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A native of Los Angeles, CA, I have recently relocated to the Boston area, where I now live, write and teach English, French, creative and critical writing. I am a graduate of UCLA's English Department and of Oxford University's faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages and Literature. My thesis work was on the collected works of American author and Pulitzer Prize winner, Willa Cather and French journalist, author and filmmaker, Marguerite Duras.

While still an undergraduate at UCLA, I began tutoring English, French and Spanish, to help student athletes satisfy their humanities subject requirements and remain in good standing. As a graduate student at Oxford, I taught English -- specifically Introduction to Shakespeare and Literary Theory -- in the Oxford Access Scheme Summer School, a program designed to recruit and introduce Oxford's English program to promising high school students from inner-city schools across the United Kingdom.

I have traveled extensively over the last 25 years, including 5 years in England, 7 years in Paris, France, and 6 months in Salzburg, Austria. I am of American, Canadian and Austro-Hungarian heritage, and speak English, French, and Spanish fluently and some Hungarian. Since completing my graduate studies, I have written fiction and non-fiction books and published papers, including short stories, essays and book reviews (in French and English). While living in England, I produced a play that debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in Scotland, and had some of my work on women's literature and history read on BBC radio. I am currently revising and translating a book on women's writing for Peter Lang Academic Publishing, based in Oxford.

I am one of those few people who has taken her love of language and the voice and made this my profession. I have been speaking French since 1986, and went to France after entering college, where I fell in love with the language and natural landscape. I enjoy teaching others other languages both for the joy and beauty of the language and as a means to appreciate the music, culture, film, and people from other places and times. I have taught students from high school honors through to college and graduate school as well as adult professionals seeking foreign language training either for work or travel. In addition, I have edited books by other writers, including comparative and international law dissertations (in French and English), business proposals, and assisted professionals in the entertainment industry with doctoring teleplays, stage plays, writing script treatments, and copy editing memoirs for publication. I welcome serious students, college students, authors and business people to meet their literary, linguistic and academic goals. Many of my students of English and writing have attended or been accepted to prestigious private schools and colleges, including: MIT, Carnegie Mellon, UCLA, USC, Claremont McKenna, Beijing Film Academy, and Amherst College.

My specialties are: English literature, the Personal Essay (for college applications), graduate studies research proposals, theses, dissertations, essays and academic books and papers for publication. Depending on the writing subject, I may be able to assist with content, argument, proofreading, copy editing, and translation. I also take on foreign language students from beginning to advanced French, as well as students of French literature and criticism.

When not writing or teaching, I do life drawing, photography and portraiture. Some of my art has been used as original book cover designs; other works have been done for fine art installations and private commissions.

I look forward to helping both native and non-native English speakers reach their creative and academic goals, and welcome students from honors high school to graduate students and adults of all ages.

Thank you for visiting my profile!

Quarterfinalist, Creative World Awards for Screenwriting (2013)
Semi-Finalist, The Princess Grace Prize for New Dramatists (2006)
The Rex Warner Prize for short fiction ('proxima accessit'), Wadham College, Oxford (1996)
Student Speaker, the UCLA Humanities Commencement Ceremony (1995)
2nd Place, The Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce Senior Art Award (1986)

Book Publications:
Chiaroscuro: Aesthetics, Values and Autobiography in the Works of Willa Cather and Maguerite Duras (Peter Lang, 2016)
Airspeed Oxford: the Adventures of Joan Yu (2013)
The Venice Apartment and Other Stories (2006)

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Erna’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Los Angeles - Bachelors, English and Romance Languages

Graduate Degree: Oxford University - Masters, Modern Languages (French)


Fine Art, Photography, Travel

Tutoring Subjects

College English

College Essays

Conversational French


Essay Editing


French 1

French 2

French 3

French 4

High School English



Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

My philosophy is to help others engage with subjects they find either complex or alien and make them accessible. If I'm lucky, I help others find a new love -- be it a literary voice, an academic subject, or a foreign language.

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

In a first session, I typically find out where the student is in regard to his or her subject, and I see how far they have advanced to properly assess how best to help them improve their abilities and reach their short-term or long-term goals. Then, we set out an action plan and a timetable together.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

If a student requires additional motivation, I may recommend audio-visual material such as music, tapes, or other programming or cultural events such as plays, public readings, or literary material that may enhance both the enjoyment and understanding of a subject. This is particularly helpful for language and arts students, as well as creative and academic writers.

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