I received my Ph.D. degree with honors in International Law and International Relations from the Preston University of Southern California. I got a Masters Degree in International Relations from the Pontifical Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia, South America; completed studies on Applied Labor Economics at the American University of Washington, D.C. and received my BA in Economics from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua. I also completed a specialization course on A Trade Agenda for the Americas at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. for foreign government officials.
My inspiration for teaching stems from the excellent teachers I had throughout my years of study. These educators helped shape who I am personally and professionally. My professional contributions have been allocated to both the public and the private sector. In the public sector, I served as an Ambassador in Latin American countries and as an Alternate Representative of my country of origin, Nicaragua in the Organization of American States, (OAS) in Washington, DC. In the private sector, I worked as an International Consultant for companies in the USA and Latin America. The years spent in the diplomatic community truly enriched my knowledge of the Latin American Culture and the Spanish language. I am motivated to share all that I have learned, and continuously seek teaching experiences. I have worked as Professor and Lecturer in Secondary Schools and Universities in various Latin American countries, and I have also taught private lessons to small groups of students and business executives.
As a native Latin American I understand that teaching my mother language means to not only focus on grammar, reading, writing and conversation; but to also include the Latin American culture, making the process of learning this new language more engaging and entertaining for the students. My teaching system includes theoretical sessions and practical aspects of daily life. Homework is also part of the learning process, without overwhelming the students with tedious assignments but through complementary fun activities, such as watching movies, songs, games and readings in Spanish, as well as periodic assessments and progress reports.
Manuel S.’s Qualifications
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: National Autonomous University of Nicaragua - Bachelors, Economics
Graduate Degree: Pontifical Javeriana University, Bogota, Colombia - Masters, International Relations
Hobbies and interests: Member of a choir, plays piano, loves soft music, opera, theater, art, prior career was as a diplomat so he still keeps up with politics.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Since I am a constant learner, I love to learn. I also love to teach, in my best possible way, what I have learned in life. In my academic education, I've had the best experiences thanks to those great teachers I've had. I want to do the same for those who are in need of learning.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
My teaching philosophy is to create the most favorable environment to know each other and find the best way to communicate with each other so that I can easily identify where exactly I need to start to teach the new language (and, consequently, to conquer his or her interest and efforts to achieve the best results).
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Stimulating the self-confidence of the student, and showing to them that they are capable of learning the new subject. Then, by assigning different tasks including homework, watching Spanish TV shows and/or Spanish readings, and going on field trips when possible, to evaluate their application of the new language in a typical everyday environment. Finally, through constant performance evaluation.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
With his or her permanent participation, using the new vocabulary learned every day, and avoiding to overwhelm them with excessive and tedious assignments. Besides, by teaching to them that a mispronunciation or grammatical error in the new language, far from being a reason for shame, is the correct way to consolidate learning the new language.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would explain the context of the subject or concept in different ways, and then apply it in different situations. In the case of a language learning process, the grammar normally offers many tools to help the students to understand it in an easier way, such as the use of synonyms and other grammatical figures.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
First, by making them read the paragraph several times until they are really clear about what they are reading about in a general sense. Then, by asking questions to them about short segments of the reading, so that they gradually become familiar with the content of the whole paragraph until they reach their full understanding.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
My experience has shown me that the best way to learn a new language is doing the same things we did to learn our mother language, this is, through the constant repetition of a sentence, a word, or an expression. That method helps the student to learn much faster than explaining to him or her the grammatical structure of the expressions in the foreign language. This needs to be complemented with an open communication between each other. Finally, be sure that the student understands the new learned material before continuing to a new chapter.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Encourage them to use their new knowledge from the very beginning, not only for their own use but in front of other people in their environment. When the student can show others what he or she has learned, it not only raises their self-esteem but, when they are complimented by others for their accomplishments, they feel the need to commit more and more to continuing learning.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Through the use and application of the new vocabulary and grammar learned by the student, in different contexts and situations.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Teaching the student little by little and giving short well-done steps to consolidate the learning process of the new language. Advancing to a new chapter or subject without the student understanding the previous one might be demotivating for the student's confidence in the learning and use of the new language.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Stimulating the students to constantly use the new concepts learned in the new language. Periodic evaluations will also help the tutor to identify those areas where the student need a reinforcement.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
By practical applications in events of the student's daily environment. For example, discussing with him or her about a holiday, or analyzing a read paragraph, or even watching a movie. The student gets familiar with the various ways of speech in different moments of his life.