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Sonia

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I have a passion for learning and teaching languages and would like to infuse my students with that same enthusiasm. Language learning is not an easy task and with our day to day life, it is even more difficult to do something that is not easy. I hope my students see class time as an enjoyable way to have contact with a foreign language and learn as a byproduct of that fun experience.

Now, a little bit more about me. I got my BA in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Oregon and after having lived in Spain for over 13 years I also got a Masters Degree in Secondary Education, Vocational Training and Language Teaching Specialising in Spanish Language and Literature from the Universidad de Valencia, in Spain. During those 13 years spent in Spain I taught English to students from age 5-55, working in schools, after school programs, company classes, vocational training schools, and individuals who wanted to learn English. As far as extra curricular activities, I do it all. I like being outdoors and travelling, I run, cycle, hike, ski, camp. I like to paint, and read, watch movies. I love to talk to people and socialize as well as learn about different cultures and traditions when I travel. I am a fun, happy, out-going person and I feel I synchronize well with people, which, by the way, makes me a good teacher. :)

Concerning my teaching philosophy and my tutoring style, I would say that great educators give students the tools they need in order to empower the student to learn and interact with the world on their own. I try to explain the material at hand, give the student the opportunity to use it, experiment with it, do a few study exercises to build a good foundation, and then let them explore ways to give it meaning, by way of projects, or role plays, games, or real life encounters. A person can learn theory about a language on their own, but the reason why they seek out a tutor or an instructor is for the interaction, that is where I come in, I act as a facilitator and a guide so that the student can engage their own imagination to really learn.

Sonia’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Oregon - Bachelors, Spanish

Graduate Degree: Universidad de Valencia - Masters, Secondary Education in Spanish Lang and Lit

Hobbies

Enjoys skiing, running, cycling, hiking, reading, movies, music, painting.

Tutoring Subjects

Conversational Spanish

Languages

Spanish

Spanish 1

Spanish 2

Spanish 3

Spanish 4


Q & A

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

Each student is unique, therefore there is not one typical thing that I do in a first session with a student. I do try to build rapport, so that the student can feel comfortable and confident to share needs and concerns for future sessions.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Becoming an independent learner takes dedication, but I think there needs to be a drive deep down to learn more and to motivate the student from the inside. I would like to try to kindle that curiosity in my students so that they explore languages for themselves.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Motivation also comes from within an individual, but teachers can help students stay motivated a number of ways. Focusing on what students do well as opposed to dwelling on mistakes, setting students up for success and not weighing them down with complicated subject matter, giving students a sense that they are producing authentic output, etc., are all ways I try to motivate my students.

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

A lot of the time, if a student has difficulty learning a skill or a concept, it is because it hasn't been explained in a manner that they understand. I try to explain concepts in different ways, turn it around so they see it from a different perspective, have them try to explain it to someone else, use a different method... There are many ways to go about it; the key is finding the best way to reach the student.

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

Reading comprehension is one of the most difficult struggles students can face. It stems from our discomfort of taking the time out of our lives to sit down and do it. When we don't read we get out of practice, and it is more difficult. I suggest taking it slowly and repetition. It is a long process that takes time and dedication; that's not a popular answer to this question, I'm sure, but it is the only one I see that is effective.

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

Again, as I said about the first session with a student, there is no single strategy that I use or that works with all students. I take each student into account as an individual and work together with them to discern needs, goals, and questions in order for them to be successful.

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

I am excited about the subjects I teach, so I think by "infecting" my students with my enthusiasm, it gets them going.

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

It is said that you must encounter a concept 7 times before you make it your own. That means that you must read it, hear it, write it, say it, think about it, repeat it, and use it in context... Repetition. There are many other techniques that can be incorporated with this repetition so as to achieve comprehension, but once the student uses the concept in context, I believe they have understood the material.

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

Taking small steps, where the student sees that they are making progress and they are producing authentic language in authentic situations, and focusing on good language output rather than mistakes should build the student's confidence.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

The confidence between the student and the teacher guides me to evaluate the student’s needs. That rapport that I try to build from the beginning with a student gives me the opportunity to learn what a student needs and wants, and where the student struggles to proceed smoothly.

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

This is the fundamental of tutoring, adapting myself to the student's needs. If it were the other way around, it just wouldn't work.

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

It depends on the concept, but there could be reading material, writing, speaking, listening, internet, tablets and cell phones could be used, as well as traditional books and paper, role-plays, interaction with teacher or other students, etc. Having the classes be dynamic is the most important factor when considering the materials used in a session.

What is your teaching philosophy?

I like to think that we learn things when we think we aren't doing so. I mean we like to spend our free time doing enjoyable things, so why not do it while learning, and in my case, while learning a language? Making class time enjoyable primes your brain to take it all in better. We are more optimistic and open when we are in an enjoyable setting, so take advantage and let learning in.