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I have over 15 years experience teaching and tutoring English. I hold a Master's degree in English and love grammar and literary analysis. My goal as tutor is to ensure that the student has an enjoyable and productive experience during each session.

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Denise’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Case Western Reserve University - Bachelors, English and Political Science

Graduate Degree: Case Western Reserve University - Masters, Englsh


Literature, reading, crochet, bike riding, gardening, video games, and technology

Tutoring Subjects

College English

College Essays

Comparative Literature

COMPASS Reading Prep

COMPASS Writing Skills Prep


English Grammar and Syntax


Essay Editing

High School English



Public Speaking


Test Prep


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Learning should be fun. As a tutor, it is important for me that you learn the subject matter, but it is also equally important that the process and learning environment be fun and non-threatening.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

Getting to know the student is key in a first session. So, I usually have a conversation with the student about his/her interests and hobbies. Secondly, we discuss what the student feels to be his/her challenges in the subject area. Finally, we discuss the student's expectations and goals of the tutoring process, and I establish what my goals of the sessions are as well.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Modeling is the key to help a student become an independent learner. During my sessions, I solve a problem independently while the student observes. The next step is a team approach to solving a problem. Then, the old rule that you know the subject if you can teach it - the student gets the opportunity to guide me through the process. Essentially, the student gets to teach me how to solve the problem without my assistance.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Creating benchmarks in the tutoring process helps a student stay motivated. Most students who seek tutoring assistance tend to be overwhelmed with the largesse of an assignment or group of assignments. As a tutor, my job is to break assignments into manageable projects so that the student can see progress in his or her accomplishments of the tiny steps to reaching the completed big project.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

In initial tutoring sessions, I identify through relaxed conversation with the student or through assessment of how the student learns. In most cases people have several ways that they can learn information. They learn better by doing, or seeing something done, or hearing how something is done. So if a student has a difficult time grasping information with one presentation style, I am open to teaching the concept using a different style.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

There are approximately 123 reading disabilities, some of which may seem odd. For example, some people find it easier to read with a pink or blue overlay to the reading surface. So the first step is discovering if a student has any identifiable reading disabilities. Once that is established, then one can proceed by gradually increasing the difficulty and complexity of the text a student has to comprehend. Studies have shown that when readers are increasingly given more complex text to read, their comprehension levels increase.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

A typical session begins with getting acquainted with the student. Sharing personal goals, interests, as well as anxieties about the learning process assists both of us in developing a format for tutoring sessions that are comfortable and tailored for a specific student. In my past tutoring experience, the students and I determine together, mutually acceptable locations, times, and methods of learning that they find comforting and conducive to learning.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

To ensure that a student really knows the material, the student must be able to teach or demonstrate without promptings the concept that has been discussed during the session. For example, if the task is identifying run-on sentences, the student must be able to demonstrate to me that he/she can find a run-on in a text and fix it without assistance from me. Essentially, a mini-quiz is given at the end of each session.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

Oftentimes, people forget the challenges that they faced when learning a new subject. To build a student's confidence, I often relate learning challenges that I faced and continue to face as a lifelong learner. New information is not always easy to grasp and oftentimes the difficulty in learning it is a signal that learning is occurring, not that a person is "dumb" or "stupid." So, I assure the student that the identified challenge he or she may be facing is a good thing. Seeking out assistance also is a good thing as well and assures that the student will learn the new information.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I like to see what a student knows. A conversation where the student and I discuss what an assignment entails gives me a bird's-eye view into what they may need. The initial question of "what do you need help with?" is a good beginning in any learning situation to assess/evaluate a student's strengths and weaknesses.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

I am quite adept in accommodating different styles of learning: learning by doing, hearing, seeing, and conversing. As a teacher, I have been confronted with diversified learning styles in one classroom. So each lesson was designed to adapt to all the learning styles present in the classroom. In short, however a student may learn, I can design a lesson around that style.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

In today's technologically advanced world, everything can be found on the world wide web, video, audio, and reading material. So, I often use materials that are easily accessible online. Students can access this material via their smartphones or computers with Internet access. I am "old-school" sometimes when I meet a student who is not comfortable with online technology, and do use some of the tried and true grammar and mechanics handbooks, writing composition textbooks, as well as texts that outline the basics of literary analysis that can be secured at the local library or at Amazon.com.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

Excitement is infectious. The teachers that I learned the most from were passionate about the subjects they were teaching and instilled that passion into me. I have had students tell me that they never thought English could be so much fun after taking one of my courses.

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