form.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I think the best way to help a student stay motivated is to show them their progress to date. The student needs to see how successful they have been, and then we can develop strategies together to assure future success as well.