I am an expert in grammar and the English language with advanced degrees and publications in English, English as a second language (ESL), and linguistics. I have also studied dozens of languages, including French, Latin, and (classical) Greek. My knowledge of Greek and Latin, in particular, along with my academic background in the history of the English language have given me an advanced understanding of English vocabulary, and I have helped to compile several dictionaries. In addition, I have an undergraduate minor in French, and I have spent much time in Qubec and other French-speaking parts of Canada. I am also actively compiling an online dictionary of Canadian French. I have many years of professional experience teaching and tutoring French, English, grammar, linguistics and ESL at the college and adult levels. In addition, for many years I have operated an online language consulting service. In my teaching, tutoring and consulting, I have usually been successful in making complex material understandable and learnable for students of diverse backgrounds and abilities.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Utica College of Syracuse University - Bachelors, English, French
Graduate Degree: Syracuse University - Masters, Interdisciplinary Linguistic Studies/Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages; Humanities/Humanistic Studies
computers and technology, language study, general reading and intellectual pursuits; I'm a trivia geek and a news junkie, to such a degree that I've written a book about football and I've been a contestant on Jeopardy! and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, and I once won $250,000 on an online quiz show
ACCUPLACER ESL - Listening Prep
ACCUPLACER ESL - Reading Skills Prep
ACCUPLACER ESL - Sentence Meaning Prep
ACCUPLACER Language Use Prep
ACCUPLACER Sentence Skills Prep
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
In two words: patience and empathy.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Definitely ask a lot of questions; get to know the student and his/her needs and goals. These tutoring sessions are all about the student, so I need to gather all the information I can about them in order to be able to help.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By trying to instill confidence in the student through emphasizing his/her strengths and showing that he/she is capable of working at a high level.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would try to make the learning interesting, maybe even enjoyable, and always keep the student focused on larger goals and their importance.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would patiently try to discover why the student is having the difficulty, and then I'd modify my teaching strategy and/or the learning situation as needed to try to alleviate and overcome the difficulty.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
By recognizing that people bring various things to reading (like their knowledge of the context and their facility with various styles of writing), and then trying to discover what these are with the individual student so that I can help them bring more to the reading that will aid with their comprehension.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I always try to approach a new tutoring session with a student holistically; that is, I try to grasp not just the particular needs of the student in the subject I am tutoring but also the student's background, personality, and learning style, so that I get a better sense of how to tailor the work that I do with the student for his/her greatest benefit.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would try to build on the student's existing successes with the subject, and when we do make progress, I would be sure to emphasize that as well to give the student tangible proof that he/she is on the road to success, no matter how long or bumpy that road may appear to be at present.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Very frequent inquiry and confirmation, sort of the Socratic method. I'm definitely happier when the student talks and not me, so I do a lot of questioning in a tutoring session, but not in a hectoring kind of way. Rather, it's to provide positive reinforcement and feedback at the same time.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
By stressing the student's strong points with the subject, as few as they may appear to be at first, and then building off of those, trumpeting the successes we begin to see, even if they are incremental.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I could do it formally by running through a battery of diagnostic tests, but I don't think such a strategy is quite as well suited for one-on-one tutoring. Instead, I would informally probe the student's needs and current level of skills by continual, but not overbearing, questioning.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I believe I am flexible enough to significantly alter my tutoring style, plans, and materials based on my objective assessment of the student's basic needs and progress. Changing things on the fly kind of goes against my orderly, sequential nature, but the point is that it's the student, not me, who is central to any tutoring I do, and if his/her needs are not being met, it is my job to do what's necessary and reasonable to do to see to that.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Especially because almost all of my tutoring is done online, I try to take full advantage of the full range of devices and options provided by the tutoring platform. And because most of my tutoring is in the language subject area, not only do I model pronunciation and the like aurally and visually, I will also make sure to write the words, phrases, or sentences in question on the whiteboard that most online platforms provide, so that the student can see the language in writing as well, which, as my experience with language teaching and learning has shown, gives most students a better grounding than a strictly oral approach.