I am passionate about teaching French and Italian and the ultimate aim of my job is giving students the means to succeed in their language learning experience, both in the classroom and outside the boundaries of it. In order to do so, I provide my students with a welcoming, respectful, and intellectually engaged environment. Within this supportive environment, I create an immersion environment filled with comprehensible input, so that students do not have fear to push themselves and take risks: they read, write, speak, and listen to French and Italian to their highest possible level, getting ready to successfully use their language skills in the real world!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Bologna - Bachelors, Modern Foreign Languages
Graduate Degree: University of Warwick - PHD, Modern Foreign Languages - Italian and French
Traveling, writing, and movies
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I have significant experience not only in teaching language courses (Italian, French, Spanish), directing language programs and faculty, managing technology centers and staff, but also in the design and delivery of teaching methodology and instructional technology courses that I plan according to faculty knowledge and current needs. My instructional technology workshops, language classes, and teaching methodology classes have been strongly influenced by my career-long development, my experience as a learner, several personality factors, and educationally based principles. More than teaching to students and language faculty, I am committed to working with them toward a common objective. Together, we are not aiming at the sole acquisition of technical notions and/or steps for using a language and/or a technological tool, but primarily at taking control of all the phases and factors involved in the instructional process in which structures of language or elements of technology have been integrated. I strongly believe that the ultimate aim of my job is giving faculty and students the means to build gradually their own learning and teaching experience in the classroom and outside the boundaries of it, with the support of the appropriate technology. I feel I have strong theoretical and practical experience, which I have been developing by working closely with the main educational technology users: students and educators.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would create an environment that supports the student's risk-taking and learning. It is immersion, but with a difference--immersion based on comprehensible input. This maximizes the time we have each session, ensuring that students' brains are engaged in the learning, allowing them to move forward.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
In my classroom or one-to-one session, students push themselves and take risks within a supportive environment. They read, write, speak, and listen to the target language. I support them in being successful, and little by little, more independent, by providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere, by creating an immersion environment filled with comprehensible input, by "teaching to the eyes" so that I can see when they are understanding and when they are not, by providing visual aids with the grammar and vocabulary that they need, and by consistently circling back and asking questions--whether about themselves or topics that particularly interest them.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would teach providing a real-life context in ways that are deeply meaningful for the target student/s. Learning a language should be profoundly eye-opening, heart-deepening, and intellectually challenging.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would remind them how attainable language acquisition is. I would explicitly explain to them, however, that language acquisition does not occur in the same way for all the students, because it depends on different learning styles and preferences. I would therefore capitalize on such learning styles and preferences for each student.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would use specific reading strategies, such as graphic and semantic organizers (e.g. Venn diagrams) or metacognition. These strategies allow readers not only to understand the reading content and have control over their reading, but also "thinking about thinking." Before reading, they might clarify their purpose for reading and preview the text. During reading, they might monitor their understanding. After reading, they may check their understanding of what they read. In order to check their understanding, I would also ask questions, and ask readers to generate simple questions.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I would try to understand immediately their preferred learning styles, as students are most effective when they are taught in their personal learning style (visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic), or at least the one for which they show a stronger affinity.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would work on approval and positive reinforcement, by recognizing and valuing their work on a regular basis, praising them often. I would also encourage open communication to make them feel important. My classroom or my one-to-one session should be a friendly place where students feel heard and respected, and therefore more eager to learn. More practically, I would 1) get them involved, by making participating fun by giving them a task to do. (e.g. take turns reading sections out loud); 2) offer incentives by setting expectations and making reasonable demands; 3) get creative, by avoiding monotony by changing around the structure of your class or one-to-one session (e.g. teaching through games and discussions, encouraging students to debate and enrich the subject matter with visual aids, like colorful charts, diagrams and videos).
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would use 1) top-down strategies (tapping into background knowledge of the topic, the situation or context, the type of text, and the language) for activating a set of expectations that help the listener/reader to interpret what is heard/read and anticipate what will come next. Top-down strategies include listening/reading for the main idea, predicting, drawing inferences. I would also use 2) bottom-up strategies that encourage the learner/s to rely on the language in the message, that is, the combination of sounds, words, and grammar that creates meaning. Bottom-up strategies include listening/reading for specific details, recognizing cognates, and recognizing word-order patterns.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I would work on the student's self-esteem, making her comfortable with how she learns. As I mentioned in an earlier answer, I would encourage the student/s to use her / their preferred learning style.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I would work on formative evaluation during the class or one-to-one session. Just as important as summative evaluation--determined through quizzes and tests - the formative evaluation (e.g. simple questions on the content) would give me the opportunity to assess how well my student/s is/are learning as she/they prepare for summative evaluation.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I believe that adaptations, accommodations, and modifications need to be individualized for each student, based upon their personal learning styles and interests. I would, for example, change the way that material is presented or the way that students respond to show their learning.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Material that involves and help the development of the 4 macro-skills: Audio, Interactive Games and Puzzle, Poster or Visual Aid, Multimedia and Websites, Audio, Video, and Songs.