I am interested in languages. Not in the way that makes some generalization about where 'pop' is said over 'soda'--that is basically stamp collecting--I am interested in the use of words. I am interested in what makes a statement good and powerful and invokes feeling and thought.
Primarily I studied Japanese at university, but I also studied English, literature, and mathematics, and I consider these studies ancillary to one-another. Japanese, though, is my main interest. It is my playground, the language that tickles me most for some reason. If you are a student of Japanese, I expect you have already felt the frustrations involved in learning it. There are so many traps and deceptions, but I suspect you also feel the allure. I want to tell you that it is alright, and that together we can build in you the skills to jump over the pitfalls or pull yourself up when you find the bottom of one.
For ESL learners, I empathize. I was born in Germany, and I had to learn a great deal of English when I came to the States. In some ways, I was fortunate in that I had an early start, but this really means I have had a long time to practice. When you have had such a long time to practice, you can sound like a native too. In the meantime, I hope to help you accelerate your learning, sharpen your skills, and iron out the wrinkles that come from approaching a language as strange and varied as English.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: UW-Milwaukee - Bachelors, General Linguistics
Martial Arts (Aikido and Okinawan Kobudo), WWII Reenactment, Writing, Reading and Cooking
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I am not here to provide primary instruction and lecture. I am here to listen to the student's quandaries, thoughts, and confusions, and help dispel them. Sometimes, this means there will be a discussion. Sometimes, it means I will guide a homework problem. Perhaps, it will just involve drill. There is no one, sure way but to be rigorous in the approach. It all depends on what the student needs and what helps.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The first and most important skill is to ask a question. This is the basis of knowledge. How the question is asked is important. Following a malformed question is like being a bird that flies down a chimney, and then flutters against the window; for it is able to see the light but forgot how it got here. By lending what wisdom I learn, I hope the student will see the path in his own mind.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
It needs to be practiced more, but the practice must also be good and understandable. I would want to find out what the problem is and then adjust our approach based on this hang-up. For instance, if it is just that it is new, we need more exposure and practice. If the terms are confused, we must define them. If the explanation in the text is not intuitive, we should seek another examples.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading is a taxing skill. Written word is not exactly like spoken word, and there are a great many styles of writing. It is essential to not become discouraged. Even the best of us misunderstand some things. Sharpen the skills of grammar and turn them to analysis, and learn to phrase what is unknown. When something is deficient, remedy it with repetition and practice.