I am a native English speaker, but have native fluency in Spanish as well. I have a more thorough understanding of the Spanish language than most native Spanish speakers due to my insatiable curiosity and love of language. I also understand what it's like to learn Spanish as a second language, so I don't make the assumptions that many native Spanish speakers do about what students know and understand.
I have a BA in Spanish and an MA in Spanish with an emphasis in teaching. I have taught Spanish for 12 years in public schools as well at the university level and, in the process, I have written four years' worth of materials based on my education and personal experiences.
I have studied abroad in Mexico and Spain as well as traveled through many countries including Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. I love love love teaching Spanish and would love the opportunity to work with you to help you meet your own goals with the language.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Colorado State University-Fort Collins - Bachelors, Spanish Language and Literature
Graduate Degree: University of Northern Colorado - Masters, Spanish Teaching
Traveling, playing sports, listening to music
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
The only goal of a teacher should be to help students reach theirs.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I always get to know my students first so that I can get a feel for their motivations, needs, interests, and of course, their abilities.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I have several concrete strategies for students who struggle to learn new vocabulary or verb conjugations in particular, but I also have suggestions for how to stay interested and motivated to learn in general.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
The motivation that comes from within is the only one that will yield long-term results. I can share my personal stories from all over the world and right in my own neighborhood that wouldn't have been possible if I didn't speak Spanish, but I cannot make a student want to have similar experiences. I can lead by example, providing encouragement by sharing my failures and my motivations to keep moving forward. After that, it's out of my hands.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I have concrete strategies to overcome certain difficulties. These are based on my own experiences as a student as well as my students' experiences over the past 12 years.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
There is no single reason a student would struggle with reading comprehension, so I don't profess to have all the answers, but there are commonalities that can be worked with if the reason for struggling isn't apathy.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
We live in a society that simultaneously tells young people to be unique, that they can be anything they want to be and then tells them to follow the herd and be like everyone else. It tells them that they need to excel at every subject, but values those who excel at a single thing. What were Oprah's ACT scores? Who cares? She's an amazing communicator! How well did Steve Jobs do in foreign languages? Who cares? He was a tech visionary! Most students struggle in subjects because they have no interest in them. I can only share my passion for my subject and share my experiences. That is what inspires, but it doesn't reach everyone. That's okay. It has to be okay. I can help take the mystery out of learning Spanish by breaking it down into simple concepts, but I cannot change what a student is interested in. I wouldn't have it any other way, either.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I always ask students to talk me through their thought process. This helps me understand what they know and what remains unclear for them.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Motivation is often based on success. Small successes foster further interest. Keeping things simple, one step at a time helps students have success little by little. Learning a foreign language is like learning math or a musical instrument. It is a huge endeavor and needs to be approached with humility, patience, and dedication. I can't sugar coat it; learning a language requires lots and lots of exposure, whether it be a first language or third and beyond.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Students come with a broad idea of what they need: to become fluent, to get an A in a class, etc. This is a start. Past that, I know what a student doesn't understand and, possibly, what they need now to understand the bigger picture later simply by working with them. I started learning Spanish when I was a freshman in high school and 20+ years later, it doesn't take me long to spot the deficiencies in a student's understanding. It's second nature for me now.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I listen to what they tell me as well as what they don't tell me. One-on-one, I have the flexibility to go with their flow. This is where large classes fail.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I have created four years' worth of materials that I can offer students, but I am flexible and can use any materials that a student brings me.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Strategies for success is too broad of a question. No matter what your level of proficiency, I can take you to the next level, but I am not going to skip steps and overwhelm you. In as generic of terms as this question, I take students to their next level, according to their own needs, interests, abilities, etc.