My goal is to help students achieve their goal, whether it's to excel in a classroom, or to confidently order in a restaurant.
A Brit by birth, I grew up bilingually between London and Cahors, a small town in Southwest France. I attended the local lycee and passed the baccalaureat with high grades. My B.A., from University College London, is in French Language and Literature. I spent a year in Martinique (French West Indies) teaching English in a local middle school. I've worked as a home tutor in a variety of subjects for middle school and high school students in London. I've taught adults too: I brought my passion for, and training in, landscape architecture to the New York Botanical Garden, where I was an instructor in the History of Landscape Design.
I find tutoring so worthwhile that I also do it on a volunteer basis: I'm currently teaching English as another language to new Americans. I've been told I'm a good listener, and I believe people learn best in a participative, supportive environment. My experience has been that teaching, done well, is a two-way street: tutor and student learn from each other.
My family is still in France (Paris, Rouen, and Cahors), so I return every year. A raging Francophile, I'm usually immersed in French culture, even from across the pond: France Inter is my favorite radio station, and I enjoy contemporary French fiction.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University College London - Bachelors, French and Philosophy
Graduate Degree: University of Virginia-Main Campus - Masters, Landscape Architecture
GRE Verbal: 740
Reading, especially contemporary fiction; gardening; bridge; biking and swimming
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
A listening ear, patience, a sense of humor, and, above all, plenty of encouragement are key. It's important to get to know the student, and base the lessons on his or her interests, goals, and learning style. Does the student enjoy reading alone, or does she need plenty of varied activities? I prepare detailed lesson plans, which entail teaching grammar and vocabulary in context, games and quizzes, and plenty of practice exercises.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I get to know the student, their interests, and goals. I do a needs analysis to find out where the gaps and strengths are. I also include some activities that are fun, to help the student feel motivated about the tutoring process.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I set clear, realistic, and measurable targets in collaboration with the student. I get to know the student: what are her interests, and how can they be harnessed to forward the learning process? I give the student some control: we select texts and A/V material together. I consistently underline the student's strengths and achievements.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
“Do you understand?” won't always cut it. Concept questions are a more effective way to check understanding. Gap fill and matching exercise are helpful. I also like to integrate brief regular quizzes and reviews into the lesson plans.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Depending on the level, I use flash cards, objects in the room, authentic French texts, radio and TV shows, and websites. I also use quizzes, games, and infographics. Where relevant, we work with the student's textbook.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Approach it from different angles. Use a variety of materials. Refer to a skill or concept the student has already mastered. Practice, practice, practice; encourage, encourage, encourage.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Select texts based on the student's interests and level. Suggest the student select his own text. I like to have a conversation about the reading, which might relate back to the student's life, to generate interest in the text. In some cases, I pre-teach essential vocabulary, but also point out that the gist can be understood even if not every word is familiar.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I use current, authentic material that's relevant to the student's life. I vary the activities, incorporating listening, reading, writing, and conversation. I try to build the student's confidence by starting with activities he or she will succeed at.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Helping students find their own personal reasons for doing class work and working hard, whether it’s because they find the material interesting, want to go to college, or just love to learn, is one of the most powerful gifts you can give them. An important strategy is to ask the student for input in the lesson plan, to show her that she has responsibility for, and involvement in, her own learning. One strategy is to help the learner use reference books; another is to provide resources for independent study including texts, audio, internet and video. Some students need help with time management and goal-setting.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Assessment is an ongoing process. I gather information about a student’s strengths, interests and abilities over a period of time. I ask the student (and the parent, where relevant) about their academic achievement, interests, learning style and goals. Focus on what the student can do, as well as the gaps. It may be appropriate in some cases to give the student needs assessment tasks (quizzes, reading, writing, and listening exercises).