A photo of Blaine, a tutor from Dartmouth College

Blaine

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I am passionate about language learning and pedagogy, with work experience teaching English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. As an English teacher, I have taught students with a broad range of English language backgrounds, from beginners to advanced speakers who are learning how to write formally. As a teacher of Chinese, I have trained both absolute beginners and heritage speakers in Standard Modern Chinese pronunciation. As a Spanish teacher, my favorite moments were when my students had a moment of realization: that they can say their "r" like a native speaker, that conjugating verbs is something they can do, or that learning a language is more fun than they thought it would be.

Recently, I completed a Master's degree at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. I graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Anthropology and Chinese and a minor in International Studies. Throughout college, I worked as a research assistant, as a language instructor of Chinese and Spanish, and as team leader for college orientation, student life, and study abroad programs. In addition to being a bit of language nerd, I also enjoy spoken word poetry and terrible puns.

I currently live in DC and am eager to contribute my language abilities, teaching experience, and academic expertise to help my students reach their goals.

Blaine’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Dartmouth College - Bachelors, Anthropology and Chinese

Graduate Degree: Fudan University - Masters, Management Science

Test Scores

SAT Composite: 2370

SAT Math: 780

SAT Verbal: 790

SAT Writing: 800

Hobbies

Language learning, poetry, yoga

Tutoring Subjects

College English

College Essays

Conversational Mandarin

Conversational Spanish

English

ESL/ELL

Essay Editing

High School English

Languages

Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese 1

Mandarin Chinese 2

Mandarin Chinese 3

Mandarin Chinese 4

Public Speaking

Spanish

Spanish 1

Spanish 2

Spanish 3

Spanish 4

Writing


Q & A

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

After we've reviewed the material and resolved any of my student's outstanding questions, I'll ask my student to teach the material back to me. I find that, in tackling the challenge of teaching the material themselves, my students gain confidence in their knowledge -- and, importantly, clarity in terms of where their knowledge has gaps.

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

Positive reinforcement! Telling a student that they've gotten something correct, particularly when they've been struggling with something, is just as important -- if not more so -- than alerting them when they have made an error.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I always like to start with a simple conversation; for languages in particular, this allows the student to relax while I can begin to note their strengths and weaknesses. Of course, it's always important to ask the student about their own preferences and perceived needs. After all, the success of our work together depends upon whether we've achieved the student's goals more than anything!

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

Tutoring someone is necessarily an exercise in adapting to each student's particular needs; the first step is understanding the student's needs and priorities. As we continue this process, I make sure to focus on the relevant issues or problem areas - in a teaching style that is a good fit for the student's personality and learning style.

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

Always pen and paper - both as a visual aid and as a record for both myself and my student. Depending on what we are doing, pens and highlighters in a range of colors can help parse information into different categories. If accessible, I like to use whiteboards or chalkboards as well.

What is your teaching philosophy?

Anyone can learn any language, any skill -- we just have to find the way of explaining, conceptualizing, and practicing the issue that best fits the individual student. Anything is possible with the right mindset!

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

My first priority is to understand the student: how they approach the subject, what they are intimidated about or worried by, what their priorities are, what they have found frustrating previously, what their preferred learning style is, etc. These are elements we can discuss directly or what I can learn indirectly through conversation. Once I have a good understanding, I like to outline a study plan that gets us from where we are now (student's current level) to where we want to go (target).

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

This is so important, particularly for language learning - I offer students a great variety of independent learning resources and strategies, and then we work in an accountability mechanism such that they feel encouraged and supported in their independent study.

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

Explain the skill or concept in different ways! Make it fun! Take a break to relax and come back to it later with a more open mind! Work on analogous skills/concepts and then segue!

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

Depending on how they are struggling, in particular: break down our reading into smaller units; divide sentences into subject, predicate (verb, object), and additional information (clauses, adjectives); start with what we already know and build piece by piece.

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

Listening: developing an appreciation of how they conceptualize their abilities and challenges.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

As a tutor, I try to pace our study such that the student gets a feeling of accomplishment at regular intervals. There has to be positive reinforcement, such that my student can really see their own progress and appreciate that it was their hard work that got them there. Gamified incentive structures can work, too!

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

Sometimes my students find it helpful to dream big about the final outcome of their study: "Once I've got a good handle on Spanish, then I'll be able to travel to Mexico without any trouble! I'll be able to really sing along to my favorite Shakira songs! I'll be able to write to my pen pal in her native language! It'll be so much easier for me to learn French!" Sometimes it's more about enjoying the process - making the 90 minutes of study an enjoyable set of puzzles and puns and conversation. Sometimes, overcoming academic challenges can feel just like a good workout or an intense soccer game, and with a similar feeling of fatigue and accomplishment at the end. It's similarly important to rest and recover, pace yourself. Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.