I am a Spanish native speaker with 20+ years of teaching, training and tutoring experience. Through the years I've met hundreds of students of different ages, backgrounds and abilities. Some are in the workforce and need to speak Spanish while on the job; others want to learn the language to communicate with friends and family, or when traveling abroad. College and High School students invariably want to improve their grades and performance in class. Despite their differences, all the students I've met share some common goals: they all want to improve their fluency, feel less anxious during verbal interactions and overcome the trepidation of making mistakes.
With those commonalities in mind, I customize lessons according to the needs and goals of each and every student I tutor. We can review basic to advanced grammar, focus on reading and writing skills, or concentrate on improving your listening comprehension and speaking skills. Friendly, patient and approachable, I love to teach my language and hope to meet you soon!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras - Bachelors, Humanities/Drama
Graduate Degree: State University of New York at Binghamton - Masters, Theater
Hobbies: dancing, drumming, playing the guitar, reading, swimming, walking the dogs... Interests: Literature, art & culture of the Spanish speaking Caribbean; Classical guitar Latin American composers.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that motivation is perhaps the first key element in the process of learning a second language; for this reason, increasing student motivation is the main focus of my teaching philosophy. This focus manifests itself in my teaching in the following three instructional goals: 1) empowering students to become active learners, 2) creating a low anxiety classroom/tutoring environment, 3) using a variety of techniques to appeal to different individual learner factors. Students gain confidence and become active learners when they are able to use the target language to communicate in situations that relate to their own experiences. To this end I personalize lessons, creating a structured environment which allows meaningful communication to happen. An important component of this structured environment is warmth and comfort. Anxiety in the second language classroom can often serve to undermine motivation and language acquisition; it can affect reading, writing and listening, but most often students report high levels of anxiety related to speaking. In my experience, it is important to be responsive to the affective needs of students, offering encouragement and support when they attempt to create with the language, and providing corrections without impeding their creativity and expression. Lastly, I value the individuality of the students and their unique interactions with the language. This individuality manifests itself through individual learner factors, which can affect the student's learning experience. In order to incorporate as many individual preferences as possible, I strive to adopt in my lessons an eclectic teaching style and to create a lively environment in which variety triumphs over monotony. I believe that my focus on the affective experience of students is the key to my philosophy of teaching. By foregrounding their interests and needs, I motivate them to become active participants in their educational experience. I believe that this focus will help to increase their proficiency in Spanish; in addition, I hope that this focus will help them gain more from the class than simply fulfilling a language requirement. I aim to increase student's interest in their own education and boost their motivation to expand their horizons beyond the classroom learning structure.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Play games to break the ice and get to know each other. Ask a lot of questions to collect information about their learning style. Review their textbooks, homework, available tests, and other available materials. Make a plan to tutor this individual student.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Creating independent learners is a long-time project. It will take time and patience to cultivate the habit of independence in students. To begin, I would step back and say something along the lines of: "Before asking me, what do you think is a possible answer and why?" A second approach would be to give various choices and encourage them to make decisions. Finally, I would provide formative feedback, which gives students a clear sense of what they need to do to improve.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
To keep students motivated and excited about learning I would give them lots of positive reinforcement, always recognizing their hard work and contributions. Honest, enthusiastic praise can go a long way. Also, offering small incentives and rewards makes learning fun and motivates students to push themselves.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would get creative by changing around the structure of my class. I would teach through games and would enrich the subject matter with visual aids, colorful charts, diagrams, music and videos.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
This is a hard one. There are no quick fixes to solve the complexities of comprehension. Since comprehension is in our heads, it is therefore invisible and intangible. Add to that the uniqueness of each struggle. Any helpful strategy needs to be customized to the individual learner. One strategy to help students make sense of what they read is by discussing the text with them and then encouraging them to make personal connections to the text. Other strategies are making predictions (How do you think this story will end?), visualizing and describing the characters and the setting in the story, asking open questions at any point of the story, re-reading, highlighting important points and summarizing.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I usually ask a lot of questions to find out as much as I can about the student. I would use the profile provided to get more information about the student's personality and learning style. With a new student, I will provide some information about myself and my teaching style, and then go directly to an ice breaking game to reduce anxiety and stimulate the student's curiosity and interest.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would start by helping the student understand that sometimes struggling is part of the learning process. We will take a closer look at the problem in order to find possible solutions. Also, I will draw attention to subjects where the student is not struggling, in order to encourage students to beat their personal best.