I am a graduate of Saint Petersburg University, and in affiliation with The Canadian Institute of English, I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Education with a focus on applied linguistics, modern language learning and second language acquisition. I have an Advanced Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) as well as Advanced Certificates in Teaching Languages specializing in Spanish and French. I have traveled (really sojourned) extensively (9 months Dominican Republic, 9 months Mexico, 5 months Central America, 3 years Venezuela, 6 months French West Africa), which has afforded me the opportunity to study several languages to varying degrees of proficiency. I am fluent in English and Spanish and have a working knowledge of French and Iu Mien (a hill tribe language from South East Asia). I have taught in all of these languages. Most recently (for the last 3 years), I have been studying and teaching literacy and public speaking classes in the Iu Mien language. In my experience teaching these languages, I have developed methods, not only to teach students the target language, but to teach them how to learn language, which I believe to be crucial for any students real success. Learning language as well as teaching language should be fun, engaging, and enriching. If these criteria are not being met then I the teacher am doing something wrong. I firmly believe that 'the best way to learn something is to teach it' so I consider myself just as much a student as my students (although, of course, learning different skills), they learning their target language and I learning how to teach them according to their specific needs. Each student is different and should be treated as such. I strive to be adaptable and flexible and absolutely enjoy the challenge of creating unique methodology and curricula for each student. To that end, I am always looking to give my students that 'aha moment', so I endeavor to incorporate exercises that engage the student, get them off their feet, moving, using their senses, playing games, using apps, associating vocabulary with literal objects and other visual media not just the primary language word, incorporating all 4 cardinal language skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) in every lesson. These are the weapons to slay the target language dragon and myself and the student the adventurers on that quest. If my language teaching/learning philosophy had to be summed up into just one line, it would be: Learning language should be fun. I believe it to be a life long endeavor, but one worthy of undertaking a journey that builds bridges and opens doors quite literally to whole new worlds (millions of new people). I know my life has been forever changed, for the better, as a result of the language learning paths that I have taken. I would not trade them for the world and I love to share those possibilities with others.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: St. Petersburg University - Bachelors, TESOL
Travel, Photography, Learning new languages, Reading great literature, and Poetry
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Learning should be an adventure. It should be enriching and fulfilling. A lifelong endeavor. It's kind of like surfing; when you catch a wave and you’re having fun, just ride it out. But, if your paddling and struggling and can't seem to stand up, relax and enjoy the view (something else) for however long it takes, and when you’re ready catch the next one.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
After the requisite introductions and a "getting to know you/me session" I would interview the student to determine their learning style and/or preferences. I would also use a basic target language comprehension test (nothing too heavy) to see what level they are at. However, the following is my favorite part. Since the goal of pretty much every student is to speak the target language, we need to define what that means and then teach it to them from day 1. My basic definition of speaking a target language is: "Learning how to use basic language tools ---'to keep the conversation going'--- and learn new vocabulary and phrases." Therefore, I would teach a brief lesson on how to say and use the following questions. I will use the Iu Mien language as an example: How do you say _____ in Iu Mien? What does (Iu Mien word) mean in English? What is this/that called? (point) How do you spell (Iu Mien word)? Can you say that again more slowly? These questions would be the basis for lesson #2.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
To me independent learning is synonymous with the student creating their own tools to learn the language. I feel like the best way to learn anything is to teach it. So if I can assist students to create and use tools to teach themselves first (that they like and find engaging) and then share it with others, I will have done my job to help the student become an independent learner.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
If a student is having trouble staying motivated they are probably not engaged, enthused or having fun. Too much of any one style or methodology used kills motivation (especially chalk & talk). Therefore, I endeavor to teach lessons at a fast pace. Changing methods (not necessarily subject matter) every 5 -15 minutes. Getting students up out of their seats, moving around, learning the material by speaking, listening, reading and writing.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I have found that students learn best when they are engaged and having fun, so if a student is having difficulty learning a new skill or concept, I like to explore different methods of teaching said skill or concept, especially ones that I have observed the student already enjoys. There are so many ways to tackle challenges like these. Switching methods or styles is sometimes all that is needed. If the difficulty persists, I have observed both personally and with my students that a break from the subject matter will help with the idea of eventually returning to conquer the skill or concept.